Kemper County MS GenWeb

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Bay Springs Baptist Church

Submitted by Gene Allred

Bay Springs Church was organized about 1875. There are no records of the exact date. Bay Springs affiliated with one of the first association organized in this state in 1877. The first minutes of the organization are thought to have been lost in the moving of John C. McDade to Jones County. He was one of the earliest clerks.

The first meeting was held in a brush - Arbor east of the present church in a grove of Bay trees that surrounded a spring of water near by. This is what many believe to be the basis for the name, "Bay Springs." A small building was built of hand hewn framing and rough lumber.
The site where the church was first built wasn't suitable for a church and cemetery (the oldest tombstone in the area that would become the Bay Springs Cemetery was 1882) so about 1890, John James and Mary A. Watson allowed the church to build a new church in the corner of 40 acres they owned about 1/2 mile west of the first building. Ox teams were used to haul the logs to the C.L. Rush water mill about two miles away to be sawn into lumber. A Rev. Taylor was pastor at this time and Rev. Zeke Dunn was pastor when the church was finished. Mr. Jim Cherry, Jim Newell, Buck McDade, John E. Atkins cut the logs with John Atkins being the carpenter in charge. He was not a member but he gave his services free. The work was done by members of the church.

Title to the 4 acres the church was built on and the area for the cemetery wasn't transferred until July 5,1901 when, John J. and Mary A. Watson made the following deed "In consideration of a free gift we hereby convey to Wm. J. McDade, J.J. Cherry and W.R. Newell trustees of the Bay Springs Baptist Church 4 acres in the SE corner of Section 9,T10N, R17E, said land being in Kemper County, Mississippi." Recorded August 1,1901.
The first recorded minutes, (after the church was finished) are dated Sunday, August 1904, at this time Mrs. Emma Cherry was the recording clerk.

During the 1960x the first church building was torn down and a modern brick building was built, with new pews and sound equipment. It includes a kitchen, indoor restrooms, and fellowship hall.

During the Rev. Frank W. Rush's tenure (1969 - 1973) a new pastorate was constructed, as the church was experiencing rapid growth.

During the Rev. Wesley Higginbotham's tenure (1976 - 1978) the Sunday school building was constructed and the fellowship hall was completed. The land for the Sunday School east of the church (approximately 100 feet) was donated by Mr. Thomas W. Puckett, Sr.
During Bay Springs' 125 year history it has had a high of 143 members, a low of 9; it has survived the depression, and several major world wars.

Submitted by Gene Allred

REMEMBRANCES OF MRS. PINCKNEY ALLISON ROSS, an early member of Bay Springs Church.
Mrs. P.A. Ross was born February 3,1856, to John Calvin Gilbert and Margaret Jane (Love) Gilbert. Her father's parents were from England and her mother's family came from Georgia. She was one of nine children. At the time of Mrs. Ross' birth, her family lived in Tamola but in her early childhood, they moved to a farm West of Porterville. Later, they moved again to a farm about 5 miles West of Sucarnochee to a place still known as the Gilbert place.
Mr. Gilbert was a contractor and built a portion of the M & O River Railroad.

In her later life, Mrs. Ross told of the hardships she remembered from the days during the Civil War. She said a small box of matches cost $5.00 in Confederate money then: people would take care of their fire and try to keep it smoldering even in the summer by covering the coals with a layer of ashes. Sometimes the fire would go out and a member of the family would have to go to a neighbor's to "borrow a chunk of fire." It became a standing joke well into the 1950-60's, that if you didn't have time to sit and visit for awhile, for people to ask "Did you come for, a coal of fire."

Mrs. Ross, as a little girl, wondered why her father butchered so many hogs. She found he did this to help support Confederate soldiers and their families. At one time they thought that Sherman was coming with his army and her father and brothers rushed the stock into the woods, but he did not come their way.

She remembered when her brother came home at the end of the war. He had been held prisoner for a short time on Ship Island, in the Gulf off the Mississippi coast, before being transferred to Vicksburg, pardoned and allowed to walk home. They saw him coming and ran to meet him. Her mother had her arms open ready to embrace him but he stepped back and told her not to touch him. He wanted clean clothes and a bath before he would allow anyone near him. They burned the filthy rags he had worn.

In her young womanhood, Mrs. Ross joined the Baptist church at a protracted meeting held under a brush arbor near the site of the Bay Springs Baptist Church.

At that time the roads were narrow, muddy and washed out. They were worked by men of each neighborhood with shovels and spades, under the supervision of an overseer who was also a man of the community.

People traveled mainly on horseback. Women wore long, flowing skirts when they rode and sat sidesaddle, with one foot in a stirrup on the left side of the horse and the right knee over a horn on front of the saddle. A hitch post and a horse block, where a lady could step off and hitch her horse, were always placed near the front gate.

In those days the men of the family went to Mobile for such supplies as they could not make or grow at home.

The family life in this pioneer home was very pleasant. At night, after the evening chores were done and supper was over, all gathered around the fireside and father and boys read out loud while mother and girls carded, spun and wove the cloth to make clothes for the entire family. Clothes were sewn by hand in her early childhood but later the Singer Sewing Machine came along.

For light in the home there were tallow candles molded by the mother and the girls. Later there were small brass lamps with round wicks and no chimneys.

Church activities, singings, all day picnics and square dances provided the social life. Schools were subscription schools and usually were far apart. In some cases pupils had to walk at least 3 miles to school.

Whenever anyone had occasion to go to Sucarnochee, he would bring back everybody's mail. This method of getting mail was used until rural delivery came into use.

Mrs. Ross married Mr. Pickney Allison Ross on December 13,1877. They were parents of four children, three daughters and a son.

In their old age they lived in the Center Ridge Community near the home of their daughter, Mrs. Webb Key. In the fall of 1930 they came to live with their daughter and son-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Holmes. It was here that Mr. Ross was ill for several months and passed from this life on December 13,1932, their 55th wedding anniversary and was laid to rest in the Rush Cemetery.

A newspaper clipping belonging to Christine Holmes Bates was the source of the information for this article. Christine says the clipping was probably from a paper published in the 1940's.

Prepared by the Kemper County Historical Association for publication in the Kemper County Messenger on August 21,1986
P.O. Box 546
Dekalb, Mississippi 39328
(601) 743-5760

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