Vaiden, Mississippi

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Shongalo Presbyterian Church


First Church


The Shongalo Presbyterian Church was organized on Saturday, August 29, 1835. The name, Shongalo, was taken from the name of the village one mile west of the present town of Vaiden. The Church was the first in or near the place of any denomination; the nearest being a Methodist Church on Little Black Creek, nine miles distant. There was also a Baptist Church at Rocky Springs in Holmes County, twelve miles distant with Rev. Joe Morrison as its preacher.


The organization of the Presbyterian Church was effected on a log in front of the school house, which stood near what was known as Eakin's Big Spring, one mile from the village. The Presbytery of Clinton (Synod of South Alabama and Mississippi) delegated Rev. A. Newton D.D. and Rev. A.C. Dickerson to this work. The twelve original members of the Church were: John McFarland and wife, Mary McFarland; Dr. Hugh Weir and wife, Jane T. Weir; Miss Mary Steele, a sister of Mrs. Weir and later wife of Mr. James Wilson of Lexington, Mississippi; Mrs. Eleanor Cain; Daniel McDougal and wife, Mary McDougal; Mrs. Mary McEachern; Mrs. Martha Pickins; Mrs. Lucy Eskridge and Mr. Obadiah Eastman.


The following day proved to be a most enriching experience for those twelve adventurous people. Two members were received into the membership of the Church on profession of faith; Dougal McCall and Mrs. Elizabeth Gordin. On this day both the Church Sacraments were observed: the Sacrament of Communion and the Sacrament of Infant Baptism. Five children were baptized. Robert S. Weir was the first baptism, adult or infant, in the Shongalo Church.


John McFarland and Obadiah Eastman were the first elected and installed elders. John McFarland had only to be installed for he had been ordained Elder in the Lexington Church. He became the first Clerk of the Session and remained so until 1837 when he moved to Natchez. The stated supply of the Church from its organization until 1836 was Rev. A.C. Dickerson. He preached the opening sermon of the Synod of Mississippi in 1835 at its organization. He supplied the Lexington and Canton Churches in his early life and labored with great success as evangelist in Central Mississippi until 1841.


The Church was without a pastor until September 15, 1836, when Dr. Newton with Rev. Jesse Stratton and Licentiate Henderson visited the Church and held a protracted meeting. Eight members were received into the Church. Dr. William Thompson was elected and ordained Ruling Elder. The first adult was baptized during the meeting.


Rev. Jesse Stratton, a graduate of Theological Seminary in Andover, Massachusetts and the oldest ordained minister in the Presbytery in 1839, accepted a call and supplied the Church until the first of 1840. He spent his last years in Louisiana doing missionary work. He lived long and well and, like the Master, he went about doing good. During the ministry of Mr. Stratton, the congregation worshipped in the Academy Hall at Shongalo Academy until their first house was completed and dedicated in August, 1842.


The Church was a frame building with plastered walls and a seating capacity of 250. The cost was moderate in money, but quite an undertaking, and a heavy tax on the feeble and much-scattered flock. They had great difficulty in furnishing it with pews. Robert Eakin overcame this difficulty by prevailing on individuals to subscribe a pew or more. There is no record of finances during this pastorate. The supposition is that the records were lost, but the records of the sessional business were strictly kept and show that the Church attained to considerable spiritual prosperity.


There were 61 communicants; of these, 55 were added on examination and six by letter. There were 18 adult baptisms and 12 infant baptisms. When Mr. Stratton took charge of the Church, the membership was 14. When he left, there were more than 70. There had been some removals by death and otherwise. Camp meetings were resorted to, during his ministry, owing to the sparsely settled country.


At one of these meetings, at what was known as Walnut Springs near Gerrenton, Mr. Stratton was assisted by Jerry Block, a preacher of superior pulpit talent. During this camp meeting, a lady of precious memory, Mrs. Mary Wilson, openly confessed and united with the Shongalo Church. Mr. James Wilson and Dr. Rush Newman were enrolled at this time. Mrs. Wilson and her son, at a later date, became Charter Members of Old Salem.


The next year, another camp meeting was held.  There were seventeen additions.  In another meeting near the town of West, Dr. Newton and Rev. J. Gallagher of Tennessee assisted Mr. Stratton.  There were thirteen additions.  It is spoken of as one of the most precious meetings with which the Church was ever blessed, that many who were converted had never before heard a Presbyterian sermon. 


On July 15, 1838, Mr. Eakin and Mr. Walker were made Elders. Mr. Eakin served until 1847; Mr. Walker not so long. At the resignation of Mr. Stratton in 1840, there were three Elders and seventy members. The Church seems to have been without a pastor for two years, and did not have occasional preaching. It is probable that a Mr. Hughes took charge in 1842 and continued as stated supply until the last of the year 1843. Thirteen additions were made to the Church.  It is stated that the cause of Mr. Hughes' removal was a sermon preached on the judgment in which he took the ground that judgment was nigh at hand. The Church was again without a pastor until Rev. Robert M. Morrison was called to the charge in 1846. He had been preaching in Mississippi about five years and had been in the ministry only six or seven years.  He is the first preacher with whom there seemed to be any formal agreement on the part of the Church, and not with him until the third year of his pastorate.


When Mr. Morrison took charge of the Church, it was very much disorganized; there was not an acting Elder in the Church.  There were twenty-five members and they were not in harmony.  For one and a half years, he labored under these discouraging conditions when the Lord gave him a most efficient and helpful assistant in the person of Dr. Hugh H. Weir.  He was elected and ordained a Ruling Elder in January 1848 and continued to serve until he died in October 1849.  A striking coincidence: Rev. Newton who organized and Rev. Morrison who built the Church, died in the same year.  From the election and ordination of Dr. Weir, the Church began to grow and prospered until Dr. Morrison’s removal by death.


The Church lost three of its Elders by death: Dr. Weir in 1859, Mr. Daniel Murphy in 1860, and Mr. Daniel McEachern in 1859.  [Ed. Note:  The McEacherns of Vaiden pronounce their name as “Muh-Kay-Han”].  There was left only one Elder, Mr. W.H. Hairston, who was ordained in 1858.  He was the only Elder from 1859-1872 when Dr. A.J. Sanderson transferred from Hopewell Church and was ordained as Elder and made Clerk of the Session.


Mr. Morrison, while the acting pastor of the Shongalo Church was, for a number of years, Principal of Shongalo Academy.  He was a faithful and thorough teacher.  He not only trained the mind, but the heart as well, and many of his pupils were led to Christ.  No memory was more precious to his people than that of Mr. Morrison, and deservedly so, for he was a man of great intellectual force, attractive social habits, and impressive piety -- a masterly preacher, a judicious, devoted and sympathetic pastor. During his thirteen years pastorate, he reorganized the Church and inducted into office four Elders.  He received into the Church sixty-one; on examination fifty-two; by letter, nine; baptized thirty adults and baptized eleven infants.


Rev. M.M. Marshall, D.D. from Fayetteville, Tennessee was invited to carry on a meeting.  He then was invited to become stated supply, the latter part of the year 1860.  He supplied the Church about two years.  From the time of Dr. Marshall’s pastorate until 1866, a period of five years, the Church was vacant, except when Rev. George and Rev. E.M. Richardson supplied the pulpit for a few months at a time. 


There is no record of any Church business during the eight years after the removal of Mr. Morrison. The fact is accounted for because the Church was without a preacher for four or five years; because of the destruction of all records and papers at the time of the pillaging of the house of Major Kopperl, who was killed in a raid of the enemy during the Civil War. About all that can be gathered during this period is that seven were added to the church.  The only Elder, Mr. W.H. Hairston, was absent during the four years, serving his country.  The Church had no Board of Deacons for thirty-four years.  The Elders executed that office.


Major Charles Kopperl, a converted Jew, was never officially ordained or installed, and yet he acted in the capacity of Deacon from the time he united with the Church until his tragic death during the war. The church records describe him as: "a cultured man, of exquisite taste, wonderful energy, and of unstinted hospitality." He was killed by a black Union Soldier for refusing to give up his watch, during the raid.


On March 1, 1866, Dr. John McCampbell of Lexington was invited to supply the Church.  He served the Church faithfully and most acceptable for about two years.  Under his ministry the Church was reorganized.  Dr. McCampbell, a Christian hero during the Yellow Fever Epidemic in 1878, was greatly admired and dearly beloved.


Rev. David Humphrey of South Carolina succeeded Mr. McCampbell and served one year.  In April 1869, Rev. Charles Atkinson, D.D., a native of Massachusetts, but who had moved to Mississippi many years before this and had served faithfully and successfully as a minister of the Gospel, supplied this Church for half time.  He was its preacher for two and a half years.  At the fiftieth anniversary of the Church, he delivered the Memorial Sermon.  At this time he was serving a Church at Thibodeaux, Louisiana.


R.Y. Tate, an Elder in Poplar Creek, was elected and installed an Elder in the Church.  Mr. R.C. Wilson and Dr. S.J.S. Hairston were ordained Deacons.  They were the first Deacons in the history of the Church.  Rev. I.J. Daniels of Mississippi became the stated supply of the Church in May 1872.  Early in his ministry he was connected with the Methodist Church but changed his relation because of doctrinal views.  He supplied the Church for about six years.  Dr. A.J. Sanderson was made Ruling Elder, and Mr. T.H. Armstrong was ordained Deacon.


During Mr. I.J. Daniel's ministry, the present house of worship was erected and dedicated. The first house of worship was in Shongalo, but after the removal of the population of Shongalo to Vaiden, the old house of worship was sold. The congregation first undertook to build a frame house. The site was somewhere near where the former Courthouse (of 1905) stood. Before it was completed, it was blown to the ground by a windstorm. A brick house was then decided upon, and the site this time was east of the railroad. The land was deeded to Dr. A.J. Sanderson for the Presbyterian Church by Dr. C.M. Vaiden, guardian to the heirs of L.W. Herring, November 10, 1870. The sum paid was $100. The lot is 42 by 125 feet in size, and is said to contain 12/100 of an acre. The house erected was a two story brick structure with the Masons owning the upper story. The cost of the Church was $3812.85.


The Church was dedicated October 15, 1875 with the sermon being preached by Dr. John Hunter, of Jackson, Mississippi. The Church was built after years of self-denying and perseverance and in the face of great difficulties. To the unceasing efforts and consecrated efforts of Dr. A.J. Sanderson, the success of the undertaking is due.


The Presbyterian Sunday School, distinctly Presbyterian, was organized in 1876. Prior to this, there had been a Union Sunday School held in the Baptist Church. Dr. Sanderson was elected Superintendent and continued in this office until 1898 when, on account of his health he became inactive.  Mr. T.H. Armstrong was appointed to this office by the session.


Mr. S.P. Armstrong, on account of the illness of his brother, became Superintendent in 1912 and held his office until his death in May, 1927.  Mr. Claude Hatcher is the present Superintendent (1976).


In January, 1878, Rev. T.L. Haman was regularly called to the pastorate of this Church, he was the first pastor installed; the others had served as stated supply. Rev. Haman served his people 40 years, 10 months, and 5 days.   The group consisted of Hopewell, Old Salem, and Shongalo.  Blackmonton was organized at a later date.


When Mr. Haman took charge of the field, the spiritual condition of the Church was good.  There was a prayer meeting with fair attendance, a Sabbath School with fifty enrolled and five teachers, and a Ladies Aid Society.  The total number on roll was fifty-three.  The official members were:  Ruling Elders: W.H. Hairston and Dr. A.J. Sanderson; Deacons: Dr. S.J. Hairston and T.H. Armstrong.  Dr. Daniels of Edwards was supplying the Church, one Sunday a month.


The following report was given at the fiftieth anniversary of the Church in August 1885:


During Mr. Haman’s pastorate of seven years and eight months, Mr. R.C. Wilson and Mr. A.G. Reeves were installed Deacons.  Of the 116 communicants, 81 comprised the present roll; 24 dismissed to other Churches and 11 translated to the Church Triumphant.  Of those on the present roll, there is one of the original twelve, who constituted the Church 50 years ago.

Mrs. Mary McDougal McEachern, a wonderful Christian and one of the little band of twelve, is a member of the Hopewell Presbyterian Church.


In 1835 Mrs. McEachern was urged to join the Methodist Church, but she said, “Someday a Presbyterian Preacher would be looking for Presbyterians.  I’ll wait and be a log in helping build the first Presbyterian Church.”


Robert Eakin Sr., who joined the Church in 1837 and was a valuable Elder, was present at the Semi-Centennial.  He had been a member forty-eight years.  Of the fifty-three who were members at the beginning of the present pastorate, only twenty-nine were members; fifteen removed to other places and eight passed to their reward.


The pastor had W.H. Hoyt to assist in a Meeting in October 1885 – thirty new names were added to the roll.


At a sessional meeting, Dr. Sanderson was authorized to organize a Sunday School for the Colored People. Mr. Haman preached for them occasionally. In October, 1879, the Colored People asked to be allowed to conduct their own meetings.


During July 1886, Mr. Haman was given a two month’s leave of absence in order that he might visit vacant Churches and unoccupied fields, cooperating with Dr. H.H. Alexander of Kosciusko.  The Church carried out the programs outlined by the General Assembly.  The first Wednesday night in every month was called Missionary Night.  Later when this Church was without a pastor, the faithful few met; not having a leader, they studied Grace Saxe’s Books of the Bible.


Before the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, Preparatory Service was held beginning Friday night and continuing through the Sabbath.  Mr. R.J. Davis was elected and installed Deacon in 1889 and Mr. S.P. Armstrong was ordained and installed Elder.


Union Church, a distance of fourteen miles, having been recently organized, and great interest having been manifested, the session, thinking three services too hard on Mr. Haman, gave Union the third Sunday Night Service.  Mr. And Mrs. J.M. Armstrong were the first two members of this Church.  From this Church we have indirectly one son who has entered the ministry, Mr. Reginald Lowe, whose father was an Elder in Union Church.


The Presbytery was petitioned to enlarge French Camp Academy into a college. Mr. Haman was asked to act as financial agent of the Presbytery in the interest of the Presbyterian School located at French Camp. Mr. J.H. Hammett supplied this Church during the pastor's absence.


When Mr. Haman came to this field, the Church had no Manse. He boarded the first year in the home of Mr. J.S. Colmery, who lived in the Hopewell neighborhood. The next year, he moved to town, buying what was known as the Andrew Mecklin place on the southwest outskirts of town. The session appointed Mr. R.C. Weir and Elder T.H. Armstrong to represent the Church in the purchase of a Manse. The house and lot were purchased from the Vaiden Estate in 1890.


Mr. Haman’s health was not so good in his last years and the Church gave him several vacations which he spent in the mountains.  During these summer vacations, the Home Mission Committee sent Ministerial Students to supply this group.  Among those sent were: Mr. Archie Warren, Mr. Eugene Comfort, Mr. Clifford King, Mr. Louis King, and Mr. George Smiley.  Mr. Tims and Mr. Sutton also assisted the pastor with his country churches.


In April 1895, Mr. R.C. Weir and Mr. J.J. Armstrong were installed and ordained Deacons. 


During the summer of 1894, God greatly blessed this community in which our Church shared through the ministration of the Word by the Rev. W.W. McIntosh of the M.E. Church.  Twenty were added to the Church, many of these from the Sabbath School.  During this period of ten years, sixty were received into the Church on examination, twenty-eight on certificate, three by letter, eleven adult baptisms, and thirty-two infant baptisms.  In order that every child might make a personal contribution to the Gospel, the card system was adopted in 1896.  The Deacons made a house to house canvass.  While the congregation as a whole did not pledge themselves, many did.


A study was later added to the Manse. The Elders, who are trustees of the Manse, with the consent of the congregation, sold to Dr. J.C. Armstrong the east end of the lot.


Mr. Sutton preached at Union for Mr. Haman.  This was the only evangelic work the Church did.  In 1902, the Church lost one of her most faithful and loyal members: Dr. Sanderson.


Much needed repairs were made on the Church in 1902; a small annex in the back of the pulpit, added to the ventilation and the lighting of the Church. The Ladies Aid put in new art glass windows; the Willing Workers gave an organ; the Adah Haman Club gave a new carpet. The McEacherns installed a Memorial Window to Mother McEachern. Ceiling fans, electric fixtures, a choir railing, curtains for the railing, and chairs for the choir were added.


Mr. E.L. Conger, an Elder in the Old Salem Church, was elected to the same office in thus Church in 1906.  In September 1908, Mr. George Buchanan, previously an Elder in the Sylvan Hall Church was installed as Elder in this Church.  Death again claimed one of the faithful elders, Mr. Wilfred Hairston.  As a man, soldier, and citizen, he was of the finest type.


At the August meeting of the session the Cradle Roll and Home Department were added as part of the Sunday School Work.  Mrs. James Somerville, Miss Mable Conger and Mrs. S.P. Armstrong were put in charge of the departments.  The Church Roll was revised in 1913.  The number of communicants were 99.


It is well to note some of the results of the Country Work in this group.  The Hopewell Church was given to the ministry,  Mr. Charlie Colmery, who has served the Church at Edwards, Mississippi.  The Old Salem Church gave Mr. S.I. Reeves, who has passed to his reward.  From the Blackmonton Church, came Messrs. Clifford and Louis King.  From the Hopewell Church, Mr. Joe Howell who afterwards went into the Methodist ministry.


Old Salem entertained the Fall Meeting of Presbytery in 1913.  The young people of the Church have been organized for constructive work under Christian Leaders.


Among the early societies were: the Westminster League, membership 39; and the Adah Haman Club, membership 14; the Willing Workers, membership 17; leader Mrs. S.P. Armstrong; Frieda Aden Band, membership 14; and the Junior Missionary Society under the leadership of Miss Maggie Sanderson.


The Christian Endeavor Society for years did much good not only in training our own young people but the young people of other denominations.  Miss Adah Haman, Miss Lena Armstrong, Mrs. James Somerville, and Mrs. S.P. Armstrong served as leaders.


Mr. A.J. Coleman was elected, ordained, and installed Elder in 1918.  Mr. J.L. Reeves was ordained and installed Deacon at the same time.


Added to the Church during the period 1905-1918: On examination, 38; certificate, 33; adult baptisms, 11; infant baptisms, 4.  Whole number of communicants, 103; non-resident communicants, 29; elders, 4; deacons, 4; Total Sunday School including Cradle Roll and Home Department, 59.


In January 1918, Mr. Haman celebrated his fortieth anniversary as pastor of the Shongalo Church. He preached a sermon from this text: "These forty years the Lord thy God hath been with thee; thou has lacked nothing." Deuteronomy 2:7. The Members of the congregation gathered at the Manse to celebrate this unusual pastorate of 40 years. This was an enjoyable occasion.  During Mr. Haman’s pastorate Dr. Grafton, Mr. Gus Mecklin, Mr. Charles Colmery, Dr. Hutton, Mr. McCue, Mr. Ford, and others assisted in the meetings.  On November 3, 1918, Rev. T.L. Haman, after a very short illness, was called to his reward.  This little group of churches will always cherish the memory and the teachings of this man of God.  He was not only loved by his own flock, but by men of every creed and walk of life.  Like Paul, he could say, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but to all them that love his appearing.”  II Timothy 4:7-8.  Mrs. Haman survived him until May 7, 1949, when she was called to her Heavenly Home at the age of 99 years and seven months.


The Church extended a call to Mr. V.L. Bryant, who was finishing his course in Theology at Louisville Seminary.  Mr. Bryant accepted the call and came to this field in June 1919, serving this group as pastor until May 31, 1921.  In 1920, this Church entertained the Spring meeting of the Presbytery.  Mr. S.H. McBride was the moderator.


After the resignation of Mr. Bryant, a call was extended to Mr. J.V. Cobb who was at Columbia Seminary.  He was ordained and installed as pastor August 3, 1923.  He served this group faithfully and well for two years.  His attractive personality, his willingness to serve, endeared him not only to his own people, but to the town as well.  He resigned this pastorate to accept the call to the Batesville and Sardis group.  During Mr. Cobb’s pastorate, 11 were received on examination, 25 on certificate and 5 through adult baptism.


The Session invited Mr. George Swetman of Carrollton, Alabama to visit this Church in June 1926 in view of a call.  Mr. Swetman was called and he came to supply this group in July 1926.  In December 1926, the Church lost one of her most faithful members, Mr. J.J. Armstrong, Deacon and Treasurer of the Church for many years.  At the meeting of the session, Miss Annie G. Armstrong was appointed treasurer.


In February 1927, the following deacons were elected and at a later date were ordained: Mr. J.C. Calhoun, Mr. B.P. Cain, Mr. L.H. Johnson, Mr. James Somerville, and Mr. Claude Hatcher.  Mr. Dan Hatcher, having moved his membership from Blackmonton and having been ordained an Elder in this Church was added to the roll of Elders in the Shongalo Church.


In May 1927, death claimed Mr. S.P. Armstrong, who had served this Church as Deacon, Elder, and Superintendent of Sunday School.  He was faithful in all things. 


During Mr. Swetman’s pastorate, 11 were received by letter, six on profession, three infant baptisms and four adult baptisms.  Mr. Swetman resigned September 1, 1928.


Mr. E.L. Conger, for many years a faithful member of this Church, was called to his reward October 1930.  Mr. Conger had been Clerk of the Session since Mr. T.H. Armstrong’s death.


The first record we have of Woman's Work at Shongalo Presbyterian Church, was during the pastorate of Dr. I.J. Daniels, and just before the pastorate of Rev. Haman in 1878. We find the women of the Church organized and the name Ladies Aid was given to this organization.  They had been laboring to pay off the indebtedness of their new house of worship by giving plays, festivals, and etc.  When Rev. Haman became pastor, he discouraged this means of raising money, and stressed regular and systematic giving. In two days’ time the Deacons had raised the amount by individual contributions.  Through a ministry of 40 years, this policy of finances was carried out.

The work of the women during the early days of our Church History was not organized as it is today.  They did not have the officers, nor were the records kept.  The Ladies Aid of the Shongalo Church have no record in the Book of the Session until 1902, but the name of the following were faithful members of this organization at some time during the 40 year pastorate of Dr. Haman:


Mrs. Luella Wilson, Mrs. Lockhart, Mrs. F.A. Kennedy, Mrs. Cowles Vaiden, Mrs. A.J. Sanderson, Mrs. Carothers, Mrs. T.L. Haman, Mrs. Lizzie Herring, Mrs. Mary Armstead, Mrs. Sarah Thomas, Miss Edna Green, Mrs. Bettie Colmery, Mrs. Florence Bains, Mrs. Ross Calhoun, Mrs. Webb Bacon, Mrs. Jim Bacon, Mrs. Perrin, Mrs. Minnie Hart Armstrong, Mrs. J.J. Armstrong, Mrs. John Reeves, Mrs. James Somerville, Mrs. Sudie Hogue, Mrs. Gaston, Miss Mabel Conger, and Mrs. Carrie Phillips.


The sending of a basket filled with scraps for making of quilts the morning before the society was to meet that afternoon was the forerunner of Ladies Aid Day, which was the first Monday of each month.  The meeting was opened with the Lord's Prayer, then while the members plied the needle industriously, piecing quilts, making bonnets and aprons, Mrs. C.W. Bacon entertained them by reading some interesting book or the news of the day.  Sometimes the hostess passed cookies, watermelon, or other light refreshments.  The quilts, aprons and sunbonnets were sold. In the summer, the ladies sold ice cream in the cellar under Mr. Weir's store, later to be known as Crook's Grocery. The ladies contributed to the causes of the Church, the pastor's salary, and repairs on the Manse. Before they had their Orphanage, they sent offerings to the Thornwell Orphanage at Clinton, South Carolina.


In 1902, the Ladies Aid had twenty members.  As the Church took on new life and vigor, so did the Society.  In 1903, Mrs. Jim Bacon was president.  Mrs. Minnie H. Armstrong, in 1890 organized the children of the Church into a society under the name Willing Workers. This little band were faithful workers for about ten years. The meetings were held at the home of the Leader. After the Devotional and Prayer, quilts were pieced. In the summer, the girls sold ice cream and, in 1901, the Willing Workers presented the Church with a new organ, which was placed in the building that would be known in the future as the Haman Memorial Building.


On March 23, 1905, just after Miss Adah Haman had recovered from a serious illness, she invited the young married women and the young ladies of the Church to the manse.  Wishing to render some special service, she proposed the organizing of a society to study the different phases of Church work.  Since the young people did not want to be called a society, Mr. T.H. Armstrong, the Clerk of the Session, when reading the report to the Church, called this organization The Adah Haman Club.  The records will show the good work done by the Club and will ever be a memorial to its founder.


From the time of its organization until it united with the Ladies Aid and Missionary Society in 1920 known as the Auxiliary, it was the most alert and enthusiastic organization of the Church, always ready to serve and give of time and money.  Under the leadership of Miss Evelyn Eades, the most outstanding event was the adoption of a dearly loved girl from Palmer Orphanage.  [Ed. Note:  For more information about the still-existing Palmer Orphanage, click HERE.]  A very memorable occasion the following year, during Miss Sanderson’s term as president, was the visit of Esther.  Esther, having been adopted and taken from the home, the Club was given another child, Charlie Taylor.  After Charlie’s mother took her, they were given another little girl, Eloise Patterson.  A great deal of pleasure was derived from planning the Fall and Spring wardrobes of these children.


The next two years, the Club under the capable leadership of Miss Annie L. Armstrong, followed by Miss Annie G. Armstrong, did a tremendous work in the Missions.  The Club, with permission from the Session, undertook to secure and pay some visiting minister to supply the pulpit during Mr. Haman’s three-month vacation.


In 1911, during the presidency of Mrs. Glass, the members started making plans for getting a new carpet for the Church.  This objective was realized in three years.  The Club members, by using mite boxes and setting a three months’ period for returning them, brought in a nice offering, which they sent to Home Missions.


Virginia Buchanan served the Club as president in 1912.  The Club continued their study of missions and assisted the Deacons in making the Every Member Canvass.  In 1913, Mrs. S.P. Armstrong served the Club as president.  Each Club member was given 50 cents from the Club treasury and was asked to invest this among, then reinvest.  The members were kept busy making cakes, candies, rolls, and even making button holes.  When the reckoning day arrived, a nice little sum was realized.


In 1914, Mrs. Glass was again chosen president.  The Ladies Aid were unwilling to give up their organization.  Some of their members and some of the members of the Adah Haman Club in 1911, organized the Missionary Society.  The original members were: Mrs. James Somerville, Mrs. T.L. Haman, Mrs. Carrie Phillips, Miss Adah Haman, and Mrs. S.P. Armstrong.  In 1916, Mrs. T.H. Armstrong was President of the Ladies Aid.  She was the last officer.


Rev. W.B. Hooker served the Church as Pastor from June 1929-1932.  He married the former Miss Mary Effie Hatcher, a member of the Blackmonton Church, and daughter of Mr. And Mrs. Frank Hatcher.  During his good pastorage, there were several additions to the Church.


Rev. Horace Vilee of Winona, Mississippi filled the pulpit often from December 1933 to February 1935 in the absence of a Pastor for the Vaiden Group of Churches.  The members were deeply indebted to him for having shared his splendid ministry with them.


The year 1935 was an eventful one in the history of the Church and Auxiliary of the Shongalo Presbyterian Church, the occasion being the celebration of the One Hundredth Anniversary of the Church August 29.  The Auxiliary was the leading spirit, but the whole Church, Sunday School, and Young People’s Organizations contributed of their time, energy, and money.  Repairs were made on the Church building; a new carpet bought; pulpit chairs and Bible Rest were reupholstered.  Mrs. Willie Armistead Land, a former member of the Church, sent a nice donation, which was used to buy a curtain for the choir railing.  A Pulpit Light and Bulletin Board were bought with special donations.


Miss Jane Watt Brooke presented the Church with a register.  She conceived the idea of all the descendants of the twelve original members uniting in placing a bronze tablet in the Church in honor of their illustrious dead.  Her great-grandmother, Mrs. Lucy Jane Eskridge, was one of the twelve original members; therefore she was responsible for the Church’s having the beautiful bronze tablet.  The names of all contributors are listed in the History.  Two great-great-grandsons of four of the original members unveiled the Tablet.  Mr. Mark Valentine, a great-grandson of Lucy Jane Eskridge, presented it.  Hon. T.L. Haman, the son of a former pastor, accepted it.  Programs and invitations were printed free of charge by Mr. Fred Armstrong of Memphis, Tennessee, a member of this congregation.  Rev. V.L. Bryant of New Orleans, a former pastor, was Master of Ceremonies.  Rev. J.V. Cobb of Memphis, Tennessee, a former pastor, and Rev. G.M. Smiley of Durant sang “Thy Will for Me.”  Dr. J.B. Hutton of Jackson, Mississippi gave a Historical Sketch of the Church, paying tribute to Rev. T.L. Haman, who served this Church faithfully for more than 40 years.  Dr. C.P. Colmery of Edwards, who had been very closely associated with the Church and people, preached the sermon, using for his text Matt. 13:33. The hymns used were the same that were used at the Fiftieth Anniversary.  Dr. Colmery, Mr. R.C. Weir, Mr. C.L. Armstrong, Mrs. T.L. Haman, Miss Annie Gross, and Mr. James Somerville were the only ones present at the Fiftieth and One Hundredth Anniversaries.  Mr. R.C. Weir was the only living child of the founders of the Church.


The unveiling and presentation of the Bronze Tablet, honoring the memory of the twelve charter members, was an impressive and beautiful ceremony.


At the close of the morning session, the following children of the Church were received into the Church: Katherine Dale Weis, Louise Rust Herring, Scottie Lorene Eades, and John Rosser Buford of Clearwater, Nebraska.  The examination was conducted by Rev. V.L. Bryant.  Louise Herring, Scottie Eades and John Rosser Buford were baptized at the afternoon session.  A cafeteria lunch was served to over three hundred people on the lawn of the home of Miss Annie and Miss Lena Armstrong.  A social hour was enjoyed.


The afternoon session was presided over by Dr. O.M. Anderson of Jackson, Mississippi.  It consisted of Reminiscences by Dr. O.M. Anderson, Rev. J.V. Cobb, Rev. G.M. Smiley, Rev. George Swetman, and Dr. C.O. Groves.  The Lord’s Supper was celebrated.  Rev. J.V. Cobb and Rev. G.M. Smiley presided.  With the singing of “Blest Be the Tie that Binds,” the meeting closed.


Mr. R.L. Landis and Dr. O.M. Anderson of Jackson, Mississippi supplied the pulpit often in the absence of a Pastor in 1935.  In April 1936, the Church called Mr. Robert Morrison Lemly to the Pastorate.  He declined the call.  Rev. J.K. Parker, Jr., of Mt. Mourne, North Carolina accepted the call to become Pastor of the Vaiden Group of Churches in June 1936 after having visited the field for the month of May in view of a call.  Plans were made at once to buy or build a Manse as the former one had been sold to Mr. Dan Hatcher.  A new frame dwelling was built on the lot, which was generously given by Mrs. C.L. Armstrong in June 1937, at which time the contract was let to Mr. Hagan of West, Mississippi.  Plans were executed well under the capable leadership of Rev. Parker and Mr. C.L. Armstrong.  Rev. and Mrs. Parker and their new baby girl, Helen Heggie, occupied their new home in the Fall of that year, having lived with Mr. and Mrs. John Heggie prior to that time.


The Church lost one of her most faithful Deacons in 1938, Mr. R.C. Weir.  [Ed. Note:  Rush Weir actually died January 29, 1939.]  A man of means, he was always ready to do his part in anything that the Church wanted done.  He also contributed liberally to the cause of Christian Education in the Synod of Mississippi.  His parents were among the founders of Shongalo Church. [Ed. Note: The house that Rush Weir lived in would later become the Vaiden School Principal’s home – notably that of Mr. & Mrs. Frank Prewitt.  This house and land, along with the land that the Vaiden School Building sits on, was left to Vaiden in Mr. Weir’s will, along with a sum of money for the Vaiden School.]


The members grew spiritually and physically during the three and one-half year ministry of Rev. Parker, who submitted his resignation to the congregation the first Sunday in November 1939, believing that the Lord was directing him to accept a call to a group of churches in King’s Mountain Presbytery, North Carolina.  With reluctance and sorrow the congregation assented.  He was a splendid Preacher and a good Pastor; loved by his flock and entire community.


Having no Pastor, the Church tried to carry on the work through the agencies of the Auxiliary and Sunday School.  Some of the Pastors who filled the Pulpit during this time were: Rev. E.W. Ford of Goodman; Rev. Jack R. Tackett of Durant; Rev. O.W. Wardlow of French Camp; Rev. Robert M. Lemley of Edwards, Mississippi; Rev. Lindsey of Memphis; Rev. L.B. Colquit of Carrollton, Mississippi; Rev. Joseph Boyd of Decatur, Georgia; Rev. J.K. Parker, Jr., of Mt. Mourne, N.C. spent two weeks of August 1940 visiting and preaching.  Others were Rev. Horace Vilee of Clarksdale, Mississippi and Rev. George F. Mason of Holly Grove, Arkansas.


Mr. Bryant Pickens Cain, a faithful Deacon, passed away February 21, 1942.  He was elected in 1927.  The Church lost one of her oldest members in September 1939, Miss Annie Gross, who was a loyal member and Sunday School Teacher.  The congregation was saddened by the death of Hon. Thomas Luther Haman of Houston, Mississippi, August 27, 1942.  He was the oldest son of Dr. and Mrs. T.L. Haman.


On Sunday, February 7, 1943, a beautiful Service Flag, which was made by Miss Adelaide Haman and Miss Annie G. Armstrong, was unveiled and dedicated to the men from the congregation serving in the Armed Forces of our country.  A special and impressive service, which was arrange by the Pastor was held.  The young men honored and represented by the seven stars were: Henry Canon, Garland Hatcher, Harold Lowery, Raymond Lowery, James Harris Armstrong, Fred Glass, and Elra Ward.  The Flag with the seven stars forming the letter V was hung on a wall of the Church.


In 1943, forty Testaments were donated to the men of our Group of Churches and community who were serving in the Service of their Country.  Additional stars were added to the Service Flag in the Church and names to the Honor Roll, which was placed in the Church at the time that the Service Flag was, as men continued to enter the Service.


Mrs. S.P. Armstrong, Christian Service Secretary, donated Gospels to Colored men in Service.  She did a most commendable work among the Colored people each year, having Bible School for them and assisting them in other phases of the work of their Churches.


On September 15, 1946, Rev. James W. McNutt submitted his resignation to the congregation after having received a call from the Woodville, Mississippi Group of Churches.  It was reluctantly accepted, effective as of November 1, 1946.  He was zealous, dedicated, and untiring in his efforts as Preacher and Pastor.  Supt. Of Home Missions, Dr. R.D. Bedinger, filled the Pulpit on several occasions in the absence of a Pastor.  Arrangements were made with Rev. E.G. Boyce, D.D., President of French Camp Academy, to preach each first Sunday at the eleven o’clock hour until a Pastor could be secured.


Shongalo Church lost one of her oldest members on January 10, 1947, when Mr. John Simpson was called to his Heavenly Reward.  He was active in the establishment of Blackmonton Church and was ordained an Elder there before moving to Vaiden.


Mr. Tom Q. Johnston of Spartanburg, S.C. was invited to serve as Pastor during the summer months of 1948.  The Manse was made ready for him and his wife, who arrived on June 1.  He spent a busy summer not only preaching but serving as Director of an Interdenominational Bible School, with an enrollment of 107 children.


Dr. John W. Young of Belhaven College and Dr. R.D. Beddinger of Jackson, Mississippi filled the pulpit on different occasions while the Church was without an Under Shepherd from November 1, 1946 until December 9, 1950.  Dr. Boyce preached his last sermon on May 2, 1948 as he was leaving French Camp Academy to assume his duties at Chamberlain Hunt Academy, Port Gibson, Mississippi.


On the night of May 7, 1949, Mrs. T.L. Haman, oldest and one of the most beloved members, was called to her Heavenly Home at the age of 99 years and seven months.  She was the widow of the highly esteemed Pastor, Dr. T.L. Haman.  The Church sustained the loss of another one of its loyal members, Mrs. Sudie Hogue by death on March 20, 1950.  She was almost 91.


Mr. D.R. Hatcher, a faithful Elder for 47 years, passed away at his residence June 2, 1950.  He was followed in death three months later by his widow, Mrs. Ors McDougal Hatcher, a devoted wife, mother, and Church member.


On June 22, 1950, the congregation voted to buy Miss Mollie Can’s residence and use it for an Educational Building instead of building a new one.  Many necessary repairs were made on it.  At the July congregational meeting, the name selected and approved by the Women of the Church was submitted for approval of the entire Church.  It was Haman Memorial, in memory of Dr. and Mrs. T.L. Haman.  It was unanimously approved.


On Sunday morning, September 21, 1952, Mrs. Curtis W. Pullen presented to the Church a beautiful silver urn in memory of her husband, Curtis W. Pullen, who passed away in Memphis, Tennessee June 6, 1952.  He was a former Ruling Elder of the Church from 1934-1939.


Rev. Tom Q. Johnston was installed as Pastor of the Shongalo Group of Churches Sunday, February 4, 1951.


On the evening of September 21, 1952, the Manse and Educational Building were dedicated in a beautiful service.  Dr. A.W. Dick of Memphis, a nephew of Dr. T.L. Haman, delivered a splendid sermon.  Dr. O.M. Anderson of Bastrop, Louisiana, a son-in-law of Dr. Haman, presented a sketch of the “Life and Work of the Rev. T.L. Haman.”  Mrs. J.B. Caulfield, a granddaughter, sang “I Shall Not Pass Again this Way.”  There were twenty-three of the Haman relatives present.  Mr. Claude Hatcher, Clerk of the Session, presented the Manse and building in behalf of the Church.


Dr. J.K. Betterworth presented the Highway Marker to the Church in behalf of the Mississippi Highway Commission on Sunday afternoon, December 14, 1952.  Mr. Claude Hatcher, Ruling Elder and Clerk of the Session, accepted in behalf of the Church.  Mrs. C.L. Armstrong gave a brief historical sketch of the Church.  Rev. Tom Q. Johnston offered the Invocation and Dedicatory Prayer.  The Marker was placed on Highway 51 west of the Church.


A No. 5. Baldwin organ was installed in the Church January 7, 1953, to which chimes were attached in December 1953 in memory of Mrs. Willie Kennedy Anderson by Mr. And Mrs. A.K. Anderson, Mr. And Mrs. V.F. Anderson, and friends.  She, a very strong Christian character, passed away November 6, 1953.


Mr. C.L. Armstrong, one of the oldest and one of the most respected members of the Church, departed this life March 11, 1953.  A brass choir rail and velvet curtains were placed in the Church in his memory.  He and his wife, Mrs. Lorine Colmery Armstrong, rendered years of faithful and efficient service to the Church and community.


In February 1954, a beautiful Communion Table was placed in the Church by Mrs. W.C. Buford, Sr., John J. Buford, Mr. and Mrs. W.C. Buford, Sr., Mr. John J. Armstrong, Mrs. Freddie Perrin Armstrong, Mrs. Perrin, and Miss Annie Gross.  In October 1954, a monetary gift from the Warrington family was used to buy a second Communion Set.


Rev. Tom Q. Johnston and family left the field at the end of the year 1956, to accept a call to the Macon Presbyterian Church.  The congregation sustained a great loss.  He was truly a servant of God in every respect. The Pulpit Committee worked diligently toward securing another Pastor.  Mr. Morris Taylor, a student at Belhaven College, was called to the field in June 1957.


Funeral services were held for Mr. A.J. Coleman, an Elder of many years, on July 4, 1957.  His daughter, Mrs. Johnnie Huffman of Eupora, is a faithful member of the Church.  The family of Mrs. Mollie Warrington gave a monetary memorial to the Church in her memory in July 1958.


The Church lost one of her oldest members, Mrs. J.M. Girner, in September 1958, at the age of 97 years.  She was a very loyal member.


Mrs. Lillian W. Randle presented to the Church a beautiful brass Altar Set in memory of her husband, Herman R. Randle, in 1959.  Mr. and Mrs. J.M. Vandiver gave a most appropriate gift of choir chairs to the Church in memory of their daughter, Miss Sarah Eunice Vandiver, in October 1960.  She was a valuable member of the choir.


Another nice and timely memorial was given by the McDougal family in memory of Mr. Benjamin Clarence McDougal in 1961, a Baptismal Font.  In 1962, Mrs. Inez C. Rosamond presented to the Church a beautiful silver urn in memory of her husband, J. Vardaman Rosamond.  Mrs. Lillian Cain Wilson, another of the oldest and highly esteemed women of the Church went to her Heavenly Home at the age of 94 years and eleven months on January 19, 1963.


The Ordination and Installation Service of Mr. Morris Taylor as Pastor of the Shongalo Group was observed June 16, 1963.  In November 1965, he received a call to Canton Presbyterian Church.  There were many additions to the Church during his enthusiastic and evangelistic ministry.


The family and friends of Mr. J.M. Vandiver placed a new pulpit in the sanctuary in his memory in 1964.  He and Mrs. Vandiver were very active in the work of the Church.  Other nice and useful gifts received by the congregation in 1970 were new Presbyterian Hymnals given in memory of Belle Eades Stuart and J.W. Eades, Jr.


Rev. W.T. Grimstead of Greenwood, South Carolina accepted a call to Shongalo Group of Churches December 31, 1965.  He  - along with his wife Jane and children were active in Church and civic affairs until he accepted a call to Highland Heights Presbyterian Church in Memphis, Tennessee in 1969.


Mr. L.H. Johnson, a faithful Elder of many years, passed away September 27, 1966.


The interior and exterior of the Church building was completely renovated in 1966. The annex from it to the Educational Building was added. A new carpet was installed in the sanctuary. In the late 1980s or early 1990s, the Haman Memorial Building was destroyed by an explosion, resulting from a gas leak. By the Grace of God, the Shongalo Presbyterian Church was spared, with only slight damage.


Mr. R.S. McCorkle, an active Deacon, passed away December 1967.


Dr. James DeYoung, professor at Reformed Seminary, Jackson, Mississippi, and students from the Seminary filled the pulpit in 1970 and 1971.


Rev. Claude D. Gamble, Jr., accepted a call to the Shongalo Group in January 1972, after having resigned from Evergreen Presbyterian Church in Alabama.  He and his family were the first occupants of the new brick Manse on Greensboro Road.


Velvet Pew Cushions were given by family and friends in memory of Miss Mary E. Haman in 1967.  She was the daughter of Dr. and Mrs. T.L. Haman.


Mrs. Gladys Waldrop Hatcher, a wife of Elder D.C. Hatcher, passed away in October 1970.  The Church received many monetary gifts in her memory.  She was active in all branches of the work and greatly missed.  The congregation lost two Deacons in 1974 – Mr. J.H. Canon on July 1, 1974, and Mr. B.F. Wiley on December 29, 1974.  Numerous offerings were made to the Building Fund of the Church in their memory.  They too, are greatly missed.

Sudden death claimed the life of an Elder, Mr. Rodney R. Armstrong, on July 13, 1975.  He and his two sisters, who survive him at Vaiden – Miss Magdalene Armstrong, who served the Church faithfully and well as Organist and Choir Director for many years, and Miss Annie G. Armstrong, in like manner, as Sunday School Teacher and Church Treasurer, have been real assets to the Church and the community, as well as other members of the family.  Another sister, Mrs. Bertha A. Buford, remains a valuable member also.  Several Memorials were given.  On November 10, 1974, the beautiful Baldwin organ, which was presented to the Church by Mr. and Mrs. B.B. Sanders in memory of her mother, Mrs. Elizabeth Girner Herring, was dedicated.  The organist, Mrs. Sanders, played it on this occasion.  The membership is deeply indebted to them for the most liberal gift.


Special acknowledgement is made of other gifts of love and appreciation received in memory of loved ones and friends not mentioned heretofore:  Mr. Stratford Haman, Mr. J.K. Ross, Mrs. Annie W. Smithwick, Mr. C.H. McDougal, Miss Evelyn Eades, Mrs. Sarah Goss Crook, Mrs. Lynn C. Hodges, and Mr. Louis Pollard.


Following the death of Mr. John Pittman Stone, the Church was the recipient of a sizeable gift bequeathed in memory of Mrs. Lynn S. Armstrong and other members of his family.  The D.R. Hatcher family gave Venetian Blinds for windows of the Educational Building in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Hatcher at the time of their deaths.  The Warrington family made liberal offerings to the Church in memory of Mr. H.S. Warrington in December 1974 and Miss Marie Warrington in November 1975.  A Planter with a permanent plant was presented to the Church in memory of Mrs. Mattie Conger Hill and Mrs. Annie Wilson Smithwick in 1968 by Mrs. Claude Cox and Mr. Conger Hill.  The most recent memorial is the beautiful flower placed in the sanctuary in memory of Mr. and Mrs. T.A. Noah by their family and friends.


The following have served the Church. . .


Organist:     Mrs. Bettie Colmery, Miss Ella Lockhart, Miss Annie Sanderson, Mrs. Minnie Hart Armstrong, Miss Maggie Sanderson, Mrs. Osborn Moore, Mrs. S.P. Armstrong, Miss Magdalena Armstrong, and Mrs. B.B. Sanders.


          Pianist:       Mrs. Michael Donovan, Miss Rhea Power, Mrs. Larry Horn, and Mrs. J.F. Hatcher


Women’s Work Officers:         Mrs. S.P. Armstrong, Presbyterial Treasurer in 1912; Miss Adelaide Haman, Presbyterial Secretary of Home Missions in 1913; Mrs. James Somerville, Presbyterial Secretary 1912-1914; Miss Adelaide Haman, Presbyterial Secretary 1915-1918; Mrs. S.P. Armstrong, Nomination Committee 1930-1931; Mrs. V.F. Anderson, Presbyterial Secretary of Religious Education 1940-1943.


The Present Officers of the Church are:


          Elders:        V.F. Anderson, O.O. Bennett, Claude Cox, R.W. Conner, D.C. Hatcher, Dr. H.R. Power,

and B.B. Sanders


          Deacons:     Lethal Cross, Louis McDougal, Cordell Pinkston, W.B. Sanders, Ralph Self, Hayes Stewart,

and Dennis E. Welch


          Secretary/Treasurer:      Dr. H.R. Power


          Clerk of Session:            D.C. Hatcher


Through its existence of more than 167 years, the Church has responded liberally in her offerings to the Benevolent Causes of the Church, for both Home and World Missions. She continues to make marked progress Spiritually and physically under the capable and dedicated leadership of the present Pastor, Rev. Claude D. Gamble, Jr.

Thus ends the history of only a part of a rich Church heritage. There are many other outstanding pastors, personalities, and events to be acknowledged, but lack of space prevents it. May the accomplishments of the past serve as challenges to do greater things in His name in the future. To Him be the Glory.


[Ed. Note:  The preceding account of the Shongalo Presbyterian Church was taken almost verbatim from the Vaiden Heritage, as was composed for the 1976 Bicentennial by the Vaiden Garden Club.  It was, as is all other material from the Vaiden Heritage, copied with permission from the late Mrs. B.B. (Louise) Sanders, Vaiden Garden Club Publication Committee Member.  With few exceptions, the information is current only through 1976.  In addition, minor wording changes, tense, syntax, etc., have been made throughout the text by this Editor.  It is mentionable, however, that some of the composition of the material (dates, etc.) was originally placed randomly throughout the history of the Church and has, for the most part, been left intact.]


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Shongalo Presbyterian Church in 1907 -- Church (Upper Photo), Vaiden School (Lower Photo)


Shongalo Presbyterian Church -- Built 1834


Shongalo Presbyterian Church -- 1970s


In 1995


View # 2


Fire Damages Historic Presbyterian Church -- 1983 Article



After Explosion -- October 1989

Educational Building / Old Courthouse Explosion, 1989 -- Article 1, Part 1 -- Article 1, Part 2 -- Article 1, Part 3 -- Article 2


Educational Building / Old Courthouse


Back of Haman Educational Building Before It Was Leveled By An Explosion


Front of Haman Building After the Explosion


Back of Church


Church in the Snow


Haman Memorial Education Building -- Built 1874


Presbyterian Church -- April, 2000



Tractor Damages Church – 2003





Southern Wall Collapse (click on the photo above)


During the night of Wednesday, October 24, 2007 or early morning hours of Thursday, October 25, 2007, part of the southern wall of the Shongalo Presbyterian Church collapsed.  No one was injured in the collapse.  Engineers have been contacted to determine the extent of the damage, the cost of repairs, and the current safety of the church.  Click on the picture of the church (above) to view a 3.62 mb slide show of the damage.  The 38 pictures in the slide show will change every seven (7) seconds.  Photos Courtesy of Dennis Welch.





The Shongalo Presbyterian Church, as we know it, will no longer exist.  For safety reasons, it is being demolished.  Click on the link above to see the demolition progress, as of 01/15/2008.   Photos Courtesy of Dennis Welch.




Click on the link above for another slideshow, as of 02/10/2008.  Photos Courtesy of Dennis Welch.





Click on the link above for the last slideshow, as of 02/18/2008.  Photos Courtesy of Dennis Welch.







The two July 2008 pictures above are of the lot where the Shongalo Presbyterian Church sat before it started collapsing in October 2007.  This is the first time since the Fall of 1875.  Photos Courtesy of Dennis Welch.



The Presbyterian Church Bell


During the demolition of the Shongalo Presbyterian Church, the church bell was removed for safekeeping.  The bell was made by Blymyer Norton & Co. Bell Foundry, Cincinatti, Ohio, which later became the Cincinatti Bell Foundry Company. The bell is 36 inches in diameter.  Click on the link above for pictures of the bell, including an advertisement for the Blymyer Bell Foundry.  Click here for a photo of another of these bells in a Soldiers’ Orphans’ Home in Cedar Falls, Iowa.


Shongalo burglarized in Vaiden

Winona Times Online, Sat., Feb 9, 2008.


By Reggie Ross, Staff Writer


The historic Shongalo Presbyterian Church was recently burglarized over the weekend leaving officials in awe of why someone would do such a thing.


According to Vaiden Police Chief Terri Andrews, a number of items were taken from the historic building, only weeks prior to it being demolished.

Andrews said the material taken from the building was two electric brass candle sticks, six mahogany dining chairs and one vent from the church’s foundation that was over 130 years old.

“We are not offering a reward for the capture of whoever did this we just want them to find it in their hearts to return the items to the church,” Andrews said, “It’s just hard to believe that someone would take something from the church.”

Andrews said that the Lord has his way of dealing with people as heartless to steal items from the church.

Last year, the south wall of the church collapsed n leaving an enormous hole in the side of the building. Since the cave in, more bricks and mortar from the wall has fallen and the north wall has a noticeable bulge from the weight of the church.  The collapse was due to a lack of renovation since its construction in 1885.

An engineer’s report recently stated that the church should be condemned and that no one, including the construction crews, should enter the building for fear of total collapse.

“Someone risked their life going into the church to steal those items, they are very lucky they wasn’t killed in the process,” Andrews said.


[ED. NOTE:  The Shongalo Presbyterian Church was completed in 1875.  It was dedicated on October 15, 1875 by Dr. John Hunter of Jackson, MS.  Despite the Mississippi Historical Marker less than 100 yards from the church that states the completion date as 1835, almost every newspaper article written in recent years about the church, lists an incorrect date of its completion.]



The Phoenix


The new Shongalo Presbyterian Church “rises from the ashes”  -- December, 2008 – More to Come !!


Photo 1     Photo 2


Photo 3     Photo 4



New Church Progress – 06/07/2009


Photo 1     Photo 2     Photo 3


Photos Courtesy of Dennis Welch


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