Franklin County, Tennessee

The pioneer settlers of Franklin County were a Christian people who worshiped God while undergoing the hardships of frontier life. A large number of the first settlers were ministers of the gospel. Public worship was held in every neighborhood in the cabins of some pious settlers. And as the people became more numerous they established camp-meetings at various places throughout the county. The early Methodist camp meetings were located at Farris' Chapel, Walnut Grove, Caney Hollow, Marble Plains and Dabb's Ford. The Presbyterians established a camp ground at Goshen and the Baptists established one near Salem. At these places the good people met annually "in God's first temples" the groves to worship Him. These camp-meetings were mostly continued until the late civil war since which time all have been discontinued except the one at Goshen where services are annually held for a season on the camp grounds. But no tents are now used as the people go to the grove in the morning and worship during the day and return home in the evening. The pioneer religious denominations were the Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, and Lutherans and Revs. James Faris, James Rowe, Elijah Brazier, Henry Larkin, Robert Bell, and Wm. Woods were some of the pioneer preachers. Early churches were established by the respective denominations in the neighborhood of the location of the camp grounds before mentioned.

The Goshen Presbyterian Church was organized soon after the first settlement and Rev. Robert Bell was the first pastor. Immediately after the organization of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church the Goshen Church joined it in a body. It still exists and has a very large membership. There is now only one Presbyterian Church in the county and that one was established at Decherd about 1874 and has now a membership of about sixty. Decherd also has two colored churches—one Missionary Baptist and one Southern African Methodist. At Winchester divine services were first held in private houses and next in the court house until 1827 when the Cumberland Presbyterian Church edifice was erected on the lot where the Christian Church now stands. This was the first church building erected in the town. The first Sunday-school in Winchester was organized about 1828 and was conducted by Benjamin Decherd and others in a room of the second story of the court house where white and colored children were taught together. About 1830 the Methodists built a log church in the Moseley neighborhood. The Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Winchester was organized about 1820 by Benjamin Decherd and Judge Green, their wives and others. Rev. Joseph Copp was pastor of this church early in the thirties. He was succeeded by Rev. W. A. Scott who founded the Winchester Female Academy. The present church edifice was built in 1858. At present it has a membership of about 125.

The Missionary Baptist Church in Winchester was founded about 1849 by Rev. A. D. Trimble, pastor, with a membership of about twenty-five. The church edifice was completed in 1852. The present resident membership is about fifty and about twenty-five of the Mary Sharp College students who reside abroad. Rev. Enoch Windes is the pastor.

The Catholic Church at Winchester was built soon after the close of the late civil war. Its members reside principally in the country. The edifice of the Christian Church at Winchester was completed in 1885. Elder Floyd is the present minister.

The original trustees of the Methodist Episcopal Church South at Winchester were Robert Dougan, Robert Haukins, Wiley Densen, Charles Farris, William Stewart and John Fennell. A lot was donated to this church by J. Gordon and the church built thereon in 1834. The church was organized with a small membership, twenty-five perhaps. In 1854 the church edifice and lot were sold to Prof. Charles Guita for the sum of $400. The new church building was dedicated in 1853 by Dr. McFerrin. The present membership is 140. Rev. W. T. Haggard is the present pastor.

The Episcopal Church at Winchester was founded principally by Ashton Butterworth the most liberal donor and Rev. J. L. Park. The edifice was erected in 1874 and the church has a membership of about forty.

The Christian Church at Cowan was built in 1880. At Sherwood there is a Union and also a Methodist Church the edifice of the latter being built in 1881 and the former in 1883. There are two colored churches in Winchester, one Methodist and the other Baptist. There are many other churches throughout the county of which for want of space we cannot speak in detail.

Source: History of Tennessee, Goodspeed Publishing Company, 1886

If you have old Church Minutes, Records or Registries from the Franklin County area Churches that you wish to share with others, please email me the information and I will get it posted as soon as possible. Thank you!

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