Just as religion is the backbone of the nation, so are the churches of Quitman County the backbone of all its spiritual and moral development; of these seventeen are white. According to denominations seven are Baptist, six are Methodist, one Presbyterian, and two Union. There is also a group of Catholic devotees, but as yet they do not have a building for services; they affiliate with the Congregation in Clarksdale.1
Religious Pioneers and Early Churches
In the early days of the county John Herring, who lived at the mouth of Coldwater River, journeyed on a “knock-kneed stallion” to the fork of the Shine Turner and Dickens Road, where he organized a Baptist church. A pen made of poles served as the first meeting place; negroes and whites worshiped together in this pole pen, each race donating his part toward the promotion of right living.2
In 1907, Rev. C. W. Wize, with nine members, met to reorganize or start a Baptist church in Marks. Mrs. W. W. Powell, G. A. Cox, and P. M. B. Self, present citizens and religious leaders, were charter members. This small band of workers built a one-room frame building, where services were held once a month; but such organizations as the Ladies’ Aid and Mission Sunday School met frequently and made up the greater part of the church life. Due to a disagreement among the members, the congregation divided, some remaining in this church and others forming a new one. The ones remaining erected a house of worship about 1930, naming it Riverside Baptist Church and calling Rev. W. M. House as pastor. Later the new church was abandoned and the building sold to the Methodist congregation. These members joined other churches, many of them returning to the first congregation.3
Lambert Baptist Church, like most all of the others here, was at one time part of the Union Church; however, in 1908, a group of interested Baptist organized a church and called Rev. Smith as pastor. The building was erected by contributions from the members and friends, and by money raised from suppers which the women of the church put on. Sometime later, it was razed by agreement and the material sold to the negroes for a church; the lot was sold to Dr. E. A. McVey, whose home now stands on the identical spot of the old Lambert Church. A lot was then purchased on the east side of the railroad and a brick church erected there.
In the old pioneer church a group of Christian workers invited two or three ministers from such distant church to come and visit them on the fifth Sundays of the month, this being a day when they had no regular duties. In the morning one of the ministers had charge of the preaching hour, dinner was served on the grounds, and about three o’clock in the afternoon another minister had charge of the services. Occasionally they had as many as three meetings, with a different preacher in charge each time.4
In 1917, the group of Baptist living in and around Darling had increased to such a number that they felt it necessary to organize a church. For some years after organization and until 1927 when the church was built, the Baptist used the school building for a church, and alternated Sundays with the Methodists, who also had their services in the school building. A few Sundays out of every year union services were held on fifth Sundays; ministers of the various denominations alternated in having charge of these. The only two organizations in this old church were the Ladies Aid, as the missionary society was then called, and the Sunday School. Often there was a picnic dinner at noon.
In 1917, the Baptist of Crowder, with the aid and encouragement of Rev. Gregory, banded together and organized a church. There was no place of worship; but undaunted, these people had their gatherings in the school building until 1921, when they erected a church about one block east of the school. There were no missionary societies at that time. The Sunday School, however, was a union school, composed of Baptist and Methodists alike. They used Methodist literature for a few months, then changed to the Baptist for the same length of time.2
In 1910, the Sledge people grouped themselves together to form a Baptist church, using the school auditorium to hold their meetings. A friendly and Christian feeling existed between the Methodists and Baptists, both denominations contributing equal parts to the financial support to the Church. In 1926, a Baptist church was built by people who were Baptist in belief.2
Rev. Lee and a group of interested workers organized a Baptist church at Walnut, and at the first service held, fifty names were added to the church roll. At the very beginning an Missionary society was organized and began functioning. They had many interesting meetings, and to help finance the church, ice cream and oyster suppers were given which were patronized by large crowds.2
Belen Baptist Church was organized about 1900, when a small frame church was built. Billy Turner and L. Marks made special donations for it, the rest of the money being raised by donations, picnics, and ice cream suppers. The church was small, but was quite adequate at that time, and it was only a few years later that the county seat was moved to Marks.2
The present Presbyterian church was organized in 1914 with seventeen members. Prior to this time, a Presbyterian church was in Belen, which was the county seat until about forty years ago. However, the church quit functioning, and affiliation with the Presbytery was broken, but the Woman’s Missionary society continued all this time.
In the minutes of the present Presbyterian is the following: “Sometime prior to the organization of the Marks Presbyterian Church, the members of the denomination at Marks were served by Rev. T. W. Raymond, of Holly Springs, and through his encouragement, advice, and help, the organization of the church was attempted; negotiations were entered into with the Baptist people which resulted in the purchase of the Baptist Church house, furniture, and lot.”
The financing of this church was done through donations and through a loan from the Committee of Home Missions of Atlanta, Georgia. In 1926, the church agreed at a meeting of its members to sell the property and raise money through donations to build a new church.
L. A. Graeber, an elder at that time, was the man who [did the] most to help build this present church; he and another member, while in Arkansas, saw one that they liked very much, and the church of Marks was copied from that. The lumber salvaged from the old church was used to build a manse.
In 1926, about the time of the building of the church, the Presbyterian’s Woman’s Missionary society gave a party to celebrate its thirtieth birthday; though the church had not been going on all that time, the missionary society had continued. From an article in the county newspaper, giving an account of the party, describing the birthday cake with thirty candles, and in the center of which, all the members placed their contributions to the society, we find that the original organization was formed at Belen in 1896. Mrs. Furr, mother of Venn Furr, now prominent citizen of Marks, and Mrs. Mattie Jamison, beloved resident of Belen, were among the first members.5
A Mr. Darby built a small frame structure to be used as a church for all people of every denomination in Lambert. He equipped this building with a kitchen and cooking utensils so that they might have suppers and other socials there, so the people organized a Union church in 1930. The Christian people of Lambert bought this building from Mr. Darby a few years later and it became the only Christian church in the county. About ten years ago this structure burned, and a modern edifice was erected in 1932. Every year the people in this pioneer Christian church aside one day as roll call day. They also designate Memorial Day as graveyard cleaning day, and if any member of the church cannot get there, he always sends someone in his place.6
The first stage in the history of the Methodist church of Marks may be called the pioneer period, dating back to 1889. This church was an old storeroom located on the bank of Coldwater River, now known as Riverfront. Its founders were some twenty-five citizens who sat on bales of cotton to worship, and during a period of ten years, services were conducted monthly by Rev. H. B. Gladney of Jonestown, Coahoma County, making his way on horseback, with many difficulties confronting him. At this date no distinctly personal sketch is available, other than his influence and tireless efforts, with scarcely any funds to work with. Later, as the increasing membership kept pace with the growth of the city, a new church became necessary. Steps were taken to build a new one on Riverfront, which was torn down and the lot sold. A few years later the missionary society raised sufficient money through suppers and other entertainment, to build a small frame structure in which the Methodist people continued to worship until 1934, when they bought the Riverside Baptist Church, at which time they remodeled the old frame church, making a parsonage, which is comfortable and attractive.7
Darling Methodist Church, organized in 1914, by quarterly conference and Rev. Gouldelock, used the school building until the church was built about 1920. A custom of this church is that of having roll call day, when there is a change of ministers, and all members are expected to be present and answer to roll call.8
Belen Methodist Church was organized in 1890. The congregation worshiped with the Baptists and in various homes for a few years, until permission was given them to worship in the courthouse. In the year 1900, a small frame building was erected on the banks of the bayou.9
Sledge Methodist Church was organized in 1910 by the people of that community, but lapsed into a lethargic state for some years. However, in 1919, it was reorganized and a place of worship was built. The Baptists worshiped with the Methodists until 1926, when they built their own church. During the period of preparation and adjustment there were Union Epworth Leagues, Missionary societies, and Sunday School.
Dickerson Chapel, in Birdie, is one of the oldest churches in the county, having been built in 1894. About two-thirds of the lumber was given by Mr. Steadman and his father, and it was built to be used as a union meeting place; but when it was dedicated, the man who gave the land dedicated it to the Methodists.) The church has not had any repairs except a new roof since it was built. Services are now (1936) held twice a month in the afternoon; preaching is done by Rev. McKenzie (Baptist) of Lula, and Rev. Avery (Methodist) of Jonestown.10
Modern Churches and Local Leaders
Quitman County, with its modern churches, has many outstanding workers cooperating with each other to a degree that is astonishing. For the past few years in nearly every town in the county where there are two or more churches, these unite in a fifth Sunday meeting, as signified by the calendar. Talented people of the community furnish the programs, and there is always a noted speaker from other parts. Collections taken at these meetings are used for the upkeep of the cemeteries in the various communities; midweek prayer meetings are largely interdenominational, and pastors of these towns have charge of services. Truly, the church people in Quitman County are doing all in their power to advance God’s kingdom on Earth.2
Marks Baptist Church, build in 1925 at a cost of $40,000 is the outstanding church building in Quitman County and second in membership having 165 enrolled. The building is of brick, three stories, with large white columns across the front. It is a beautiful structure with wide, curving steps leading up from each side of the church. An interesting and novel way of entertaining was instituted by the people in preparing for the building of the new church, the old one having burned. Brick cleaning days were started, attended by members of all denominations, who came to the scene of the old church, gathering and cleaning bricks left from the fire. This was not a benefit to the church project, but the people enjoyed meeting their friends here for a few hours of visiting together. This church installed a Pilcher pipe Organ, and Mrs. Blanche Denton served as organist until her departure for Oxford, when the place was filled by Mrs. P. M. B. Self. The pastor’s home, not being needed for such at present (1936) is being rented to one of the deacons. Not only do these people have regular services every Sunday, but they also have a graded Sunday School, a missionary society, Young Women’s Christian Association, Girls’ Auxiliary, Royal Ambassadors, and Baptist Training Union. Mr. and Mrs. Frank Hammond, Mr. and Mrs. P. M. B. Self, Mrs. W. W. Powell, Mr. and Mrs. T. N. Touchstone, Jesse Eavenson and family, the Wooleys, Causeys, Boones, Nobles, and others are among the outstanding members.11
Another brick edifice is the one story Lambert Baptist Church, which is valued at $20,000. The large white columns that extend from the porch to the roof make it very attractive, and the many shrubs around the exterior give it a beautiful setting. The church does not have a pastorium, and at present does not have a pastor, but disregarding these handicaps, they are carrying on God’s work in the various organizations of the church, which are: A graded Sunday school, Missionary society, and Baptist Training Union. Some of the earnest workers are Volney Carothers, Mrs. John Black, and Mrs. Deck Stone.2
Of the seven Baptist churches in the county, Walnut Hill has the largest membership, with 365 on the roll. This church is located five miles from Vance, and directly across the road from Walnut Hill School. Services are held twice a month, with Rev. F. C. Martin as pastor. Only recently a new building was erected and the usual church organizations are functioning. Among the active members are J. C. Jenkins, O. P. Sarver, L. D. Bishop, and J. H. Manning, former member of the Board of Supervisors.2
Crowder Baptist church, a small frame structure, was remodeled, and some Sunday school rooms were added in 1937; it has now a graded Sunday school, missionary society, and the Baptist and Methodist young people work together in the young people’s organizations. Active Christian workers are Mrs. W. P. Knight, J. M. Atkinson, Mrs. Walter Elliott, Mrs. W. H. Worthy, and many others.12
Darling Baptist Church, a white frame building, was built in 1927. Although members are faithful in attending, they also believe in work; the church record of some few years ago shows that the missionary society and Sunday school paid all of the expenses of Floyd Newsom, a member of the church, so that he might attend a religious school. Only one service each month is held, but much good work is done through the organizations. Prominently connected with this church are Mr. and Mrs. W. W. Wilson.13
Sledge Baptist Church, a brick structure which cost $10,000, is very attractive, especially for a community of that size. Preaching is held twice each month, with Rev. W. B. Wallis as pastor. The Women’s Missionary Society and other organizations are active. Some of the members and active workers are: E. L. Dear, W. L. Young, J. A. Holden, Mrs. Fred Stone, and D. A. Wier.14
The Belen Baptist Church, a small frame building, the same that was used by the first Baptist people in the county, has undergone some repairs and improvements. Organizations of the church are Sunday School, Baptist Training Union and missionary society. Mr. and Mrs. J. L. Ikerd, Mrs. R. D. McCharen, Mrs. E. W. Bryan, Mrs. Jesse Hayward Covington, and the Turners are among the members.
Of the six Methodist churches in Quitman County, none has a full-time minister, due to the fact that the membership is not sufficient to support one. Rev. W. W. Milligan was placed by the Conference in 1935-37 in charge of three charges–Marks, Belen, and Darling. Two Sundays every month he devoted to Marks where the parsonage is located, and which is the largest of the three, having a membership of 203. The building bought from the Riverside Baptist congregation in 1934, is a stone-block structure with a seating capacity of approximately 300, and is valued at $9,000. The Methodists took the old frame building that had been used for a church prior to the buying of the present new one, remodeled it and made a pastor’s home at a cost of $2,500. The Woman’s Missionary Society, which was organized under the plan of the Women’s Missionary Council of Nashville, Tenn. meets regularly, and the Sunday schools are graded “A,” while the Young People’s Epworth League is very active. Loyal members are: W. J. Pettyjohn, superintendent of the Sunday school; Mrs. G. C. Jones, who helped to organize the first Sunday school in the Belen Methodist church; Miss Mattie Sorrels, the Thompsons, Mr. and Mrs. Partee Denton, Mrs. Lucille Lowrey, Mrs. Roger Morgan, Lula Mae Jones, and others.15
Sledge Methodist church, in the southeastern part of Sledge, has 125 members, who meet two Sundays of each month, with Rev. E. B. Sharp as pastor.16
The Methodist Church of Lambert still stands a frame structure, as when built; however, it has recently been remodeled. It is a medium-sized square building, with a small porch across the center; one of the first things noticed about it is a large tree which stands just in the front, and shelters the walk leading to the door. The pastor’s home is next to the church and is also a neat frame structure. Religious organizations are a graded church school and a Missionary society. One of the main features of the church school is the Baptist Training Union which has done creditable work. Mrs. Gordon Cooper, Rev. Shipman, and Mrs. and Mr. Jim McVey are active members.17
The Methodist Church at Darling, a small brick edifice, is regularly attended by Dr. Mason and family, Mr. and Mrs. Rex Malone, Mrs. W. R. Wofford, and other faithful persons of this community. Rev. W. W. Mulligan, is pastor, preaching one Sunday each month. The missionary society and church school are its only organizations.18
The present Methodist church at Belen is the same that was originally built by a group of Christian workers not so many years after Quitman County was organized. This church may well be called “the little church around the corner” since it is reached from the bridge crossing Moore’s Bayou, which runs through the town, by turning the corner to the right.
The parsonage is being rented at present for the reason that the work is combined with that at Marks, and the minister, the Rev. W. W. Milligan, lives in the parsonage there. A church school organization is functioning, and the missionary society is an interdenominational group. The outstanding workers in the church are Mrs. Mary Stone, Mrs. G. O. Denton, the Jones families, and C. C. Miller.19
Crowder Methodist Church has been repaired in the last few months; a new roof and paint has added much to the attractiveness of the little white frame structure. The pastor, Rev. Charles McCormick, resides in Lambert, as the two charges are united; a missionary society and Sunday school are important parts of the church life. The young people of this church work with the Baptist young people. Some of the leading members of the Methodist life here are R. R. Whitten and Gurley Moore.20
Marks has the only Presbyterian church in Quitman County. The building, a medium-sized brick structure, stands on the corner of Walnut and Maple streets. It is almost wholly surrounded by shrubs and is one of the most picturesque places in the town of Marks, principally due to the landscaping. Until a few years ago a manse was owned, but it was sold to V. V. Eason, Sr., whose family lives there now. Rev. Paul Watson, Clarksdale, preaches there two Sundays of each month. Sunday school and a Christian endeavor are maintained but the latter organization disbands for the summer months. Some of the workers in this church are: Mr. and Mrs. V. A. Furr, Mr. and Mrs. L. A. Graeber, the Carrs, Mr. and Mrs. C. P. Smith, the Gibeons, and Furrs, of Belen.21
The Christian Church at Lambert draws its membership from all parts of the county, having a total of 150 members. Rev. James L. Sandlin, who is the minister, holds services on the second Sunday of every month in the new church, which is a brick veneer structure with shrubs around it, with water-colored windows adding to its beauty. A lot upon which a minister’s home will be erected at some later date has been set aside by the members. The missionary society and Sunday school are active, helping the church to pay the expense for Moncie Whitwell to go to a religious training school; now a minister in Oklahoma. Among the Christian workers and members here are Walter Dreaden, M. J. Claussen, and others.22
Birdie Union Church, located about one mile east of Birdie, in a big grove, has thirty-eight members who worship twice a month. This is really a Methodist church, but due to the fact that the Baptist church is too dilapidated to be used, they are having union meetings. One Sunday, Rev. Kinsey, the Baptist minister, comes from Lula to worship with them and has charge of the services; the other Sunday in the month, Rev. Avery, Methodist from Jonestown, has charge.23
The Union church of Vance, also has two pastors–Baptist, Rev. C. L. Treadway; Methodist, Rev. C. T. Hollingsworth. Services are held two Sundays a month. The total membership of this church is approximately fifty.
A small band of Catholics, prominent among whom are the Lewis family, Mrs. M. Jamison and daughter, Catherine, have grouped themselves together in order to worship. There are, perhaps, twenty in this group, and they meet in different homes to worship. Father Cary, priest from Clarksdale Catholic Church, comes over once a month to hold mass. There has been an allotment for a chapel to be placed at Marks, but so far the lot in the town has not been selected.23
Negro Baptist churches in Quitman County belong to either the District Association or the Swan Lake Association.
The new Bethel Baptist Church of Crowder was organized in 1924, but a building was not erected at that time; the Methodists offered to lend them their house one Sunday every month for holding services. In 1929, however, the Baptists had raised enough money by taxing the thirty members to build a church, and a frame oblong structure was erected; it remained unpainted until 1936, but at that time it was painted and screened. The pastor, F. C. Currey, meets with the members once a month and has charge of preaching; on other Sundays, The Sunday school or missionary society conducts services. Every fifth Sunday they have rallies or “sings” as they are often called, and spread dinner on the ground. Sarah Pains, Harry Dunson, and Janey Cobler are active workers.24
Belmont Baptist Church is one of the oldest negro churches in the county; in fact, it is much older, as far as the records show, than the white churches of the county. Long before there was a Quitman County, and when it was still part of Tunica, Panola, Tallahatchie, and Coahoma counties, Belmont Church was in existence. It was in 1867 that a group of negroes living in the wilderness, which is now Marks, organized and built this church, about a mile from the neck of the bayou; however, this was only an old shed. The church had a membership of 300, due to the fact that there was only one other church in the vicinity. George Priest, the pastor during its early period of growth, was the instigator, but it was blown down by a storm in 1898. When it was decided to rebuild, a small piece of land about two and one-half miles west of the old church, and on the bayou, was purchased for a site, and rebuilt. Being rebuilt twice since that date, the first time in 1917 and again in 1930, it now stands a commendable white frame building. The membership stands around 300, although at times it has been much larger.
Every summer a baptizing is held in the bayou, about a half mile away; singing, shouting, and praying characterize this event, and an interesting sight it is to behold. The choir stands on the bank of the river singing, with the congregation circled around them and the converts in their robes of white with white caps to match, marching down to the water. The church has a host of workers, led by John McCullar, Robert Beasley, and Amos Hill, deacons and important members.2
Silent Grove Baptist Church of Marks, was at one time a part of the Belmont Baptist Church; a few years before Marks became an incorporated town, in 1900, a few of the members who lived in and around Marks decided to form a new church closer to their homes. They organized in a tenant house on the banks of the Coldwater River and worshiped there in a school building. In 1907, the year Marks was incorporated as a town, they built a church, financing and buying the land with taxation. In 1919, a group of negro members pulled out and organized the Valley Queen negro church, their place of worship being blown down in 1933. Fortunately an insurance policy of $1,000 was collected, to which was added $300 by members and the church was rebuilt. Three pastors have gone from this congregation–Rolly Lee, Will Evans who died a few years ago, and I. C. Bradley. Will Lewis and his wife are two of the oldest and best workers in the church, as is also Walter Pinkins; L. S. Sorrels, the pastor, has charge of services twice a month and the missionary society, and Sunday School have charge of the other two Sundays. The fifth Sundays, rallies are held; the church has a membership of 120.25
Organization of Shady Grove Church dates back, as near as can be determined, to 1865, when a building was erected about two miles from Marks on the old River Road; but a small piece of land, about one-fourth mile from this located was bought in 1923 and the old church building moved here. However, for some reason, they decided to tear it down and build another; in 1933, a cyclone blew this slightly off balance, but by propping it up with logs, it was used until 1935, when they put up a plain, unpainted frame building. A. M. Metcalf is the minister, and preaches to 154 members twice a month; a large and active missionary society is an important factor in promoting advantageous things. Active workers in the church are Henry Hill, Aaron Wilkes, and Sarah Benson.26
The first negro Baptist church of Lambert is located in the western part of the town. G. W. Strong is the pastor, conducting services once a month to about a hundred people who make up the congregation, and built the house of worship in 1905. In 1923, the building was town down and replaced by a new one; and again, in 1932 this was torn down, and rebuilt. Harry Benton was a member of this congregation until he was ordained as a minister and given a church. Some of the active workers are Fannie Mae Lloyd, Victoria Love, Mark Love, and Lula Mae Kimble.27
In 1910, a group of interested negro Baptists of Darling, banded together, forming Little Zion Church. An old shop was used as a place of worship, and in 1928 they built a new church and turned the other into a school building, which is used for suppers and other socials. All members threw in and made up the first payment, and paid the balance in installments. “Some white folks, Mr. Blain and Mr. Jones gave us a little help,” said Sam Luck, when questioned about how they built the church. But it seems that another and more interesting plan to make money to supplement that raised, from the above named sources. The church was divided into four tribes and each tribe made as much money as they could by having different forms of entertainment. On fifth Sundays they had what they called “Rally Days.” Quite often three or four different preachers came there, and each one preached a sermon. Between sermons the people sang. T. W. Laundrew, pastor of this church, preaches one Sunday each month, and on one other Sunday in the month the missionary society has charge of the services. Tobert Pigum was sent from this congregation as a trained pastor and Lee Lawshe, Sam Lusk, and Jim Beth are among the main workers.28
Neil’s Chapel, about one mile east of Sledge, is a modern and comfortable white frame building. Though erected in 1930 through donations, it was torn down and replaced by a newer church in 1931, part of the money to build it being raised by rallies. On rally days they had two or three preachers to deliver messages, and each time they had a service, they took up collection. Rev. J. G. Mitchell is the pastor of this church, working with 215 faithful members. Once a month he conducts a service, and on the other Sundays, Sunday school. Baptist Young People’s Union or Missionary Society has charge of the services. Gertrude Thomas, Ed Beck and Monroe Banks are active leaders.29
Oak Grove Baptist Church was organized in 1927 and two years later a small frame building was put up. Percy Jackson is pastor, and Liza and Waddell McAlrain are good church workers.30
Mount Olive Baptist Church, located in Sledge, has services on fourth Sundays, conducted by Rev. G. W. Mitchell with a membership of two hundred. This church was organized in 1918 by a few negroes, and with the help of their white friends, erected a small frame building, where they still worship. Sunday school is held every Sunday and Missionary Union on Mondays.
Holly Grove Baptist Church, located on Coldwater River, about five miles from Sledge, is a white frame building, built in 1931; services are conducted by A. Sanders on the third Sundays.31
St. Phillip’s Baptist Church, in Sledge, with Rev. A. Sanders as pastor, has a membership of one hundred and services are held every first Sunday. The frame building was erected in 1917 largely through the help from the white people. Good members of this church are George Martin and Deacon Shegog.32
Macedonia Baptist Church, in Essex, was organized in 1900. For some years they met in a frame building on P. M. B. Self’s plantation, but on November 4, 1916, their church was finished. Mr. McPherson gave them the land on which to build, but the church has had quite a bit of repair work done all along to keep in fair condition. Seventy-five members are on the roll, and A. Sanders preaches on the second Sunday; Sunday school and Baptist Young People’s Union meet every Sunday. The outstanding workers are Andrew Radd, Deacon Wright, and West Hoskin.33
Denton’s Chapel is a small negro Baptist edifice about one mile west of the village of Denton. Judge M. E. Denton gave the negroes an acre of land for a site, hence the name. T. W. Laundrew has charge of the services once a month, and preaches to about ninety members. This church was organized in 1913 by Charles H. Kelly, and the white people in and around this community donated the lumber for the building. However, since it was very small, the membership soon filled the pews, making it necessary to build a larger church. Therefore, in 1918, the old building was torn down and the lumber given to the school to be used as they saw fit. Then, by assessing each family as they could afford to pay, the money was raised to rebuild the church. Every fourth Sunday is rally day, and often, the members spend the day cleaning up the little community cemetery. On the third Sunday of each month they observe roll call day.23
Wallace Chapel, at one time was one of the most important negro churches in Quitman County, but at present it is badly in need of repair. Services are held every three months with W. L. Morgan as pastor.
In 1913 a group of interested people banded together forming a church in the northern part of Hinchcliff community; meeting in an old frame church and completing the church organization, they named it Wallace Church Chapel. They worshiped in this old building until 1917, when they started a movement for a new house. Kate Carnegy, West Wells, and Edd Bennett have been faithful workers.34
Belleview Baptist Church, located at Hinchcliff has a membership of forty-seven; Lewis Hill, the pastor, preaches twice a month, on the second and fourth Sundays. The church was organized and the foundation laid for the building in 1910. Members made donations to help build the church; white people living in the community also contributed. Two outstanding workers are Minnie Palmer and Angella Burrell.35
Though New Mount Zion Church in Lambert was first organized in 1917 or 1918, it took on new life in 1923, when a small piece of land was bought and a new church built through donations made by members of the church. W. L. Morgan is the only pastor that has ever served there.36
St. Mark’s Baptist Church, located a little way out from Vance on Mr. Lipe’s plantation, was organized about twenty years ago and a church was built a short time afterward, which is still being used. It has three hundred members, and W. M. Smith has charge of services once a month.37
A new church, built by the New Hope congregation in the Vance neighborhood, is a plain, square building and is used for a school also. It is located on the lot where the old church was; W. M. Smith is the pastor, and there are 144 members. This church sent E. L. Slay out as a preacher in 1928; its active members are James Lloyd, L. C. Clay, and Ora Mae Lloyd.37
Galilee Baptist Church, which had been on the plantation road about two miles west of its present site, is located now in a large grove of trees about one-fourth mile from the same road on Mr. Sturdivant’s place. The church was organized in 1917 and a building was put up in the old grove; it has a membership of 100 and E. D. Russell, pastor, holds services twice a month.37
Macedonia Baptist Church No. 2 has 150 members, with Rolly Lee as pastor; services are held once a month. The building is about thirty years old, but it has been repaired in the last two years. Every fifth Sunday the church has a rally. Two brothers, Leslie and Eck Fry, are preachers; John Pegree, Henry Winfield, and Laston Sykes are the main workers.38
Sturdivant’s Chapel, organized in 1917, is located on the Mike Sturdivant Plantation. The first church was built in 1917, but was replaced by another frame building in 1929. George Orange, pastor, has charge of services once a month; every fifth Sunday a rally is held. Leona Hinton, Lula Martin, and Anne Clark are active members.
Willie Barnes is pastor of the Greenhill Baptist Church, located about three miles from Belen. Richard Arnold, Alex and O. B. Gates are its prominent workers.
Daniel Chapel, built on Whitening Lake in 1912, was moved back in 1927 because each year the water from the lake would rise and fill the church. Being repaired in 1934, it is in good condition now. Seventy-five members are on the roll and services are held on the second Sunday of each month by W. M. Miller. James Brown, Willie Mack, and Rance James are the important workers.
Miles Chapel, a new Baptist church built in 1927, is located about four miles from Crowder, on the Miles plantation, from which it gets its name. Preaching service is held on the third Sunday of each month by Mitchell Cox, and outstanding workers are Joe Moore, Cora Hopson, and Parthena Moore.
Oak Grove Chapel, in Crowder, has four hundred members, who take great pride in their church work. Preaching services are held on the fourth Sunday of each month; church suppers are held often, and sometimes ice cream is sold on the streets of the town to raise funds to carry on the work. Among the outstanding workers are: Si Miles, Franklin Jones, Emma Coleman, and Lee Roundtree, the latter being a missionary.39
Zion Church, located about one-half mile from Belen, on the old road to Clarksdale, was organized in 1895. The money to raise it was obtained by taxing, and by donations from white friends. Their pastor is S. G. Gaston, of Clarksdale, and services are held on the fourth Sunday. Picnics are held very often on church days, when all the members bring their lunch in a basket, and once a year there is Children’s Day. The most important members of this church are Bargy Phipps, Jane Hinton, and Ola Greenwood. Edgar Judge, now a minister, and pastoring a church of his own, was once a member here.40
There are eight Methodist churches in the county, belonging to three associations–A.M.E., C.M.E., and A.M.E. Zion.
Love’s Chapel, organized in 1915, is located in Darling. A small church was first built under the Bayou Bluff, but for some reason it had to be moved, so these people bought a small piece of land in the town of Darling and built a new church there in 1922. D. L. Jackson is the pastor and Lucenia Treat, Zula Wilkins, and Hilary Robinson are main workers.
Hinchcliff Methodist Church has been organized since 1913, and the church was built the same year. H. M. Farmer was the first pastor when the church had fifteen members; George Humphreys is pastor now and the membership has increased to 56. When the church was new, all-day singings were held and picnic lunch was served. Some of the outstanding workers are Lena Swangan, who is head of Missions and Alex Harris.
Located southwest of the railroad in Marks, is the African Methodist Episcopal Church which was organized in 1912, and a building made possible by donations from its members. Regular services are held twice a month, with L. Hooper as pastor, and occasionally, all-day meetings are held. The members, numbering fifty-four, serve dinner at the church during Annual Conference.
Originally, the Mother Methodist Church was located about a mile south of Lambert. The workers in this church were very devout and entered into everything good; three Methodist conferences have been held in this church. The building was destroyed by a storm in 1934, and as the members were unable to rebuild, they merged with the A.M.E. Zion church, a newly organized one in Lambert.
M. E. Brook’s Chapel was organized in 1917 when George Brooks of Crowder, decided to build a Methodist church. M. C. Harper preaches on the third Sunday; outstanding workers are George Brooks, Jake Merse, and Lewis Motley.
The A.M.E. Zion was the first negro church founded in the town of Marks; Henry Marks donated the land and lumber for the building, which was located at the old Robert Marks home site–present site of R. P. Morgan’s home. When it was decided to change the location of the church, the old lumber was used in rebuilding. This church was demolished by a cyclone; then in later years, present church was built, and W. J. Ellis is pastor.
Membership of the A.M.E. Methodist Church at Marks was with about fifteen members, who built a church in the same year. This church is still standing but has become very dilapidated. Its membership has increased to seventy. Every fifth Sunday is Rally Day, and Sarah Paine says of these meetings: “We goes in the mornin’ at sun up and quits at sun down, in jess ‘nuf time fer me to milk the cows; we takes our lunch, so we don’ have ter go nowhere, but stays right there at the church. What do we do? Oh, we sings, mostly.”
Carpenter’s Chapel, located on Sturdivant’s plantation about two miles from Vance has sixty members with H. H. Holmes as pastor, holding services once a month.41
Lawshe’s Chapel, located at Longstreet, is a Union church where services are held twice a month. One of the Sundays, Rev. Jones, the Baptist preacher, conducts the services, and on the other Sunday, the Methodist pastor has charge. The total membership of this church is 65 with fifteen Methodists and fifty Baptists. In 1917 B. J. Sykes helped to organize this church, and a plantation house was used for worship until 1920, when Mr. Lawshe gave a piece of land on the side of the highway upon which to build a church, and out of gratitude the church was named for him. Some Christian workers are: James Harris, Amizi Walker, Jesse Prior, and Mac Keller.42
Church of God in Christ
In 1907, those interested in the Church of God in Christ, attended a meeting in Memphis for the purpose of organizing churches of this denomination in the Tri-States.
Subsequently, the Church of God in Christ was organized in the town of Marks, and at present it has a membership of 12, with Murray Valentine as pastor. Morning and evening services are held every Sunday and the church is financed by donations from the members. There are four other churches of this denomination in the county, located a Dooley Woods, Lambert, Squirrel Lake, and Belen. These have a joint cemetery at Tutwiler, in Tallahatchie County.
The Belen Church of Christ, commonly called “The Do Right Church” is located about a mile west of Belen, and has fifty members on the roll. It was built in 1917, and later, when the State Highway opened the curve in the road where it stood, it was moved across the road. Leading members are Jim Gardner, George Brown, and Frank Braxter.
The Church of God in Christ, on Squirrel Lake, is a frame building built in 1907. Edward Williams is the pastor and “Mother Mim” as she is often called by the members, is one of the outstanding workers.
1 Rev. Avery, Jonestown, Mississippi
2 Margaret Rivers, Marks, Mississippi
3 Public and Church libraries, Marks, Mississippi
4 Rev. Chas. McCormick, Lambert, Mississippi
5 Presbyterian Church Records, Belen, Mississippi
6 Church records of the Christian Church, Lambert, Miss.
7 Methodist church records, Marks, Miss.
8 Darling Methodist Church Records
9 Methodist Church Records, Belen, Miss.
10 Records of Dickerson Chapel
11 Mrs. W. W. Powell, Marks, Mississippi
12 Mrs. W. P. Knight, Crowder, Mississippi
13 W. W. Wilson, Darling, Mississippi
14 Mrs. Fred Stone, Sledge, Mississippi
15 Mrs. Lucile Lowrey, Marks, Mississippi
16 Rev. E. B. Sharp, Sledge, Mississippi
17 Rev. Shipman, Lambert, Mississippi
18 W. W. Milligan, Marks, Mississippi
19 Mrs. Mary Stone, Belen, Miss.
20 Gurley Moore, Crowder, Miss.
21 Rev. Paul Watson, Clarksdale, Miss.
22 Rev. James L. Sandlin, Lambert, Miss.
23 Mrs. M. E. Denton, Jackson, Miss.
24 F. C. Curry, Crowder, Mississippi
25 L. S. Sorrels, Marks, Mississippi
26 A. M. Metcalf, Shady Grove, Miss.
27 G. W. Strong, Lambert, Mississippi
28 Rev. T. W. Laundrew, Darling, Mississippi
29 Rev. J. G. Mitchell, Sledge, Mississippi
30 Rev. Perry Jackson, Oak Grove, Mississippi
31 Rev. G. W. Mitchell, Sledge, Mississippi
32 Rev. A. Sanders, Sledge, Miss.
33 Andrew Radd, Sledge, Miss.
34 Kate Carnegy, Hinchcliff, Miss.
35 Angela Burrell, Hinchcliff, Miss.
36 Rev. W. L. Morgan, Lambert, Miss.
37 W. M. Smith, Vance, Miss.
38 E. D. Russell, Pastor, Galilee Baptist Church
39 Franklin Jones, Crowder, Miss.
40 Rev. S. G. Gaston, Clarksdale, Miss.
41 J. B. Holmes,Vance, Miss.
42 James Harris, Longstreet, Miss.
Works Progress Administration for Mississippi, Source Material for Mississippi History, Quitman County, Vol. LX, Compiled by State-Wide Historical Research Project, Susie V. Powell, State Supervisor, Illustrated, Chapter XI, pages 109-137.
Photo of Belen Baptist Church comes from The Quitman County Democrat.
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