Holly Grove UMC History

A Brief History of Holly Grove Methodist Church.

1826 (1st service), services at current location continuous since 1835 through today.

Taken from many sources - none confirmed for this web page.

See Church Page at: HollyGroveUMC.com or:

Holly Grove Church Home Page Link

From the Historical Register: Founded 1854 (http://www.iscuo.org/lc_hollygrove.htm)

The first Methodist services at Holly Grove may have been conducted by Rev. Henry Stephenson. He held services in the local schoolhouse in 1826. In 1837, Rev. Luke Conerly and J.W. Franklin bought 40 acres of land and patented it to the Holly Grove Church.

Although the congregation began as a Methodist Protestant church, when Joel Sanders was appointed in 1841 it was taken over by the Methodist Episcopal Church. Rev. Sanders’ circuit was from Bienville to Holly Grove, then across Bayou Toro at its mouth to Negreet, then to Many, then to Bayou Scie, then to Pleasant Hill, and finally back to Bienville.

A log building, 24 by 30 feet, was constructed in 1854 (at approximately the same location as the present church). Hewn logs were used for the pulpit and the pews. The building was also used as a school during the week. The log church was replaced with a boxed church in 1872.  In 1894 a two-story frame church was built by the congregation. The Masons used the second floor, and church services were held on the first. The porch was four feet high so that ladies could easily dismount from their horses. The second floor was removed and an addition was added to the north side of the building in 1915.

A new church was constructed across the road from the old church in 1977. The old church was left with its furnishings and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.

[End of Historical Register account.]

From Holly Grove Church Records: (author unknown)

   In giving a brief account of Holly Grove Church of the past 172 years, it might be well to go back and look at some of the influences which led to that history.

      During the first tow decades of the nineteenth century, there were almost no Methodist people or preacher in North and West Louisiana. Evidently the first penetration of Methodist into this section of our state was 1826. In that year, the Reverend Henry Stephenson, a local preacher from the Missouri Conference, came into what is now Claiborne Parish. he was admitted into the Mississippi Conference, which then included the work in Louisiana, at the close of 1828.

The name of the Natchitoches circuit, which had been recently formed, was then changed to “Claiborne”, and Mr. Stepenson served it in 1829. Three years later, 1832, the name “Sabine” appears fro the first time in the list of appointments, with Preston Cooper in charge. Sabine also appears in 1833 and 1834, but after that it cannot be found in the appointments. Yet since then the names of “Claiborne”, Natchitoches”, and and “Darbonne” appear regularly. The supposition is that Natchitoches included the territory now in the parish fo that name, and without doubt, the bordering territory of Sabine, which then included Vernon Parish.

    During these early days, besides Cooper and Henry Stephenson already mentioned above, there were the following preachers appointed in charge of the Sabine (or as it thus became known in 1834 as Natchitoches circuit): James P. Stephenson, M. McIntosh, and Henry B. Price. in 1841, the appointment of Joel Sanders to this circuit marks and epoch in the history of Holly Grove Church. For the church had already been organized as a Methodist Protestant Church, but in that year it was taken over by the Methodist Episcopal Church. This fact is revealed by the following quotations from the writing of Rev. Thomas Franklin (1826-1891); “Rev. James Ford, a Protestant Methodist, organized a society in the first school house that was put up in this country.” This agrees with the unidentified note found in an old church register possessed by Rev. R.T. Wright, l local preacher of this community. This anonymous note states that the Holly Grove Methodist Church was organized in 1835 by Rev. James Ford, a Protestant Methodist preacher. Again, quoting from Rev. Thomas Franklin; “Rev. Joel Sanders, an itinerant Episcopal Methodist, traveled from Bienville Parish to this settlement, crossing Bayou Toro at the mouth, goingt to Negreet, then to Many, Bayou Scie, Pleasant Hill, and back to Beinville every month”. Thus we see from the appointment of Joel Sanders in charge of the Natchitoches circuit in 1841, the evidence is very substantial that the Holly Grove Church has been a part of the itinerant connection. However, it should be taken into account that in a brief history of Holly Grove written by Rev. John Franklin and J.W. Conerly in 1917, it is stated by these two outstanding and faithful men that Holly Grove Methodist Church was first organized as a Methodist Church, South, in 1849.

    At that time they state the charter members have long since passed away, but many of their descendants still remain. Besides Joel Sanders, other preachers mentioned in the appointments to the Natchitoches circuit down to 1847, were Richard Overby, W. Hinds, John Eddins, and John M. Hamil. After 1847, the year the Louisiana Conference was organized, the following is an almost complete list of the preachers who have served as pastor of the church: Daniel Watkins, 1849; Rev Goodwin, 1850, P.P. Mathis, 1851; T.J. McLendon, and Coarsed, 1856-57; Rev. Mr. McReary, 1858, Rev. Mr. Griswell, 1860; W.D. Staton, 1862; Rev. Mr. Moore, 1863-64; J.M. Franklin, 1865-68; R.H. Adair, 1869; Isaac Wright, 1870; J.M.Franklin, 1871; Rev. Mr. Smith, 1872-73; F.G. Hocut, 1874; A. Drowdy, 1875; R.M.Blocker, 1877; John Dampton, 1881, John Franklin, 1882; G.W. Sherod, 1884; S.S. Holiday, 1885; John Franklin, 1886; J.C. Cornline, 1887; T.R. Wimberly, 1888; Robert Hurst, 1889; J.C. Cornline, 1890-92; R.T. Wright, 1893; J.H. Stafford, 1894; H.C. Murphy, 1985-97; Joshua Sanders, 1898; S.S. Holiday, 1899-1900; E.L. Cargill, 1901; H.C. Murphy, 1902-03, Oscar Rainey, 1904; John Franklin, 1905-06; J.S. Roberts, 1907-08; A.J. Bonnet, 1909-11; John Franklin, , 1912-13; J.E. Napper, 1914; Rev Mr. Thompson, 1915; A.C. Searcy, 1916; C.F. Starnes, 1917; L.P. Moreland, 1918-22; W.W. Perry, 1923-26; C.B. Powell, 1927; J.L. Lay, 1928-29; L.E. Crooks, 1930; C.F. Shepherd, 1931-32; R.A. Bozeman, 1933; G.H.Corry, 1934-1936; L.R. Nease Jr., 1936-37; L.e. Crooks, 1937-38; R.T. Pickett, 1938-40; W.D. Crey, 1940-42; E.H. House, 1942-44; A.J. Ellender Jr. 1944-46; L.N. Hoffpauir, 1946-49; J.H. Holder, 1949-52; C.J. Thibodaux, 1952-1954; Bryan Ft. Roberts, 1954-57; S.L. Lantrip, 1957-58; Henry Pickett, 1958-60; K.K. Carithers, 1960-61; H.C. Howell, 1961-62; Raymond M. Crofoot, , 1962-65; A.W. Coody, 1965-68; Howard Hudson, 1968; Walter Clark, 1969; Eskel L. Tatum, 1969-71; Donald M. Risinger, 1971-??, Robert Potter (last Pastor at old Church - ??-??), Ray Garrett (??-??), Lewis Olmsted (10 years ??-??), Ryan Horton 6 years (??-??), Larry Maxwell (2 years ??-??), Dennis Lewellyn, 2 years ending early 2007, David W. Stewart, 2007-today

     Quoting from Rev. John Franklin and J.W. Conerly, “Through the efforts of these Godly men hundreds of souls have been saved, and the cause of the Lord has been strengthened”. It was on the Anacoco circuit (as the circuit that included Holly Grove for many years was called), that the cause of Prohibition was first agitated in this parish. And the ward in which Holly Grove was located was one of the first wards in the state to vote dry. And through the efforts of one of our preachers, Brother Roberts, of Anacoco circuit, our parish was among the first to vote dry. we feel proud of the history of our Church. It has been one of the greatest agencies in making our community what it is today, and the end is not yet, for Methodism is destined to play a greater part in the progress and moral and spiritual uplift of our country.

      The building in which the church was organized was a log house located 140 yards north of where the old Church now stands. This building was also used for school purposes. About the year 1854, the old house was removed and a new hewn log house 24 feet by 30 feet was built in ins stead, about where the old white church stands today. The school was also conducted in this building. The people worshipped in this house until about the year 1872, when it was removed and a boxed house 34 feet by 40 feet was built. In 1894 a two-story frame building was erected. The first floor was used for church and the upper floor for a Masonic hall. The size of the church was felt to be too small, being only 24 feet by 34 feet, so it was remodeled in 1915, and an annex was added, which made the Old White Church still standing today, nearly double it previous size.