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Lewis Co, Tennessee:
Salem Church of Christ


Submitted by Sammye J Lawson on 8 February 2002:



The church at Union on Beaverdam in   Hickman  County  and the church at   Salem  , on Swan Creek in  Lewis County were united by mutual consent ---- March 23, 1876

The following  history was taken from a letter written by Andrew Jackson Sisco, written August 31, 1940 . 

This is a short story of the church of Christ at Salem, Lewis County, Tennessee, and how the gospel came to Palestine  in Lewis  County.  A man named Benney Beal moved to Palestine from Giles County , his wife being a member of the church of Christ .  A gospel preacher named Hill rode horseback to Beal's home and preached.  A man named S. H. Harder was studying the Bible to make a Baptist preacher.  He was not a member of the Baptist church, but his wife was.  He had heard so much talk of the "Campbellites" that he told his wife he was gong to hear brother Hill preach, just to see what he taught.   When brother Hill got up to preach he told them all to get out their paper and pencil and take down his subject and the scripture he quoted and see if it didn't apply to the subject.  They were told to ask questions at any time while he was speaking and if any bill was brought against them he would pay the charges.  Mr. Harder said, "this is something new to me," as it was against the law for anyone to speak during preaching.  Afterwards, Mr. Harder said, "I have never heard such good preaching in all of my life," and he decided in his heart that he could never get rid of it.  After going home, he told his wife that they were the fairest people he had ever seen.  His wife said, "Yes, you are going to be a 'Campbellite'."  It wasn't very long after this that he obeyed the gospel and soon began preaching.

A man by the name of Simeon Smith heard brother Hill preach and a short time after Harder obeyed the gospel, Smith did too.  By this time there was a small church, Union, near Aetna, Tennessee on Brushy Creek on the fork on Beaverdam, (this church and  Salem united by mutual consent - March 23, 1876).  There was also one at Flatrock on Cane Creek.  Harder and Smith would go to these little places with brother Harder preaching and brother Smith leading the singing.  On the 4th Sunday, brother Harder would preach at Indian Creek, which connects into Swan Creek near where they lived.  Later on, they had preaching at Smith's house.

The Primitive Baptist had a house around Elmer Talley's at what is known as " Old Center ."  Smith and Harder went to the two oldest elders of this Baptist church, James Campbell and Billie Pell, and asked if they could preach in their house.  These being good old men, they told them they could preach all they wanted to there.  A time was set for a meeting and when the preacher came, he was redheaded Tom Brooks.  They found the doors of the house nailed up, this being done by a man named Henry Garrett, who was not even a member of the Baptist church.  This aroused the people of the neighborhood.  Mr. W. T. Plummer, not a member of the church of Christ, he would give the ground to build a church house, a lot of about two acres and a very pretty place for a meeting house.  Harder and Smith, with the help of some neighbors, built a log house, 24 x 36 ft., this being a good-sized house.  (This spot is just above the branch on right of road at Elmer Talley's.)

The first meeting held in this house was by brother John Morton with no additions.   Brother Fate Williams held the second meeting, having one addition, Josie Morris.  She was baptized on July 27, 1880 , being 87 years old at this writing.  From then on they had from one to two meetings a year for a number of years.  Many people obeyed the gospel.  The log house stood for about 25 years.  Around 1900, the present house was built, being 36 x 48 ft. in size.

Many people have been baptized at Salem and a number of preachers have come from its congregation.  Some of them are R. T. Sisco, R. L. Whiteside, W. M. Sisco and J. A. Sisco.  Many younger preachers of today have preached at  Salem Church, among these is Glen Mayfield, whose home congregation is at  Salem.

In the early years of  Salem Church, there was a colored family living near Salem , and several of them became gospel preachers - Dennis English, Paul English, Tillghman English and DeWitt English.  Jim Webster married Julie English and he is a preacher.  These men named have preached over a large part of the  U. S. and established many churches.  

Jack Sisco was baptized at Salem on July 18, 1887.  His letter was written  August 31, 1940 .  A. J. died September 25. 1941.

  Salem Church of Christ is located below Old Palestine in the edge of Lewis Co., TN.  In 1947 the first improvements (except for painting) were begun.  A new floor was put down covering the wide cracks of the old floor and making the building much easier to heat by the large wood heater.  A power plant was purchased, the building wired and electric lights replaced the kerosene lamps which hung from the ceiling, this source of power was used until TVA power, 1951.  The white painted beaded ceiling and walls were covered with sheetrock and Cel-o-tex, the walls were painted green.  The floor was also refinished, sanded and varnished and rubber mats placed in the aisles.  The men met and sanded and varnished the benches giving them a much better finish.  Again in 1960 further improvements were made by adding four classrooms to the rear of the building and a porch with good steps added much to the appearance and convenience of the church building.  A gas heating system was installed.

The congregation at  Salem has continued to grow during the years and presently there are from 75 to 100 who attend services regularly on Sunday morning. 

The church is under the leadership of elders and deacons, the following being appointed or selected in December 1946: Albert Quillen (died Dec. 1964). Arch Brown and Clarence Edwards were also appointed as elders, but in 1948 Edwards moved to Hohenwald and Brown died in 1958.  Deacons are Elmer Smith, Bascom Overbey, John Will Mayfield, Theodore Talley and H. S. Neely. Talley moved to Lomax Cross Roads near Hohenwald in 1948 and Neely died in 1957, Mayfield in May, 1966.

At this time, Oct. 1963, a regular program of worship is in effect with a different preacher each Sunday.  On two Sunday nights each month, there is preaching and the remaining Sunday nights there is a Bible study class and song practice.  Salem has always been noted for good singing and through the years a number of singing schools have been conducted.  At present, Raymond Blackwell, Bascom Overbey and L. T. Aydelott are the song leaders.  Before these men, Walker Grimes and L. W. Aydelott directed the singing.

Gospel preachers conducting meetings at Salem since 1940 are: S. P. Pittman (1940), Rufus Clifford (1941), Frank Pack (1942-43), Rufus Clifford (1944), Homer Daniel (1945-46), John H. Gerrard (1947-48), Riley Moore (1949), Granville Tyler (1950), Riley Moore (1951), Boone Douthitt (1952), Granville Tyler (1953), Boone Douthitt (1957), Glen Mayfield (1958), Riley Moore (1959), Boone Douthitt (1960), Glen Mayfield (1961), Wader K. Novak (1962), Boone Douthitt (1963), The meeting for 1964 will be with Riley Moore, in 1965, William "Bill" Jackson, 1966 - Warder K. Novak, 1967 Glen Mayfield, and 1990 with John R. Vaughan.

June, 1987

This is an effort to bring the history of the  Salem Church of Christ up to date.  It should be noted that in the business mentioned before December 1946 the names of W. W. Grimes and L. W. Aydelott have been omitted.  This is due to the fact that they were leaders in the church long before this time and continued as elders as long as they were able.  Aydelotte died in 1964 and Grimes died in 1976.  Both were sorely missed.

Preachers that have worked with us since 1963 include: Raymond Blackwell and Brown Grover in 1964; Danny Collier, Tony Adcox, C. P. Roland, Milton Tucker in 1965; and John Bob Hall in 1967.  It should be noted that L. C. Loveless preached his first sermon the second Sunday of June 1967; Judy Love was baptized.  Brother Martin resigned in June due to an automobile accident.  Edd Lancaster, James McGill, and Leon Cole preached for us in December.  In 1968 we started full time work with brother Grady Campbell.  He continued with us through 1969.

Sam Litton, Andy Baker, and Jimmy Adcox worked with us from 1970 to 1971.  brother Riley Moore was with us in 1972 and most of 1973.  Brother Leonard Deen began preaching for us until February 1981, when he went to Totty's  Bend .  Brother Danny Douglas and Brother Eugene Durham were with us until brother Glynn Smith started work with us in 1981.  He continued with us until June of 1983.  Brother Joe Griner started with us at that time and has continued through this point in 1987.  It is hoped that no one has been left off this list.

In 1985 it was decided that rest rooms and carpet should be added to our building.  At that time it was also decided to replace the seats.  We made a note at the bank for $8000.00 to pay for these improvements.  A further record of these things is in our church record book.

The church at this time, 1987, is under the direction of elders L. T. Aydelott and Howard Duncan.  Aydelott has served since 1966 and  Duncan since 1980.  Jess Cothran has been a deacon since 1966.  Song leaders are Jess Cothran, L. T. Aydelott, David Duncan, and David Aydelott.

Church record of the church of Christ at Union on Piney Fork on Beaverdam in Hickman County,  Tennessee.

The church was organized January 21, 1871 .  E. A. Land and J. D. Gibbon were acting elders.  S. F. Halbrooks, Simeon Smith and F. W. Miller were appointed elders.  W. H. Downey was appointed treasurer of the congregation.


J. R. Brown


To Whom It May Concern

( September 9, 1873)

This is to certify that J. R. Brown is this day set apart by the congregation of brothers and sisters at this place for the work of the Ministry.  He is a member of the  church of Christ at this place.  He is in good standing and in full fellowship.  We also state his walk is worthy of imitation and we recommend him as a teacher of the gospel and worthy of being in the Ministerial Service.

Done by order of the members of the church of Christ that meets at Union , Hickman County, Tennessee.


S. H. Harder, Elder

C. T. Brown, Deacon

 Church Records


Date Baptized  Died

Siemon Smith     

Sept. 1870   1918

J. R. Brown 

Sept. 1870  May 23, 1893  

Sarah Lankford 

Sept. 1870   April 27, 1882 

Rosy Coble 

Sept. 1870   July 12, 1883 

Mary E. Brown 

 Sept. 1870

Ann Beal

Sept. 1870

V. C. Duncan

Sept. 1870

E. J. Hardin  

Sept. 1870  Aug. 25, 1881

W. E. Downey

Sept. 1870

W. D.  Duncan  
(or  W. G Duncan)

Sept. 1870 1928

W. H. Downey

Dec. 1870 1930

E. M. Beal   Dec. 1870

Dave Mathes 

Dec. 1870 

G. W. Hardin  

Dec. 1870 
E. A. Sardin Sept. 1873
Emy Bland  Sept. 1873

Jane Bland 

Sept. 1873

W. B. Downey

 Aug. 1875
Lou Shepherd  Aug. 1875
L. L. Harder  Oct. 23, 1876 Aug. 16, 1881

S. J. Grimmitt 

Aug. 13, 1877

Elizabeth Willis

Aug. 13, 1877

Jeannette Brown 

 Sept. 23, 1877 May 13, 1879

Mary Williams 

Sept. 24, 1877

Elizabeth Garrett 

 Sept. 1874

S. J. Coble 

Sept. 22, 1877

J. C. Brown 

 Aug. 1877  Aug. 2, 1887 
Henry Sisco  May 1879
S. E. Dean    1880

Jessie Morris 

July 27, 1880
Mollie Smith   Sept. 7, 1880
Betty Morris Sept. 8, 1880

Polly Beal 

 Sept. 1880

Mary Kilpatrick 

Sept. 1880 Nov. 14, 1884

S. D. Brown

July 10, 1881   Aug. 10, 1892

Elizabeth Smith 

Sept. 25, 1881 1924
Viola Harder Sept. 25, 1881 

Ellen Morris

Sept. 25, 1881


Priscilla Morris

Sept. 25, 1881

Margaret Whiteside

Aug. 14, 1882

Estelle Smith 

Aug. 15, 1882 1953

Lula Harder

Aug. 15, 1882

Sid Loveless

Sept. 14, 1882

Sarah Devore 

Oct. 12, 1882


Alber Brown

Oct. 15, 1882  March 20, 1876

Nettie Harder

Aug. 15, 1883  Feb. 28, 1898

Lula Miller 

Oct. 2, 1883

Betty Whiteside 

Oct. 2, 1883

Roxy Johnson

Oct. 4, 1883 1926

Sally Whiteside

Oct. 5, 1883

Adaline Morris 

Oct. 6, 1883

Mary A. Brown

Sept. 1884




  Other Information

Bell Bates

September, 1884

Died - March 1954

Mollie Morris

August, 1884


Mollie Morrison

August 20,1884


Ann Gunning

August, 1884


Elizabeth Johnson

August 23, 1884


Mary Baker

May 17, 1885


Sally Bartley

May 26, 1886


Veta Smith

July, 1887


Jennie Harden

July, 1887


Alice Cooper

July, 1887

Died - October 8, 1948

Clementine Tolle Sisco

July, 1887

Died - June 12, 1954

L. Miller



S. H. Harder

March, 1881


B. B. Beasley

March, 1881


J. L. Weatherley

March, 1881


Dave Mathes

March 1881


G. W. Banks

March 1881


Ben Beal



James Bland



R. T. Willis



George Shepherd



J. N. Westbrooks



J. W. Smith



I. L. Brown

Sept. 26, 1881


R. B. Morrison

Oct. 12, 1882


Lee Downey

Oct. 22, 1882


C. M. Brown

Aug. 13, 1883


Elvin Johnson

Oct. 6, 1883


Bill Smith

Oct. 6, 1883

Died Sept. 2, 1944

Benijah Black

June 29, 1883

Father of Clyde Black - died Jan. 27, 1914

Bob Whiteside

Aug. 18, 1884


W. F. Barker

Aug. 18, 1884


Marshall Johnston

Aug. 20, 1884


Jess D. Coble

Aug. 21, 1884


Dave Martin

Aug. 21, 1884


Jim Whiteside

Aug. 22, 1884


Cap Whiteside

Aug. 22, 1884

Brother of Martha Jane Sisco

Anderson Morris

Aug. 22, 1884


J. B. Johnston

Aug. 23, 1884


L. B. Plummer

April 28, 1885


Billy Bartley

April 28, 1885


W. G. Brown

July 17, 1887

Died Dec. 19, 1914

Jack Sisco

July 1887

Died Sept. 25, 1941 - Wife - Martha Jane

Willie Gilmore

July 1887


F. H. Plummer

Oct. 1888


Johnston Downing

Oct. 1888


Fanny Johnston

July 1887


Martha Jane  Whiteside Sisco

July 1887


Martha E. Brown

July 1887


Mary Ann Sisco

Oct. 1888


Idea Duncan

Aug. 1888

July 14, 1913

Lovonian Bates

Aug. 1888


Jennie Johnston

Aug. 15, 1884


Hulda Morris Garner

Aug. 15, 1884


Julia Morris Garner

Oct. 1888


Kate Plummer

Oct. 1888


J. W. Tolle



Ona  Sisco Aydelott (1)

1903 (by Will  Morton)

Jan. 1961

Ethel Tolle Aydelott (2)

1903 (by Will Morton)

Nov. 26, 1989 (103 yrs.)

L. W. Aydelott (3)

Dec. 1912 (by bro. Derryberry) at Lebanon in a bathtub

Nov. 25, 1964

Edna S. Quillen

July 1905 (by Will Morton)

Wife of A. (Albert) H.

Pauline Quillen Hinson

July 1922 (by Will Morton)

Daughter of Martha Jane & A. H. Quillen

A. H. Quillen

Aug. 1924 (by Will Morton)

Dec. 15, 1964

Ira Peery Rochelle

July 1905 (by Will Morton)


Laura Baker Lankford

July 1905 (by Will Morton)


Pearl Duncan Poore

July 1905 (by Will Morton)


Jettie Mae Sisco Black

July 1905 (by Will Morton)

Daughter of A. J. & Martha Jane Sisco

Snow Downey Marvin

July 1905 (by Will Morton)


Leslie Gilmer

July 1905 (by Will Morton)


Elmer Gilmer

July 1905 (by Will Morton)


Brownie Sisco

July 1905 (by Will Morton)


Moncie Sisco

July 1905 (by Will Morton)


Edgar Black

July 1905 (by Will Morton)

Husband of Jettie Mae Sisco

Elmer Black

July 1905 (by Will Morton)


*Exerpted from "Life on the Farm" by Harold Downey Duncan, 1910-2000

Courtesy of Natalie Davis and Boyd Warren. Harold was a first cousin to my father.
Submitted by Boyd Warren, a Downey descendant.

Salem Church of Christ

The Church of Christ building was located about one fourth mile up the road, across the county line in Lewis county.  It was known as the Salem Church of Christ and had been established for several years.  Its membership consisted of nearly everybody in the community.  The membership varied from fifty to sixty members. They met each Sunday morning for Bible study and worship services.  They had no regular preacher and seldom had a sermon preached at this time. My mother had been a member of the Church of Christ since childhood.  Her grandfather, E.A. “Kaney” Land, was  one of the earliest preachers in the whole southern part of Tennessee.  Through his numerous debates and preaching during the last half of the 1800’S, he was well known and highly respected.  My father was raised by Primitive Baptist parents but was baptized into the Church of Christ about 1920.

Sunday morning services were the only regular meeting of the congregation. They had no elders or deacons. A “protracted” meeting was held each summer. A well known preacher from Columbia or other neighboring town was brought in to do the preaching. Sometimes this series of sermons would be preached each night for as long as two or three weeks.  Converts from this meeting were baptized in nearby Swan creek.  Everyone came to “church” either on horseback, in buggies, or on foot. People came from farm homes for distances of three or four miles.

Sometimes the church building was used by the Salem School for some special programs.  It was larger than the school building and would accommodate more people.

I well remember Brother Will Morton, a well known preacher from Columbia, who was the usual one invited to preach in the summer.  He would arrive alone in his buggy and stay with some church member during the series of meetings, driving his horse and buggy to the church each night.  He was a rather large (fat) man, very jolly and full of good humor.  He was also a powerful preacher, and everyone loved him.  Large crowds always came to hear his sermons.  Many listened, believed, and obeyed the Gospel.

Social activities by the church were few.  There was one exception, however.  After the crops were “laid by” in early July each year, Wednesday of each week was “fish fry” day.  All the men would gather with their “dip nets” and go fishing about mid morning.  The usually was from fifteen to twenty people, including the teenage boys. They usually started in Swan Creek near or above Salem and fished all the way downstream until they caught enough fish to feed the entire community. In the meantime the women would gather at “ bat” cave near the creek about one mile downstream. There was much spring water coming from the cave and a nice shady area was available where the fish could be cooked and eaten.  A swimming “hole” was also nearby for the younger children.  A sufficient number of fish were usually caught by noon or shortly after, brought to the cave, cleaned and made ready for cooking. The women had brought cakes, pies, etc.  Those men who were unable to fish, built a long fire between logs. Everybody was ready and anxious to start cooking. “Hush puppies” were also made on the spot. “Gobs” of hot coffee was also available.

The remainder of the afternoon was spent by eating, relaxing, swimming or some other activity for the “young and restless”.  Everybody had a great time and looked forward to the next Wednesday. This continued for several weeks each year.


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  This page is ©2002 by Cheryl Zelek.      Text is ©2002 by Sammye Jo Lawson.

This page was created on 10 February 2002.
This page was last updated on  Thursday, August 13, 2015.