I am traveling memory lane recounting my upbringing as the son of a preacher man.
I am traveling memory lane recounting my upbringing as the son of a preacher man. Previously I have revisited some of the churches where my father preached in Walker County. Many of them are no longer active congregations.
The Deason Hill church building sits empty as the members of the congregation aged and died, with no young people to fill their pews. This has happened in far too many places where the younger generation moves away or become disinterested in religious matters and the inevitable happens, the church doors are locked.
The Deason Hill congregation holds a lot of memories with me as it was there where I first participated in leadership roles in church services. I watched it slowly die as did those who had stayed to worship there. The small cemetery behind the building rarely is enlarged by another occupant.
In Hay Valley there is another empty building that once housed the Mount Hope congregation. I recall that the Deason (Foster) and Odom families, among others, attended there until there was no one left. The building now sits deserted, surrounded by stripped mined land. There remains a small cemetery nearby. This is another church where dad once preached in meetings. Other congregations, such as Drummond in the Piney Woods area of eastern Walker County have met the same fate of dwindling membership.
I was baptized when Dad was conducting a Gospel Meeting when the McCollum church was active. A great uncle, Lester Key, who was blinded when young, and his wife, Effie, lived a short distance from the old church building and Dad was called on a number of times to conduct meetings there. Uncle Lester, the grandfather of Jimmie Alexander, made brooms, and Aunt Effie taught at the school which was located at McCollum.
The church building there had no baptistery and there were several who responded to the gospel invitation that night expressing a wish to be baptized so we traveled to the 5th Avenue church building which had a baptistery and were baptized. After this time the church at Mccollum and the one at Shiloh, located on the Kings Mill Road further south, merged to form Midway Church of Christ with the building located, appropriately, midway between the two church buildings. The old buildings have long been demolished and the Midway congregation has thrived.
There have been a number of other mergers of Churches of Christ in the county. The Dora church, which was located beside the old Dora High School, merged with some members of other local congregations to establish the East Walker Church of Christ. Some members, however, stayed with their local churches, such as Argo and Dilworth and remained viable congregations. Likewise, in West Walker County the churches at Townley and Ripley merged to create the West Walker congregation. Members of the church at Aldridge started meeting with the larger congregation at Parrish.
Dad conducted meetings at Ripley before their merger with Townley where I also recall Dad preaching there for a week’s meeting. He also preached in meetings at the Kansas and Eldridge churches. The Eldridge building at that time was located not far from the old Byler Road before the new building was built at the intersection of Highway 78 and Highway 13. The old building there was used briefly for other purposes and then torn down.
My Father and the Farris (Frank) family in Eldridge were long time friends as were other members who attended there. Cecil Newcome of Kansas was also a family friend.
Just outside of Walker County was another congregation where Dad held a number of meetings. It was the Howard Congregation located on the Fish Hatchery road leaving Carbon Hill. The best that I can recall, some people referred to it as the old Moss McCormick community (remember, all this is from about 70 year old memories).
I do recall the Studdard and the McLemore families who attended there. Henry McLemore, as I recall, had a saw mill and also an airplane. I was told that he was killed when his tractor overturned on him while mowing the yard at the Howard church building, working for his Master.
There are two Churches of Christ in Walker County that go by the name of Macedonia, both of which my dad has conducted meetings over the fifty-five years he preached here. Both of these congregations have moved into new buildings in the not too distant past.
Macedonia on the Holly Grove Road, across from the Boshell cemetery, recently moved from the old building into their new one built near it. A few years ago, Macedonia on Blackwater also built a beautiful new house of worship after many years meeting in their old building, and where I remember attending when dad would preach there.
In all these places there are many names and people that I recall but I do not have the space to mention. I remember the Wilson family who attended Macedonia on the Holly Grove Road and the Barker family at the Blackwater congregation. We ate dinner at the home of Grady Barker many times and he was truly a unique individual. He kept milk cold by lowering a gallon jug into a hand dug well (the only time I have ever seen that) and grew the finest watermelons, which he would peddle from his wagon. He owned a cabin in the Bankhead Forest and every year he, along with anyone else who were brave enough to do it, would walk from his home in the Macedonia community to his cabin on Quillen Creek in the forest.
One year when I was on school brake from Harding, Dad was preaching in a meeting at Nauvoo, another church which now is no longer active. He asked me to speak for him one night.
We had two baptisms that night, which was an encouragement to a young preacher.