A.L. Dorsey wrote in the 1930’s that James Sprouse was the ancestor of “most of the Sprouse’s” then residing in the country.

Sprouse’s importance to Bethlehem Baptist church has already been explained.

What about the man himself?

Fortunately, family historians collected information about him for a reunion on June 19, 1938.

Descendents hoped to raise funds to place a marker on his grave. It was located in the “burying ground” near the church.

Eulah Sprouse shared the gathered information at the reunion.

She told that James Sprouse had not been a large man physically. He did possess, however, “great business ability.” A mill where corn meal and flour were ground was part of this.

Furniture was also made there, according to Miss Sprouse. There was a distillery too, a sign of those times.

He was said to have been quite hospitable, and his house was known as “Sprouse Tavern,” according to notes written in 1938.

Eventually the road to and from his farm became an important byway – the old road between Nashville to Franklin, Ky. The road passed right by the church.

Through the years, Bethlehem Baptist Church flourished. Efforts were also made to protect and preserve the very old headstones in the cemetery.

Then, during the last week of April, 1970, a tornado struck the church. The “burying ground” had also been hard hit.

Would the church – could the church – be rebuilt?

Of course.

Work began immediately on putting back the headstones that had been blown over. A monument company helped replace the tombstones that had been scattered.

Regular services were started in the church’s basement, which had not been destroyed. The basement had served as a recreation room before the storm.

According to the “Robertson County Times” on May 7, 1970, 14 of the 20 pews could be used. The piano “with repairs” would be usable.

Unfortunately, the insulation and central heat and air system were destroyed. Those had only been installed the previous fall. The pastor, Rev. Charles Fouraker, told that the air conditioning had never been used.

The parsonage, build in 1968, suffered damage, also. A maple tree in the yard blew away. It was never found.

Mail for the church had also blown away. Some was found in Macon County.

Donations for rebuilding were being given in the days right after the tornado. Bethlehem Baptist Church would be rebuilt.

Music director Ralph Cobb wrote a poem that was included in the “Times.” He advised “Never let it be said that we don’t have a church — / For it was only the building that blew down.”

In the Eagle’s Eye is sponsored by the Robertson County Historical Society. Call 615-382-7173 for more information.

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