The Cumberland Presbyterian Church at Camp Ground was organized in 1826. This was 16 years after the Cumberland Presbyterian Church was founded in Dickson County, Tennessee.
Robert Peery and James Peery, Jr., were the first elders of the Camp Ground Church. Large numbers came to worship at camp meetings here. Whole families came in buggies, on horseback, or on foot and often stayed for several days. At first, the shade of trees and brush arbors were used for these meetings. Quite naturally these people called the meeting Camp Ground. In addition to the religions aspects offered, these meetings offered one of the few opportunities available to hear news of the rest of the country, as well as news of friends and relatives.
The outdoor meetings served admirably at first, but later these people wanted a house for their worship.
The first building here was built of logs and stood for years before being torn down about 1890, at which time the present building was erected under the supervision of Bill McClananhan who, at that time, lived on Presimmon Branch.
It took heroes in the early days of this church and they were poor pioneer preachers. Through the darkness of the pioneer period shone the light of the gospel brought by these brave people which served to guide and direct the footsteps of our forefathers as they searched for homes and happiness.
Some of the pioneer preachers who served this early church were Reuben Burrows, Richard Baird, and James Calhoun. The latter preached here in 1826 at the first camp meeting held in this section.
During the period from 1852 to1864 we have records of eighteen session meetings. The first of these meetings was held August 19,1852 at the Swan Church. It was called by the moderator, Wm. C. Walker. The meeting opened and closed with prayer. Elders present were James Peery, Robert Peery and Pinkney Prince. Robert Peery was appointed clerk. Brothers Pinkney, Prince, and Robert Peery were elected as delegates to represent the church at the next meeting of Richland Presbytery which was to be held in Maury County, Tennessee. Prior to this time there had been a church record book, but parts of it had been destroyed. Members of the session decided to begin, as of this date, to work on another book. The meeting adjourned.
All other session meetings, just as the first one, followed the procedures laid down by the church. They met according to adjournment; or on call or agreement. The moderator presided. Meetings opened and closed with prayer. Business which was current was disposed of.
The following persons served as moderators during this approximate ten-year period. Brothers Wm. C. Walker, Jeff Dixon, James Peery, D. G. Moore, S. H. Holmes, Pinkney Prince, Rev. C.B. Porter and others. Elders were Brothers John L. Peery, Charles Brown Peery, Levi Peery, Robert L. Peery, James Peery, Robert Peery, James Wesley Peery, Jeff Dixon, Pinkney Prince, James S. Warren, David Lindsey, and others. Robert Peery resigned as session clerk March, 1853. James Wesley Peery, his son, was elected to fill the vacancy. He served in this capacity until his death.
Some of the matters taken up at the business meetings were the election of delegates to Presbytery, the filling of vacancies which had occurred, the adding of new members when the need arose, the receiving of new members, the hearing of reports and communications and acting on them, the paying of tribute to deceased members and the contracting with preachers to serve as pastors.
The church spent a great deal of time and showed a great deal of concern with members who had failed to comply with the standards of Christian conduct. To be sure there was much, much more business.
This was a period in the history of our church when many of the early settlers left their homes to defend their soil in the War Between the States. One of these was James Wesley Peery who had played an outstanding role in the early period of Swan Cumberland Presbyterian Church. He contracted measles while at Camp Murray, and was sent home, where he died shortly afterwards of pneumonia. He was only 33 years of age. The account was that on this trip home, due to high water, he was set across Swan Creek in a hog scalder. This must have been one of those big rises which all Swan Creekers know about. This James Wesley Peery was the grandfather of Linda and Virginia Peery who attend church at Camp Ground now (1973).
A beautiful tribute was paid to Robert Peery at the session meeting of August, 1853. The same kind of tribute was paid to each of the following people in August, 1863--Brothers James Peery, James Wesley Peery, and Robert L. Peery. The last lines of the tribute read as follows: That in the death of Brother Peery, the session has sustained the loss of one of its most active and efficient members--the church, an exemplary and humble member.
The period in our church history is one of which we can be very proud. These leaders were trail blazers. With their devout faith in God, they were able to pass on to future generations the desire to continue this.
The era in the history of Swan Cumberland Presbyterian Church from l871-1904 was one of change. The first part was still a period of restoration in our community after a long and bloody war. As the homes were affected, so was the church. These were hard times. Then, too, many leaders who had worked so hard organizing the church had gone to their final resting place in Camp Ground Cemetery nearby. Despite these difficult times, the church grew and prospered. At the session meeting of 1871, plans were made to begin a new church book. During the ministry of Brother G.H. Hudiburgh this project was begun, recording the minutes of regular meetings. These minutes show the work of efficient clerks. They are neat, clear, and to the point. I might add that they were beautifully written but difficult for me to read. Many of these old officials had mastered the skill of handwriting.
Charles Brown Peery served as session clerk for thirty-five years, from 1863 until his death in 1898. At his death, Brother R.A. Hill and R. L. Peery were appointed, as a committee, to draft a tribute to his memory. It was read and recorded at the November 1898 meeting. These words were taken from the tribute:
In the death of our aged Brother, the session has sustained the loss of one of its most active and efficient members--always painstaking and zealous for his church and thechurch at this place one of its landmarks--though dead--his work and Christian life still live on.
Following the death of Charles Brown Peery, R. L. Peery succeeded him as clerk.
This period showed signs of expansion in the church program. Preachers were contracted and pastors secured to preach to this congregation once or twice a month. Brother G. H. Hudiburgh, Wesley Lindsey, and J. R. Whittaker are three who served this church sometime between 1871 and 1904. From accounts which were told, these were dynamic preachers.
J. R. Whittaker hailed from Santa Fe. He made the trip from his home to Camp Ground in a buggy which was drawn by Old Knox. This early preacher "put up," many nights in the Peery Bend. I have a pocket-size song book which was thought to have been lost at the Peery barn when Brother Whittaker was hitching or unhitching his horse there.
It is possible that Andrew Peery may have preached here at one time or another between 1875 and 1885. The records do not reveal this, however. He was a member of Camp Ground Church, a Cumberland Presbyterian preacher, and the son of James Peery, Jr., who was one of the church's first elders. However, according to the records he was never accepted by Presbytery.
The story goes that Andrew Peery, wearing his yaller cheesecloth (they were really made of a very slagy material) breeches and his moccasins and carrying his shoes would set out to walk long distances around in this area to preach. By so doing he probably saved his feet as well as his shoes. According to Spence's History of Hickman County and the accounts which have been related to me by elders in the community, he was a very unique character. Being one of the Peery clan, I would have to say that not all of the peculiarities rubbed off on Cousin Andrew. We know that Andrew Peery was a humble servant of God, a kind neighbor and friend, and a highly respected citizen. He was one of three Hickman countains who voted against secession on June 8, 1861.
In addition to the church services, the church by this time was participating in such programs as Ministerial Relief, Foreign Missions, the Theological School at Lebanon, Tennessee, and other related programs. Also, the church was active in presbyterial participation. Richland Presbytery met in various counties; namely, Lawrence, Wayne, Giles, Maury, Hardin and others. Many different elders represented Swan Church at these meetings.
In respect to the financial status of the church during this period, the church agreed to pay Brother Hudiburgh $50 a year for his services. This was to be paid in 2 installments. Later, Brother Lindsey received $60 a year and still later Brother Whittaker received the sum of $75 a year. At the November meeting of 1903, the deacons reported the following collections: Ministerial Relief, $3.00; Foreign Missions, $1.50; Education, $1.50; and Pastor's Salary Addition, $9.00. It was agreed by the session that ten cents be collected from each member of the congregation to pay off some church indebtedness. It was the duty of the deacons to secure the money. The deacons during this period were Brothers R. H. Anderson, L. G. Peery, D. W. Peery, James S. Warren, and Charles Wheat. Later, B. M. Hutchison and J.R. Bates were added.
As early as 1871 the matter of securing a deed to a plot of land for the church came up. This was settled; a signed deed was later secured. This land was part of the Alexander Peery property, and formerly the Old Tate property. In 1890 a new frame church was constructed on this plot of land. This building replaced the old log structure. The logs from the old landmark are still in the barn at the Lon Prince place.
Active elders of the church from 1871-1904 were Pinkney Prince, Charles Brown Peery, James S. Warren, Wm. Mayfield, Wm. Anderson, Wesley Lindsey, David Lindsey, John L. Peery, S. H. Holmes, Isaac Prince, R. A. Hill, R. L. Peery, John L. Beakley, D. M. Aydelott, and C. D. Harder. Of course, there were others.
Moderators who served during the period were as follows: G. H. Hudiburgh, B. Brown, Pinkney Prince, Wm. Mayfield, S. H. Holmes, Wesley Lindsey, R. A. Hill, and J. R. Whittaker. Wesley Lindsey must have been a very dedicated and active servant. His name stands out throughout the accounts of the era. And during this era the church grew in number, many members being added to the church roll.
One very active leader whose name has been prominent from 1852-1886 was that of Pinkney Prince, grandfather of Ashford and Arch Prince. His death occured shortly before the session meeting of 1889. Brother Prince served his church in different capacities. Anywhere he was needed, he served. At his death, the church had this to say to Brother Prince. "That in the death of Brother Pinkney Prince, the session has sustained the loss of its most active and efficient member--the church an exemplary and humble member. He was an esteemed citizen, a good neighbor, a good husband, and a good father."
The church worked hard to promote the spiritual growth of its members. From 1871 to 1904 the records show many of the business sessions concerned with the unchristian conduct of some of its members. On some occasions elders were appointed to confer with the guilty individuals to try to bring them to repentance. On other occasions the offenders were asked to appear at the session meeting to accept charges which were brought against them. Often there was compliance, but a few had to be suspended or excommunicated. As one can see, the church assumed the responsibility of protecting its members. It moved with patience and understanding and went that last mile to save its members from the pitfalls of sin.
Some of the offenses mentioned were dancing, attending parties, indulging in profanity, making whiskey, selling whiskey, and there were one or two cases of separation of husband. and wife.
In our age we might think these offenses trivial, but the leaders of this early church were dedicated to God and His church. They believed in strict obedience to His commands and strict adherence to the laws of the Cumberland Presbyterian doctrine. They followed the policy of being fair but firm.
Names of some of the offenders are mentioned in our records. One I happened to remember was that of Abner F. Aydelott. He was called "on the carpet" for dancing. We remember him as one of Hickman County's leaders. Incidentally, he was principal of the first school taught in the Old Fairview Academy in Centerville, Tennessee.
The Potracted Meeting
The color and excitement of the camp meetings was now history, but we have the emergence of the big Protracted Meetings--excited and dramatic. These big events were talked about, and planned for, from the closing of one such meeting until the beginning of another. One part of the planning was to plant extra corn and bean patches so that these vegetables would be ready to eat by big meeting time. Often these big meetings were held in August, after crops were laid by. And too, melons, in abundance, were ripe by this time.
One has to associate food with these big meetings at Camp Ground. Sometimes there would be "dinner on the ground," at other times there was a "big spread" at home. Large numbers attended these meetings and certainly food and social contacts were two of the drawing cards along with the worship services.
The following account may have been a typical day in a Swan Creek home during one of these protracted meetings in the late 1800's or early 1900's. This was the first Sunday of the Protracted Meeting. The family was up early because there was much to be done. The children were dancing around in excitement--there was somewhere to go and someone was coming. There was to be extra food and new clothes. This was the day they had been waiting for.
The adults were in the kitchen "turning taps" for the big feast which they must have ready early. All of the food which could be kept was prepared the day before, but without refrigeration much had to be cooked on this morning. Chickens were killed, dressed and fried; corn was gathered, husked and silked, cut off and fried; custards, pies and puddings were baked. Some of every fruit and vegetable was prepared for the big dinner. All of this, plus what was prepared the day before, plus bread, fried ham, coffee, etc., which had to be prepared after returning home from services.
After all of these preparations of food were done, the children, maybe five or six or more, were scrubbed and dressed in their ruffles and frills for church. The adults donned their Sunday best, and they were all ready to walk to Camp Ground for the first service of the meeting which was sure to be a big one. The walk, about a mile, was down a hot, dusty road. When they reached Swan Creek, they had to walk a foot log. It took the parents and older ones to get all of the small fry across.
On arriving at the church, they saw a crowd already gathering. People in buggies, wagons, on horseback, on foot, and what-have-you were congregating. There were some greetings exchanged, but soon the service, which was a long one, began. After the service was over, everyone had to speak and shake hands with everyone, and invite them home with them for dinner. It seemed in most cases, they accepted the invitation.
In the case of this particular family, they hustled off home to get ready for company which was to follow. When one looked out and saw the procession coming up the road, excitement was really running high. Last touches were added to the meal, and finally after much exchange of greetings again, the guests freshened up and were ushered in for the feast. The table was laid with the white linen cloth and set with the best dishes. Such an abundance of wonderful food!! Certainly this was one of the big moments. How it was enjoyed by all!
After everyone had eaten all he could, some retired to the porch or yard for an afternoon of chit-chat. Others washed dished and then visited. Late in the afternoon, some of the visitors left for their homes, others stayed over until after night services, and still others remained for the full ten days of the meeting.
The evening meal was served and everyone was off to church for the Sunday night service--another long one.
What a day! What a completely joyous day! Everybody seemed to love everybody! It seemed as if everyone could have said of himself or herself, "My cup runneth over." The word "tired" did not seem to be in the vocabularies. Everyone looked fresh and invigorated. This was more or less a child's image of what must have happened and children never think adults are tired.
The early Swan Cumberland Presbyterians didn't have much money, but they had an abundance of good food which they so generously shared. Swan church was on a boom during these big protracted meeting days.
One of the highlights of all time at Swan was the meeting of Presbytery here in 1890. There was a new building, and it's my guess that these Presbyterians wanted to show it off. This big day was probably initiated by Brother Wesley Lindsey. People from far and near were here. There was dinner on the ground. People worshiped together, visited and had dinner together. The events of this big day were told to me as long as my Mother lived. To her it was one of the greatest.
Yes, Swan Church saw changes from 1871 to 1904, but some things remained the same. The same God who gave the inner strength to carry on was still guiding our church through this period of history.
The early part of this era probably saw Swan Church at its peak. This likely happened around the late 1900's until somewhere around the 1920's. I have distinct memories of childhood days associated with the church around 1912-1921. One thing to be sure was still the annual protracted meeting. A child's mental picture of a night service at a big meeting may have been something like this: it was a hot, sticky August evening. A large crowd had almost filled the house to capacity. There were no baby sitters in those days, so the small children were brought to church along with all the other members of the family.
The children were hot and tired, and some of them were crying. Finally they fell asleep and were bedded down on a bench or a pallet on the floor. Once in a while a kerplunk was heard when one rolled off of a bench. The service began with singing.
Such old hymns as these, ring a bell with me--"Amazing Grace," "Glory to His Name," "At the Cross," and "That Old Time Religion." Everyone joined in the singing and sang as if his heart was full of joy.
The preacher preached long and hard. He was wet with perspiration. By the time the sermon began, big and little insects were in the house swarming around the kerosene lamps and sometimes buzzing around the preacher's face. He would have to swat at the bugs as he delivered the message.
Time came for testimonies. One after another rose and spoke out as a witness for God. When the invitation was extended for sinners to come forward, Christians would go back and plead with them. Some came, others did not. Altar prayer often followed. One after another at the altar would lead out in prayer. Often there was shouting and clapping for the winning of souls. The service was not quiet and serene as we experience today. It was one of high emotions. Everything was loud---the singing, the preaching, the shouting and the clapping. Occasionally, for short periods, the service would calm down and then one would take note of all the noise outside. It seemed as if the katydids were trying to keep pace with the noise inside.
It was late in the evening when the benediction was pronounced. After that, parents had to awaken the sleepyheads and get them ready for the journey home. For this trip home, the parents had to light the kerosene lanterns, necessary to lighting the pathway home. Little legs seemed almost paralyzed when they had to set out for home, trudging at the side of someone who was carrying a lantern which gave a very dim light.
On reaching home, everyone got to bed as soon as possible. But by the next night, they were ready for church again.
Many individuals and families stand out in my mind as being regular attendants at these services. The Tim Bates family was one. Mr. Tim and Mrs. Minnie Bell with all of their children always found time to come to church. Mrs. Minnie Bell said she received a blessing every time she entered Camp Ground Church. They came down Swan on a wagon from where Arch Prince lives now. Vera Peery, who is now teacher of the Ladies' Adult Class, is one of the Bates children. Also, there are pleasant memories of the Hutchison Family, the Rufus Peery Family, the Meece Family, the Lee Duncan Family, the Prince Family, and the Peery Bend Families as they congregated for worship and fellowship at Swan Church.
There are vivid images of three individual men and where they usually sat in the church, these being Mr. Tim Bates, Mr. Lee Duncan, and Mr. Bud Simmons. How well I remember how Mr. Bud sang "I'm Bound for the Promised Land."
During the early part of this period beautiful Children's Day programs were rendered at the church. Children enjoyed participating in these affairs and parents enjoyed seeing their offspring show off. The names of Burch Hill and Elizabeth Prince are associated with these performances as they did much of the planning and training.
Lovely Christmas programs were presented and well attended by the community folk. There was a program and a big tree adorned with lovely handmade gifts. This made such a joyous Christmas experience.
Memorial Day was observed at Camp Ground during these years. People came and worked on graves and decorated them--large crowds attended these so-called Decoration Days. This was a day to honor loved ones and friends who had gone on. It was a day, too, to visit with friends and relatives. There was always a big dinner on the ground.
Singing Schools became popular in the community around the early 1900's. Albert La Rue taught one of these schools at the church sometime around this date. Several families participated in these lessons. The Gill Peery family, for one, thoroughly enjoyed the Singing Schools. They had enough members in their family for a quartet, and wherever they gathered there was pretty sure to be singing. As a child, I found it great fun to be seated with the adults in the class and to sing the scale up and down. I discovered later in life how valuable these lessons were to me. Music methods can change, but basic principles have not changed, so I learned much which I, later in life, put into practice. I remember Clarence Peery as one singing enthusiast.
The church maintained its position as the center of social life during the first half of the period. The gatherings satisfied the social needs of the people of the community. It was a way of life and a good way. Also associated with church functions there were romances which budded and blossomed. With the late 1920's and therafter, unfortunately, Swan Church began to decline as the strong community power which it had been. This was a result of change.
As we have noted, this was a long period and many things happened in our community. A number of Swan boys were engaged in World War I. Some of them never returned to Swan. Some that returned were not as content to remain on Swan as they had previously been. There was restlessness and a desire to look for greener grass. There was a good deal of truth in the popular song which came out about that time: "How You Gonna Keep 'Em Down on the Farm After They've Seen Paree?"
With the coming of the automobile one might have thought it a great advantage to the church. In many ways, yes, but with travel so facilitated, one could get into his car and go to town, to other communities, or to other countries. Therefore, the community was no longer an isolated community. With the new travel facility, people began to spread out. They were seeking other means of social life. The church had run into much competition as a social center. There was less zeal for church affairs and a decline in its growth. Depression days came along. People had to go where they could find jobs. They began to leave farms and to go into urban areas seeking jobs.
World War II took its toll of neighborhood boys. Many who were fortunate enough to return home to Swan did not stay because they had to look for jobs elsewhere. Many went into industry. More women began to seek jobs, several went into the teaching profession. All of these changes affected the whole community and certainly the church. Rural churches everywhere were experiencing similar changes.
Coming back to the organization of the Swan Church, R. L. Peery, Sr., was session clerk from the time of Charles Brown Peery's death until he became disabled around 1944. He was loyal to his church and active in its affairs. He attended session meetings and church services regularly. He was a teacher in the Sunday School for many years--perhaps Sunday School Superintendent at some time. Swan Church lost a capable and devoted leader when he died in 1946. R. L. Peery, Sr., was succeeded as session clerk by R. L. Peery, Jr. Young Robert grew up in this church and held an office in it until his death. He never left Swan Creek. He remained on the farm.
From 1906 to 1952 the following elders served the church: Isaac Prince, R. A. Anderson, J. R. Bates, R. A. Hill, R. L. Peery, Sr., S. G. Hutchison, Timothy Bates, Thomas Anderson, Walter Cook, Ashford Prince, W. L. Duncan, W. L. Smithson, Lester Prince, Arch Prince, P. L. Mayberry, Charles Lee Peery, Clarence Peery, Harville Sawyers, Grover Peery, Brown Peery, W. S. Meece and others. These, like other leaders, worked to keep the church on the move. The minutes reflect much of the initiative of the session being taken by Ashford Prince. I remember him as the spokesman of the group. Ashford served as Sunday School Superintendent and teacher for years. He and his wife were instrumental in the church program. She was organist and pianist from my childhood days until her death. Ashford's brother, Arch Prince, served as church treasurer for several years during this period. Service connected with financing is always one of importance.
The following acted as deacons sometime from 1906 to 1952: James Mullens, W. S. Meece, N. B. Anderson, W. T. Prince, Ashford Prince, J. H. Simmons, Archie Prince, Sr., R. L. Peery, Jr., Charles Lee Peery, Earl Williams, John Sawyers, Robert Prince, Charlie Shepard, James Cook, Wm. Bates, Archie Prince, Jr., Ralph Prince, Eugene Hutchison, Emma Lou Harlow, and Josephine Peery as deaconesses.
In these years the session has spent a good deal of time and effort looking for preachers to pastor our church and to secure the necessary funds to pay them. I believe preachers generally preached one Sunday a month and were paid about an average of $12.50 per Sunday. Some of these preachers from 1906 to 1952 were Brothers Reagan, Hipps, Self, Dillard, Sykes, Hartley, Danley Rayburn, Maclemore, Powers, Parrish, and Middleton.
Swan Church saw improvements during the period, some of which are still enjoyed, such as a heating and lighting system. There were different accounts in the minutes of plans to paint and repair the church. Sunday School rooms were added and the grounds were improved. There was growing interest in improving the looks of the cemetery on the land adjoining the church.
This church has attached much importance to its Sunday School program. There were dedicated leaders who were willing to carry on when they were faced with discouragements. From 1906 to1952 these, along with others, assumed the responsibility as teachers: R. L. Peery, Sr., Ashford Prince, Harville Sawyers, W. L. Smithson, Burch Hill, Ova Peery, Myrtle Prince, Roxie Prince, Vera Peery, Wilda Shepard, Mary Dee Cook, Mayme Peery, Imogene Cook, and Floy Simmons.
The Cumberland Presbyterian Church, since its organization, has promoted the idea of education for its ministers as one of its standards. The churches have supported Schools of Theology or Seminaries for the education and training of their ministers. One young man from our church and community was educated for the ministry at Bethel College. This was Sam Prince who was reared by Arch and Roxie Prince.
The list of communicants was revised two or three times during the period. Presbytery was held at Swan Church during the late 1930's or early 1940's. I attended this meeting, but from reports of the one held in 1890, this one in no way compared to that great day.
The Ladies Missionary Society was active in the latter years of this period. Mrs. Arch and Mrs. Ashford Prince, and Vera Peery were three of the promoters. These three, along with others, were also associated with the nice Vacation Bible Schools of the time.
During the 1930's there was a large number of young people on Swan, and many were converted and enrolled at Swan Church. As they grew older and began to go out on their own, they left Swan for jobs elsewhere and did not return. Only a few remained. Since the church is the people, we can see what happened. We lost some good leadership, too. The Tim Bates family moved. Young leaders, such as Charles Lee Peery and Sam Prince, left the community.
Yes, due to changes and many of them, naturally, our church was on the decline. I'm sure, however, those who surrendered their lives to God at Swan Church during the great period of our history are somewhere living a richer and fuller life for having done so.
This previous account brings us up to the last 20 year period of this Swan History and the final pages of this report.
From reading the minutes, one senses an uneasiness about the conditions of the church. There were discussions in the session meetings of how to improve church attendance, how to inspire young folks to step into church leadership, and how to meet financial needs.
There are accounts of resignations offered in the Church and Sunday School. There were a number of dismissals and transfers of letters during the period. Instead of zeal and enthusiasm which was experienced by the early church, there is a feeling of indifference or a waning of interest.
As was mentioned previously, there were improvements on the building, Sunday School rooms and a new roof were added, repairs on floors, windows, and doors were made. The church ground was leveled and improved. But the improvements called for more money, and plans had to be maide to take care of expenses. The “Lord's Acre Plan” was proposed and presented to the congregation. The church used this plan for a few years to help defray expenses. Also, the Missionary Society shared in meeting expenses.
One person in our church who stands out as having special pride in giving our church a neater and more worshipful appearance is that of Mrs. Arch Prince. The records reveal other gifts to the church. Miss Lila Prince willed $200 to the church which was used as needed. The Arch Prince family gave furniture to equip a Sunday School room, a picture, and signs. They also gave the communion table. One of the pulpit chairs was given by the late R. L. Peery family. The Missionary Society gave the other pulpit chair. Charles Lee Peery gave a number of hymnals in memory of his family. The Bible on the communion table was given by Loreno Holland, the granddaughter of the late Arch Peery. Money has been given by the Smithson family to purchase a Bible in memory of W. L. Smithson.
The church receives contributions occasionally from people who are interested in helping Swan Church. Mr. and Mrs. R. B. Leach from Centerville have been contributing generously to our church for over a year. We appreciate their interest.
Robert Peery, Jr., served as session clerk until his death in 1963. He was succeeded by Ashford Prince. Ashford resigned Nov. 1972 and Ray Field was elected to fill the vacancy. Elders and deacons from 1953 to 1973 were W. L. Smithson, Ashford Prince, C. L. Peery, A. H. Sawyers, C. C. Peery, P. I. Mayberry, R. L. Peery, Jr., A. E. Prince, Lester Prince, Archie Prince, James Cook, Sam Sawyers, Hardy Field, Robert Prince, William Bates, Ray Simmons, Eddie Cook, Jim Rivers, and Linda Peery, deaconess. There may have been others. Harville Sawyers was elected as Sunday School Superintendent and served until he became disabled. Robert O. Prince then became superintendent, and, except for a short period when Raymond Cook served, Robert has remained in that office until the present time (1973).
We have names of the following officers and teachers of the Suncay School: A. H. Sawyers, W. L. Smithson, Robert Simmons, Robert Prince, Willie Bates, Mrs. Arch Prince, Mrs. Albert Prince, Mrs. Sam Sawyers, Mrs. Howard Cook, Ray Simmons, Mrs. Jewell Beakley, Anna Smithson, Taylor Cook, Rebecca Dick, Floy Bates, Lula Mai Prince, Virginia Simmons, and Mame Peery. The officers and teachers presently acting (1973) are Arch Prince, Very Peery, Jewell Beakley, Bonnie Field, and Linda Perry, and Robert Prince, Superintendent.
In this period of years, as in every other period, death took its toll of our leadership. The following losses were sustained: Elizabeth Prince, Robert Peery, Jr., Lester Prince, Grover Peery, W. L. Smithson, A. H. Sawyers, and P. I. Mayberry. Howard Cook, a young man of this community and church passed away in the early seventies. We remember Howard as one who supported the church in its undertakings.
Vera Peery served as church secretary and treasurer until she was relieved by Eddie Cook recently. Virginia Peery has been serving the church as organist since the death of Elizabeth Prince. Roxie Prince has served as Chairman of the Mission Program.
There were revisions of the church membership records: 1965 showed 45 active members; 1972 showed approximately 30.
Some of our pastors from 1953 to 1973 were Brothers Bill Middleton, Ralph Matlock, Kennedy, Douglas, DeLand, Linebarrier, Denton, Garner, and Maynard. Brother Terry Maynard, and young and enthusiastic preacher who hailed from Searcy, Arkansas, came to our church in 1972. Soon after he came, he saw the need of increasing the number of elders and deacons in the church. As a result, Robert Owen Prince, Ray Field, Hardy Field, Eddie Cook, Jim Rivers, and Linda Peery were ordained and installed.
With the addition of these young men who are willing to give of their time and talent, Brother Maynard to lead, and the older members of the session to offer wise counsel, I believe our church is picking up new interest.
We are fortunate to have Brother Maynard. He delivers a good message to his congregation every Sunday. He actively participates in the programs of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. One nice event which we enjoyed with Brother Maynard in 1972 was the trip to Montgomery Bell State Park for services in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church which is the birthplace of our church. He wants to make this an annual affair.
(Editor's Note: Reverend and Mrs. Maynard established the Terrell D. and Jacqueline C. Maynard Endowment for the purpose of providing funds for the support of certain Cumberland Presbyterian churches, boards, and agencies. Swan Church is grateful for the annual donations it has received from this fund since 2014.)
We have seen the organization of the Swan Church, its rise, its booming years, and its decline. We have memories of good years and difficult years, of joyous days and sad days.
If the founders of our church could come back for a visit, I believe there are many things of which they would be justly proud. Swan Church still in its pretty setting on the banks of beautiful Swan Creek, where in the springtime, bluebells still line the banks. They would be pleased to see the building as well preserved as it is, and usually reasonably neat and clean. They would especially like our worship service every Sunday morning. They would be pleased to see, in our small congregation, descendants of the founders.
Robert and James Peery would swell with pride to see the name Peery in the leadership of the church from its beginning until the present time--moving on toward two centuries.
These founders might, however, ask the question--where are all of the people? Yes, Swan Church up until now has had a long and wonderful history. It has played an important role in the molding and shaping of Christian lives in this community.
In closing, I should like to use the title of one of Brother Maynard's sermons, "Where Do We Go From Here?"