The History of Siloam Baptist Church 1832 to Present
My Home Page
Back to Sumter County, AL
The historical information for this was obtained from these sources: "The Story of Siloam - A History of the Church" by Judge Wilbur E. Dearman (June, 1963), and from Mrs. Nell Woolf (1910-2010) and the minutes of Siloam Baptist Church. Current years (1999-Present) have been added by 'yours truly'. I have also tried through the years to piece together some of the information before the reorganization of the church in 1838, but this has been very difficult to say the least. Descendants of a couple of those early pastors have been greatly helpful. (Note: I have a copy of Judge Dearman's original history and would be willing to share from it if you will email me with a simple request.)
In 1832, shortly before Sumter County was organized, a Primitive Baptist Church was established at Siloam. This church was built of logs, with a rock chimney, and was located on a spot which is now part of the cemetery.
Records indicate that the original church and cemetery land were deeded to the church by Daniel Drummond for the sum of $1.00. Trustees were Benjamin Hitt, Moses Stephens, and Joseph Vann. Location was W 1/2 of NW 1/4 Sec27T17R3W. Early marriage records indicate that one of the very first pastors, if not the founder of the church, was Rev. Robert Roan Shelton. He and his second wife Rachael are buried in the Chestnut Grove Cemetery in Sumter County.
Apparently two of the church's earliest preachers were Rev. Joseph McGee and Rev. Jacob Parker. There is also mention of a Rev. Asa Wright and a Rev. J.H. Bird, but these cannot be verified. By 1837, the pastor was Rev. Williamson Milborn. It is assumed that he served the church until June 1838. He was also pastor of the Harmony (later Zion) Church during these years, until he moved to Texas in 1839. He served in the Civil War, and died in 1863. An obituary from Starrville, TX, where he lived, included the following: "...Early in life he became a member of the Baptist church, and for thirty years was a minister of the Gospel. It was not his fortune to enjoy the benefits of an early education, but being a man of great natural powers, he acquired a large store of information, principally drawn from the Bible, and eloquently did he tell the story of the cross; often have congregations remained spell-bound at his burning words and felt as they went away that surely 'he had been with Jesus'."
In those early years, the majority of early Baptist churches in Sumter County were Primitive Baptist, who believed only in Home Missions. By 1837, a large element in the churches were favoring Foreign, as well as Home Missions, which caused a disagreement within the church. This dissention entered the Siloam Primitive Baptist Church, and in June of 1838 the name of the church was changed to Siloam Missionary Baptist Church.
The first pastor of the newly organized church was Benjamin Hitt, a Hardshell Baptist minister. The first two deacons were Aba Green and Jesse Hitt. There were only twelve members of the newly organized church. Those who pulled away organized another Primitive Baptist Church and called themselves the "Pulltights". With the passing of time, most of these families returned to Siloam. A few transferred to the Presbyterian Church.
The twelve charter members of the church were Rev. Benjamin Hitt and wife Nancy Curnal Hitt, Mr. Jesse Hitt (oldest son of Benjamin & Nancy) and his wife Mary and Mary's mother; Mr. Aba Green and his wife Mary Ann, and his mother Mrs. Elizabeth Green; Mr. Daniel Jones and wife Ann; and Mr. Joe Jones and wife Penny. Daniel and Joe Jones were brothers of Mary Ann (Jones) Green, wife of Aba.
Benjamin Hitt served Siloam Baptist Church from 1838-1845. Rev. William Walker served the church for one year (1845-1846), and was followed by Rev. McDonald, who served four years (1846-1850). History has forgotten Rev. McDonald's first name. Rev. T.B. Lofton followed Rev. McDonald and served the church as pastor for seven years (1850-1857).
In 1857, a new church building was erected, and Rev. Christopher Columbus ("C.C.") Vaughan of Cuba was called to serve as the first pastor in the new building. Bro. Vaughan was to be the War-time Pastor of the church and struggled through the sad, pathetic times until he, too, enlisted in 1865. Upon his resignation, Bro. William Woodward, an elderly man, and the first moderator of the Bigbee Baptist Association, assumed the role as pastor until the close of the War and the return of Bro. Vaughan. For seventeen more years Bro. Vaughan nurtured his flock through the dark, trying days of Reconstruction. During his many years at Siloam, he also helped organize the Cuba Baptist Church in 1877 and Beulah Baptist Church at Kinterbish in 1880. He and his wife are buried at the Clay Memorial Cemetery at Cuba in Sumter County.
In addition to being a pastor, Bro. William Woodward, cousin of General Thomas Woodward, also served as Senator from Sumter County for the State of Alabama for several years. This uncredited thought concerning him has been found: "Reverend Woodward was tall in stature, commanding in person, social in disposition, profound in thought, wise in counsel, mature in judgment, able in argument, and powerful in defense of his position and principles."
In 1882, when the weary, beloved pastor Bro. C.C. Vaughan could no longer serve, the Rev. F.M. Pond, who also helped organize the Beulah Church, was called as pastor at Siloam. Bro. Pond served until 1885, when he suffered a stroke and was out for a three year period (1885-1888). During this time, Bro. Thomas Woodward served for two years (1885-1887), and Bro. Al Beavers served for one year (1887-1888). Bro. Pond resumed his duties in 1888 and served until his death in 1895.
Bro. Thomas Woodward was the son of former Siloam pastor Rev. William Woodward. Thomas (T.B.) was also pastor of the Shorts Baptist Church for a short time in 1895, until his death. He and his wife are buried in the Shorts Cemetery.
Bro. Al (Alvis Etheridge) Beavers, who died in 1902, is buried in the McElroy Cemetery near Cuba.
Bro. A.J. (Jack) Hearn was called as pastor in 1895. He served the church only eighteen months, during which time the church suffered a split over a heated campaign for state governor. This division caused twenty-five members to leave the Siloam Church and organize the Mt. Lebanon Church at Scratch Hill in 1896. This church survived about twenty years, after which the building burned and most of the members returned to Siloam.
Upon the resignation of Bro. Hearn, Bro. Bascomb Woodward was called as pastor of the Siloam Church in 1897, and served until the turn of the century. Bro. Woodward was the grandson of former Siloam pastor Bro. William Woodward and the son of former Siloam pastor Bro. T.B. Woodward.
Upon Bro. Woodward's resignation in 1900, Bro. James (J.E.) Vaughan of Mt. Sterling was called as pastor and served the church for more than thirty years. Preaching service was held on the third Saturday and Sunday mornings of each month. Sunday School was held each Sunday in the afternoon. The church also purchased its first musical instrument, an organ, in 1905.
Bro. Vaughan encouraged the erection of a new church building, which was completed in 1907. In the summer of 1911, a concrete Baptismal pool was built near a spring at the foot of the long hill sloping down from the church building. Under Bro. Vaughan's leadership the church continued to grow and wax strong in every way.
On October 14, 1920, church members J.W. and Candis Walker Holder deeded to the church the original five acres of land which the Siloam community continues to use for the cemetery. It is interesting to note, however, that the first grave had been opened in 1832 for Susan Rawlins. She had died from exertion, running from fear in a thunder storm. She started up a flight of stairs and fainted and died three days later. The church continues to own the original cemetery and another plot of land donated in 2009. The Siloam Cemetery Association was established in the 1970's to oversee maintenance and upkeep of the cemetery.
In 1930, the beloved Bro. Vaughan was no longer able to make the long trips to Siloam. He had to turn the reigns over to a younger Bro. W.L. (Leslie) Ezell, of whom it has been said, "No man ever loved Siloam more than Bro. Leslie".
In the first year of Bro. Ezell's ministry an addition to the church building, to be used as Sunday School rooms, was added. A church bus for transportation, "in these depression years", was also purchased, which greatly increased church attendance and interest. The church also went to "half-time", having worship services twice each month, on Sunday morning and Sunday night. The church was soon to go to full-time, having worship services each Sunday of the month. Bro. Ezell resigned in 1943 to accept a call to the Millry Baptist Church.
Upon the resignation of Bro. Ezell, Rev. G.A. (Alex) McGrew was called as interim pastor. In September, 1943, the church called him as full-time pastor. He served the church until 1948, when he accepted a call to Jasper, Tennessee.
In 1949, Rev. Houston Haynes, a graduate of Chicago's Moody Bible Institute, was called as pastor. The Lord brought Siloam not only a great minister, but He gave an added blessing. Bro. Haynes was a talented builder. Under his leadership the church built the present pastorium on two acres of land donated to the church by Mrs. Candis Walker Holder. This gave Siloam Baptist Church the great opportunity of having the pastor on the field. Electricity and water were also added to the church building, and the old wood-burning heaters were replaced with gas heat.
Bro. Haynes resigned as pastor in May of 1952. Bro. Leslie Ezell was again called the following August to the pastorate. During this ministry at Siloam, Bro. Ezell led the church in a building program for the present church building. In 1959, due to his own deafness, and having served the church a total of 20 years, Bro. Ezell resigned as pastor. He was later (1971) honored with the placing of a plaque in the church foyer, recognizing his 50 years in the ministry. He and his wife are buried in the Siloam Cemetery.
In August of 1959, the church called Rev. W.K. (Kenneth) Crawford, a recent graduate of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, as pastor. During Bro. Crawford's ministry the plans were drawn and accepted for the present church building. Bro. Crawford resigned in 1961.
The church called Rev. R.G. Blackwell, a recent graduate of the New Orleans Seminary. It was during his ministry that the construction of the two-story brick building with central heat and air was completed. In 1962, Bro. Blackwell accepted a call to the Selmont Baptist Church in Selma, Alabama.
Rev. H.V. (Hinton) Hardin was then called as pastor. During Bro. Hardin's ministry the debt on the new building was paid and plans were drawn and accepted for an additional building program.
In June of 1963, the Siloam Baptist Church celebrated the 125th anniversary as a Missionary Baptist Church.
Upon the resignation of Bro. Hardin in 1966, Rev. Buford Usry was called. During his ministry the church continued to grow and prosper. The new educational annex was completed consisting of a choir room, nursery, and eight additional Sunday School rooms. Bro. Usry resigned in 1968 to accept a call to the Westwood Baptist Church in Meridian, Mississippi.
Rev. James Jordan (pronounced "Jerden") began his ministry in September of 1968. During his ministry the debt was paid on the new annex and a note burning service was held on August 9, 1970.
In January, 1971, Bro. Charles Owen of Butler was called as Music and Choir Director. This began a new era for Siloam. Since that time several dedicated young people have blessed the church with this talented ministry.
Upon the resignation of Bro. Jordan in 1973, the church called Rev. Anthony Patterson. Following graduation from the New Orleans Theological Seminary, he assumed the pastorate June 1, 1973. Bro. Patterson had a great ministry, especially with the young people in Siloam Church. He is fondly remembered among them as "Brother P".
In 1977, Bro. Patterson accepted a call to a church in Attala, Alabama. Siloam then called Rev. Charles Card. During Bro. Card's ministry a group of dedicated lay people, composed mostly of men, from Siloam Church, with the pastor, volunteered their time, talents, and means to serve the Home Mission Board helping to build churches in needed areas of the Southern Baptist Convention. This ministry continued every year for over 25 years!
Rev. Billy Pope was called by Siloam Church as pastor following the resignation of Bro. Card in 1983. He assumed his duties as pastor on July 1, following graduation from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Bro. Pope was a very mission-minded pastor. In November of 1987, under the direction of the Foreign Mission Board, Bro. Pope went to Nigeria as one of a group of twelve volunteer ministers from the Alabama Baptist Convention for two weeks of Revival Missionary Services. Siloam Baptist Church accepted with their pastor this great missionary challenge to send him. During Bro. Pope's ministry a stained-glass-window fund for the sanctuary of the church was begun also. Bro. Pope resigned the pastorate February 1, 1988, to accept a call to LaGrange, Georgia.
Siloam again called a young man as pastor. Rev. Stan Cheatham, a recent graduate of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, NC, assumed his duties as pastor on June 1, 1988. Since becoming pastor the beautiful stained-glass-windows in the sanctuary were installed. Also under Bro. Cheatham's leadership, the Senior Adult Fellowship (SAF) -- both at Siloam Church and also for the entire Bigbee Baptist Association -- was organized in October of 1988.
Siloam Baptist Church celebrated its Sesquicentennial Anniversary in August of 1988, commemorating one hundred fifty years of continuous ministry (1838-1988).
In August of 1991, Bro. Cheatham accepted a call to Mt. Horeb Baptist Church in Meridian, Mississippi. Siloam Church then called as interim pastor Bro. Mike Ragland of Belzoni, Mississippi, in September of 1991. Bro. Mike served the church in this capacity until January 1992, when the church called him as full-time pastor. Under his leadership the sanctuary of the building was beautifully renovated in 1993. A prayer room was also developed and contains a pulpit donated in the early 1900's by Dr. A.L. Vaughan of Cuba, in memory of his father, former Siloam Pastor Bro. C.C. Vaughan. Bro. Ragland served until his resignation in August 1999.
In September 1999, Dr. Bob Simmons was called to serve the church as interim pastor. In January of 2000, he was called to serve the church as "full-time" "part-time" pastor. He remained retired and living in Meridian, MS, but served faithfully. From the end of November 2000, through February 2001, Dr. Simmons, former missionary to the Philipines and Hong Kong, took a leave of absence from the church and served with his wife Mary as interim pastor and music minister, respectively, of the Rome Baptist Church in Rome, Italy. During this time, Siloam was led by its deacons with the help of Bigbee Baptist Association's director Dr. Bruce Gentry. Bro. Bob retired following 56 years of ministry, on October 31, 2005.
Assistant Pastor Brad Campbell (author of these pages) began serving as interim pastor at that time. Bro. Brad's story is somewhat unusual, as he had been a part of Siloam during his college years, met & married his wife there, was ordained both as deacon and later as pastor there, and had been a member of the church some 15 years already. He was then called to be full-time bi-vocational pastor for the church as of April 1, 2006. On March 1, 2007, Bro. Brad became full-time, leaving his other job for the church. Under Bro. Brad's leadership, Siloam's first young adult ministry was begun in 2007. Known as P.A.L.S. (People Active in the Lord's Service), the group meets quarterly.
Siloam Baptist Church remains one of the oldest and strongest rural churches in the Alabama State Convention. Homecoming was celebrated on May 18, 2008, commemorating 170 years of unbroken service to our Lord (1838-2008)!! The service was attended by a church packed full of Siloam members, descendents, and family members. Among those was a great, great granddaughter of Siloam's first pastor, Rev. Benjamin Hitt!
Through the years, paintings of the various church buildings have been donated to the church and are on display in the church stairwell. There is a painting of the perceived first log church building, which sat on a space where the cemetery is now (1832-1857), the white church building which sat where the parking lot is now, facing the cemetery (1907-1961), and the newest church building (1961-present). There is no known picture of the second Siloam church building (1857-1907).
To reach the Siloam Baptist Church and the Siloam Cemetery, take AL Hwy 17 south of York, crossing US Hwy 80, and take a right onto County Road 9 toward Ward. You are now in Siloam. The Siloam Road is about a mile ahead (the first paved road to the right), and will lead you directly to the church & cemetery.
(See my link for the Siloam Cemetery at the top of this page.)
We invite you to join us: Sunday School - 9:45, Morning Worship - 11:00, Discipleship Training Classes - 5:00, Evening Worship - 6:00. Wednesday night prayer meeting begins at 6:00. Each Wed. after the 1st Sun. of the month, we have Missions Programs. Senior Adults meet the Wed. after the 2nd Sunday of the month at 11:00 am for potluck lunch & a program.
Lots of other opportunities await you. Our physical address is 34 Siloam Road on the Cuba route, but our mailing address is P.O. Box 158, York, AL 36925.
*** Corrections/Additions/Deletions to any of this information are welcomed. Feel free to email me at the link below. ***