In many ways, the world is wilderness again today. Families and friends separated. Known and unknown dangers. An uncertain future.
The beginnings of Red River Baptist Church were similar in a sense.
The church began in 1791 when two missionaries came from Lexington, Ky., to establish a church. At first, meetings were held near the mouth of Sulphur Fork Creek.
By 1793 there was a wish for a regular meeting house. Thanks to the help of Elias Fort, “Bro. Wm. Princes Spring” was the site of the log structure. Logically, it was called “Princes Meeting House.”
William Prince had come to Port Royal from South Carolina in 1782. He established a “station” about 100 yards from the spring, according to Ralph Winters.
The record book for the early years of the church does not show any trouble with the Indians at the time.
The record book does show how strict the expectations were. Absenteeism was the most notable problem. And actually, only one absence could cause one to be cited.
“Sister Lettuce Pope” was cited 13 times and was finally “turned out “of the church.
Hugh Lewis also had difficulties. Lewis was the second Register of Tennessee County. He expressed some “liberal views.” In March, 1798, Moses Winters was chosen to talk with Lewis.
The results of this talk are not known because Winters became ill and died before the end of the year. Lewis continued to be cited and was eventually excommunicated.
The record book shows that meetings were held at “Princes Meeting House” as late as August, 1800.
The Forts owned most of the land on both sides of Red River from the mouth of Sulphur Fork to the mouth of Elk Fork. At some point, they built a meeting house called “Forts Meeting House.”
Between December, 1801, and January, 1803, services were often adjourned to “E. Lawson’s place.” It apparently was more comfortable.
By 1815, it was felt that a new building had become necessary. “Bro. Broadstreet and Bro. John Bell” were chosen to investigate.
A report from Nov. 16, 1816, shows that a frame structure would be cheaper than log. Bro. Sugg Fort was responsible for the financial concerns.
Plans were approved for a frame building – 40x28 feet.
The site would be near a spring issuing from a large cave 1 ½ miles southwest of the present church in Adams.
The area was known as Tolleson’s Spring. Ralph Winters wrote that he had heard that the road between Adams and Clarksville once passed that way.
In May, 1817, the building was nearly ready. New benches and a new pulpit were added.
Prayer meetings were scheduled on the Wednesday before the first Sunday in each month.
But the Red River Baptist Church was still not in its present location.
In the Eagle’s Eye is sponsored by the Robertson County Historical Society. Call 615-382-7173 for more information.