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South Jackson Community Church History

In 1837, a group of early pioneer families held a meeting proposed for an establishment of a church.  According to Jackson County history records from 1881, the first sermon was preached in Liberty Township in the summer of 1837 by Elder Cornell at the home of George Snyder.  Members met in homes before "deciding to erect a 24 by 30 and 12 feet between joists meetinghouse" in 1849, beside an existing graveyard.  Later that year, the Cemetery Association was formed separate from the church.  The church was first called Baptist Church of South Jackson and later, the Baptist Church of South Jackson and Liberty.


The land was acquired by Hiram Cornell from the United States by letters patent.  On December 4, 1850, after construction of the church, Cornell transferred the land to William & Amy Root.  On December 7, 1875, William & Amy Root deeded one acre to the Baptist Church.  This was a smaller piece than the church/westerly cemetery land.


On October 4, 1851, the church "appointed a committee to visit Sister Crawford reporting her behavior to be unfavorable to the church with the hand of fellowship being withdrawn on account of her visiting dancing parties, balls and dancing."


On February 8, 1876, the clerk, Burgin Christopher, recorded, "I make this sad record.  On the night of February 8, 1876 between the hours of 12 and 1 of night, the meeting house of the Baptist Church and Society was burned!!  No doubt it was set on fire by some person.  May he never die or have any peace until he shall confess the awful crime."


In 1878, a further deed was given by the Roots to the church, which encompassed 1.19 acres, to the Baptist Church and Society for a house of Worship for a cost of $150.00.  In 1878 a new church, 30x44 feet, was built for a cost of $1075.00.  It was dedicated on February 14, 1879 with Rev. Butterfield presiding.


On July 9, 1889, Arvilla Lewis deeded to the trustees of Baptist Church of South Jackson and Liberty the parcel between the church and South Jackson Road.


September 15, 1887 was the first meeting of the "Whatsoever Aid Society," now known as the Women's Guild or Sunshine Guild.  From 1896 until 1949 the church ceased operating for unclear reasons; however, it was not left idle to fall into decay.  The women made quilts and baked goods and sold produce and jams, enabling them to help pay for a new roof plus the upkeep of the building.  Wood for heat was provided by area farmers.  It was renamed South Jackson Community Church and is nondenominational.


The installation date of the antique rose window in the front of the narthex cannot be verified, but it is believed to have been installed in 1878 when the church was rebuilt after being burned.  Beach Hall was added to the church in 1952, and in 1983, the kitchen was completely remodeled.  A new portico was added to the front in 1988 to match that of the church before it was burned.


In July 1974, the committee of Jackson County Bicentennial Commission designated the South Jackson Community Church as a historic site.  In 1996, the church took over the upkeep and responsibility of the cemetery from the South Jackson Cemetery Association, which up until that time had been a separate organization.


In the historic section of the cemetery, the earliest verified burial was for Charles Neely, who died on April 5, 1831.  The headstone for Marth Welch Crispell, who died in 1870, depicts a scrub board, tub and air dryer with the inscription "Gone from her industry."  It was long thought she was a washerwoman but a great great granddaughter said that she was a weaver.  The tub was for dyeing the fabric.  There are many Crouches buried in the cemetery but none of them were involved in the infamous "Crouch murders."  Of the many ornately carved headstones, the tallest belongs to the Crum family at 15 feet.  Many of the names of the deceased are still familiar to Jackson County residents: Crego, Crouch, Goldsmith, Crispell, Kimmel, Town and Wickwire.  Alvah Covey served in the Spanish-American War, and Theron Teller was in the Battle of the Bulge.  Both Joshua Goldsmith and John Crispell served in the War of 1812.  At least 13 of the buried served their country in the Civil War.


On the second Sunday each June, Jackson County's well-known annual Strawberry Festival is held at the church.  Huge servings of homemade shortcake, strawberries and ice cream have been keeping the customers happy for well over 50 years.  Come and join us and we promise you won't go away hungry!

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