History of Verona United Methodist Church 1881 -- 2011

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Marshall County was established by an act of the Legislature passed February 26, 1836 from parts of Bedford, Lincoln and Maury Counties. Verona is located on the Verona-Caney Spring Road about five miles north of Lewisburg. It is situated on 1,125 acres granted to David Ross by the State of North Carolina. By 1810 Allen Leeper had acquired the land and on December 31, 1815 he gave it to his daughter and son-in-law, Mary and James L. Ewing. Mr. Ewing built a mill where Rock Creek passed through his land in the early 1800's and in some old records the place was referred to as "Ewing's Mill". Around 1844-1845, Jessee Stegall bought the mill, rebuilt the dam, opened a store, and the community was then known as Stegall's Mill. With the establishment of the post office, the community was known as Tyrone, but the name was officially changed to Verona on December 29, 1868.

The only church in the vicinity in the very early days was the Bethbirei Presbyterian church, established in 1810.

Verona Methodist Church had its beginning when the Cave Spring Methodist Church was closed and two new churches built to replace it. We do not know exactly when the Cave Spring Methodist Church was started but the following quote from LIFE ON THE COMMON LEVEL gives us a picture of its beginning:

"He (Thomas Burr Fisher, 1844-1922) grew up within sight of the locus of the community -- Cave Spring School and church, of which he said: 'Here my life began to unfold and to appropriate what was offered from without. When I reached the age of five years, I insisted on going to school. 'There were three men living within one mile or less of Cave Spring, who had large families, Uncle Elihu Hunter, Uncle Jonathan Thomas, and my father. We used to have subscription schools. When a teacher would come into the community to make up a school, he would be told to see these men and if they agree, the school would be assured. The school house built, it was not long until a Sunday School was organized, then appointments for preaching were made and a church was born, sharing the same building with the school. This was the community center, the greatest, the dearest place in the world. The church grew, numbering at one time 275 members.

'The school house had been built near an ancient fracture in the earth's crust, Cave Spring, an idyllic spot. This (Cave Spring) was a bold stream of water about 25' below the surface, which had been disclosed by some natural catastrophe in unknown ages past, by the caving in of the earth and rocks on one side, leaving a large irregular opening or sink down the side of which a rugged path led to the water."

Trustees of Cave Spring Church were N. B. Wiggs, James Adams, George Yarbrough, James Pylant and George W. Fisher. A deed was issued to N. B. Wiggs and other trustees of the M. E. Church, south for a Meeting House lot by John Fisher and James Ewing. It was dated 1856 and recorded October 23, 1857. The deed was for two acres of land and clearly stated that there was a building on the land. This leads me to believe that the building was erected sometime in the 1840's. The church/school building stood across the road from the house now owned and occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Waldo Rutherford, formerly known as the O'Neal farm. A small cemetery enclosed in an iron fence is all that remains there today. The story is told that Nancy Jane Thomas, daughter of Jonathan and Susan Thomas, who died January 23, 1858 at the age of 24, requested that she be "allowed to sleep close beside the church" she loved. This request was granted and the little plot is the last resting place for Nancy Jane and her parents.

The Cave Spring Church was still in existence in 1878 when Allen Tribble was appointed to the Cave Spring Circuit, Franklin District, Tennessee Conference. About 1880 the church was divided with part of the membership establishing a church in Farmington (October 1, 1880) and the other part establishing a church in Verona. The Cave Spring Church was torn down and part of the material was used in building the new church. The pews (which had been made by Mr. N. B. Wiggs) and the church bell were moved to Verona. The building was erected on land deeded to the Trustees by W. A. and Hattie N. McCurdy. They had paid $25 for the lot. The deed was dated July 28, 1880 and was recorded July 29, 1880, in Marshall County, Tennessee, Book D-2, page 350. Trustees were: J. M. Patterson, Sr., Berry S. Haggard, J. H. Word, W. A. McCurdy, H. T. Drake, James H. McCurdy and M. V. Cathey. Helping to move the church to Verona were Marshall G. Brown, L. B. Collins, L. M. Fowler, Dr. J. M. Patterson and Capt. Wm. M. Robinson.

Marshall Gabard Brown and Sarah Pinkston Drake were married December 17, 1879 in the old Cave Spring Church by the Rev. T. B. Fisher. Both were charter members of the church at Verona, Mr. Brown being received into membership of the Cave Spring Church by baptism in 1876 and Miss Drake in 1878.

Other charter members of the Verona Church were: Pink Boren, L. M. Fowler, Lebert Patterson, Mr. and Mrs. Joe Regen, Mr. and Mrs. M. V. Cathey, Mr. and Mrs. J. M. Cathey, Eli Wilson, Mr. and Mrs. L. B. Collins, Addison Hunter, Jessie McCurdy, Mrs. Alice Adair, and Dr. and Mrs. James M. Patterson. The church is very proud of all members -- farmer, banker, business and professional men and women, housewife and mother -- who have served their church with faithfulness and devotion. Age and death has taken their toll, but with the faith of our forefathers, with the strength of that great heritage handed down to us, we who worship at Verona United Methodist Church, have continued to move forward until due to hard economic times have had to make the difficult decision to close the doors to this faithful church.

After many discussions and many prayers, the decision to close was made so that the remaining faithful members could use their talents and abilities in one of our sister churches. Our heritage shows us that we are to go out and make disciples and that is our plan. This was the hardest decision to make but we feel that God is leading the current members forward into the future with this decision.

The list of current members as of February 2011 are: Robert Lee Cathey, III, Ruth Daniel, Wayne and June Daniel, Grace Ewing, Mickey Ewing, Tony Ewing, Sherry Hunter Haney, Pamela Jo Hunter, Richard Hunter, Tom Hunter, Carol Spence, Christopher Wakham, Joe and Sandy Wakham.

Special recognition must be paid to some who have served our church long and well. Mr. W. B. Long was Superintendent of the Sunday School prior to 1914. He was followed by Mr. Clayton Long who served from 1915 to 1955. Others that served were Howard Cochran, Joe Mac Hickerson, Henry White, Tommy Jordan, Walter Fowler, and Wayne Daniel.

Mrs. W. B. (Ella) Long was the first organist and served for more than fifty years. Mrs. Martha Frances Liggett served for many years until her passing in 1998. Mrs. Sandy Jordan Wakham, who was a piano student of Mrs. Liggett, served until the closing of the church.

Miss Zula Collins, a public school teacher, was a teacher in the Sunday School for about fifty years. Buford Ellington, who later served as Governor of the State of Tennessee, was a member of the Board of Stewards and taught the Men's Bible Class. He, his wife Catherine, and their children John Earl and Ann, were active members of the church.

The same old bell that called people to worship as it did more than 100 years ago still remains at the church today. The beautiful cedar cross which adorns the church was carved from the cedar door-steps of the Cave Spring Church by the late Mr. R. L. Johnson.

A register of the pastors that served the Verona United Methodist church are:

T. B. Fisher1880 -1881
W. A. Turner1881 -- 1885
T. B. Fisher1885 -- 1886
J. W. Hensley1886 -- 1891
W. T. Goodloe1891 -- 1893
C. E. Heriges1893 -- 1894
S. G. Thompson1894 -- 1896
D. B. Coleman1896 -- 1899
C. S. Gabard1899 -- 1900
B. F. Isom1900 -- 1904
A. P. Walker1904 -- 1906
A. J. Ewing1906 -- 1907
G. W. Taylor1907 -- 1909
J. L. Kellum1909 -- 1911
Allen Miller1911 -- 1912
J. B. Cheek1912 -- 1914
O. C. Haley1914 -- 1915
M. K. Harwell1915 -- 1919
J. D. Hewgley1919 -- 1920
J. B. Estes1920 -- 1923
G. M. Davenport1923 -- 1924
G. L. Hensley1924 -- 1925
J. M. Madewell1925 -- 1928
C. R. Wade1928 -- 1930
B. J. Staggs1930 -- 1934
R. D. Davis1934 -- 1937
T. E. Hillard1937 -- 1938
W. A. Bass1938 -- 1940
J. E. Woodward1940 -- 1942
H. L. Smith1942 -- 1947
W. C. Moorehead1947 -- 1948
E. G. Goodwin1948 -- 1951
Dan Toline1951 -- 1953
William Berninger1953 -- 1955
Donald Thomas1955
Don Waddelle1956
George Jones1956 -- 1960
James Denny1960 -- 1962
Rex Nowell1963
J. C. Eilotte1964
Nick Allen1965
George Welker1966
J. J. Mabry1966 -- 1970
Paul Ford1970 -- 1971
Rudolph James1971 -- 1973
Allen Knight1973 -- 1976
H. Seeman1976 -- 1978
Eugene Gibson1978 -- 1982
Larry Helton1982 -- 1984
Edwin Beard1984 -- 1989
William Pearce1989 -- 1995
Tom Herring1995 -- 1997
Larry Pedigo1997 -- 2002 Senior Pastor
B. T. Thomas1997 -- 1999 Associate PastorMatt Charlton1999 -- 2000 Associate Pastor
Kaye Harvey2000 -- 2003 Associate PastorKatherine Paisley2002 -- 2003 Senior PastorDon Dunlap2003 -- 2005
Don Noble2005 -- 2008
Steven Christopher2008 -- present

Through 1996 preaching services had been held every other Sunday and in 1997 services were held every Sunday with the help of an associate pastor. Verona had been a part of a four-point charge that included: Berlin UMC, Caney Spring UMC, and Farmington UMC. In June 2003 Farmington made the decision to become a station church so therefore, the Berlin Circuit became a three-point charge and continued until the present time. The pastor at that time began delivering three sermons every Sunday starting at Verona -- 8:30 am, Caney Spring -- 9:45 am and then Berlin -- 11:15 am.

Many improvements have been made during the 131 years since the church was moved to its present location. Sunday School rooms were added in the 1930's and still more in the 1950's. The memorial pews and carpet were added in 1968. In 1999 more improvements began with the help of money left to the church by Martha F. Liggett -- central heating and cooling, covering on the front of the church and new concrete steps and pad.

A list of memorials to the church follows:

Pews were given in memory of -- M. V. Cathey by grandchildren and great-grandchildren; Mrs. Ella W. McCurdy and Eric Wiles by nephew, Charles Wiles; Gilbert and Sallie Hunter, Neola, Will and Gill Hunter; in memory of their father and mother, Mr. and Mrs. Marshall Brown, 1968, by Mrs. Homer Doggett, C. C. Brown, Mrs. Clayton Long, and Noble Brown; in memory of Mr. and Mrs. T. J. Hickerson, by Mr. and Mrs. Joe Mac Hickerson and Mr. and Mrs. Jack Liggett; in memory of Hiram Tennison, by Rev. and Mrs. J. L. Perry and mr. and Mrs. C. F. Rich; in memory of Hiram Tennison, by Mr. and Mrs. Sam Tennison; by Mr. and Mrs. Glendon Daniel and family; in memory of Mr. and mrs. J. P. Mc Curdy, by granddaughter, Martha F. Liggett; in memory of Mrs. Ella McCurdy, by nephew, Charles Wiles; in memory of Eric Wiles, by niece, Martha F. Liggett; in memory of Mr. and Mrs. W. T. McCurdy, by daughter, Martha F. Liggett; in memory of Mrs. and Mrs. Ben Adair; in loving memory of Mr. and Mrs. Clayton Long, by the Cecil C. Brown family and Mr. and Mrs. Homer Doggett; in honor of Mr. and Mrs. O. N. Hunter, by Mr. and Mrs. Will Norris Hunter and Mr. and Mrs. Edward Hunter; in honor of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Hunter, by "The Children"; in memory of Mack and Sallie Fowler by "The Children".

The alter cross given in loving memory of C. C. Long, Superintendent of Church School, 1915-1955 by Mrs. C. C. Long, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Long, Col. And Mrs. Ross B. Young, Mrs. Louise Young, and Mrs. Lois Hobson.

Brass vases given in memory of Joe C. Hunter 1963.

Flower bowl given in memory of Claiborne Hunter.

Two offering plates in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Orville Hunter

Bible Stand given and made by Will Norris Hunter.

Bible given by Nub and Rachel Johns in memory of Mrs. Lena Bigham.

Flower arrangement picture given by Mr. and Mrs. Carroll Wiggins.

Organ donated by Dr. Charles Hopper in memory of Minnie Lee Hopper.

Oak Cabinet made and donated by Will Norris Hunter.

Angel stature donated by Carroll and Ruth Wiggins in memory of Toni Hunter.

Stain glass windows in front of church building (replacing where air conditioners were) donated by Carroll and Ruth Wiggins, Wayne and June Daniel, and Joe and Sandy Wakham.

$25,000 was left to Verona United Methodist Church by Martha F. McCurdy Liggett.

American flag and Christian flag were donated by Joe and Sandy Wakham in honor of their children, Joey, Chris and Robin, and in memory of Cynthia Wakham.

Stand given in memory of Martha F. Liggett by Joe and Sandy Wakham.