FIRST UNITED METHODIST CHURCH — TALLULAH, LOUISIANA
BY: MRS. GUSSIE SLACK HEBERT et al
MADISON COORDINATOR’S NOTE: This history of Tallulah’s First Methodist Church is also the history of Tallulah’s first church of any kind – the Union Church, the building for which later became Trinity Episcopal Church.
The original article by Mrs. Gussie Hebert was probably written shortly after April 1942 when the present church was dedicated. It appears that the article was updated sometime in 1981. Mrs. Hebert died January 8, 1969. RPS June 2007 firstname.lastname@example.org
The first church in Tallulah, Louisiana was the Union Church. Long years ago, Mrs. J. R. Askew gave a lot for the erection of a church and in the deed, it was to be for all denominations. One can find the lot recorded in the Clerk of Court's office in the Madison Parish courthouse as the following: Conveyance Book G - page 690 - lots 127-128 of original town - dated February 11, 1873. Two lots on the south side of North Louisiana and Texas Railroad. (The law office of attorney Calvin C. Adams and a store and service station are located at this site, 1981) the church being represented by James M. Case, signed by Amanda Askew, authorized by James R. Askew, Amanda Morrison, James M. Case, A. H. McQuaide and Thomas Morrison.
The Union Church was built about 1873 or 1874 by popular subscription and it still stands, being moved in the spring of 1905 to North Cedar Street and was used by the Trinity Episcopal church. (In 1981, the Tallulah Finance Company was located at this site) this first church faced Dabney Street. Mr. George Spencer superintended its moving, although the railroad company would not give their consent. While the church was on the railroad track, the train came along and it was held up for several minutes!
This, the first church of Tallulah, it's benches were built by Mr. Litchliter and Mr. Welch. I imagine coal oil and bracket lamps were used. The Bishops Chair is still in use in this church, now being the Episcopal Church (Trinity). As a child, I remembered seeing my grandmother, Mrs. Elizabeth J. Slack, preside at the organ, which later on, as a young girl, I had the pleasure to fill. Also, among the organists were Mrs. Julia M. Hebert, Miss Minnie Spann, Miss Amy Holmes and others as time passed on.
For a while, we had a singing school conducted by professor Clive Collier. The Union Sunday School functioned each Sunday under the leadership of Judge A. L. Slack, Mr. A. E. Adams and others by teachers of the different denominations. Mrs. J. T. McClellan was instrumental in getting up subscriptions for the communion set: cups, plates and pitcher. The cup is downstairs in our new brick Methodist Church, but plate and pitcher missing. Prayer meeting was held every Wednesday and choir practice once a week. The ministers were located in Delhi, Louisiana and came once a month to preach, staying over sometimes several days visiting among the members.
Some of the ministers were: Rev. Weir, Rev. Armstrong (1890) the two Rev. Whites, Rev. Brown, who afterwards became an Episcopal minister, Rev. Davis, Rev. Davies, Rev. Riggs, Rev. John f. Foster, Rev. Percy Knickerbocker, Rev. Denson (1898) Rev. R. C. Grace (1905-1906).
When the two (2) lots were sold to Mr. W. D. Ziegler and Mr. A. E. Adams $1,100.00 of the money was equally divided between the Episcopals and the Methodists. By "gathering a little here and there a little" with what I know I have written about the first church in Tallulah, then known as the Union Church.
Mrs. Gussie s. Hebert
It was through the untiring and consecrated efforts of Rev. N. C. Grace that this church was built in 1905 by Mr. Roberts. The division of the $ 1,100.00 also helped the Methodists in securing a lot, bought from miss Amanda Stone for $ 400.00 (the present site of the Methodist church in 1981) it was bought with the understanding no store or disfiguring stand should ever be built in front of her place. Our dear old church was dedicated in July, 1906 by Bishop Ward of Texas.
The corner stone being laid. The benches were bought in Monroe, La and finished by Warren Slack. The pulpit was given by Rev. R. C. Grace, who was pastor here in 1905 and 1906. The pulpit is now on the first floor of our new brick church.
During the yellow fever of 1905, he (Rev. Grace) gave so much of his time to the sick and suffering, both white and black.
Serving as pastors in this church were Rev. R. C. Grace, Rev. C. F. Staples (1912), Rev. H. W. Cudd, Rev. Skipper, Rev. R. F. Harrell, Rev. H. M. May, Rev. Q. C. Kelly, Rev. D. C. Barr, Rev. H. W. Rickey (1928-1929). Rev. Munholland was also one of the pastors. Rev. W. H. Giles came here December 1929 and was pastor until 1933. In connection with our church some years later, a small two (2) room building was erected on the same lot to facilitate the work of the Sunday school which had progressed for some years under the leadership of Mrs. W. D. Ziegler and Mr. T. I. Watson.
In 1929, when Rev. H. W. Rickey was pastor, it was decided to tear this church down, considered unsafe and in need of repairs, also lack of space as our membership was growing. The lumber in the building and the benches were sold to the Negroes. Church service and all meetings were held in the public school building. (Tallulah High School.).
Mr. Charles Bennett and Mr. M. M. Meriweather: Mr. Bennett was the architect and Mr. Meriweather, the contractor. The building committee was: Mr. W. D. Ziegler, Mr. J. R. Linton and Dr. A. T. Palmer. The finance committee was composed of Mr. D. H. Allen and mar. James L. Cason.
The furniture committee: Mrs. A. C. Thompson, Mrs. W. D. Ziegler, Mrs. James R. Linton, and Mrs. Gussie S. Hebert.
The memorial opening service of our new Methodist Church was held on mother's day, May 11, 1930. Rev. H. W. Rickey preached the first sermon. Rev. Elmer C. Gunn, the presiding elder and Rev. D. C. Barr assisted in the service.
Dedication of the beautiful pulpit furniture which was made possible by memorial love gifts, by former members and workers by their families and Sunday school classes was an impressive feature of the first service.
Those honored at this service on May 11,1930 were:
Judge Aylmer L. Slack, a pastor's chair, given by his daughter, Gussie S. Hebert; a pastor's chair given by Mrs. Charles Coltharp in honor of her husband; Mrs. Virginia Evans, a pulpit lamp by Mrs. George Sevier (this lamp is now on the table in the vestibule, 1981)
Mr. and Mrs. T. I. Watson, the communion table, by their daughters; Miss Amanda Stone (pew given by the young people's Sunday school class; (for some years, this class met in her home).
Also, a pew given by a Sunday school class in honor or Mrs. James R. Linton (Alice ). The pews and furnishings for the Sunday school rooms and equipment for the church kitchen were purchased by the Ever Ready Circle (women's circle) and the choir took the lead in procuring the piano.
Altar rail - given by the Erle Read family, Mrs. Annie Lee Lane and the Williams family in honor of Mr. and Mrs. A. E. Adams.
The night of May 11, 1950, Rev. Giles (pastor) gave a sermon "on mothers of men." A month later, the opening first services as this new brick Methodist Church was finished and completed April 11, 1930.
After four (4) years of service, Rev. W. H. Grace was succeeded by Rev. C. K. Smith and following him was Rev. D. W. Poole (1937-1941), Rev. Henry Rickey was pastor 1941—1944); Rev. H. T. Carley 1944—1945; Rev. John F. Kilpatrick 1945—1951.
DEDICATION OF CHURCH:
Bishop A. Frank Smith of Houston, Texas, the presiding Bishop of the Louisiana conference, dedicated our new church April 26, 1942 at 11:00 a. m.
The pastor, Rev. Henry A. Rickey, was assisted in the service by four former pastors of this church: Rev. H. W. Rickey, Rev. W. H. Giles, Rev. C. K. Smith and Rev. D. W. Poole. The bishop (Bishop A. Frank Smith of Houston) was accompanied by the Rev. H. M. Johnson of Monroe, Louisiana, district superintendent. Bishop Smith's sermon was most impressive as he developed his text, "if any man would come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me." at the close of the service, a reception line was formed at the stairs to greet the people as they went down to dinner.
The receiving line was composed or: Rev. & Mrs. Rickey, Rev. & Mrs. Johnson, Bishop Smith, Rev. & Mrs. C. K. Smith, Rev. & Mrs. D. W. Poole, Rev. and Mrs. W. H. Giles, Rev. H. W. Rickey and Mr. & Mrs. Charles Bennett of Leland, Mississippi (he was the architect).
Rev. W. W. Giles preached at the night service, his text being, "we build an altar”. A large congregation attended.
This attractive church building was begun under the leadership of Rev. H. W. Rickey, father of Rev. Henry A. Rickey.
The debt on the building was paid out during the pastorates of Rev. C. K. Smith and Rev. D. W. Poole.
SERVICE OF DEDICATION:
The pastor, Rev. Henry A. Rickey, announced the program for the dedication of the Methodist Church, April 26, 1942 at 11:00 a. m. as follows:
Call to worship by Rev. W. H. Giles
Anthem: "Springtime Praise" (Ashford) by the choir
Responsive reading led by Rev. C. K. Smith
Prayer by Rev. H. W. Rickey
New testament lesson, Luke 4: 16-21 by the Rev. D. W. Poole
Offertory solo "The Lord's Prayer" by Miss Alice Gene Gentry
Sermon by Bishop A. Frank Smith, Presiding Bishop, Louisiana conference
Presentation of the church to bishop smith for dedication by Mr. W. D. Ziegler, chairman of the building committee
Dedication of the church - bishop smith and the congregation.
Benediction - Rev. H. M. Johnson, District Superintendent, Monroe, Louisiana
This service was followed by a picnic dinner downstairs with an informal reception afterwards in honor of the bishop and the visiting clergymen; the architect, Mr. Chas. Bennett, the Board of Trustees (when the church was built) consisted of J. L. Cason, Norman Gayle, W. A. Gilpin, T. H. Goza, J. R. Linton, C. S. Pierce, Dr. R. L. Roberts and W. D. Ziegler.
Building Committee was: W. D. Ziegler, J. R. Linton and Dr. A. T. Palmer.
The Flower Committee, Mrs. A. C. Thompson, Mrs. Dave Kaufman, Mrs. A. T. Palmer, Mrs. L. S. Grace, Mrs. R. A. Tate of Gulfport, Mississippi, and the Wesleyan Service Guild.
Our former pastors here today and their terms of office, are:
Rev. H. W. Rickey, 1927—1929; Rev. W. H. Giles, 1929—1933, Rev. C. K. Smith, 1933—1937; Rev. D. W. Poole, 1937—1941; the pastor, Rev. Henry A. Rickey, 1941—1944