Taken from "History of Old Salem (Cole's Creek) Baptist Church"
The early Protestant settlers in the Southwest Mississippi Territory found themselves in a situation where they were forced to submit to the rule of the Spanish authorities and the Roman Catholic Church.
This group of settlers had moved to the Cole's Creek area of Jefferson County early in 1780 from the great Pee Dee River Valley of South Carolina. They traveled by wagon and then flat boats down the Holston River, the Ohio River, and finally the Mississippi River. They landed in the area where they had received British land grants about 20 miles north of Natchez on Cole's Creek (known as Boyd's Creek on arrival but the name was soon changed to Cole's Creek).
The Spanish laws of the province would not allow the settlers to gather together as a church as was their practice. Thus they would hold secret meetings at private dwellings each week while several of their number stood guard outside watching for "suspicious" persons and acting as if they were just enjoying a leisurely, friendly, neighborly visit. These meetings included exhortation, reading and expounding the Scriptures and prayer. Christians were quickened and unbelievers converted.
However, in October, 1791, these settlers organized the first Baptist church in the Southwest Mississippi Territory. They met in the home of Margaret Baird Stampley (wife of Henry Stampley) in the village of Stampley. The church was called Salem Baptist Church and was commonly referred to as Cole's Creek Baptist Church. The seven charter members included Richard Curtis, Jr. (a licensed minister), Benjamin Curtis, William Curtis, John Jones, Ealiff Lanier, William Thompson and Margaret Stampley. After Spanish rule ended in 1798 a church was built about one mile south of Stampley. A historical marker denotes the site of the church's original foundation.