The Taylorville Church
This is a slice of history of the Taylorville Church and its people in and around 1940.
The bell rope hung down to about two feet from the floor and on the left side as you entered. The upper end disappeared through a small hole in the ceiling and on up to a bell in the tower.
The children, especially the younger boys, eyed the rope longingly. They would love to pull down on the rope. But only men from the Men’s Bible Group were allowed to ring the bell. One of the men would ring the bell a dozen times reminding the community it was nine o’clock on a Sunday morning and time to come to church.
We would pile into our old Ford truck. Mom and Dad in the cab. Lois, Dale, myself and sometimes Doris Powell would ride in the back. Doris was the daughter of Harris and Alpha Parsons Powell. They lived at the end of Azalea Road. Alpha was a sister to all the Parsonses; Roland, Mickey, Biggy, Teeny, Helen, Edna and Hazel.
We filed in past the preacher and other people standing at the door. Girls went to the back right of the church. Boys went left. Men to the front left by the wood stove and women front right. Choir members and the organist were on a raised area in extreme right front.
We usually had been given a nickel to put in the collection plate when it was passed around.
Miss Dorothy Johnson, daughter of our school bus driver, Charles and ??? was our Sunday School teacher. She was probably eighteen and later became the wife of Ben Nelson. We always had a two or three page booklet depicting a story from the Bible. We would take turns reading and then try to discuss what we had read. Sometimes there would only be two or three of us, never any more than ten.
Since most of the rural churches were small and poor, they usually shared a preacher with another nearby church. We usually shared with the Friendship Methodist Church or St. Martins Methodist Church. Our preacher at this time was Mr. Justice. Taylorville had no house for a preacher. Mr. Justice lived in St. Martins.
The preacher or the leader of the men’s bible class would say a few words about local news and coming events. A hymn would be sung. A brief prayer by someone (always a man) and Sunday School would begin.
The church needed money to pay the preacher and maintain the church and the two room school house. They didn’t need too much money. There was no electric bill, no water bill, no sewage bill or telephone bill.
Our church had Suppers and Festivals. I can’t remember any differences. We would get off of the school bus at the school house. Men would be in the yard making ice cream. The women were inside doing the cooling and serving. The supper was nearly always chicken and dumplins, some type of cooked greens and biscuits. Nothing elaborate. The Supper began early and ended early. It was too much trouble to have kerosene lamps on every table.
My mother, Charlotte Elliott Lynch was one of the main cooks and organizer. After raising nine children, she could cook for an army and wouldn’t take any nonsense.
The Ladies Aide raised money for the preacher and his family. An old pair of bib overalls was used. The woman would sew a patch and insert money. Usually a dollar bill. She would have one of her children take the overalls to the neighboring home. This was done over and over until the overalls had made the trip to every home. I can’t remember whether they gave the overalls to the preacher or they opened each patch and give the money to his him or his wife.
The Taylorville Methodist Church had Revival Meeting at least once a year. The meeting ran all week of an evening. The guest speakers were ministers from other churches on the lower shore and members up the Methodist Hierarchy. The purpose of the meeting was to renew or revive your faith in Jesus.
I read a study on revival meetings a long time ago. The main thing that occurred was a spike in the birth rate nine months later. My writer friends, Bill and Carol, said they had always heard that at revival meetings, more souls were made than saved.
Around 1933, the Taylorville School was closed. All student were to go to the Buckingham Elementary School in Berlin which was located on South Main Street just past the Treasure Chest or the Odd Fellows Building. School bus service was started.
Before this, all students got to school the best way they could. My oldest brother Norman remembered that after finishing six grades at Taylorville, he would walk to McAllister’s Store on old Rte. Fifty and hitch-hike to Berlin. Sometime a private school bus from Riddle Farm would pick him up.
Not too long after the school was closed, the Worcester County Board of Education gave the school and the land to the Church
The church enlarged the cemetery by taking a strip of the old school yard four gravesites wide and running the length of the graveyard. These were sold to members of the congregation. My parents bought one plot. In this plot are four people, dad’s parents, a nephew, (Randolph Hitchens, I think) and a poor destitute man named Smallwood. Not a single grave has a marker.
This Smallwood man burial was the main reason my parents left the Taylorville Methodist Church and joined the Methodist Church in Berlin. For some reason, most of the people who ran the church did not want Mr. Smallwood buried in their graveyard.
But, they were not going to tell my mother what to do with something she owned.
Church records are very scarce. A lot were thrown away about thirty years ago in a church cleaning binge. Even Burbage Funeral Home old records are very poor.
I have searched for my grandparents grave using a thin metal rod. A vault is usually only six inches down. I know one grandparent has a vault because I have a bill from Burbage Funeral Home for $160 which included a vault. No luck. They must be somewhere else in the graveyard. There’s no one to ask. I’m getting to be the oldest person around.
Uncle Tom Elliott, my mother’s oldest brother, was driving up Philadelphia Avenue in Ocean City when he saw stained glass windows in a parking lot. The Catholic Church was re-modeling and installing new windows. He bought them on the spot and had the stained glass window installed in the Taylorville Church. This was probably in the 1940’s and still there today.
I haven’t been inside the church in twenty years. It was a funeral for someone. Now, funeral services are held at Burbage Funeral Home and then, usually, there is a short grave side ceremony. Afterwards there may be food and refreshments in the old school house.