Hickory Block United Methodist Church

History of Hickory Block
Compiled and Written by Linda Durr Rudd

Hickory Block Cemetery | Photos of Hickory Block Cemetery | Hickory Block Church Deed - 1893
Remembering Their Names

The beginning of the Hickory Block Church is rooted in the beginning of the Union Church Presbyterian Church of Union Church, Jefferson County, Mississippi. The Union Church Presbyterian Church (UCPC) records contain the names of several African American slaves who were members of this church. The church records used the term servant and this is the term that will be used in reference to those members. The servants' names are seen on church membership records where they were accepted by examination and baptized into the faith. The servants' owners were, also, named and when the owner was not a member of UCPC, the owner's permission was needed before the servant could become a member.

The first recorded servant member was initiated into UCPC by baptism on June 04, 1827. Her name was Margaret/Peggy. The last recorded servant member was Perry who was owned by Malcolm Wilkinson. Perry was received as a member on October 23, 1864. Many of the surnames recorded on the rolls of UCPC are seen in the cemetery of Hickory Block. Surnames common to both congregations are: Baker, Brown, Buie, Cameron, Gilchrist, Grafton, Hall, Kelly, King, Mayberry, McNair, Shaw, Smith, Thomas, Thompson, Trevillion, etc.

UCPC was important to the social and religious life of the white settlers and their servants.The Elders of the church were spiritual barometers, measuring the moral lives of its membership. Servants were allowed to become members in full communion by profession and baptism. Church services were held once a month. On that Sunday two services were held, one for the whites and later in the afternoon one was held for the servants. The Elders of the church always attended these services. The singing of the servants was said to be so beautiful that the people of the village would come outside to hear the singing.

About 1805, just after the Louisiana Purchase, four men, George Torrey, Dougald Torrey, Laughlin Currie, and Robert Willis came with their families, slaves, livestock and household furnishings from North Carolina. It is believed they came down the Natchez Trace as far as Bruinsburg in Claiborne County. They stayed there for a couple of years, before entering Jefferson County, and made crops as their food supply was low.

These Scotch people were nearly all Presbyterians and the history of the settlement is also a history of the Presbyterian church that was organized at the beginning of the period. Others followed and a large country neighborhood began to form. The first few years they manage among themselves to teach their children.

The community was first known as the Buie settlement as several of this family settle there with their brides in the first decade of the new century. The Buie family was from North Carolina. Neil Buie, his brother Gilbert and his son Gilbert made their camp about 2 miles west of the present village on the tract of land owned by the Torrey family.

Most of the families who came to Jefferson County were Scotch Presbyterians. About four of the families were Methodist at Buie Settlement. These few people could not build a church so they worshipped with the Presbyterians for many years, thus the name Union Church.

Reverend Joseph Bullen held services at the settlement and laid the foundation for a church in 1811. In the early days, they held their camp meetings in the open and services in private homes. However, church records show that it was not formally organized until March 2, 1817, before the state was organized, by Rev. Joseph Bullen.

The charter members were: John Buie, Elizabeth Buie, Daniel Buie, Margaret Buie, Neil Buie, the Elder, Katherine Brown Buie, Malcolm Buie, Nepsy McMillan Buie, Neil Buie, Sr., Dorothy Buie, Gilbert Buie, Sr., Katherine Buie, Daniel Baker, Margaret Buie Baker, Archibald Smith, Sarah Buie Smith, Matthew Smylie, Rebecca Brown Smylie, Archibald Brown, Mary Brown Brown, John Smith, Katherine Smith, Charles McDougald, Kathleen McDougald, Angus Patterson, the Elder, and Mary McMillian Patterson.

The first preaching was in a schoolhouse on a lawn fronting the residence of John Torrey and it is probable that services were held in this place for several years. The first church building was made of pine logs hewn by Matthew Smiley, who later became a ruling elder of the church. The first resident pastor was Reverend William Montgomery who began his pastorate in 1820. The present church building was completed in 1852 and dedicated by Reverend Angus McCallum.

What happen to the servant members of Union Church Presbyterian Church after the Civil War? The records do not indicate if the servants remained for awhile with UCPC after Emancipation or if they immediately left to worship to themselves. They established a church called Hickory Block which is one of the oldest churches established by African Americans in Jefferson County. The original church site is located about two and one-half miles from UCPC.

The following is what is revealed in the UCPC records concerning the former servant members.

MARCH 13, 1871

The Session met at the call of the Moderator, Reverend S. M. Montgomery. Elders present--Lewis Cato, Sterling Cato, M. McPherson, and D. G. Buie.

"Where as there are a number of names on our church roll of persons who have been absent for years without making any application for a letter and have been entirely lost sight of by the church and further there are appearing on our church roll the names of 56 colored members who have entirley drawn off from us, never assemble or worship with us and have been regularly reported. Therefore, it was ordered by the Session that the names of all those who have been absent, both white and colored, be dropped from the roll and no more be reported as members of this church until they have their membership renewed."

Miss Lottie Warren, one of the members of UCPC wrote, "It was by their request that they meet unto their own church "HICKORY BLOCK," which church still carries on their Christian work."

Hickory Block Church Landscape
Jefferson County, MS
Photograph Courtesy of Christopher Whalum

Union Church Presbyterian Church Session Records
Microfilm Number: 36274
Union Church Presbyterian Church--Subject Files
Union Church Town of--Subject Files
Jefferson County WPA State-Wide Historical Research Project
Microfilm Number: 4671
Records are found at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

Union Church Presbyterian Church's Servant Membership List

Remembering Their Names