|Historic Churches in Jefferson County|
Extracted from Guide to Genealogical and Historical Research in Jefferson County, Tennessee, copyright ©1995 Billie R. McNamara. All rights reserved. Supplemented periodically as new information is located. Additions and corrections are welcome via the Contact Us link on this Web site.
Early churches in Jefferson County were organized by the Quakers, Baptists, and Presbyterians. Perhaps because the region was initially settled by Scots-Irish, Presbyterians were the first to establish congregations in present-day East Tennessee, just as they did in Jefferson County.
Hopewell Presbyterian Church, Dandridge, was organized in 1785 as the first church in the county. No minutes of this congregation, prior to 1816, exist; little is known of its earliest members. The first church building, a large, hewn-log house, was located near a spring behind the Hynds' family home. Westminster Presbyterian Church formed in 1787, approximately ten miles northeast of Dandridge. Members of Westminster broke away to form New Market Presbyterian (1826) and Mt. Horeb (1841). Concord Presbyterian, located about ten miles west of Dandridge, organized in 1853.
Lost Creek Monthly Meeting was established in 1797 by members of the Newhope Monthly Meeting in Greene County, with approval of the New Garden Quarterly Meeting in North Carolina. Administratively, Hopewell Monthly Meeting, in Frederick, Virginia, was the parent of Lost Creek. Friends had been resident in Jefferson County since about 1784, when John Mills brought his family into the area now known as Rocky Valley. Lost Creek, the only Quaker congregation in the county, still holds regular services in New Market.
(For a history of the Lost Creek meeting and a transcription of its earliest records, see William Hinshaw, Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy North Carolina (Ann Arbor, MI: Edwards Brothers, Inc., 1936; reprint ed., Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1969; reprint ed., 1978), pp. 1119, et seq.)
The first Baptist congregation was established in 1786 as French Broad Baptist Church. It met at Coon's Meeting House, two and one-half miles east of Dandridge (property of Michael and Rebecca Coons/Koontz). This church has a complete record from its beginning. Dumplin Baptist Church was organized in 1797, its members having petitioned the French Broad Church for permission in 1794. John Cate, Sr., donated land for building the church, which was organized in 1797. Interestingly, 23 of the 27 charter members of Dumplin Baptist were women. Tidence Lane, progenitor of several Jefferson County family lines, was the first Baptist minister to establish a permanent church in present-day East Tennessee (Buffalo Grove, in Washington County).
Early records of Methodism in Jefferson County are not clear as to the first congregations. Elizabeth Peck, wife of pioneer Mossy Creek settler Adam Peck, established a chapel on their plantation in the early 19th Century. Elizabeth Chapel had no minister, so one of the Pecks' slaves led services. First Methodist Church of Jefferson City evolved from Elizabeth Chapel. A brick building was erected in Dandridge in 1828, with a deed for the property following in 1829. First United Methodist, Dandridge, continues to hold services at that location today. The congregation divided over the slavery issue, with members of both segments using the same building.
The Brethren were originally represented in Jefferson County by the Hepner, Oren, and Finch families on Spring Creek, from about 1870. The families held regular Sunday School and had services when travelling preachers were available. A permanent minister arrived in 1875, and French Broad Church of the Brethren was built in Dandridge in 1885-86.
For copies of pages from the Jefferson County Heritage Book mentioned on this page, contact the Dandridge Memorial Library, P. O. Box 339, Dandridge, TN 37725.
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