The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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History Of A Mountain Church - Meadows of Dan Baptist Church

By Addie J. Wood © 1985

Issue: June, 1985

history of a mountain churchCleaning lamp chimneys in the yard at Meadows of Dan Church in 1925, just before Highway 58 was built. Left to right - Harless Wood, Winona Smith, Lillie Blackard, Jena Reynolds, Mary Wood (in hat), Minnie Wood, Lonnie Wood, Lena Smith, Mary Shelor.Concord Primitive Baptist Church was established somewhere around 1835-1840 in a log house across the road from where the present day Concord Church is located. At first, the Missionary Baptist in this area went there, having no church building of their own.

This was around 1845-1850 when the Langhornes, Harrells, Rutledges, Chaplins and others moved into the community. They had attended a missionary church where they had moved from, and the closest one to them here was Sycamore, at Buffalo Ridge, some eight or nine miles away. They attended it some, but as horse back and buggies were the only means of travel in those days, it was a long way to go.

In April, 1855, when they thought there were enough of the Missionary Baptist faith to have their own church, an arm of the Sycamore Baptist Church came to Meadows of Dan to organize it.

Steptoe Langhorne had been teaching Sunday School in his home for some time before this. The Meadows of Dan Baptist Church was organized in a log house on the old Terry road now owned by the Park Service.

In 1868, William M. Langhorne gave 10 acres, more or less, to the church, parsonage and cemetery naming Thomas G. Scott, P.O. Reynolds and David K. Harrell trustees and their successors. There was a large log house on the property, so they remodeled it and made a church building, weatherboarded it with poplar slabs.

This was located just above the Langhorne family cemetery plot, where the Parkway property now joins. When the Parkway was built, they had the court make the Park Service a deed to three acres of the church land for $300.00.

The first school in Meadows of Dan was taught in this building, also.

Around 1895-1900, they built a new church on the property facing road 602. When Highway 58 was surveyed, the church was in the way, so the state asked the church to let them move it where the present parking lot is today.

In 1838 or '40, it was decided to build a new church building. It was built behind the old one, facing Highway 58. A few years later, Sunday School rooms were added to the back of it. Later, they built an extension to the front on the sanctuary, a full size basement, kitchen and social hall.

Dr. Cort R. Flint and his wife looked up the record of all the pastors who had served here. They are:

John Robertson, 1855-57; John Turner, 1857-58; James Lewellen, 1858-67; P.O. Reynolds, 1868-69; William H. Beamer, 1871-82; G.H. Chaplin, 1882-85; James Sweeney, 1887-90; J.C. Carper, 1891-93; William E. Shelor, 1893-96; R.E. White, 1896-98; J.H. Powers, 1899-1903; Gerry Reaves, 1903-04; J.W. Wade, 1905-13; William E. Shelor, 1915-16; J.H. Powers, 1916-18; H.B. Jennings, 1919-21; W.B. Moore, 1921-23; William E. Shelor, 1923-24; J.0. Belton, 1924-33; A.E. Estall, 1934-40; N.C. Coggin, 1941-46; Rolen C. Bailey, 1946-47; H.L. Philips, 1947-6 months; Grant Miler, 1948- 52; Wayne Deitz, 1952-58; Royce Dowdy, 1958-63; Roy Davis, 1963- 67; Lowell Willis, 1967-70; Cort R. Flint, 1970-79; George E. Reynolds, 1980-.

When the Meadows of Dan Baptist Church was organized in 1855 my grandfather, David K. Harrell, said people referred to it as a split from the Concord Church. He said it hurt him deeply to hear that said because it was only a difference in their beliefs on missions and Sunday School. They respected Concord preaching day, which was the third Sunday of each month and still is to this day. They never had any service except Sunday School at the Missionary Baptist Church on that day until around 1920, and that was cut short and we went to Concord for service.

We attended singing school at Concord. I attended my first singing school there in 1912. It was taught by Robert Conner who lived in Floyd County. Other singing teachers were Billie Shelor, Will Wood and Price Webb. The last one was taught by Fran Shelor. The Shelors were noted for their good singing. Yet, like their grandfather, I hope the grandchildren will still keep up with it and teach their children like Grandfather Billie. The only one I know that could still teach singing using shape notes would be his grandson, Bill Shelor.

I have included a photograph made around 1925 of the ladies of the church cleaning the oil lamps. The church had a chandelier swinging from the ceiling in the center of the church. It held six lamps. There was one swinging lamp at the pulpit, four lamps on shelves, two in the end where the chorus sat, and two on the side of the church - Eleven in all to be cleaned. Also the responsibility of the ladies was to clean the windows. There were eight large windows with twelve panes in each plus two small windows in the pulpit stand of eight panes each.

The original church building was approximately 40x60 feet. So far, I haven't been able to locate a photograph of it. I would appreciate if any of you readers having one would let me know.

Meadows of Dan Missionary Baptist Church has been here since 1855. They hold a homecoming the third Sunday in June each year and would be happy for you to attend.