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150th Anniversary of

Union Church Presbyterian Church

 

PRESBYTERIANS SET 150TH ANNIVERSARY


(Copied from an unidentified newspaper article, probably published in Natchez about November 1967)



UNION CHURCH

     In the village of Union Church in Southwest Mississippi, an important event will be observed on Sunday, November 12, 1967.  The Union Church Presbyterian Church will celebrate the one hundred fiftieth year of it's life with a program at the Church, beginning at 10:00 O'clock, a. m..  Highlights of the history of the church will be told by Mr. John Pritchard and Mr. George Bates, and the Chamberlain-Hunt Academy Glee Club will provide the music.  Dr. Thomas H. Grafton of Mary Baldwin College, Staunton, Virginia, grandson of Dr. C. W. Grafton, will deliver the sermon at a service beginning at eleven twenty.


     The public is cordially invited to attend the services and to remain for dinner which will  be served in the Church annex.  Those visitors who wish to bring food are asked to bring a covered dish.  All are urged to stay for dinner whether convenient to bring food or not.


THIRD OLDEST


     Union Church is the oldest Presbyterian organization in the state, having been organized in March 1817, before the State was organized.  In 1805, just after the Louisiana Purchase, four men with their  families came from North Carolina to Tennessee and thence by way of the Mississippi River to Bruinsburg in Claiborne County.  These were the first settlers in the section known as the "Scotch Settlement."  These four persons were George Torrey, Dougald Torrey, Laughlin Currie, and Roger Willis.  They made two crops in Claiborne County and in 1806 settled in Jefferson County.  They were soon followed by the Gilchrists, Galbreaths, and Camerons.  A few years later all the country around Union Church was filled with Scotch settlers who came mainly from North Carolina.  Some of them it is said, spoke the Gaelic language and today there is in the possession of one of our families, a book of the Psalms and the Westminster Shorter Catechism in the old dialect.  These Scotch people were nearly all Presbyterian, and the history of the settlement is mainly a history of the two Presbyterian Churches that were organized at the very beginning of the period.  These two Churches were Ebenezer and Union Church.  More than seventy five years ago Ebenezer Church was dissolved and the buildings sold to the Methodists.

 

BEGAN IN 1811

 

     Pioneer Missionaries sent out by the Synod of the Carolinas, began preaching here in 1811.  In March 1817, Rev. Joseph Bullen gathered the Presbyterian families together and organized them into a church which has been known ever since as "Union Church Presbyterian Church."  In process of time a post office was established and a village grew up which took the name of Union Church.

     "The people of the early days were noted for the simplicity of their manners.  They were not wealthy as were their neighbors of Ebenezer.  They were plain, unpretending, honest  people.  Father Montgomery who preached so long at Ebenezer was likewise the Pastor of Union Church.  He served in this position from 1820 to 1840 and was a most faithful minister."

     "After the death of Father Montgomery the Presbyterian Church was served in those early days by other scholarly and faithful Ministers.  They were Rev. Angus McCallum, Rev. John H. Smiley and Rev. Thomas H. Cleland."


THREE BUILDINGS

     There have been, in all, three Church buildings.  The latest one was erected in 1852, has been repaired two or three times and stands today upon the old site surrounded with venerable oak trees and crowned with blessed memories.  During it's existence many hundreds have been received into it's Communion.  All it's friends will recognize these leading family names.  There were twenty-three sets of Mac' enrolled in it's sacred register of names:

     McArn, McArthur, McBride, McCall, McCallum, McClure, McClutchie, McCormick, McCorvey, McDonald, McDougald, McDuffie, McEachern, McFater, McIntyre, McLaurin. McLean, McMillen, McMurchie, McNair, McPherson, McQueen, McRea."

     "These Mc's would establish the claim to the title of the "Scotch Settlement" if nothing else did."

     "There were six different sets of Buies, whose sons in a few years married and formed a large number of families."

     There have been sixteen families of Catos.  A few more leading family names are as follows:

     "Alsworth, Baker, Barnes, Blue, Brown, Buckles, Cameron, Clark, Currie, Fairly, Galbreath, Gilchrist, Knapp, Knox, Lee, LeGette, Newman, Patterson, Ray, Scott, Smiley, Smith Torrey, Warren, Watson, and Wilkinson."

 

INVOLVED IN WAR

 

     The church and her people were deeply involved in the events of the Civil War.  "When the Civil War broke out the first Company that left Jefferson County for the seat of war was the Charley Clark Rifles, from the Scotch settlement around Union Church.  It was a sad and long to be remembered day when those dear young men paraded in the shade of the trees close to the old Church and received from the hands of Miss Flora Buie a silken banner of the Southern Confederacy.  Dr. J. J. McLean was the first Captain of this Company and Dr. Rufus Applewhite was his successor."  Near Union Church, Grierson's Raiders were turned back and the community suffered the privations common to the area.

     Slowly the Church and her people bound up their wounds and gathered up the broken strands of their lives.  Between 1870 and 1900 energies and limited means were spent on school and church and these institutions dominated the lives of the people.

     In 1873, C. W. Grafton began a ministry at Union Church perhaps unequalled by any minister in length of service, devotion to his people, and in distinguished and honored service to the Presbyterian Church.  Born in Madison County, he was Valedictorian of the class of 1868 at the University of Mississippi.


ELECTED MODERATOR


     Dr. Grafton was elected Moderator of the Synod of Mississippi in 1896, and in 1916 he served as Moderator of the General Assembly, highest deliberative and legislative body of the Church.  He was offered a professorship in a Theological Seminary and several calls to larger churches came to him, but he chose  to remain in this country Church throughout the sixty-two years of his ministry.  His influence in Church and community is beyond measuring.

      Since his death in 1934 the Church has been served by other able men and there have been years when there was no regular minister.  However, services have been conducted regularly and the Sunday School has never failed to meet.

     Through periods of prosperity and depression this church has remained faithful to her calling and is preparing now for years of broader service under the leadership of her new minister, the Rev. William A. Shumate of Meadville.

     The village of Union Church is located between Brookhaven and Fayette and between Jackson and Natchez.

      What is now known as “Union Church”, was originally called “Buie Settlement”, since the first settlers were Buies.

The village took its' name from the church.

     At some point in time, as more and more of the Scots people from North Carolina migrated to the area, Buie Settlement became known a “The Old Scottish Settlement.”


Contributed by: Andy Miller

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