1854-1980: Trundle’s Crossroads Methodist Episcopal Church (South)

OUR HISTORY BEGINS WITH TRUNDLE’S CROSSROADS METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH (SOUTH)

The Little River Circuit Quarterly Conference record books are housed at Emory and Henry College in Virginia, and contain many references to the church at Trundle’s Crossroads. The congregation met as early as November 2, 1854 at the home of Daniel L. Trundle. The first pastor was Rev. John Bowman, who rode a horse among the three churches that he pastored (Trundles, Beersheba, and Waylands). As was the custom in those days, a church met in the home of a member in the absence of a church building.

At the annual charge conference of New Salem Methodist Episcopal Church in Knox County on June 16, 1855 is found the first reference to the building of a church at Trundle’s Crossroads. The congregation of New Salem was asked to give financial support to the congregation at Trundle’s Crossroads who were constructing a building.

The first trustees of Trundle’s were William T. Dowell, William Wayland, A. F. Smith, Daniel L. Trundle, and Lewis Wayland.

It could be safely assumed that the building was completed by or after June 2, 1857, as that was when the land was deeded to the church (the deed specifically stating a building being there).  The land on which the church and some of the cemetery is located was deeded to the trustees of Trundle’s by Adam H. Keener for $1.00. The deed stated that it contained, “One road and thirty perches of land, more or less.” It also stated that “The object of the foregoing purchase is that the house that is built on the lot be a church for the worship of Almighty God for the use of the minister and the members of the Methodist Episcopal Church South.” The deed was witnessed by Othneil Whittle and Rev. James Cummings.

On July 4, 1857, L.C. Houk of Trundle’s Crossroads was licensed and ordained to preach by the annual conference convening at the Shiloh Church. It is reliably known that the first Sunday school at Trundle’s was formed in May of 1881. It has been believed by many that the Nave was built in 1881, since that is the date on a commemorative plate made by the ladies’ Sunday School Class of 1957, and gives the dates below the picture of the church as 1881-1957. The years between 1855 and 1857 would be a more accurate assumption of the age of the building, according to a recent inspection report. The following facts concerning the building are known: There was construction underway in June of 1855 and it was completed by June of 1857.

On April 28, 1897, J. L. Keener and J. E. Keener deeded an additional tract of land on the northern side of the church property to be used for burial purposes. This was in addition to land already used for that purpose.

A little known fact is that there is a slave cemetery just north of the Church cemetery. This cemetery was used for the burial of slaves owned by a small handful of farmers in the Boyd’s Creek area. It has been at least 65 years since anyone has been buried in that area. The area was restored by volunteers from the community and Walters State Community College in 2010.

In later years, Mr. W. L. Conner donated extra land adjoining the main part of the cemetery. On April 4, 1894, another tract bordering the Dr. J. C. Ellis line east of the church property was deeded by the Keeners to the trustees of the church “to be used for hitch racks, stile blocks, etc.” In these early days of the church, before the introduction of electric power to the area, it is known that the church was lighted by a gas lighting system.

In 1943, land was excavated from underneath the church building so that a basement could be constructed for use as a fellowship hall and classrooms. This “Undercroft” area was enlarged in later years. Around 1943, Mr. Wilson Trentham of Gatlinburg was hired to supervise the construction of new exterior walls for the church, which were built from mountain rocks from the Dupont Community of Sevier County. The Vestibule and bell tower were built at this time, greatly enhancing the appearance of the front of the church.

Ground for a church parsonage was given by Alfred and Laura Jeffries in 1955, and the new house was completed in that year. The Rev. Carl Ware was pastor during that time. Under the Rev. Frank D. Smith’s pastorate in 1960 and 1961, extra rooms for Sunday school classes were built on to the existing church building. Restrooms and running water (a first for Trundles Church) were installed at that time. Work on this project was done mainly by the men of the church. New pews for the sanctuary were also installed during that time. The pews had brass plaques attached in memory or honor of the people whose donations purchased them; these plaques are displayed at Seymour United Methodist Church.

It was sometime during this era that the stained glass windows were added to the Nave. These were given in memory of church and family members. The names painted on the windows have long since been washed off, but included were: R. M. Irwin, W. A. Jeffries, Laura Carter Jeffries, J. L. Keener and family, and W. L. Conner and family.

In 1966, the church purchased their first organ, a Hammond spinet model. Carolyn Helton Thomas was the organist for many years after that, and continued to play for the church after moving to the new building at the Seymour United Methodist Church in the 1980’s.

Little is known about attendance records from the early years of the church. In October of 1911, there were 44 members. In April of 1941, there were 98 members, and in November of 1979, there were 104 members.

In 1967, the church purchased a tract of land on Chapman Highway in Seymour for the future construction of a new church building. This land was paid for by the small congregation of Trundles, after many years of hard work and fund raising by holding art shows, rummage sales, bake sales, and bazaars. In October of 1980, under Rev. Larry Carroll’s pastorate, the congregation of Trundles made the painful decision to close their church, and reorganize as the Seymour United Methodist Church. The group met at Holly Hills Funeral Home and Memorial Park until the new building was completed in December 1982.

Larry Perry and Elmer Scarborough, active in the Sevierville Church of Christ, had wanted to begin a new congregation for several years in the Seymour community. When the congregation of Trundles left the building, the Church of Christ agreed to rent it for $100 a month and $5 a month for each new family in attendance. This was on January 4, 1981.

When construction of the new Seymour United Methodist Church building was completed, the men of the church removed the old gas lighting system from the attic of the old Trundle’s building, along with the bell out of the belltower, which was later incorporated into a sign for the new church building. It was at that time that the trustees of Seymour United Methodist Church sold the old Trundle’s Crossroads Methodist Church building to the trustees of Seymour Church of Christ.

For well over 100 years, our building housed the congregation of Trundle’s. It can be safely assumed that this group met there many thousands of times for worship, the christening of new-born children, the happiness of weddings, and the sadness of funerals. Untold amounts of people were helped by their benevolence, and touched by their work in the community. Trundle’s Crossroads Methodist Church will be long remembered by many people.

Following is listed the known pastors of Trundle’s Crossroads Church. This list is in order, as best as can be known.

Pastors serving Trundle’s before 1935 (not in consecutive order) were:

Rev. John Bowman, Rev. J. C. Bays, Rev. J. C. Dickey, Rev. C. P. Davis, Rev. D. C. Carnes, Rev. David T. Miles, Rev. William C. Dykes, Rev. G. W. Bell, Rev. H. V. Ogle, Rev. C. H. Logan, Rev. J. C. McCampbell, Rev. E. R. Branum, Rev. Browder, Rev. G. K. Patty, Rev. M. Pickford, Rev. Earl C. Hayter, Rev. Thomas S. Walker, Rev. J. A. Ruble, Rev. L. C. Houk, Rev. J. S. Petty, Rev. C. L. Kirby, Rev. H. P. Johnson, Rev. W. L. Roberts, Rev. W. E. Graves, Rev. J. T. Ware, Rev. J. S. Strange, Rev. L. O. Crowder, Rev. L. B. Clark, Rev. A. B. Dennis, Rev. J. O. Cox, Rev. F. P. Sanders, Rev. W. L. Russell, Rev. O. C. Michaels

Pastors serving Trundle’s from 1935 to 1980 (in consecutive order) were:

Rev. Thames, Rev. Perry T. Rule, Rev. Barnett, Rev. C. L. Pickering, Rev. Joe E. Baker, Rev. George O’Harr, Jr., Rev. M. K. Province, Rev. Vuture Sharp, Rev. Carl Ware, Jr., Rev. John Jarvis, Rev. Conner, Rev. R. G. Palmer, Rev. L. L. Jones, Rev. Douglas Smith, Rev. Lawrence Castle, Rev. Mrs. G. C. Kirby, Rev. E. Ross Sanders, Rev. L. K. Sparks, Rev. Wayne G. Campbell, Rev. W. W. Riden, Rev. August P.(Pete) Koster, Rev. David H. Lovelace, Rev. Mark C. Davis, Rev. Sherman Starling, Rev. Larry D. Carroll

NEXT: Trundle’s Crossroads Church Cemetery