This photograph was taken ca 1917. This, the original First Presbyterian Church, was located behind the current church. The watertower is visible which was (and the new one still is) across 5th Ave. The rear of this church faces Lake Jackson. In the foreground is the Florala Military Group. These soldiers went to France, but WWI was over when they arrived. They saw no action in Europe. They did however fight on the Mexican border in 1916. Luther Gaston Ray (Captain Co E Second Regiment A.N.G) is one of the soldiers in this picture. Another copy of this picture appears in Covington County History (see reference). The copy shown here was in possession of Margaret R. Baker. The existence of more than one copy suggests that soldiers were provided copies of this photo for keepsake purposes.
First Presbyterian Church of Florala and the Florala Military Group
Current Presbyterian Church facing 5th Ave (across from water tower), built in 1927-9. To the right is the church manse.
The Presbyterian Church was under construction in 1929–apparently started in 1927 and finished sometime in 1929–just in time for the stock market crash and the collapse of one of the two local banks…..the plans were apparently changed (made smaller) at least once during construction–causing delays and ‘re-do’s’ along the way–and a rather strange roof configuration in the back today….very hard to keep dry! Because of the world’s financial panic of 1929, certain things were just never done –it was over 70 years before the pipe organ was added–and there has never been a bell in the big tower–even though it was constructed to mount one.
A men’s Sunday school class at the Florala First Presbyterian Church. Possibly taken in the early to mid forties. Standing 1st from left – Neil Ray.
Methodist Church, North 5th St. Notice the unusual suspended street light on front of the church.
The Union Church was on the corner of Seminole and Choctaw where the Jake Purvis and Ward family lived when we were growing up. Dick C.
(The histories of Florala Churches below are provided courtesy of John Hayes Vaughan)
Thursday, June 21, 1917
Card of Thanks we desire to express our sincerest gratitude to the many friends who manifested so much loving sympathy and kindness to us during our recent bereavement.- Mr. and Mrs. JL Hayes
Independence Industrial Issue-Special Issue- June 26, 1917
History Florala Presbyterian Church
By WC McLauchlin
A commission consisting of Revs. J W Rosebourough, HC Moore and JC Sturgeon and Elder WC McLauchlin was appointed by East Alabama Presbytery at LaFayette, Ala. October 13th, 1900 to organize a Church, if the way be clear, at Florala, Ala., in answer to a petition signed by 34 persons living there and in the vicinity.
This commission, with the exception of Rev. JC Sturgeon, met in the Baptist Church in Florala, Ala., November 29th, 1900, and organized a Presbyterian Church consisting of the following members:
On certificate: JN McLean, Mrs. FA McLean, Miss Effie McLean, John J McLean, Claud C McLean, WC McLauchlin, Mrs. MJ McLauchlin, John F McRae, Mrs. Janie McRae, J Arch McNeill, CH Meinike, Mrs. MJ McDuffie, WJ McPhail, DM McDuffie and Mrs. DM McDuffie.
On examination and Profession: Mrs. SA Williamson and Evander Patterson.
JN McLean, John R McRae and WC McLauchlin were elected Elders and having been ordained were installed and were elected also as trustees. CH Meinike was elected, ordained and installed Deacon.
At the time the Baptists had the only Church building in the town and they generously gave the Presbyterians the privilege of using their building until such a time as they could build a house.
Rev. EE Ervin served the Church as Stated Supply for the first year, and was followed by Rev. Tolett in 1902, Rev. JF Ford in 1903, 1904 and 1905, Rev. Chas. B Boyles in 1906, Rev. DS McAlester in 1907, Rev. KL McIver in 1908, 1909 and 1910, Rev. S W Rogers in 1911 and 1912, Rev. ED Curtis in 1913and 1914 and the present Pastor, Rev. CB Currie, in 1915 and 1916.
During these years additional Elders were elected as follows: ML Ray, Samuel H Williams, and Luther G Ray and Evander Patterson, Dr. AL Wynn, WH Vaughan and Donald G Campbell were elected Deacons.
Elder JN McLean now lives at Milton, Fla., SH Williams at Forest, Miss., John F McRae at Jennings, Fla., and Luther G. Ray, Captain Co E Second Regiment A.N.G., is somewhere in Alabama with his company.
When the Florala Church was organized there was no railroad connection with the points in Alabama, the Yellow River railroad being the only one here at that time, and the Church was transferred to the Presbytery of Florida and remained with that Presbytery for several years. In 1911, the Louisville & Nashville and Central of Georgia railroads having been extended to Florala, the Church was again transferred to the Presbytery of East Alabama and grouped with the Presbyterian Church of Geneva, Alabama, and the present Pastor, Rev. CB Currie, supplies Florala, Geneva and Union No. 1.
The Presbyterian Church is not numerically strong in this section of Alabama, but serves a fine purpose as a regulator for the other denominations. Florala is religious if not notably pious, having Baptists, Methodists, Universalists, Primitive Baptists, Presbyterians and a new church called the Assembly of God.
Other denominations of Christians and Jews are represented, but not regularly organized.
Methodism in the Florala Country
By “One o’ the Boys”
The history of Methodist ministration in this part of the country dates far back into the dismal and uncertain days of the past.
In Riley’s “History of Conecuh County” mention is made of the fact that several Methodist preachers traveled over this territory at different times and preached to the Indians and what few white people were scattered over this gulf coast country about the beginning of the last century.
The writer of that splendid little volume was a very devout member of the Baptist church, but he was quite impartial in hid division of missionary honors and effort between the ministers of his own denomination and those of the Methodist church.
Long before the was of the 60s was ever thought of many traveling preachers of the Methodist Episcopal Church in America preached at almost every crossroads and in almost every settler’s cabin throughout the gulf coast. Those preachers included among their number the celebrated characters Lorenza Dow and Simon Peter Richardson.
About the time of the civil war this immediate section of country was placed upon one of the badly scattered mission charges of the Alabama Annual Conference, which at that time was doing a considerable amount of mission work over Alabama and West Florida.
Later the Alabama Annual Conference was divided into two distinct conferences for the purpose of doing more direct and systematic work.
All of southern Alabama and all that part of Florida lying west of the Apalachicola River was included within the Alabama Annual Conference. It is so included to this day.
The Yellow River Mission was formed about the close of the civil war. This mission included several preaching appointments throughout this part of the country, which was then known as the McDade Pond Settlement.
Several of the early ministers who served this mission charge resided at or near Milton, Pensacola, Pollard, Stockton. One of these was Rev. HT Johnson, better known as “Devil Henry” Johnson, to many of the people of that age. This faithful man of God still lives and is able to do active pastoral work in his conference. Rev. JW Shores and Rev. JW Rush also did much preaching in this section. Rev. Shores is still living in Montgomery, though he was superannuated by his conference nearly a quarter of a century ago. He is now above 90 years of age and is one of the life pensioners of his conference.
After the organization of a few weak churches in this pine wilderness they were changed from time to time from one mission charge to another as the conference thought advisable and expedient. They were preached to occasionally, the services increasing in number according as missionary effort was advanced in the territory.
The Florala mission was formed about 1890 with the pastors residing for number of years at Andalusia, Troy or elsewhere as they chose.
Rev. JA Green served the charge as pastor in 1890. ASJ Haygood, 1891-2; WT Ellisor, 1893; JW Breedlove, 1894-5; JF Price 1896; DBH Jeffcoat, 1897-8, JP Daughtery 1899, WE Gipson, 1900; CC Daniel, 1901; NW Beverly, 1902-4; JM Munn 1905; JA Seale, 1906-8; RH Lewis, 1909; WR Bickerstaff, 1910-11; DW Haskew 1912-14 and a part of 1915; EB Joyner, latter part of 1915; LHS Chappelle Jr., part of 1916; HE Jones latter part of 1916 and to date ion 1917 conference year, which will close November 30th.
This church today wields no small influence in the religious life of the people of Florala and neighboring towns. Its membership is large and its material wealth is considerable. A station parsonage was bought some years ago on one of the main residence streets of Florala, where the pastors reside.
The Methodist Church at Lockhart is a part of the local charge and is also doing good work religiously among the people of that prosperous manufacturing town.
History of the Baptist Church
What is known as the First Baptist church, Florala, was organized in 1862, over in Florida near the forks of the creek, where Clear Springs School house now stands.
The organization was effected by Bro. GW Kierce, the first pastor, who now lives at Andalusia.
Bro. Kierce was then missionary for this Association, and served the church once a month for several years.
About 1864 the place of worship was moved to a round-pole school house near where the Iris theatre now stands. In this school house our fellow townsman, Mr. JE Hughes, lived the first year of his marriage.
In 1869 Rev. Wilson Kierce, father of Rev. GW Kierce, came here with wagon and oxen, and together with Brother JE Hughes, DC Allen and others of the community, cut and hauled logs and erected a log building on the present site.
Rev. Kierce requested that he be buried under the shade of the trees by the church, and there his body rests today.
Then in about four or five years after moving into the log church building the little band moved to the state line, part of the house being in Florida and part in Alabama, so the school being taught in the building might draw state money from both states.
Here they remained until about 25 years ago, when they moved into the present house, which was generously built by Mr. JE Hughes.
About two years afterwards Bro. Hughes had the present pastorium built and gave it and the lots to the church.
It might not be out of place to state in this connection that Bro. Hughes has ever stood by this church with his money and his prayers, and he has recently deeded the church, to take effect at his death, the property occupied by Browns’ drug store and the offices upstairs, the proceeds of which are to go to pastor’s salary. Thus Bro. Hughes will perpetuate his memory, by living in a very material way long after he will have gone home to God.
It might be stated also that while Bro. DC Allen has never pastured the church, yet while he was missionary for this association, he held several good revivals during the pastorates of Brothers Bulger, Mitchell and Martin.
As one of the leading factors for righteousness in this community, this church has ever stood for the best things, and her pastors have been strong men, and men of influence throughout all this country, helping when possible, the weaker churches, and assisting their pastors in the work.
The following men have served as pastors, the approximate time being opposite the name of each: Rev. GW Kierce several years; Revs. FL L_ _ _d and J B Lassiter, each of whom supplied some years; Rev. Wilson Kierce began pastorate in 1870 and served several years; Rev. PD Bulger taught school and pastured the church several years. Bro. Bulger was succeeded by Rev. Mitchell, who served two or three years; Rev. EA Holley, time not known; Rev. Wiley F Martin, several years; Rev. WF Faulkner, one year; Rev. JF Gable, two years, Rev. SH Bennett, two years; Rev. BS Railey, five years; Rev. EM Steward, three months; Dr. JS Edmonds, eighteen months; Rev. JF Vandiver, three years; Rev. DR Parker, eighteen months, Rev. TV Shoemaker, the present pastor, one year.
The above is the order of the pastorates, but may not be absolutely correct as the exact time of pastorate, as this record has been made from the memory of some of the oldest members of the church.
This church has had a very prosperous history during the past several years and is now planning to build a modern house of worship commensurate with present day demands and future opportunities. The congregation is one of spiritual and financial importance and is now confronted with great opportunities for scattering Christian enlightenment throughout this section.