Submitted by E. J. Keen
Photograph by E. J. Keen
On March 13, 1844 W. M. Blakemoor deeded to Stephen R. Gilliam, Squire Brown and Mastin Keen, and their successors in trust, the meeting house known by the name of "Bethpier Meeting House," with four acres of land to be held in trust by said trustees, and their successors forever, for the use of the neighborhood for a school and a meeting house. This was to be free for all denominations of Christians to preach in without restraint forever. This land is located about four miles north of Westmoreland (once known as Coatstown), on the Pleasant Grove Road. This deed is recorded in Deed Book 19, Page 87 (Sumner Co., Deeds).
Community revivals were held annually, and were called protracting meetings. This series of meetings last for two or three weeks at a time. At the end of the protracting meetings the Methodist preacher would stand on one side of the altar and the Baptist preacher on the other side. Then the call was made for those who had made commitments to come forward and join the church of their choice. Mr. A. L. Nimmo said that later this Church was called Old Brushy.
The following information was given to us by Mrs. Willie Harris Cline, who grew up in the home of her grandparents, William Y. Doss and Mary Elizabeth Caldwell Doss. She distinctly remembers her grandfather speaking fondly of the church near their home known as Pleasant Valley. Exact date is not known but it was before the Civil War.
After the war the people in the valley and others on the ridge decided to build a new church upon the ridge. On July 25, 1873 William Caldwell and wife Sarah Caldwell sold the Community 1.6 acres of land for the sum of ten dollars. This 1.6 acres was deeded to S. A. Epperson, A. Epperson, S. S. Davis, Elvis Rippy, Howard Perry, David Gaines, G. C. Hawkins, Noah Jenkins and G. M. Everett, trustees and their successors forever to be known as the Pleasant Grove Methodist Episcopal Church, South. So named because of the beautiful grove of trees where the church was to be built and the pleasant for the church in the valley. This deed carried a stipulation that a masonic hall be provided. This deed also gives the right for free water from their land. This deed is recorded in Book 30, Page 71 (Sumner Co., Deeds).
In 1873 a large frame two-story building was built on this property. Much of the lumber used was provided by the clearing of the grove on which the church was built. The upper story housed the Trammel Masonic Lodge. They met monthly The main floor was used for the sanctuary and was heated by a wood stove located in the middle of the church. A row of huge square columns were built down the center of the church. The church used coal-oil lamps for lighting the building. They met monthly until 1953 when the new church was built. They then moved the lodge to Westmoreland.
Revivals have been known to last for two weeks or more. Services were held both day and night. People would come from far and near on wagons, in buggies, and an occasional surrey, on horseback and walking. At night the lanterns were extinguished and placed under the stairs to be retrieved after the service for the journey home. Services were long and pallets were spread on the floor for the younger children to nap on.
Many Ministers went out from this church. Some of these were the late Rev. W. E. Doss who pastored this church in 1905. He served as presiding Elder of the Clarksville District in the early 1930's and was a delegate to General Conference in 1937. For many years he came back to Pleasant Grove for Home Coming Day to deliver the sermon for the day. The late Rev. J. T. Brown pastured this church in 1915. He was a Presiding Elder of the Clarksville District in 1928. Rev. Ray Gilliam is retired and now resides in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Rev. A. J. Gilliam served as Chaplain in the United States Army, and pastored churches in different areas. He is retired and now lives in Kentucky. Rev. Joe Gilliam now pastors Churches in Portland, Oregon.
On the fourth Sunday afternoon in September 1952 after our able pastor, Rev. Roy Sublett, had preached his second sermon he announced at the close of the service, "We are going to build a new church here." This announcement set a fire in this community and the pilot-light has never gone out.
He at once began organizing the new church-building program. The trustees of the church were voted to be the building committee. From this group a chairman was chosen. The chairman also served as treasurer. A committee was appointed to go into different localities and select a church as a model to build the new church.
The committee voted to raise $10,000.00 before starting the building. Donations and pledges were received, beginning the last of September 1952 and by the last of January 1953 $5,000.00 had been collected. The committee voted to rescind the $10,000.00 action and voted to start with the $5,000.00 we had on hand, with faith that the rest would come in due time.
A bull-dozer was hired about February 1, 1953 and started excavating the dirt for a basement.
Donations in cash and pledges were remarkably good at all times. The W.S.C.S. worked at many projects to help. "A Womanless Wedding," Variety Shows, Auctions, Fish Fries, a patched apron program and other things including an old country school which was a night of fun.
The young people were busy raising money and when the brick masons were ready to lay the brick an expert brick mason was obtained. Although the studs were 14 feet high and gables as high accordingly, the young girls of this community formed a chain from bottom to top of ladder, handing the brick from one to the other placing them on the scaffold in easy reach of the brick layers.
Among the many donations, one man donated a beautiful rug for the Sanctuary.
By the third week in November 1953 the church building was complete. On Thursday night of that week we had the Laymens Club of the Cumberland District. We served 187 people in our new basement.
The church building was dedicated by Bishop Roy Short in 1954. This property was deeded to Gordon L. Gilliam, Fred S. Dorris, Paul Davis, Edison Doss, and N. W. Williams, trustees and their successors forever, Methodist Church, on September 28, 1953 and was registered in Sumner County at 9:25 a.m. October 5, 1953 and is recorded in Deed Book 154, Page 445 (Sumner Co., Deeds).
Through the years Pleasant Grove has been with different charges. Some of these were: Bethpage, Mt. Vernon, Fairfield, Pleasant Grove, Bethpage Parrish, and Westmoreland-Pleasant Grove. Some of these charges had as many as five churches. This gave two worship services a month, the second Sunday at 11:00 a.m. and the fourth Sunday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. For years now we have been on a two point charge and we now have worship services each Sunday at 9:45 a.m. Sunday School has always been held each Sunday.
By coincidence the first pastor on record was I. S. Napier and our present pastor is Marvin L. Napier.
The first grave in the Pleasant Grove Cemetery was Johnny R. Everett (son of. a teacher), born June 23, 1872 - died September 22, 1873. The following former Pastors are laid to rest in this cemetery: Rev. W. H. Baird in 1927; Rev. J. T. Brown in 1932; Rev. W. E. Doss, 1958; and Rev. John L. Hale, 1968.
Respectfully submitted by:
Viola Templeton, Chairperson