The Olive Branch Methodist Church and Cemetery, Wythe County,
by Edgar M. "Russ"
with some notes by Luther Armbrister
On Christmas Eve of 1784, the Methodist Episcopal Church in America was
formally established by action of the "Christmas Conference" at Lovely Lane
Protestant Episcopal Chapel in Baltimore, Maryland. The Methodist movement was
an offshoot of the Protestant Episcopal Church, also called the Established
Church, Anglican Church or the Church of England. Rev. Thomas Cooke, who had
been sent to America by John Wesley for this purpose, convened the conference.
At that time (Bishop) Francis Asbury was elected as "general superintendent" by
the sixty preachers in attendance. At another conference in Baltimore in 1828, a
group of church members, known as the "Associated Methodist Churches," began to
move to form a completely separate denomination, which would come to be known as
the Methodist Protestant Church or the Methodist Episcopal Church in America. It
was around this time that the Bralley family were attending camp meetings in
Wythe County, which was founded circa 1819. It is likely the Bralleys were
impressed by visits of Bishop Francis Asbury, for they are mentioned as
adherents attending the Asbury Campground meetings in the mid-1820's. The Olive
Branch Methodist Church was founded in 1833 on land donated to the Methodist
Church by James Bralley and his wife, Hannah Smyth Bralley. It is not known why
they chose to name the church Olive Branch, but there is speculation that it was
upon the brigantine Olive Branch that John Bralley traveled from Ireland to the
American colonial port of Philadelphia in the mid 1700's. The Rev. James Fisher
(10 December 1810 - 27 December 1888) served the church and help raise funds for
the second church building, was "two years an exhorter and forty-seven years a
faithful preacher." A memorial to Rev. Fisher is located in the present church.
There are numerous unmarked graves in the cemetery, including many of the older
Bralley graves. Family tradition holds that James Bralley (1765 - 1854) is
actually buried under the church, but the author believes that is not true. His
oldest son, Samuel Guy Bralley died in the year preceeding James' death (1795 -
1853) and his grave is well away from the church and in fairly good condition,
althought the stone is broken. John Bralley's (1797 - 1866) stone is new and
replaces an older one, now missing. It was placed there by the descendants of
Cabble Bralley in the late 1990's. It is unknown if immigrant ancestor John
Bralley of Ireland is buried in the cemetery. The Olive Branch Methodist Church
cemetery is adjacent to the Olive Branch Methodist Church, located on two acres
on Virginia State Route 604 just north of the intersection with Virginia State
Route 619, between Porter's Crossroads and Austinville. The cemetery is both
marked and named on the U.S.G.S. topographic map for Austinville. A great deal
of this cemetery data was probably collected in 1983 and supplemented in 2002.
In the card file in the Kegley Library the cemetery is identified as Olive
The Olive Branch Methodist Episcopal Church Deed, 1833
This Indenture made this 9 day of March in the year of our lord one thousand
and thirty three Between James Brawley and Hannah Brawley his wife of the first
part, and Joshua Percival, Wendell Swecker, Burgess Williams, Burrell Wall, John
Nuckol and Jacob Fisher, Trustees in trust for the uses and purposes herein
aftermentioned of the other part, all of the County of Wythe and State of
Witnesseth that the said Jas. Brawley and Hannah Brawley, his wife, for and
in consideration of the sum of ----- dollar to them in hand paid and upon the
sealing and delivery of these presents the receipt whereof is herby acknowledged
hath given, granted, bargained, sold, released, confirmed and conveyed, and by
these presents doth give, grant, bargain, sell, release, confirm and convey unto
them the said Joshua Percival, Wendell Swecker, Burgess Williams, Burrell Wall,
John Nuckol and Jacob Fisher, and their successors (trustees in trust for the
uses and purposes herein after mentioned and declared) all the estate, right,
title, interest, property, claim and demand whatsoever, either in law or equity,
which he the said James Brawley & wife hath in or upon all and singular a
certain lot or piece of land, situate, lying and being in the County and State
aforesaid, on the waters of New River, bounded and butted as follows, viz;
Beginning on a small ash in a hollow near a spring, thence S. 5° E. 30 ¼ poles,
crossing the road to a black oak near the same, thence S. 81 ½ W. 25 poles to a
large chestnut, thence N. 33° E. 40 ¼ poles to the Beginning containing and laid
out for two acres one rood & twenty nine poles, together with all and
singular the houses, woods, water, ways, privileges, and appurtenances thereto
belonging or in any wise appertaining: To have and to hold all the singular the
above mentioned and described lot or piece of land, situate, lying & being
as aforesaid, together with all and singular the houses, woods, waters, ways and
privileges thereto belonging, or in any wise appertaining unto them the said
Joshua Percival, Wendell Swecker, Burgess Williams, Burwell Wall, John Nuckoll
& Jacob Fisher and their successors in office forever, in trust, that they
shall erect and build, or cause to be erected & built, thereon, a house or
place of worship for the use of the members of the Methodist Episcopal Church in
the United States of America, according to the rules and discipline which from
time to time may be agreed upon and adopted by the Ministers and preachers of
the said Church, at their general conferences in the United States of America,
and in further trust and confidence that they shall at all times, forever
hereafter, permit such ministers and preachers, belonging to said Church, as
shall from time to time be duly authorized by the general conferences of the
Ministers and preachers of the said Methodist Episcopal Church, or by the annual
conferences, authorized by the said general conferences, to preach and expound
God's holy word therein; and in further trust and confidence that as often as
any one or more of the trustees herein before mentioned shall die, or cease to
be a member or members of the said Church, according to the rules and discipline
as aforesaid, then & in such case it shall be the duty of the stationed
minister or preacher (authorized as aforesaid) who shall have the pastoral
charge of the members of the said Church, to call a meeting of the remaining
trustees, as soon as conveniently may be: and when so met, the said minister or
preacher shall proceed to nominate one or more persons to fill the place or
places of him or them whose office or offices has (or have) been vacated as
aforesaid. Provided the person or persons also nominated shall have been one
year a member or members of the said Church immediately preceding such
nomination, and be at least twenty one years of age; and the said trustees, so
assembled, shall proceed to elect and be a majority of votes, appoint the person
or persons so nominated to fill the vacancy or vacancies, in order to keep up
the number of six trustees forever. And the said James Brawley and Hannah
Brawley his wife doth by these presents warrant and forever defend, all and
singular the before mentioned and described lot or piece of land with the
appurtenances thereto belonging unto them the said Joshua Percival, Wendell
Swecker, Burgess Williams, Burrell Wall, John Nuckoll and Jacob Fisher and their
successors, chosen and appointed as aforesaid, from the claim or claims of them
the said James Bralley and Hannah Brawley his wife, their heirs and assigns and
from the claim or claims of all persons whatever.
In testimony whereof the
said James Brawley and Hannah Brawley his wife hath hereunto set their hands and
seals the day and year aforesaid.
Sealed in presence of: James Bralley (Seal)
Hannsh S. Bralley (Seal)
Virginia: Wythe County, to wit:
We, Casper Yost and William Crawford,
Justices of the Peace in the County and State aforesaid, do hereby certify that
James Brawley, party to a certain deed bearing date the 9: day of March 1833 and
hereunto annexed, personally appeared before us in our county aforesaid, and
acknowledged the same to be his act and deed, and desired us to certify the said
acknowledgment to the Clerk of the County Court of Wythe in order that the said
deed may be recorded.
Given under our hands & seals this 9 day of March
Casper Yost (Seal)
William Crawford (Seal)
Virginia: Wythe County, to wit:
We, Casper Yost and William Crawford,
Justices of the peace in the County and State aforesaid do hereby certify that
Hannah Brawley, wife of James Brawley, parties to a certain deed bearing date on
the 9 day of March 1833 and hereunto annexed, personally appeared before us in
our County aforesaid, and being examined by us privily and apart from her
husband and having the deed aforesaid fully explained to her the said Hannah
Brawley, she acknowledged the same to be her act and deed and declared that she
had willingly signed, sealed, and delivered the same, and that she wished not to
Given under our hands and seals this 9 day of March 1833.
Casper Yost (Seal)
William Crawford (Seal)
Virginia: At a Court held for Wythe County, at the Courthouse on Monday the
14: day of October 1833. This Deed of bargain & sale was returned to Court,
and with the certificate of acknowledgement & privy examination annexed,
ordered to be recorded.
Teste: J. P. Mathess, Cl
Burials in the Olive Branch Methodist Episcopal Church Graveyard, Circa
Name Dates Additional Notes
AKER, Bettie L. Nov. 17, 1860 - March 22, 193S Wife of W. D. Aker
Grace L. Lytton July 16, 1881- April 12, 1941
AKER, Rush Sept. 21, 1880
[Nodeath date given]
AKER, W. D. March 10, 1850 - July 31, 1924 Husband of
ALLRED, Kathy G. Arnold July 15, 1955 - Nov. 7, 1980 2nd metal
marker (Barnett) has middlename as: Gaynell
ARMBRISTER, Bessie Aker 1883 -
ARMBRISTER, James Henry 1873 - 1936
ARMBRISTER, Richard Elmore 1935 -
ARNOLD, Bessie 0. 1892 - 1957 Metal marker (Richardson)
Juanita Littreal Oct. 22, 1924 - June 18, 1976
ARNOLD, William 0. 1883 - 1949
Metal marker (Richardson)
BLAIR, Christopher 1971 - 1972 Metal marker
BLAIR, Elsie A. March 30, 1894 - Oct. 10, 1953
Frank April 6, 1880 [No death date given]
BLAIR, G. W. Aug. 19, 1887 - Feb.
BLAIR, Irene P. July 27, 1921 [No death date given] Wife of.Roy C.
BLAIR, James Nov. 29, 1832 - May 4, 1915 Husband of Laura Anne Dailey
Married Feb. 4, 1861,Co. D, 45 Va. Inf., Confederate States
BLAIR, James W. Oct. 3, 1875 - March 20, 1939
BLAIR, John March 12,
1865 - April 30, 1943
BLAIR, Josie Phillippi July 27, 1883 - Sept. 20,
BLAIR, Laura Anne Dailey Dec. 23, 1843 - Sept. 10, 1923 Wife of James
Blair Johnston Married February 4, 1861
BLAIR, Mary Emily Oct. 3, 1864 -
April 7, 1896 Wife of Sampson Lee Blair
BLAIR, Mary P. Nov. 11, 1889 - Oct.
BLAIR, Mary Sue May 29, 1916 - July 25, 1916
Margaret Aug. 10, 1888 - Jan. 31, 1969
BLAIR, Nellie Baby 7 months [No dates
BLAIR, Roy C. Sept. 25, 1922 - March 9, 1979 Husband of Irene
BLAIR, Sampson Lee March 4, 1862 - June 29, 1957 Husband of Mary
BLAIR, Samuel Walter Aug. 26, 1903 - Nov. 11, 1971 Son of James W.
& Josie P. Blair
BLAIR, Wadter W. March 4, 1887 - July 4,
BRALLEY, (Infant) April 21, 1859 - April 21, 1859 Son of F. A. & A.
BRALLEY, Annie D. May 17, 1898 - Feb. 2, 1901 Daughter of J. M.
& F. W. Bralley
BRALLEY, Anstes April 15, 1840 - Dec. 21, 1903 Wife of
Stephen Craig Bralley
BRALLEY, Cabble McKinley Aug. 12, 1901 [No death date
given] Husband of Iva Clarice Porter
BRALLEY, Charles F. July 4, 1902 - Feb.
BRALLEY, Charles Lafayett July 25, 1862- May 27, 1864
J. [No dates given] 1 Sgt., Co. D, 45 Va. Inf., C. S. A.
BRALLEY, Edward J.
March 7, 1872 - March 30, 1937
BRALLEY, Erma M. Nov. 24, 1914 - Oct. 12,
BRALLEY, Frank Blair Aug. 19, 1871 - Dec. 29, 1939
BRALLEY, G. W J.
Monroe Nov. 20, 1871 - Nov. 28, 1935
BRALLEY, George C. July 8, 1897 - March
29, 1918 Son of F. B. & Maggie W. Bralley
BRALLEY, Guy S. Oct. 4, 1843 -
Oct. 20, 1917
BRALLEY, Iva Clarice Porter July 1, 1902- April 6, 1971 Wife of
Cabble McKinley Bralley
BRALLEY, Jane June 28, 1803 - July 30, 1872 Wife of
John S. Bralley
BRALLEY, Jerry C. Dec. 30, 1872 - Sept. 10, 1929
John S. 7 January 1797 - 1 April 1866 In loving memory erected by the Cabble
BRALLEY, John R. Aug. 2, 1885 - June 18, 1887 Son?of G.
S.'& M. E. Bralley
BRALLEY, Maggie Eversole July 14, 1876 ? March 26,
BRALLEY, Mary E. Oct. 26, 1844 [No death date given]
Victoria Sept. 18, 1864 - Aug. 9, 1865
BRALLEY, Mitchell C. Sept. 1, 1889 -
Aug. 27, 1901 Son of J. M. & F. W. Bralley
BRALLEY, Mitchell C. 1890 -
1962 Husband of Nannie P.
BRALLEY, Mitchell Carter April 15, 182S- May 15,
1898 2nd military marker: Co. D, 45 Va. Inf., C. S. A.
BRALLEY, Nannie P.
1893 - 1972 Wife of Mitchell C. Bralley
BRALLEY, Pauline S. April 2, 1813 -
March 16, 1891 "Consort of Samuel G. Bralley"
BRALLEY, Robert Aug. 6, 1899 -
May 21, 1905 Son of Robert & Simira Bralley
BRALLEY, Robert Lee 1867 -
1933 Husband of Samaria Lyons
BRALLEY, Roberta T. March 24, 1907 - Jan. 9,
BRALLEY, Samaria Lyons
of Robert Lee Bralley
BRALLEY, Samuel G.
10, 1795 - April 16, 1853
yrs. 4 mos. & 6 days. Two carved hands shaking at top of stone. "Our father
has gone to a mansion of rest; To the glorious land by the Diety blest." Husband
of Pauline S. Stone broken
BRALLEY, Samuel G. Sept. 27, 1875 - March 24,
BRAWLEY, Selia J. Smith March 17, 1840 - April 4, 1926 Wife of Edwin J.
BRALLEY, Stephen C. April 2, 1835 - Feb. 1, 1917 Husband of
BRALLEY, T. J. April 15, 1869 - Oct. 11, 1900 Son of S. C. & A.
BRALLEY, Thomas A., Sr. April 25, 1907 - April 5, 1980 Pvt., U. S.
BRALLEY, Thomas J. June 15, 1902 - Dec. 28, 1936
BRALLEY, William H.
Jan. 15, 1866 - Jan. 5, 1907
BRALLEY, William H. Sept. 8, 1896 - Sept. 4,
BROWNE, Fitzhugh Lee 1897 - 1951
BUNTEN, Helen R. Aug. 30, 1910 -
April 20, 1940
BUNTEN, James Jan. 16, 1886 - Aug. 1, 1956
Elizabeth E[nglish] Dec. 3, 1860 - Aug. 23, 1950
Daughter of Henry E. & Julia Ann English Catron -
CATRON, Henry E(ller)
25, 1822 - Oct. 12, 1906
of John & Elizabeth Bralley Catron & Husband of
CATRON, [Julia Ann] English Sept. 15, 1823 - April 4, 1906 First
name on stone: Julian [Daughter of Robert & Elizabeth Catron English &
Wife of Henry Eller Catron]
CATRON, Polly S[tuart]
11, 1863 - Nov. 11, 1950 Daughter of Henry E. & Julia Ann English Catron
CATRON, Robert E[nglish]
7, 1854 - Nov. 20, 1897 Son of Henry E. & Julia English Catron & Husband
of Florence A. Cassell
CHRISLEY, Thomas E. Feb. 10, 1913 - July 22, 1973
Virginia, Pfc., U. S. Army, World War II
COWDEN, Dora Blair Feb. 4, 1910 -
March 13, 1977 Daughter of James W. & Josie P. Blair
COWDEN, Ross Jackson
May 15, 1897 - March 7, 1982 U. S. Army, World War I
DAVIS, John April 12,
1887 - Nov. 25, 1950
DAVIS, Laura Bell M. May 22, 1886- Feb. 29,
DAVIS, Ray J. 1923 - 1967
DAVIS, Woodrow W. July 15, 1922 - Oct. 31,
DUNFORD, Frank Burton Dec. 28,,1905 - Dec. 30, 1970
Paul June 20, 1925 - Dec. 31, 1976
DUNFORD, George Guy Aug. 17, 1903 - Dec.
24, 1954 Husband of Myrtle Poole
DUNFORD, Karen Faye Oct. 26, 1961 - Oct. 12,
DUNFORD, Myrtle Poole Dec. 22, 1901 [No deatj date given] Wife of George
DUNFORD, Randolph Conner October 5, 1972 Infant son of C. C.
& Dreama Dunford
EVERSOLE, Eujen ??? 10, 188. Feb. 12, 1886 Son of J. H.
& Hanah Eversole. Stone broken
EVERSOLE, George W. Jan. 30, 1868 June 12,
EVERSOLE, Hannah Sept. 12, 1851 - Jan. 2, 1925 Wife of J. H. Eversole
EVERSOLE, J. H. Aug. 29, 1846 - June 10, 1917 Husband of Hannah
James H. May 3, 1881- Dec. 23, 1897 Son of H. & Hannah Eversole. Stone
EVERSOLE, Shippie N. April 7, 1883- Dec. 22, 18 -- Child of J. H.
& Hannah Eversole. Stone broken
FIELDS, Annie Wain July 3, 1900 [No death
FIELDS, G. W. June 24, 1870 - Feb. 20, 1940 Husband of Sallie
FIELDS, George Edward 1901 - 1968
FIELDS, J. W. 1871 - 1943 Metal
marker (Seagle Bros.)
FIELDS, Locki Manuel 1877 - 1968
FIELDS, Roy Robert
April 7, 1889 - May 10, 1971
FIELDS, Ruby Thacker 1904 [No death date
FIELDS, Sallie M. April 3, 1869 - Dec. 4, 1953 Wife of G. W.
FIELDS, William Donald Sept. 15, 1908 - March 21, 1931
Clara M. Feb. 18, 1896 [No death date given] Wife of John M. Fisher
Elbert C. Nov. 14, 1858 - Dec. 14, 1906 Son of Caroline & Alfred
FISHER, John M.
8, 1891 - June 9. 1968
of Clara M., Virginia, Pfc., Co. B, 606
Engineers, World.War I
Nancy J. July 31, 1837 - July 14, 1909 Wife of Rev. James Fisher
Pearl R. July 27, 1877 - Dec. 7, 1958
GALLEMORE, Orville G. June 30, 1888 -
Sept. 5, 1961
GOODIN, V. S. [No dates given] Captain, Co. K, 15 La. Inf., C.
S. A. 0
GOODMAN, Bowie C. July 8, 1891 - May 31, 1977 Sgt., U. S. Army, World
GOODMAN, Dixie Wright June 27, 1893 May 16, 1941
E. July 7, 1921 ? Nov. 15, 1953
GOODMAN, Kermit Lowden May 9, 1920 - Feb. 5,
GOODMAN, Richard E. Oct. 11, 1866 - Oct. 2, 1942
GOODMAN, Sabra E.
Jan. 6, 1870 - Feb. 13, 1954
GRAY, Greta K. Sept. 19, 1905 [No death date
GRAY, Laura Ellen Dec. 4, 1868 - April 18, 1931 Wife of Sidney Davis
GRAY, Margaret E. July 29, 1864 - March 24, 1925
GRAY, Oren S. Sept.
1, 1901 - Dec. 24, 1982
GRAY, Sidney Davis Feb. 22, 1862 [No death date
given] Husband of Laura Ellen
HARDY, Fannie E. Bralley Sept. 9, 1846 Feb. 10,
1912 Wife of John M. Hardy
HOLLANDSWORTH, Ann Eliza Fisher
March 27, 1847 - June 30, 1920
HOLLANDSWORTH, J. K. Nov.
17, 1852 - July 24, 1926
HUDSON, Mary Louise Blair July 11, 1869 - Feb. 21,
1923 Wife of W. R. Hudson
HUDSON, William R. Sept. 6, 1861 [No death date
given] Husband of Mary Louise Blair
JOHNSON, Charles W. June 20, 1866 Sept.
JOHNSON, Frank M. 1890 - 1967 Metal marker (Barnett)
Sena M. Umberger Sept. 3, 1842 - April 7, 1909 Wife of Thomas C.
JOHNSON, Thomas C. Jan. 7, 1839 - July 19, 1919 Husband of Sena M.
JOHNSON, Virginia Ida May 14, 1872 - July 19, 1956
A. Oct. 8, 1897 - Jan. 12, 1923
JONES, Joe Jan. 25, 1862 - July 6,
JONES, Mollie L. March 5, 1868 - March 28, 1924
JONES, Walter Eugene
June 17, 1904 - Feb. 18, 1957 Virginia, Pfc., Btry. B, 82 Field Arty. Bn., World
KITCHEN, Amanda V. May 24, 1848 - July 2, 1934
Isabelle Dec. 27, 1891 - March 23, 1902 Daughter of C. B. & Mary Kitchen
KITCHENS, Hester A. W. May 10, 1822 - Jan. 23, 1903
Homer Only date on stone: 1936 Aged 2 months, 18 days Son of W. S. & Lorna
LITTREAL, Howard W. June 19, 1920 - Nov. 8, 1949 Virginia Pfc., 26
Inf., 1 Inf. Div., World War II
LITTREAL, Lorna P. May 30, 1899 - Feb. 25,
LITTREAL, William S. Jan. 6, 1887 - Feb. 6 1960 Virginia, Pvt., Co. D,
318 Infantry, World War I
MANUEL, (Infant) March 3, 1916 - March 3, 1916 Son
of Guy & Ada Manuel
MANUEL, (Infant) Jan. 19, 1928 - Jan. 19, 1928
Daughter of G. N. & Ada G. Manuel
MANUEL, (Infant) Feb. 12, 1929 - Feb.
12, 1929 Son of G. N. & Ada G. Manuel
MANUEL, Emily Louise June 21, 1915
- Dec. 31, 1916
MANUEL, Forest Francis March March 6, 1917 - April 20, 1917
Daughter of Guy & Ada Manuel
MANUEL, H. Bowen 1872 - 1961
Thomas J. Feb. 15, 1892 - Oct. 9) 1918
MANUEL, Laura Coleman Dec. 30, 1897 -
June 9. 1975
MANUEL, Lockie Dunford July 4, 1846 - April 19, 1927
Martha J. 1878 - 1972
MANUEL, Mary Taylor Nov. 4, 1890 - Nov. 18,
MANUEL, Sampson Aug. 11, 1842 - Dec. 20, 1925 Co. D, 45 Va. Inf., C. S.
MANUEL, Samuel G. April 15, 1890 - Nov. 4, 1.965
MANUEL, Sherry Lynn
March 31, 1966 - Sept. 8, 1981 Daughter of Dorsey & Nina Coleman
MYERS, Posey G. Dec. 15, 1860 - Jan. 24j 1936
PEARMAN, Cynthia Ann
Only date on stone: March 11, 1973
PEARMAN, Hannah M. July 18, 1889 - May 14,
1975 Wife of James M. Pearman
PEARMAN, James Carlton, Sr. 1939- 1978 Husband
of Janice S.
PEARMAN, James M. March 31, 1869 - Dec. 4, 1941 Husband of
PEARMAN, Janice S. 1937 [No death date given] Wife of James Carlton
PEARMAN, Robie Virginia Walk Sept. 27, 1911 - Feb. 12, 1983
Metal marker (Barnett)
PEARMAN, Stephen Belford, Jr., Sept. 16, 1971 - Sept.
POWERS, Charles 0. March 27, 1890- Aug. 9, 1956
POOLE, Edna M.
1914 - 1964 Wife of William E. Poole, Sr. (Married December 3, 1932)
Elmira V. Oct. 16, 1873 - Dec. 22, 1952 Wife of John T. Poole
POOLE, John T.
Nov. 30, 1868 - Sept. 26, 1931 Husband of Elmira V.
POOLE, Teresa Carol Jan.
14, 1964 - Jan. 22, 1977 Metal marker (Barnett)
POOLE, Thomas Troy June 11,
1912 - July 1, 1970
POOLE, William E., Sr. 1907 - 1947 Husband of Edna M.
(Married December 3, 1932)
PORTER, Charles Ewing 1886 - 1951 Metal marker
(Barnett) Husband of Fannie E.
PORTER, Fannie E. 1891 - 1967 Metal marker
(Barnett) Wife of Charles Ewing Porter
PORTER, Florence Richardson March 8,
1884 - June 30, 1948
PORTER, Maude F. May 10, 1873 - Feb. 20, 1961 Wife of
Samuel E. Porter
PORTER, Samuel E. Jan. 6, 1868 - Dec. 18, 1951 Husband of
POWERS, 0. Dewey Oct. 19, 1898 - Feb. 1, 1976
PURDY, Zola Goodman
Feb. 14, 1903 - March 24, 1938
RASH, Ralph H. Feb. 9, 1910 - July 16, 1913
Son of D. A. & Sallie A. Rash
RASH, Silas Mayberry Jan. 28, 1925 - May 4,
RICHARDSON, Bessie Brown Aug. 30, 1909 - Feb. 23, 1917
Burton July 26, 1968 - Sept. 6, 1968
SHIPWASH, Florence A. April 4, 1875-
Feb. 24, 1943
SHIVERY, Dorothy M. Jan. 22, 1918- May 2, 1960
Margie 1920 - 1967 Metal marker (Morehead)
SIMPSON, Nancy 1884 - 1967 Metal
VAUGHAN, (Baby) Only date on stone: 1909 Daughter of J. P.
& Belle Vaughan
VAUGHAN, Belle Bralley Dec. 5, 1874 - Jan. 6, 1910 Wife
of John Vaughan
VAUGHAN, Bettie P. 1906 - June 25, 1931 Wife of Roy
VAUGHAN, Charles H. June 16, 1866 - Aug. 2, 1932 Husband of Sarah B.
VAUGHAN, E. J. Feb. 1, 1840 - Nov. 20, 1914 Wife of W. A.
VAUGHAN, Ellis W. 1905 - 1967 Husband of Mamie N.
VAUGHAN, John P.
M. Dec. 26, 18.75 - Feb. 5, 1925 Husband of Belle Bralley
VAUGHAN, Mamie N.
1910 [Nodeath date given] Wife of Ellis W. Vaughan
VAUGHAN, Mildred Sept. 25,
1926 - April 1, 1931
VAUGHAN., Sarah B. Aker Jan. 19, 1871 - Sept. 6, 1951
Wife of Charles k. Vaughan
VAUGHAN, William A. Feb. 28, 1846 - May 10, 1917
Husband of E. J. Vaughan
WALKE, Annie Lee Nov. l, 1900 -Aug. 1, 1903 Daughter
of J. R. & M. L. Walke
WALKE., Cora July 2, 1903 - July 20, 1904 Daughter
of J. B. & F. E. Walke
WALKE, J. B., Sr. April 28, 1843 [No death date
given] [Husband of Missouria A.]
WALKE, Missouria A. April 11, 1845 Feb. 17,
1913 Wife of J. B. Walke, Sr.
WILLIAMS, Pearl Littreal May 30, 1918- March 5,
WRIGHT, Clarence April 12, 1896 - Jan. 12, 1951 Virginia, Pvt., 128
Infantry, 32 Div., I World War I
[Below is an article written by the late Luther Armbrister, who lived for
many years within sight of the Olive Branch Methodist Church and was a faithful
member of the congregation. In point of actual fact, some of the information
contained in this article is not factually correct. However, I've included here
as a testament to Mr. Armbrister's love of the church and community, as well as
his devotion to the task of securing the church history in the memory of the
THE HISTORY OF OLIVE BRANCH UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
1833 - 1984
F. Armbrister, September 30, 1984
After considerable research and many questions we set forth in this paper
some of the facts concerning the establishment and continuance of the Olive
Branch United Methodist Church. No consecutive year-by-year record of the growth
of the church seems to be available. However, it appears from courthouse records
of deeds and wills as compiled by Mrs. Kathleen Bralley Swecker of Pulaski and
by searching of some documents myself that one John Bralley, an immigrant from
Cork County Ireland, was granted a piece of land in Wythe County by the
authority of His Honor Wilson C. Nicholas, Governor of the Commonwealth of
Virginia in 1774 February 4. This grant of land consisting of 379 acres was
located in Wythe County on Mill Creek which boundaries are set forth in a
document signed by Governor Nicholas of the Commonwealth of Virginia. This Mill
Creek runs close by the present site of Olive Branch Church and eventually
empties into New River which river is named in some of the documents.
To this John Bralley and his wife (she not being named) five children were
born: three daughters and two sons, James and John. Years later immigrant John
willed the land equally to these two sons. Pursuing the record further it is
found that son John built a log church in 1833 near Porter's Cross Roads which
was without doubt Olive Branch Church. This log church had a balcony which was,
we suppose for use by the slaves. The Bralley home, a log cabin, was located in
the neighborhood of the church. We are fairly sure that this home was over in
the field at the foot of this hill to your left as you descend going toward
Route 619. There was an orchard and signs of a home?place are still there. Many
of the older Bralleys are buried in the cemetery close by. At this point in time
by examination of the records it becomes a little unclear as to the exact
geographic location and ownership of lands between the two brothers, James and
John. However, the church has in its possession the deed written and signed by
James Bralley and his wife Hannah on March 9, 1833 and recorded in Deed Book 112
page 470 in the Wythe County Courthouse deeding a plot of land of two acres more
or less whose boundaries are set forth in the deed. This deed made between James
Bralley and Hannah Bralley his wife of the first part and Joshua Percival,
Wendell Swecker, Burgess Williams, Burrell Wall, John Nuckols and Jacob Fisher,
Trustees, of the second part. The deed further states that on this plot of land
is to be built or erected a church for the members of Methodist Episcopal church
to be used and I quote, "to preach and expound God's Holy Word therein."
As days moved into years the log church apparently was dismantled and a
frame church built in its place. For this church the Rev. James Fisher, an
outstanding community leader and one of its first ministers, father of my
mother?in?law and my wife Geneva's grandfather was largely responsible for
getting the church built. He rode horseback over these hills and all through the
surrounding community collecting donations for the church's construction. He
never refused any amount which many times was nickels, dimes, or quarters. These
names and amounts are on display today for your inspection.
Time and the elements take their toll and this building also passed into
history. However, the dedication and determination of the area's people to have
a church saw another building rise to take its place. This time a tremendously
sturdy building put together with massive timbers and locked in place by locust
pins was the people's answer to the challenge. Built by Bob Landreth, a master
craftsman and his helpers. The pews were hand made from virgin yellow pine, hand
planed, mortised and held together by cut nails. Some of these pews can still be
seen in the community. So solid was the framing that when it was raised by jacks
to excavate for classrooms, it rose above the jacks like a solid block of wood.
Not a joint came loose. This is the church in which you sit today with some
changes explained later. Back in the early 1900's a belfry was built and a bell
was hung to ring out the message that worship was in progress each and every
Sunday. It is still there with the message that God is in His heaven and the
people at Olive Branch are alive and well.
In the late 1950's during the ministry of the late Rev. J. T. Booth, Jean
Painter's father, the congregation realized the need of renovation. The roof
leaked, the floor was rotted, and being heated only with a stove, it was cold
inside (temperature wise, that is, not spiritual). With the urging and support
of Brother Booth, we looked, we talked, we acted. Meetings were held, needs were
discussed, financial feasibility was examined. When the air cleared, we came up
with plans both structural and financial. Moral and financial help came from
many sources, from relatives of members long since deceased, friends of the
church who loved it for what it had meant to them. Financial help came in the
form of friends and members purchasing the pews in which you are sitting as well
as the other furnishings for the church. Plaques designating the donor can be
seen on the ends of the pews and on the pieces about the church. Work was
started in the early sixties. Mr. Ed Dean of Bethany, now deceased, was the
contractor. A full basement was excavated, four classrooms and a Fellowship Hall
occupy this basement level; the sanctuary was completely remodeled and
refinished, new electric wiring installed throughout, a balcony was added with a
vestibule underneath; new inside stairways to the balcony and down to basement
floor, and the building was extended to accommodate a spacious high ceilinged
front porch. Just recently a new lifetime aluminum roof was installed. To
complete a job well done to this point the outside was completely brick
Members gave in a magnificent way, donations came from the outside as
already mentioned, and we received help from the Board of Church Extension with
the help of Dr. Hardin. We borrowed, we sacrificed, we prayed, and with God's
help, we finished what we started. We looked at what we did with justifiable
pride; but the real purpose of all our efforts was to honor God and serve
mankind. Any who wish may enter to worship. All of the years that this church
has stood here and the people that it has served has been richly and mightily
blessed by the glorious parade of dedicated and consecrated ministers and their
families whom we have had to pass this way. This includes our present pastor,
Rev. Rae Mullins, whose zeal seems never to weaken, whose goal is to love and
serve, and whose dedication to God and His work is without question.
On July 25, 1971, the renovated Olive Branch United Methodist Church, free
of debt, was dedicated to the glory of God and the service of man to serve
another 150 or more years. Dr. H. S. Steel, District Superintendent, assisted by
the Rev. Dale Johnson, pastor of the church, was in charge of the service. At
our first service in the new church the membership was asked to come in quietly,
reverently, prayerfully, remembering always that this is God's house. To this
day the members follow this practice. We look forward eagerly to many more years
in God's service.
Wythe County, Virginia Deed Book 12, pp. 470-471.
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