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Old Morris Chapel

Morris Chapel just ain't where it used to be.

Pleasant Sivley, one of the forefathers of a large Sivley community, came across the river from Huntsville and moved into Lawrence County in 1818 (1). He helped build the original Morris Chapel Church when his great-granddaughter, Nona Sivley McMillan, was only three years old. Mrs. McMillan remembers going to that old church. She said Pleasant Sivley preached there at one time.

Her mother and her aunt once told her a tale about the Old Morris Chapel Church, "It used to be a large progressive community Methodist church. " Mrs. McMillan said. Her mother told her of an old man from Tennessee who lived in the community and who did not believe in God. But one night he attended a worship service. That was back when churchgoers did a good bit of shouting and singing. Mrs. McMillan explained. So when her mother and aunt spotted this man they went up and began to talk to him. Soon they began to shout the praises of the Lord to this unbeliever. Apparently it was too much for the man from Tennessee, as he jumped up and fled through a cornfield to his home and never came back.

Mrs. McMillan said that Joe and John Sivley (2), sons of Pleasant Sivley, were prisoners of war in the Civil War and returned to Lawrence County and intermarried with Pitts and McCullochs in the Morris Chapel area.

Mrs. McMillan also, remembers the time they tore the old church down and moved it to its present location at the intersection of Old and New Hillsboro Road. The old location was northeast of the present site, according to Gertrude Moore, who lived a good many of her 90 years in the Morris Chapel community and went to church there in both locations. She is not real sure exactly when it was moved, but she said she must have been about eight or 10 years old at the time.

Dr. Kermit Pitt also remembers both locations of the Morris Chapel' Church. The original site was only three miles away from where he lived and the old Morris Chapel cemetery was on land once owned by his great-grandfather. Pitt said the church was moved somewhere around the late 1890s. The original church building, Pitt remembers, was a farm building, among trees, facing south. It had two doors on the south end and a single door on the east side near the pulpit. The pews were rough, unpainted wooden benches. There was an organ inside and curtains could be drawn, to separate the single room into Sunday school classes.

H. L. Tidwell and Odis Kerby preached there, Pitt remembers. Pitt said there was a grammar school on the church grounds with two rooms that taught through the sixth grade. People used to have 'dinners on the ground', Pitt said, where people brought food and spread it out on blankets on the ground.

There weren't many cars in those days and people tied their horses and mules up to trees on the church grounds. 'They were good solid folks," Pitt said. 'They raised their families and took them to church." They were farmers, most of them. Mrs. Moore said they raised vegetables, livestock, cotton and corn and hardly ever bought anything from a store. 'I haven't 'gotten used to living out of a paper sack yet." she said. She added that everyone loved everybody else and that people would travel for miles to help each other out in times of sickness and adversity.' I thought it was about the only place to live," she said. Now, even the church building is not the same: Pitt said a newer, nicer building was built on the current spot some 30 to 40 years ago. And that building still stands, still houses a small congregation of around 25 people.


Article submitted  to Lawrence County Heritage by Committee Source: The Moulton Advertiser-Shopper Jul 23, 1984 - By Les Ernst Staff Writer

Updated notes on above:

(1) the earliest Sivley to come from Huntsville to here was Rachel Sivley. Rashel came here with her children soon after the death of her husband Joseph Sivley, Pleasant being one of her children.

(2)We now know John W. Sivley died in the Confederate Prisoners' of War Camp in Camp Chase Ohio on the 9 Feb 1865.

Revised by C. Wayne Austin for knowledge that has since came to light. Posted here 22 Aug 2011