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Bethlehem Cemetery Association
Bethlehem Community, US Highway 431
Maury County/Marshall County Tennessee
Cemetery and Church Historical Information

Bethlehem Cemetery Historical Information
Bethlehem Cumberland Presbyterian Church Historical Information

Cemetery view looking west
Bethlehem Cemetery History
This cemetery began as the Baird Family Cemetery with the first officially recorded burial being Sarah Jane McLean Baird in 1868. However, local legend has it, and there is a marker to that effect, that the first actuial burial was that of an unknown slave, presumably of the Baird household.

On August 11, 1884 James W. Baird deeded the cemetery property to the Bethlehem Cumberland Presbyterian Church (Deed was officially recorded in Marshal County Tennessee September 25, 1894, see below). The cemetery then became known as the Bethlehem Cemetery.

There was no community cemetery until the establishment of the Bethlehem Cemetery. After the establishment of the Bethlehem Cemetery there were disinterments from a family cemetery on the John J. Williamson farm, located across the road in Maury County, to the Bethlehem Cemetery. This was done, presumably, because the farm was to be subsequently sold to Thomas Jefferson Tindell in 1888. Said farm has remained in the hands of the Tindell heirs to this day.

The Cemetery is located in the Bethlehem Community on the eastern Marshall County side of U.S. Highway 431, approximately 10 miles north of Lewisburg, Tennessee and approximately half way between the Berlin community in Marshall County, and the Hardison Mill community in Maury/Marshall County, adjacent to the old Baird property that is currently owned by the Bill Turner family. The Cemetery is located approximately 3 miles from the Maury County Community of Leftwich on Old Sowell Mill Pike.

Original Bethlehem Cemetery Deed
Deed as written August 11, 1884 and recorded September 25, 1894 in Marshall County, Book 1-2, page 84. This instrument conveys the cemetery to the Elders of the Bethlehem Cumberland Presbyterian Church from the Baird Family.
Wm. Mallard et als Deed Executed by Jas. W. Baird and Recorded Sept. 25, 1894.

I, James W. Baird have this day bargained and sold and hereby transfer and convey to Wm. L. Mallard, John Porter, Samuel McLean, Jesse Cheek, and J. W. Baird, Elders of the Cumberland Church of the Bethlehem Church for the consideration of Twenty-five Dollars to me in hand paid the receipt of which is hereby acknowledged the following lot or parcel of land lying and being in Marshall County and state of Tennessee in Civil Dist. No. 11 and bounded as follows: viz. Beginning in center of Lewisburg and Franklin Turnpike running East with the cross fence 210 feet to a rock thence South 210 feet to a stake thence west 210 feet to the center of said Pike thence with the said Pike 210 feet to the beginning, enclosing the present Graveyard containing one acre being the same more or less to have and to hold to the within named Elders and their successors forever. I covenant with the said Elders and their successors that I am lawfully seized of said land, have a good right to convey the same and that the same is unencumbered. The condition of this obligation is such that the said graveyard is for the use of the Public for all white persons, whatever, excluding all persons of color.

Given under my hand and seal this 11th day of August, 1884.
Jas. W. Baird (Seal)

Signed and sealed and delivered in our presence the day and date written.
Test: Z. W. Neil - Jurant May 3, 1886
Thos. B. Hardison - Jurant May 3, 1886

State of Tennessee
Marshall County
Personally appeared before me Joe McBride, clerk of the County Court of Marshall County aforesaid Z. W. Neil and Thos. B. Hardison the describing witnesses to within deed who being first sworn and said that they are acquainted with James W. Baird and that he acknowledged the same in their presence to be his act and deed upon the day it bears date.

Witness my hand at office this 3rd day of May, 1886.
Joe McBride, Clerk

Filed in my office at 4 o'clock P.M. on the 22 day of September, 1894.
G. R. Sanders, R.M.C.

(Note that the deed above states the cemetery is to be for public use excluding persons of color, yet, irony of ironies, the first person recorded as being buried there was a person of color, a slave!)
After Ninety one years of overseeing the Bethlehem Cemetery, the Bethlehem Cumberland Presbyterian Church relinquished its responsibility in 1975 and the cemetery is now administered by a Board of Trustees. (See 'Second Bethlehem Cemetery Deed' that follows).
Second Bethlehem Cemetery Deed
Deed as recorded August 7, 1975. This instrument conveys the Cemetery to the Trustees of The Bethlehem Cemetery from the Elders of The Bethlehem Cumberland Presbyterian Church.

This Instrument was prepared by Knox Bigham
Attorney at Law
P. O. Box 210
Lewisburg, Tennessee 37091

Eugene A. Sharp, Paul Shires and L. R. Cheatham,
Elders of the Bethlehem Cumberland Presbyterian Church
Eugene A. Sharp, Wilburn Thomas Tindell, Jr., Ralph Whitesell, L. A. Gillespie, Jr. and James Wiles,
Trustees of the Bethlehem Cemetery.

To have and to hold unto the said grantees, their successors and assigns, to the use herein stated. Upon the death, resignation, refusal or inability to act of anyone of said Trustees, the remaining Trustees, or Trustee if there is only one remaining, shall from time to time have authority to fill all vacancies by the appointment of other Trustees. The Trustee shall, at any time, have authority to convey said realty to a general welfare corporation formed for the purpose of owning and operating the said Bethlehem Cemetery.

For good and valuable considerations, we, the undersigned, Eugene A. Sharp, Paul Shires and L. R. Cheatham, the present and only Elders of the Bethlehem Cumberland Presbyterian Church, have bargained and sold, and do hereby sell, transfer and convey unto Eugene A. Sharp, Wilburn Thomas Tindell, Jr., Ralph Whitesell, L. A. Gillespie, Jr., and James Wiles, Trustees, in Trust for the use and benefit of the Bethlehem Cemetery, the following described realty located in the 11th Civil District of Marshall County, Tennessee:

Beginning in the center of the Lewisburg and Franklin Turnpike, running East with the cross fence 210 feet to a rock; thence South 210 feet to a Stake; thence West 210 feet to the center of said Pike; thence with the said Pike 210 feet to the beginning, enclosing the present graveyard and containing 1 acre be the same more or less.

The realty herein conveyed is the same realty conveyed by James W. Baird to William L. Mallard, John Porter, Samuel McLean, Jesse Cheek, and J. W. Baird, Elders of the Cumberland Church of the Bethlehem Church, by deed of record in Deed Book I-2, page 84, in the Register's office of said county. The grantors herein are the successors of the grantees named in said deed. We covenant that we are lawfully seized of the granted realty and that we have a good and lawful right to sell and convey the same; that said property is not encumbered; and that we will forever warrant and defend the title thereto unto the said grantees, their successors and assigns, against the lawful claims and demands of all persons whomsoever. These covenants are made our representative capacity only and do not bind us personally.

Witness our hands this 4th day of August, 1975.

Eugene A. Sharp
Paul Shires
L. R. Cheatham
Elders of The Bethlehem Cumberland Presbyterian Church

On this the 4th day of August , 1975,
before me personally appeared Eugene A. Sharp, Paul Shires and L. R. Cheatham to me known to be the persons described in and who executed the foregoing and attached instrument and who acknowledged that they executed the same as their free act and deed.

My Commission expires May 16, 1977

In witness whereof I hereunto affix my signature and Official seal in the County and State aforesaid.

Knox Bigham
Notary Public

The undersigned makes Oath that the actual value or consideration of this transfer is $50.00

Sworn to and subscribed before me this 7 day of August, 1975.

Hill Walker , Register

August 1975 at 8 Oclock 35 Minutes AM
Record Book 56 Page 58
Hill Walker , Register

Declaration of Trust For The Use and Benefit of The Bethlehem Cemetery
A Decalaration of Trust was created in 1975. This instrument established a cemetery trust with five trustees responsible for overseeing the management, care and maintenance of the cemetery.

Cemetery Expansion
The cemetery was last expanded in the 1980s with land purchased from the Bill Turner Family.

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Bethlehem Church History

Bethlehem Cumberland Presbyterian Church
Bethlehem Cumberland Presbyterian Church - Circa 1960

It is reliably believed that some sort of meeting place was located here as early as 1815. It may have been the usual for that time, a brush arbor or a small log building. Local history indicates that, with the exception of the years 1984 and 1985, an active place of worship has occupied this property each year since that time.

9 Mar 1831. Nathaniel Smith, Sr. gave 1 A each to the Presbyterian Church, the old Regular Baptist Church, the Methodist Church, and the Cumberland Presbyterian Church (Note: This church building is near the current Bethlehem Cemetery on the E side of Franklin Road (U.S. 431). The location of the other churches, if established, has not been currently determined as in 1831 Nathaniel Smith, Sr. owned 2,000+ acres in this area.),

"For and in consideration of the regard and esteem I have toward the above named churches, I, Nathaniel Smith, Sr., of Maury Co. hath given and granted and by these presents doth give and grant unto each of the above named churches 1 A of land for the purpose of building a house thereon for a meeting house and school house lying situated and being in Maury Co. bounded as follows: Beginning at a dogwood a little N of the road leading from Col. Williamson Smith's to Matthew Moores' Esq. near where said road crosses the Franklin Road, due S to the divisional line between Capt. Nathaniel Smith and Fendal Carr, W with the line 18.5 poles, N 9.5 poles to a small dogwood, thence to the beginning".
Witnesses: Wm. Hughes, Charles A. Smith (Maury Co. p-146).

The first church which was built has been described as a large and beautiful rural church. The double front doors opened into a vestibule which extended the full width of the church. A window in each end of the vestibule furnished light and ventilation. Stairs to the balcony were located at each end and a closet for storage was situated beneath the stairway. Two single doors lead into the main sanctuary. A row of columns down the center of the sanctuary supported the ceiling. There was a row of pews in the center and outside the two aisles. Two windows in each side of the sanctuary furnished additional light and ventilation. The building faced west and the pulpit was to the rear of the church. An organ sat to one side and the choir sat in the a-men corner. Two rows of oil lamps hung from the ceiling. The original church building burned 9 May 1915. (No pictures of this church have been located to date.)

When the present building was erected the north pillars of the old church were used in the foundation. The south pillars sit some 5 feet to the side because the new church is smaller than the one which burned. The lumber for the present church was bought from Doc Morris who ran a sawmill at Hardison Mill. Big Jim Davis did the sawing of the lumber.

Services were held in the yard under the trees, until completion of the building. The present church building was completed in 1917 and renovated in the mid 1950s, with services being held in member's homes until completion of the renovation. It was again renovated in the late 1980s when purchased by the current Bethlehem Baptist Church.

Rev. Robert Hall preached the final sermon on June 12, 1983 .

The Bethlehem Church discontinued being a Cumberland Presbyterian church in August, 1983. The ruling elders were Eugene A. Sharp, Paul Shires, L. R. Cheatham. All the books and records of the church were sent to Memphis for archiving upon the official closing of the church.

Some of the 20th century ministers of the Bethlehem Cumberland Presbyterian Church were: Rev. Thomas Mead Hendrix, Rev. Zumbro, Rev. B. F. Guinn, Rev. J. T. Colemen, Rev. Bill Ralston, Rev. W. C. Bryant, Rev. Bobby Oliver, Rev. Glenn Kapperman, Rev. Edwin Sain, Rev. Wayne Morgan, and Rev. Robert Hall.

Bethlehem Cumberland Presbyterian Church's most well known Pastor
Meade Hendrix, Pastor for 74 years.
Thomas Mead Hendrix, b. 10 Sep 1850, d. 6 Oct 1947.
Wife, Catherine Tribble Hendrix, b. 8 Mar 1859, d. 19 Apr 1939.

Reverend Hendrix was a native of Rutherford County, an active minister in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church for 74 years, and a Mason. He moved to the Hardison Mill Community in 1900 and later lived in the Bethlehem Community. He was a master carpenter and helped build the First Cumberland Presbyterian Church at Rockvale, Tennessee. He was the first pastor of the Jackson Ridge Cumberland Presbyterian Church. He served various churches in Rutherford, Bedford, Lincoln, and Marshall counties including the Bethlehem Cumberland Presbyterian Church. He occupied the post of Moderator of the Elk Presbytery for a longer period than any other minister. No man was ever more loyal to his God, his church, his home, and his country than he.

Services were held at the Bethlehem Cumberland Presbyterian Church and he was buried alongside his wife of sixty three years in the Bethlehem Cemetery.

He was one of fourteen children of Thomas Lowe Hendrix b. 5 Dec 1817, d. 28 Feb 1902 and Elizabeth Prince b. 12 Mar 1818, d. 30 Jun 1895. m. Sarah Catherine Tribble 22 Oct 1876. She b. 8 Mar 1859, d. 19 Apr 1939, one of six children of Patrick H. Tribble b. 1825, d. 1863, and Louisa Burrow Tribble b. 1829, d. 1914.

Thomas Mead Hendrix Siblings:
Jerusha Ann Hendrix b. Sep 23, 1839 d. 8 Jun 1840,
Adam R. Hendrix b. 18 Oct 1841, d. Unknown
William F. Hendrix b. 25 Jun 1843 d. Unknown (War Between the States),
David F. Hendrix b. 1 Jan 1845 d. 1926,
Elisha W. Hendrix b. 5 Aug 1847 d. 1926,
Martha Ann Hendrix b. 9 Dec 1848 d. 1891,
Ruth Elizabeth Hendrix b. 1 Jul 1852 d. 1899,
Hestor Melisa Hendrix b. 3 Dec 1853 d. 7 Jul 1854,
Lucretia. V. Hendrix b. 24 May 1855, d. Unknown
Anna Liza Hendrix b. 1 Jan 1857 d. Unknown,
Tenneper Maranda Hendrix b. 12 June 1858, d. Unknown
Julia Jane Hendrix b. 17 April 1860 d. 1924.
Willie Frances Hendrix b. 7 April 1864 d. Unknown.

S. Catherine Tribble Hendrix Siblings:
Campbell R. Tribble b. 18 Aug 1848, d. Unknown
Peter N. Tribble b. 16 Jun 1851, d. Unknown
Allen Y. Tribble b. 4 Feb 1854, d. Unknown
Bascom Tribble b.10 Sep 1856, d. Unknown
Fannie Tribble b. 5 Jan 1862. d. Unknown

Bethlehem Baptist Church
After purchase by the First Baptist Church of Lewisburg, Tennessee, the Bethlehem church building subsequently opened its doors as an independent Baptist Church in November 1986.

Bethlehem Baptist Church
Bethlehem Baptist Church - Circa 2008

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