Langston Methodist Church History
Langston, Alabama 1856-1956

In 1856, Mr. E.W. Floyd and wife, Martha, residents of Coffee Town Valley, gave a certain tract of land for the erection of a Methodist Church in Coffee Town Valley. This indenture was entered upon July 24, 1856, and was between the Floyds, Mr. Isaac Vaught, Mr. W. M. Lacks, Mr. James Sublett, Mr. A.W. Floyd, Trustees of the church and their successors. From this agreement, Bethel Methodist Church was admitted into Town Creek Mission Methodist Episcopal Church South. The Mission extended beyond Macedonia.

A Jackson County School

Early Jackson County School House
Jackson County Heritage Society
Photo by Cindy Smith 2008

The first church was made of hewn logs put together with wooden pegs. Split logs were used as benches and were called "puncheon benches". Soon the church was used as a school for Coffee Valley. Coffee Valley derived its name from four brothers: Brent, Hugh, John and Gig coffee, who settled in lower Coffee Valley in 1836, after the Cherokee Indians were moved West.

The Coffees loved the church, serving in all phases of its work, including Sunday School Superintendent, stewards, trustees, and teachers. The Coffees moved to Texas just before the Civil War. Coffee Town died and in 1869, Mr. James Morgan sold sixteen lots and Langston came into existence, securing its name from a citizen of the Valley [Langston Coffee, first postmaster]. Very soon thereafter the church adopted the name Langston Methodist Episcopal Church, with Rev. Moore as pastor.

About this time the church had grown in numerical strength and spiritual fervor, and the congregation decided it wanted another building and the second building was erected under the leadership of Nathaniel Wilbourn, a local preacher and great community worker. Again the church served as a school, still using puncheon benches.

G.W. Weatherly will be remembered as a great soul, for he not only taught school but also served in any church capacity. It was said of him, "He loved everybody."

Mr. John Morgan was Sunday School Superintendent. The children loved him devotedly. When he started from home on Sunday morning, you could hear the children call to one another, "There goes Uncle John. Let's go."

By 1890 the Langston congregation was still growing in members but was short on preachers, for in November, 1890, Reverend John W. Worsenop, originally from England, came as pastor. Immediately the pulpit had to be remodeled to accommodate "Brother Shorty", as he was affectionately called. The well also had to have a new curb high enough so that he could mount his horse. He frequently visited the Fennell home, for Mrs. Betty Fennell was the champion cornbread maker, and the pastor always showed his appreciation by he way he ate his cornbread.

About 1899, Section was admitted to Langston charge. This brought changes, friendships, courtships, and marriages. The marriage of Miss Annie White to George Downey occurred after the union of the churches. Mrs. Bill Powell, still a member of the church, resulted from this marriage.

On December 21, 1902, Rev. James Lex Millican united in holy matrimony Miss Marraetta Davis and Chris Griggs. The vows were exchanged at 6:00 p.m. Miss Betty Griggs (now Mrs. Ben Hughes) rendered the wedding march. Mrs. Bess Morgan decorated the church.

After about fifty years the people had been prosperous in many ways. It was decided to sell the wooden frame structure and Mr. Tom White bought the building, from which he built the White home, now occupied by Mrs. Fred Debardeladen. A new cement church was built in 1908. Mr. Russell Telford did the masonry work. Messrs. Charley Webb and T.E. Morgan were the overseers. The community donated all the eggs laid on Sunday, and all butter churned on Sunday.

Langston United Methodist Church

Langston United Methodist Church
Photo by Cindy Smith 2008

Soon the church was free of indebtedness. Mr. T.E. Morgan was the first Sunday School Superintendent. Mr. Charley Webb, a local preacher, gave freely of his time until ill health forced his retirement from active life.

The Vaughts were a charter family of the church. Mr. de Vaught, a relative of Isaac, was married to Mrs. Pollie Davis.

Mr. and Mrs. O. V. Thomas, better known as Aunt Edna and Uncle Oad, always answered the roll call, especially at quarterly conference.

Mrs. Henry Treece was president of the Missionary Society, which was very active. The Society raised money and replaced the old organ with a piano. The money-raising campaign, encouraged by Rev. and Mrs. Vickers, included raising cotton, selling chickens, and ice cream and box suppers.

One of the most faithful members in the church's activities was Mrs. Nora Campbell. She will be remembered as the first one there. It can be truly said that she is still giving to the church through sons and daughters who rise up to call her Blessed.

In 1927, the conference sent a bachelor, Rev. W. R. Duncan, of English descent. Soon he met Miss Rowena Kirby, a resident of the charge. On April 4, 1928, they were married.

The church has suffered its losses by deaths and families moving away. The Fennell and Powell families moved to Scottsboro and Larkensville. The church membership steadily weakened after the T.V.A. came into existence. By this time there were preaching services only on the fourth Sunday.

Mrs. Lizzie Little was inspired to organize a Sunday School. Everywhere she went she talked about how the church needed a Sabbath School. Being encouraged by Brother Roberts to organize, a group composed of Mrs. Little, Mrs. Myrtle Michaels, Virginia and Jane Louise Michaels, and Mrs. Clendon Bass, organized a church school, with Chloe Breland as Superintendent. Mrs. Evelyn Patterson also served as Superintendent until the conversion of Walter Webb. After his conversion, his sisters, Mrs. Cloe Webb Padgett and Mrs. Paul Virginia Webb Connelly, assumed the responsibility, in cooperation with the community, of remodeling the church. In a few weeks the church took on a brand new look. The old benches gave way to new ones. Walter and Edd Sisco were responsible for the new furniture. In November 1951, Rev. Ira Adkins dedicated the lovely church. Just prior to this work, the Langston Home Demonstration Club replaced the old roof with a new one. Mr. Kent Thornton did the carpentry.

Langston United Methodist Church sanctuary 2008

Sanctuary of Langston UMC
Photo by Cindy Smith 2008

Just a few years later the floor was found to be unsafe and again Mr. and Mrs. Paul Connelly and Mrs. Viola Morgan solicited donations. Under the leadership of Ebby Lee Morgan, the community set to work and soon had a beautiful hardwood floor, dedicated by Rev. Billy York.

A new well has taken the place of the old one and was dedicated by Rev. Myron Morris in 1956. A new pump has also been installed as a love gift to the Morrises. Brother Morris is exceptionally interested in keeping the grounds looking well. The shrubbery was planted by Rev. Payton and kept by Jess Patterson.

The parsonage has undergone interior decoration. There is no definite knowledge as to the building of the parsonage. We assume it has sheltered many preachers and their families and weathered many storms.

Langston United Methodist Church sanctuary 2008

Interior of Langston UMC
Photo by Cindy Smith 2008

The passage of years has not changed the church's activities and customs. Rev. Morris preaches each fourth Sunday at 11 a.m., with E. L. Morgan as Superintendent, Mr. Chloe Breland as Secretary, and Mrs. Virginia Wilson as Treasurer. Teachers and substitutes are Mrs. Virginia Wilson, Mrs. Jim Davis, Mrs. Chloe Breland, Mrs. Effie Bass, Mrs. Beatrice Sisco, and Mrs. Viola Morgan.

At the close of one hundred years the church holds in precious memory the life of Mr. Charley Morgan (better known as "Uncle Charley") who served as Sunday School Superintendent for 35 years, the longest for any member to serve in one capacity or office.

Unknown Author, Langston Methodist Church History, 1856-1956. This typed manuscript was in the possession of my father, James Rector Holdridge, with a notation on it that it was from his father, James Marvin Holdridge. It was probably published in a local church history, but I have not seen the published work. Thanks to Ann Rohr for providing the names of her grandmother, Mrs. Cloe Webb Padgett, and great aunt Mrs. Virginia Webb Connelly.