"Old Brick" Middle Creek Church

Former Resident of Hancock County Tells of Edifice

Dear Miss Davidson:

"As I promised you, I will try and write what I remember in regard to the old brick church. First, I will tell you how my grandparents and parents were so closely connected with the church and community. Grandfather Joseph Langley and family came to that neighborhood from McDonough County in 1835 and settled on a farm about a mile northeast of the place where the church was later built.

My mother, Keziah, the oldest child, was four years old. Grandfather built a double log house, and that was my mother's home till she was married at the age of twenty. Like most early settlers, their home was built near a spring. At that time there was a spring in a draw just east of the house. Both my grandfathers helped build the church. Grandfather James Thurber was living at that time on an adjoining farm, later known as the John Keyser farm.

They were all members of the Primitive Baptist denomination. The date of the building of the church was about 1840. The bricks were made there. My father's youngest brother (born April 1836), Oliver Thurber, with another small boy, was left to keep the pigs away while the workers ate dinner. Like small boys will, they went to play and forgot and a drove of pigs walked over the bricks and left their tracks in the soft clay. When the building was torn down fifty years later, a number of bricks were found with the tracks still showing plainly. They were carried away as souvenirs.

Mother often told of going to school in the church before it had a floor. The benches were of hewn logs with legs in them. Dr. William Booz was the teacher. The road by the church was an old Indian trail. Often the children saw Indians pass in single file, swiftly, silently.

I will tell you how I came to know the church so well before I describe it to you. After my father's death, Mother, with a family of eight children, came back to her old home neighborhood, bought land and built a home about one-fourth mile from the church. She also moved her membership from the Providence church where she and my father were members. I was then one year old. Like mother, I grew up near the old church, moving away in 1888 when I married.

The church fronted the east. There were two double doors in front with steps made of hewn logs. There were two fireplaces in the west with the pulpit between. There were two rows of long white pine seats, with rather high backs, with a wide aisle between. The north side the women sat, the south side the men. There was a large cast box stove in the center with a drum in the pipe over it. I am not sure whether the pipe ran to the fireplace flue on the men's side or had a chimney of its own. I think the latter. The pulpit was painted white and two steps went up to it. The front was tall. There was a window just back of the pulpit in the west end. There were four windows on the north side, and four on the south, covered with heavy wooden shutters.

The church was built by the Primitive Baptists and always belonged to them. Once each summer the members met and cleaned the church and cemetery. Dinner was eaten in the hickory grove in front, which at that time also belonged to the church. The depression now seen in front of the cemetery is the print of the old road where it cut across country before the land was fenced. It came out at the corner, a short distance south of No. 3 school house (Valley Dale now).

A short distance west of the church was a clear, deep place in the creek, where they baptized. At that time there was a ford and foot log just above the pool. I remember the foot log well, for once in trying to walk across, I fell in.

Judge Dennis Smith of Carthage was the first to preach here that I can remember and Elder Lewis Frazee the last I heard. They held meeting every third Saturday and Sunday at 11 o'clock. Once a year, usually in the fall, they had a three days meeting. At that time they had several visiting elders. Evening meetings were always started at early candlelight.

The old church was torn down in 1892. I think it was no longer very safe and what material they could use was put in a frame church southwest of the first.

-- copied from "The Carthage Republican", Wednesday, December 9, 1942, page 10, by Mrs. Albert (Laura) Thurber Roasa.

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