Contributed by: Stephanie Sanders, MAY 2000
Part 1 ---- Area History
The history of a church is the history of the people of the community in which the churches located. A brief background story of New Hope Community is given in order to help in understanding the development of the church.
In the beginning, the Creek Indians lived in southeast Alabama. With the coming of the white man it became disputed territory between England and Spain. After the region became United States property, Alabama was a part of the Mississippi Territory until it became a state in 1819.
The southeast section of Covington County was the last area in the county to be settled. The land along the Conecuh River system had been sold and thriving communities had developed there some thirty years earlier.
When the southeast area was opened around 1840, purchases were few. The land was wet and swampy and had been government rated as unsuited for farming. Sales were limited to veterans and veterans' widows. The settlers dreaded "pond fever" (Malaria). They knew that there was a relation between the ponds and the fever, but didn't know that the culprit was the Anopheles Mosquito. However, the principle obstacle to purchase was the price, $5.00 per acre. The land was opened to the public about 1850, but prior to 1854 not a single purchase had been made in T2-R17E where New Hope Church is located.
Finally, on September 13, 1854, the government reduced the price of land to $1.25, $.75, $.25, and in some instances , to $.121/2 per acre. People rushed in to buy the land, Indians and mosquitoes not withstanding.
The first purchase was by James Dorman on October 17, 1854. By December of that year E.U.S. Shorter, Charles Johnson , Thomas Eagerton, William Holley, Daniel Hunt, Thomas Hobbs, Joe Almond, Stephen Holloway, James Butler, Joseph Aplin and George Sowell had bought. Early in 1855 purchases were made by John Rigdon, Riley Barnes, Lounier Lowery, Thomas Sanders , Stephen Grimes; in 1956-1858 Thomas Watkind, John Barnes , John D. McRae and George B. Parrish had made purchases. By the end of 1858 almost all the land bordering Clear Creek and its tributaries had been claimed.
Among the families who settled in adjacent townships were the George McLeods, Jordans, McLindons, Musselwhites, Johns, Fraziers, Tuckers, Thames Petersons, Martins and others. Those people are mentioned in the early church minutes.
The original families of the New Hope settlers were from Virginia, the Carolinas and Georgia. Often a couple might settle some place and rear its children only to have them migrate farther sought and west. In large families it was common for the children to be born in different states along the route.
The main routes followed crossed the Chattachoochee River at Columbus, Georgia. Once across the river the people followed the high ground between the big rivers. The most famous of the routes was the Conecuh Indian Trail which ran through Russell and Bullock counties, between the Conecuh and Pea Rivers through Pike and Crenshaw counties and between Conecuh and Yellow Rivers in Covington county and on to the south.
Above the head of Yellow River, a trail branched off the Conecuh Trail and ran south into Florida. It entered what is now Covington county at the northeast corner of T4-R18E above Opp, passed through the New Hope area, the Chapel Hill area and entered Florida at Natural Bridge. U.S. Highway 331 follows approximately the route to a short distance south of Green Bay.
Some of the families moved between Choctawhatcheee and Chattachoochee Rivers into what is now Barbour, Henry and Dale counties.
Clear Creek is sustained by an underground supply of water embedded in limestone rock and sand. The water is clear and cold and, in early days , was unpolluted. It surfaces in cool springs all along its course to Yellow River. It was this supply of good water that led the people to settle along the creek's banks.
Part III Clear Creek missionary Baptist Church Becomes New Hope Missionary Baptist Church - 1865.
The first minutes after the war ended are dated June 3,1865. They are entered on the same page as the last recorded service before the war. March 10, 1862. Bro F.L. Leard was moderator at the service and Br. Enoch Jordan was church clerk. Returning by letter that day were Robert Tucker, Enoch Jordan, Elizabeth Jordan, Sarah Ann Tucker and Elizabeth Parrish. Note that Robert Tucker, one of the four charter members is back.
During a revival meeting in September, 1865, the name of the church was changed to New Hope Missionary Baptist Church. No reason is given for the change. One supposition is that it was changed in honor of the men who lost their lives in a fierce "Battle of New Hope Church" in Georgia. there is no verification of the possibility, however. Members received during the revival were: by letter, Martha Powell; by experience, George W. McLeod, J.L. Holloway , George Jordan, Susan McLeod, Pamela Barnes, Mary Mathew, Nancy Palatz and Lizina Barnes. Bro. John A Tucker was ordained as a deacon.
Rev. George W. Kierce was the pastor at that time and served until June 1866. Wiley W. Martin was the church clerk.
It was the practice in those days to send representatives to other churches in the Association a t regular services. Hence, the practice at services "to invite brothern to seats with us." A typical example of those visits to New Hope is recorded in the minutes of September 1, 1866.
"From Mt. Pleasant (North Creek) Bro. Caylor .
From Shady Grove (Florala) Bro. Parker .
From Chapel Hill, Bro. W.F. Martin
In August 1867, J.L. Hollaway, W.F. Martin and J.B. Butler were appointed as a committee to write a New Decorum. That Decorum is not contained in the minutes.
Wiley W. Maritn and C. W. Martin served as church clerks 1866-1867,
New Hope Organizes Its First Sunday School
On February 18, 1871 under the leadership of Rev. P.D. Bulger , New Hope organized a Sunday School. Officers and teachers were as follows:
P.D. Bulger, Superintendent
Wiley W. Martin, Recording Scribe
C.W. Martin, Leader of Music
C.W. Martin, First Male Class
L.H.D. Martin, Teacher, First Female Class
W.W. Watkins, Teacher, Second Male Class
N. L. Martin, Teacher, Second Female Class
1871-1875- Pastors were P.D. Bulger, W.f. Martin and John Caylor . Clerks from 1865-1875 were J.B. Tucker, J.P. Collier, J.M.. Burlison, W.J.. Martin, P.D. Bulger, Moses Smith and C.C. Parish .
At the January 31, 1874 meeting, money was collected with which to purchase a Bible and a hymn book. 1874- J.M. Martin was appointed treasurer. $2.50 was collected for Association Minutes and $10.50 for missionary work.
The last church minutes contained in the original Minute Book of New Hope Baptist Church are dated June 4, 1876. W.F. Martin was moderator; J.P. Collier was clerk. Minutes of the church are missing for the next forty years. It is thought that the minutes book was lost when the church clerk's house burned. We know from other sources that the church continued.
1883 - Zion Association Minutes - P.D. Bulger , pastor.
1891 - P.D. Bulger, G. W. Mcleod , clerks
1898- Sardis Association - J.C. Johnson , pastor, G.W. McLeod , clerk.
There are no further Association record until 1908.
To be continued........ I have 4 more pages.....Stephanie
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