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Bethany Remembered
(An old, forgotten and once vibrant community in Pickens Co. Al)

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                   By: Bobbye Craft Winston


New Residents of Bethany
Philip Noland, my ancestor, was born in 1771 in South Carolina and raised in Chester County, SC. On Sept. 28, 1794,
Philip married Nancy Hughes, the daughter of Thomas Hughes of Union Co. SC. In South Carolina, Philip was Justice
of Peace in 1817. Sometime after 1817, Philip Noland headed for Alabama with his family, first settling in Conecuh County
where he was Justice of Peace there in 1819.

In 1821, he was one of the founders of Sparta Academy in Conecuh Co. One of the graduates of this academy was
Jim Bowie of Texas and Alamo fame.

Sometimes during the 1830’s Philip and Nancy Noland moved their family to a brand new community in Pickens County named Bethany. Bethany was a fast
growing community. There were nice homes being built and new ground being cleared and crops planted. A great place for his family to live.

Mt. Zion Baptist Church
Just down the road from the Noland home a new community church was being built and they would name it Mt. Zion. The Noland would be a very active family
in this new church, as well as Thomas Locke, who had married Elizabeth Noland, Philip’s daughter. The church was organized in December 1839. The first entry
in their record book shows David Hudson was named the first Church Clerk and Rev. William K. Stancill was unanimously chosen as its first pastor on Jan. 18, 1840.

This church grew quickly during the early years, as many new families were moving into the Bethany area. The church operated on a slim budget during the early years
but they were a dedicated group. In September 1855, there were 22 white males and 33 white female members.

Sabbath School was organized the first Sabbath day of May 1870 with the first Sabbath School teachers being W. P. Smarr; B.C. Walker; James L. Stuckey, Jr.;
Mrs. M. R. McAliley; Mrs. C. Sheridan and Mrs. Laura Stuckey. There were 45 members and 6 teachers.
Regular preaching services were held twice a month but protracted meetings were held often lasting sometimes two weeks or longer. When the meetings began,
they never knew how long they would last but would last as long as they felt they were benefiting the community.

Church members held one another accountable for their misdeeds. The least slip by a fellow member led to a Committee being appointed to investigate the charges
and report their findings to the congregation. The next step was for the member to come before the church and acknowledge their guilt and ask to be forgiven.
Sometimes a Committee would be formed to go out into the community and force the offender to come before the church to confess his sins. The outcome of the
was left to the discretion of the church. If the member failed to come before the church or if the charges were of a serious nature, it could mean exclusion. During
the 59 years the church remained in existence, many members were excluded but most were welcomed back. Reasons for exclusion ranged from intemperate use
of ardent spirits, swearing, dancing, bad conduct, walking in an unchristian like manner, fornication to absenteeism.

The following are families that were members at some time during the church's 59-year existence. Some names were not legible so the list is not complete: There
were notations made in the record as to marriages, military service, deaths and where the families moved.

Family names were: Allen; Ashcraft; Baker; Bell; Billings; Billions; Blocker; Bodiford; Bolton; Bouchillion; Brandon; Brownlee; Bunn; Buntin; Buntting; Carliles;
Carpenter; Celina; Chamblee; Childers; Clanton; Clinton; Cobb; Cole; Colter/Colther; Colvin; Cook; Cothern; Craft; Davidson; Eatman; Eiland; Floyd; Franklin;
Gardner; Garner; Gaskin; Gibson; Goff; Goodwin; Gordon; Griffen; Guiton; Guyton; Hamilton; Hanks; Harbin; Hinton; Holder; Holland; Holliman; Horton; Hudson;
Jennings; Johnson; Jones; Keislo; Kent; King; Kirkland; Knight; Lanier; Leachman; Lewis; Locke; Lofton; Love; Mapey; Massey; Mayo; McAliley; McCully; Miller;
Moody; Morgan; Noland; O'Daniel; Owens; Peach; Pippens; Porter; Price; Richardson; Rhodes; Robinson; Rogers; Russell; Sanders; Shelton; Sheridan; Sherrod;
Shurdon; Smarr; Speed; Stalworth; Stancill; Stone; Strickland; Stuckey; Suggs; Taylor; Teer; Thomas; Thornton; Turner; Upchurch; Waller; Walker; Ward; Welch;
West; Wilder; Wilson; Williams; and Winston.

Bunn/Noland Cemetery In 1837 J. J. Hughes, a 66 year old resident of Bethany, died and a new family cemetery was begun. It was located at the
top of a hill where you could see for miles. It was named the Bunn Cemetery as a Mr. Bunn lived adjacent to the cemetery
and he kept it maintained. In later years it was known as the Noland Cemetery as the land originally was owned by Philip
Noland and he donated the property for this new cemetery.

Philip Noland died on July 20, 1846 and was buried in the Bunn Cemetery. There was an epidemic of some kind that killed
several in the family. Nancy Hughes Noland, his wife, died March 22, 1850. Bethany Community had started its decline

Wedding in Bethany
On January 31, 1878, John Anderson Craft, was married to Miss Mary Elizabeth Cole, a lovely young lady and a descendent of Philip Noland. It was the event of
the year in Bethany. The wedding was held at the home of the uncle of the bride, Thomas V. Locke. It was a grand occasion with the Locke home decorated to the
fullest for the occasion and many good southern dishes were prepared. In the early morning of January 31, buggies began arriving for the event. By afternoon, there
were buggies parked on both sides of the road for as far as you could see. Gentlemen visitors kept liquor under their buggy seats so they would walk back and forth
from the Locke home to their buggy for a drink of the liquor. They would never be allowed to bring liquor into the Locke home. The “party” lasted all day and well
into the night. The young couple were wed in style.

The Demise of Bethany
The citizens of the Bethany Community and the Mt. Zion church dwindled in numbers during the Civil War as men from the church and community served in the War.
Some never returned home and their widows and families left Bethany. Others left the area for greener pastures out of state. The old church closed its doors in 1898.
Today there is no trace of its existence. The last burial at the Bunn/Noland cemetery was that of Thomas V. Locke in 1914. Now the cemetery is almost impossible to
reach. It is several miles from the nearest field road. The once beautiful hill where you could see for miles is now all tangled with vines and undergrowth.

A local forester took me for a visit on May 5, 2005. Getting to the burial ground meant going down a field road and then getting on 4 wheelers for a journey of a
of miles into the woods. The people buried in this cemetery have many descendents that would like to visit their loved ones grave but the journey there is almost
an impossible task.

Now as you drive down the old narrow dirt field roads of Bethany, the only sounds you hear are the birds singing and the wind rustling in the trees – still not a
bad place to be.

Thomas V. Locke. The last person to be buried in the Bunn/Noland cemetery in 1914.

Grave of Philip Noland, died in 1846

Grave of J. J. Hughes, the first person to be buried in Bunn/Noland Cemetery in 1837

Bunn/Noland Cemetery May 5, 2005

The following are graves in Bunn/Noland cemetery:

Minnie Lee Craft (daughter of James Thomas Craft) 1883-1895;
Thomas V. Locke 1837-1914;
Amanda E. Locke (wife of Thomas V. Locke) 1834-1900;
Infant baby Colvin (baby of J.W. Colvin) 1898;
William S. Noland 1813-1846;
Phillip Noland, Sr. 1771-1846 - married 9/28/1791 (my gr-gr-gr-grandfather);
Nancy Noland (wife of Philip Noland, Sr.) died 1850;
Jefferson M. Noland (son of Philip Margarette) 1836-1837;
Mary M. Noland (daughter of Phillip Margarette) 1839-1840;
John Jefferson Noland (son of Samuel Nancy Noland) died 1853;
Sampson Noland (son of Samuel and Nancy Noland) died 1852;
Samuel Noland 1796-1864;
Nancy Noland (wife of Samuel Noland) 1809-1878;
Mabry Noland 1828-1862;
Jane Turner 1826-1875;
Joe Noland died 1902;
Elvy Locke Cole (daughter of Thomas Locke) 1846-1866;
Elizabeth Jane Lock Cole (daughter of Thomas Locke and wife of John Russell Cole, Jr.) 1841-1875 (my gr-gr grandmother);
Thomas Van Buren Craft (son of John Anderson and Mary Elizabeth (Mollie) Cole Craft) 1881-1881;
J. J. Hughes 1771-1837
Thomas Hughes 1822-1845;
Eliza Brandon 1819-1851;

Mary Ann Elizabeth Hughes (daughter of William Elizabeth Hughes) 1843 - 1844;

Mary Deal Teer 1895-1895.
There are several other unmarked graves.