Pleasant Grove Baptist Church

By Bruce Whitaker

ran across some 25-year-old back issues of the newsletter Garren Goodies recently. David Gilbert, a cousin on the Garren side, published a Garren newsletter back in the early 1990’s, focusing on the history of the family. David died at a relatively young age and no one took up the newsletter after his death. In the January 1992 issue David published a Garren view of the early history of Pleasant Grove Baptist Church. It highlighted the role the Garren family played in the founding and early life of the church, and contained what was basically an account of the founding and early events of the church, and I thought it would be of interest to the Fairview community at large. The following is a history of the founding of Pleasant Grove Church without the heavy concentration on the Garren family.

Sunday Meetings

A group of the older people on Garren Creek began meeting on Sundays in a log cabin near the present site of Pleasant Grove Church. They were led by Buford Earley (1872-1941). A short distance away another group of people was gathering at Sugar Hollow on Sundays. This was of course before automobiles, and what seems a short distance today was a long walk back then, especially for the elderly. The two groups of worshipers decided to join and start a Baptist church. This was the beginning of Pleasant Grove Baptist Church.

Members of the Baptist churches from around the community met on September 5, 1891 and voted to establish a Baptist church on Garren Creek. They asked Broad River, Bearwallow, Cane Creek, Spring Mountain and Middle Fork to send their eldership on the first Sunday in October 1891 to help them organize the church.

The group met on October 3, 1891. The following churches sent representatives: Bearwallow sent Reverend Fielden Cook Hamrick and J.M Hamrick; Middle Fork sent R.M. Prior and I.W. Wilson; Spring Mountain sent Thomas L Guffey (1840-1922), William Wright and I.C. Mitchell; Broad River sent David O. Clements and William Searcy; Cane Creek (now Fairview Baptist) sent Alfred H. Pinkerton (1833-1919) and Alfred Searcy. They organized a presbytery, electing Rev Fielden C. Hamrick moderator and J.M Hamrick clerk. Following discussion they organized a church made up of 27 members. They voted to name the church Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church.

First Officers

Reverend Fielden C. Hamrick was elected the first pastor and W.H Early and J.C. Robertson were elected as deacons, to be ordained on Oct 31, 1891. W. Robertson was elected the first church clerk and J.C. Robertson was elected the first church treasurer. The church appointed a building committee consisting of J. Fletcher “Fletch” McBrayer (1850-1931), Marion Ownbey (1860-1945), J.C. Robertson, Jasper Vess and Eli Garren (1853-1930). Jasper Vess and Eli Garren were Mormons before the Buncombe County machine unofficially and illegally outlawed the religion.

J. Fletcher McBrayer deeded one acre of land to the church on Sept 13, 1893.The church elected Eli Garren deacon and church clerk on December 15, 1894.He held both positions for 36 years until his death on November 26, 1930; on that date A.G. Garrett, Joseph Dotson and L.B. Moore were also elected deacons.

On July 3, 1896 the church appointed another building committee with Solomon Sumner (1854-1939) as foreman and Eli Garren, J.B. Camby, J. F. McBrayer and J.R. Suttles as members.

Pleasant Grove Baptist Church Cemetery

Pleasant Grove Baptist Church voted to build a church on the land donated by J. Fletcher “Fletch” McBrayer, who donated another acre of land to the church on November 5, 1903. This land became the Pleasant Grove Baptist Church Cemetery.

Reverend James O. Wall was elected pastor of Pleasant Grove Church on March 20, 1909. Ceborn E. Dalton (1859-1927), M.S. Camby and John B. Morrow were elected deacons of the church on April 16, 1919. John B. Morrow held the job for 44 years until his death in 1963.

Ewald Kirstein donated land to Pleasant Grove Baptist Church in June of 1963 for the building of a parsonage. The building of the parsonage started in July 1963 and it was finished that year.

Local historian Bruce Whitaker documents genealogy in the Fairview area. Contact: 628-1089, [email protected].

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