Early Years

Oak Grove Baptist Church

By Claxton Henderson

On July 31, 1880, G.W. Henderson, Millie L. Henderson, John Whitmire, Henry B. Galloway, John and Martha Jackson constituted Oak Grove Baptist Church (John and Martha Jackson were native Americans).

On August 8, 1880, the following were received by baptism, John Keller, Vilanta F. Galloway, J. Elizabeth Henderson, Arsula S. Banther, J. Lovell Thomas, and Marcus Whitmire. Also received by letter were W. Beufort Henderson, Louisa Henderson, Mark Bowen, and Jane Dotson.

Andy S. Whitmire was the first pastor and Joyhn Whitmire the first Clerk. Andy S. Whitmire was the paster for several years, then on Saturday before the 1st Sunday in January in 1883, Rev. E.P. Stone was elected pastor. On Nov. 6, 1886, Rev. W.F. Lee was elected pastor.

In the early day of the church they had conference often and the clerk recorded “All in peace” time after time in his minutes. John Whitmire remained clerk for about eight years. In about 1888 W.B. Henderson became clerk.

I noticed in the minutes of August 4, 1888 that M.A. Whitmire and John Whitmire were appointed as delegates to the Association to be held at Little River Church and W. B. Henderson was appointed as alternate. The church agreed to raise 85 cents for minutes that year.

Of the charter members I have heard that Millie Henderson was often called on to help out when there was sickness or a birth in a family.

Of those joining soon after the church was started I remember Elizabeth Henderson Reece. She told me once how she memorized scripture verses as she carried fence rails as they were building a fence up in the cove above where James T. Wilson now lives.

Marcus Whitmire, I remember, was always faithful in attendance at church.

W. Beaufort Henderson was the record keeper for the church, and was clerk for the association for several years. He spent a large part of his life as a school teacher.

Louisa Henderson Miller lived away from the community most of the time I knew her, but I remember her as a faithful Christian.

Looking down the list of members for familiar names, I see J. Kenedy Henderson who joined by baptism August 11, 1889. He was latter pastor of the church. He lived to be old and pastored several churches. At one time he was a missionary to some native Americans.

Isaac Henderson joined by baptism September 18, 1892. Later he became pastor of the church. During his lifetime he was pastor of many churches. I think of him as quite an evangelist. God used him in holding many good revival meetings.

Tolvin Miller joined by baptism Sept. 18, 1892 and lived to be up in 90.

Gideon and Mary Ann Miller joined by letter Sept. 18, 1892. They have a multitude of descendants in this and surrounding communities. I think of them as faithful Christians.

Charles W. Henderson joined by letter Sept. 18, 1892. He was Sunday School Superintendent for 30 years or longer.

Mancel and Martha Ann Thomas joined by letter Dec 2, 1892. They have many descendants in this and surrounding communities.

Calhoun Henderson joined by baptism Dec. 11, 1894. Many will remember him as the teacher of the Adult Sunday School Class. He was not only active in this church, by in the Association as well.

On October 2, 1891 David Miller was elected as pastor. They appointed delegates to the Association at Zion as follows, L.W. Reece, M.A. Whitmire, and T.C. Galloway. G.W. Henderson were alternates. Fifty-Five cents was raised for the minutes. Those subscribing to pastor’s salary range from 25 cents to $3.00. On motion Nov. 8, 1891 it was agreed to pay the pastor $25.00 for the preset year’s service.

On July 4, 1896, J.B. Galloway and B.C. Owens were ordained as deacons.

On October 3, 1896 the church unanimously elected Rev. J.R. Owens as pastor. If I remember correctly, Charlie Henderson said that J.R. Owens preached the gospel for 72 years straight. He was at one time pastor of Mars Hill Baptist Church and taught Greek at Mars Hill College. Latter he became pastor of French Broad Church in Asheville.

From 1890 to 1900 there were several different church clerks or acting clerks including L.E. Reece, C.W. Henderson, and J.C. Owen.


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