J. Dalton Allford

In 1841, a gospel preacher whose name is not recalled, held a meeting in a little log school house situated in a dense forest six miles northwest of what is now Middleton, Tennessee, resulting in 8 baptisms among whom were William Rose and his wife, Thomas Rose, W. K. Rose, Sr., Mary Rose Britt, and Ann Sellars, the latter being the writer’s grandmother.

He returned in 1842 for another meeting with more addition and the selection of elders and deacons. In 1843 a camp meeting was held, and the results of which are not now recalled. Then in 1844, Bro. T. W. Caskey held meeting in route home from a meeting in Memphis, Tenn., although some claim, as you know, that it was years later before any gospel preacher ever preached in Memphis.

In 1846, Bro. Thos. Rose met Bro. J. R. McCall at Humboldt, Tenn., and hauled him 50 or 60 miles in his ox wagon to New Hope. A preacher would hold a meeting at Lemalsamac, east of Newbern, would be carried to Humboldt to be met with ox wagon and brought to New Hope.

Bro. McCall’s meeting was very successful. He baptized a young Methodist preacher, W. L. Thompson, who was also a great singer and singing teacher. He preached for the church and taught the membership to sing until his death in April 1893.

The New Hope church has always been noted for its good singing, good preaching, and hospitality, and I pray that these good qualities may ever continue until we all meet in that glad forever.

From 1841 we have not failed to have our annual protracted meetings. The old church has had its ups and downs but has kept alive, defending and promulgating the faith, through all these years (110 years last May).

In 1901 the church withdrew fellowship from T. B. Hicks, a minister located with us, which caused a division that hindered our progress very much, but G. A. Dunn, Sr., held several meetings for us and got everybody back to work again. Since then we have had no trouble of that kind.

The church has produced the following gospel preachers, Shepherd Spears, John Thompson, J. M. Turner, A. A. Murphrey, Hughie Ray, A. A. Rose, W. K. Rose, Sr., F. O. Howell, W. L. Thompson, C. M. Thompson, J. T. Stricklin, J. H. D. Thompson, and G. L. Thompson. (What church has a better record? Editor).

Below is a partial list of preachers who have preached for us, T. W. Caskey, J. R. McCall, Christopher Gist, R. P. Meeks, Doctor Lauderdale, a Bro. Wines, B. W. Sparkman, H. M. Northcross, a Bro. Dupree, Bro. Booth, Lee Jackson, A. G. Freed, T. B. Hicks, J. F. Thompson, W. O. Wagoner, W. S. Long, J. R. Stockard, B. G. Hope, G. A. Dunn, Sr., J. A. Dunn, J. B. Nelson, Theatus Pritchard, E. L. Whitaker, T. M. Carney, H. M. Phillips, W. C. Phillips, Chester Estes, Joe Warlick, J. D. Tant, Robtert L. Witt, J. P. Lowrey, J. T. Stricklin, Joe Netherland, W. F. Ethridge, W. K. Rose, Billie Crumb, A. Y. Smith, and Bro. Thornton.

In the early days of the congregation its membership was composed mostly of people who had immigrated from North Carolina, largely Methodists and Hardshell Baptists, many of whom could not read or write but all learned to be useful and happy in the work of the Lord.

Many of them could quote and locate more scripture than the average man of today. Our families wore home-woven clothes, chewed home-grown tobacco and spit the way their spitting machine was turned.

The elderly women smoked stone pipes and the younger ones kept their teeth clean with soot, powdered charcoal and Black Gum tooth brushes. They wore long dresses and sat with both feet on the floor at all times. The writer well remembers when the ladies who walked to church, and most everybody did, carried their Sunday shoes and stockings in hands until they came near the meeting house. Sometimes the young men would carry them for them, and when time came to put them on he would gaze out into space with his back toward the ladies while they donned their home-knit hose, string garters, and their best shoes.

The present meetinghouse was erected in 1854. There have been some alterations and repairs through the years. It was first lighted with candles until 1888 when wall lamps were installed, then followed hanging lamps, and now with electricity.

This old congregation has had a number of professional men in its membership and is the mother church of a large number of congregations throughout west Tennessee and north Mississippi. We have at present more than 100 members, whereas at one time in years past we had more than 300, but other congregations have been established near us and have drawn many from our number. We pray that they too shall experience a long history of faithfulness in the Lord’s work.

Christian Visitor, Feb. 1952