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Bethel Baptist Church Minutes, Tuscaloosa Co.

Bethel Baptist Church Minutes, Tuscaloosa Co.

Posted: 18 Nov 2009 5:37PM GMT
Classification: Query
I'm wondering if any readers of the Tuscaloosa thread know how I might find copies of the minutes of Bethel Baptist church from its foundation in 1818. I know that at one time the minutes were available to researchers, since Pauline Jones Gandrud cites them, as do other researchers.

Mrs.Gandrud says that in 1938 a Mr. W.C. Hassell of Northport owned these minutes. I believe the church is now a Presbyterian church about 5 miles north of Northport on Watermelon Road.

I have contacted the Special Collections department at Samford University to see if they have a copy on microfilm, but they don't. If any reader knows how to find a copy of the minutes or where the originals might be found, I'd be grateful for information.

Re: Bethel Baptist Church Minutes, Tuscaloosa Co.

Posted: 27 Nov 2009 5:38AM GMT
Classification: Query
Have you contacted the church directly? If not, I will be passing by there next Friday (Dec.4), and if I see a car there I will be glad to stop & ask. I can't remember if they have a full time secretary there or not (if it is the church I am thinking about)Do you know for sure the name of the church now?

Re: Bethel Baptist Church Minutes, Tuscaloosa Co.

Posted: 28 Nov 2009 4:16PM GMT
Classification: Query
Thank you--that's a very generous offer. No, I haven't tried contacting the church. I wasn't sure that doing so would help me locate the minutes, since it's now a Presbyterian church, whereas it was formerly a Baptist one.

When you ask if I know the name of the church now for certain, I'm not sure if you mean to ask whether I've verified that the Bethel Presbyterian Church is what was originally Bethel Primitive Baptist Church? I have confirmed that from several sources--if they're correct.

I don't know if Bethel Baptist has continued to exist beyond the 19th century, though. Somehow, I have the idea that as Tuscaloosa Co. became more settled, this old original church got divided up into other churches, so that there are daughter churches that originated with Bethel, but Bethel no longer exists.

I appreciate any information you can help to provide, and thank you for your generous offer to stop and ask the church staff about minutes for the old church.

Re: Bethel Baptist Church Minutes, Tuscaloosa Co.

Posted: 28 Nov 2009 11:03PM GMT
Classification: Query
HI,
LOL, I forgot we don't have class during the month of Dec, and won't go back until early Jan, so it will be then before I will be passing by there, but if I am over that way I will stop for sure. The pastor may just know something about the church's history that might help, and many of these old churches still keep records from the very beginnings in boxes. Or he might know someone to contact. If I am thinking correctly, the pastor's house is right beside the church.
I am a preacher's daughter......we are used to unexpected drop ins asking unusual questions , LOL!!!!
Yes, I was asking if the name was still Bethel. I am lousy with names, but can tell you exactly what the church looks like and where it is.

Re: Bethel Baptist Church Minutes, Tuscaloosa Co.

Posted: 29 Nov 2009 3:33PM GMT
Classification: Query
There is Bethel Baptist Church in Ralph, a community in southern Tuscaloosa Co, AL. I have relatives buried in the Bethel Baptist Church Cemetery in Ralph. I'm not sure of the beginning date of that church, but the cemetery has graves from the mid-1800's.

Re: Bethel Baptist Church Minutes, Tuscaloosa Co.

Posted: 29 Nov 2009 6:18PM GMT
Classification: Query
Surnames: Clements, Pryor, Sims, Simpson
I really appreciate the help to sort out the location of the church and its name. I'm pretty sure that the Bethel I'm seeking was north of Northport on what's now Watermelon Road. The book "Pioneers of Tuscaloosa Co." says that this church was organized in 1818 and is presently about 5 miles northeast of Tuscaloosa on Watermelon Rd., and a Presbyterian church.

"Bridging the Past in Tuscaloosa Co." says that the original church was at the Falls of the Black Warrior. It was originally pastored by Rev. Thomas Baines, ancestor of President Lyndon Baines Johnson.

The website of the AL Hist. Assoc. indicates that there's an historic marker at the site of the present Bethel Presbyterian church which says that it was organized in 1818 as Bethel Baptist Church by Nathan Roberts and James and Thomas Baines at the house of Jeremiah Jeffery near the falls of Black Warrior River. A log building was erected in 1822 as the first church house. The church was discontinued in 1870 because of membership loss.

Mrs. Gandrud notes (vol. 50, p. 13) that the church minutes of Bethel Baptist church were owned in 1938 by W.C. Hassell of Northport.

The families I'm researching (Clements, Pryor, Sims, Simpson) all lived north of Northport (or, in the case of Jacob and Frances Sims Clements, in Northport itself). I find several of my ancestors joining the church in the early period, including Sarah Pryor, who joined in 1819, and Frances, wife of Jacob Clements, who joined in 1823.

Frances, whose maiden name was Sims, was the mother of Zachariah Sims Simpson, who married Elizabeth, daughter of Joseph and Sarah Pryor. These are my maternal great-great grandparents. I'm interested in the church minutes, if they exist, to see if they have other information about these and any of my ancestors who may have attended the church.

Re: Bethel Baptist Church Minutes, Tuscaloosa Co.

Posted: 29 Nov 2009 6:19PM GMT
Classification: Query
Thanks--no rush at all. I just appreciate your generosity and kindness in offering to stop and inquire, when you're in the area. If you do get a chance to go by at some point, I'll welcome any information they may share.

Re: Bethel Baptist Church Minutes, Tuscaloosa Co.

Posted: 30 Nov 2009 6:16PM GMT
Classification: Query
Surnames: Pryor - Watson
I live near the Bethel Church on Watermelon Rd. I didn't realize it had once been Baptist, but in looking back through my records, I, too, have that Sarah Prior joined in 1819. I am descended from their daughter Hannah Rose Pryor (b. 1808) who married Tobias Watson. I would love to know what you learn from the church records. If the church does not have these, then check with the Baptist Association Office on Highway 69 N. Maybe they kept these after the change to Presbyterian.

Re: Bethel Baptist Church Minutes, Tuscaloosa Co.

Posted: 30 Nov 2009 6:25PM GMT
Classification: Query
Surnames: Elliott, Embry, Hughes, Pryor
Glad to "meet" a new cousin on the Pryor line. I'll gladly share anything new I find. It would be interesting to see if the minutes have any mention of Sarah's date of death, which seems to have been around 1841.

Joseph Pryor's second wife, Catherine Hughes (who had previously been married to an Elliott and then to William Brittain Embry) also appears in the Bethel minutes, according to Mrs. Gandrud's notes. In fact, I think she was a constituting member of the church.

I find that church minutes often end up with the church clerk, and in time, they have a way of getting lost--and I hope this hasn't happened with the Bethel Baptist minutes. They have to have been available when Mrs. Gandrud did her research, or she couldn't have cited them. But no place I've checked so far can tell me their whereabouts.

Thanks for suggesting that I contact the Baptist Association. I'll do that.

Re: Bethel Baptist Church Minutes, Tuscaloosa Co.

Posted: 5 Jan 2010 4:01AM GMT
Classification: Query
I also have the Pryors and Tobias Watson in my tree. I was just at this church 2 days ago looking thru the cemetery. I have several other ancestors buried there including McGee's and Reece. I have a seperate web page with my info if you folks are interested in the link.
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