Susan Harber, The Daily News Journal, November 6, 2017
Brown’s Chapel Church is a diamond that sparkled in our county for more than 80 years. The original church for Blackman Methodists was built in 1876 and named Brown’s Chapel to honor its first minister, Allison Brown. Brown’s Chapel Road also carries the legacy of this honorable preacher.
The property and lumber were donated by Alfred Blackman, and the building was used as both church and school. The two-room clapboard frame structure had shuttered windows and was intact from 1876-1910 on Baker Road in Little Hope to educate many students, including Bateys, Blackmans and Beesleys.
There were two teachers, including Blanche Bass. One teacher doubled as principal as the school educated students through eighth grade. Today, Brown’s Chapel Elementary on Baker Road carries the historical namesake and enrolls 700 students in our county.
Alfred Blackman’s great-greatgrandson John Batey attended the Brown’s Chapel Church until it moved in 1959 and was then renamed Blackman Methodist Church.
From 1876-1903, the combined church and school thrived. Early church members were Peter Rowlett (1900) and Lucy and Susie Rowlett, who were baptized in 1891. In 1896, the church was assessedat a value of $500.
Despite the success of the congregation, the Methodists discontinued their association with the church from 19001923, and other denominations utilized the building.
However, two decades later (1923), the church was placed on the Stones River Circuit and used once more as a Methodist congregation until October 19 61.
In the same year, members built a new sanctuary on Manson Pike on land donated by C.P. and Pearl McDonald. By 1970, additional land was donated bythe Lyle and Dennis McDonald families to expand the facilities. Two more sanctuaries were constructed in 1987 and 1997 with the building debt-free in 1998. The original structure was utilized as a store from 1966-1974.
A second congregation prospering in the Blackman community in the early 1800s was the Asbury Church.
Located on Asbury Road by the Sikes Farm in Northwest Rutherford County, the congregation was named for Bishop Francis Asbury, who preached in this community during the War of 1812.
Asbury hailed from Birmingham, England, and arrived in America at age 22. He was the architect of American Methodism and labored 45 years saving souls.
He carried his circuit ministry by horseback and meandered rough terrain of the Southwest. Asbury logged 17,000 sermons in a lifetime.
Francis Asbury’s strong efforts to motivate this Blackman congregation in the early 19th century were far-reaching.
The Asbury congregation flourished with key records existing from 18901921. The large frame church with basement was valued at $1,500 in 1896 and identified in good repair with seating for 400 members.
In the 1890s, families attending the church included Washington, Manson, Read, Hall, Hord, Miles, Beesley, Bass, Smith, Blackman, Gresham and Batey. The early elders were T.L. Moody (1890), Green Jackson (1894), J.A. Oma (1895) and Covey (1900).
Asbury Lane is a prominent roadway in Blackman today.
Both Brown’s Chapel and Asbury Church were shining beacons in the late 19th century of the Blackman community. Their fortitude to succeed is extraordinary, as they left behind an indelible mark to actively worship and attend school in the early days of our county.
Contact Susan Harber at email@example.com.