THE MIDWAY BAPTIST CHURCH
By Wilton Griffin, Chairman of Deacons
As printed in A History of Chickasaw County, Mississippi, Volume 1, 1985,
Chickasaw County Historical and Genealogical Society, Houston, MS
"Midway Baptist Church was organized in Chickasaw County, but with the forming of Calhoun County in 1852 it was transferred to Calhoun but is almost on the Chickasaw/Calhoun County line. The church is still on the same site as when organized. The land for the first church and cemetery was donated by Mr. A.F. Walton, who had purchased the land from Robert Carpenter
The Church was organized in March 1848. A group of interested people, who later became charter members, met the second Sunday of March to organize a separate Church. Following is an excerpt from the minutes of the first meeting.
"State of Mississippi, Chickasaw County, Constitution of the Baptist Church of Christ at midway meeting house.
Be it remembered that a number of members of the Baptist church residing in the vicinity of midway meeting house being desirous of forming a separate church invited Elders Gideon Woodruff and James Martin to attend them in the capacity of presbytery for the purpose of constituting them as a church. The elders having met in presbytery at the aforementioned church on the Second Lords Day in March 1849 the following Brothers and Sisters presented letters of Dismission & Recommendation: Names of Males: G.W. Walker, Thomas Rogers, R.H. Fowler, Wm. Mahaphy, Wm. Therrell, Isaac Newton, Wm. Moore, Irvin McCullough, Names of Females: Amanda Walker, Elizabeth Howard, Eady McCullough, Delila Howard, Martha Gable, Sintha Rogers, Mary Carpenter, Sarah Powell, Mary J. Fowler, Elenore Mahaphy, Mary Ann Newton, Sarah Moore, Sintha McCullough."
The above listed were charter members of Midway Baptist Church first called Midway Baptist Church of Christ. The name Midway came due to the dividing ridge on which the church was built and now stands. The rain falls on the south side of the church flows into Top-a-shaw River, and that that falls on the north side flows into the Yalobusha River.
The first business of the church was to call a pastor which resulted in the calling of Br. James Martin. The first Deacons elected by the church were Ervin McCollough and Isaac Newton. The first Church Clerk was J. G. Ryan who served only a short time. G.W. Howard was elected Church Clerk 13 January 1849. The church first belonged to the Chickasaw County Association, then the Zion Association. They joined the Calhoun Association when it was organized soon after Calhoun County was organized.
The following have served as Pastor at Midway: James Martin Mar. 1848 - Dec. 1850, Henry Cox Jan 1851 - Oct 1852, Gideon Woodruff Nov. 1852 - Dec 1854, James Martin Jan 1855 - Dec 1855, A.H. Hicks Jan 1856 - June 1858 (died while pastor at Midway), R.W. Thompson June 1858. R.M. Mitchell Jan. 1862 - Nov. 1864, R.W. Thompson Dec. 1864 - Dec. 1874, S.M. Cole Jan 1875 - Dec 1876, R.W. Thompson Jan 1877 - Dec 1880, B.R. Hugley Jan 1881 - Dec 1883, C.M Cole Jan. 1884 - Mar. 1895, J.L. Arnold Mar. 1895 - Aug 1896 (resigned due to ill health), Willie Thompson elected to complete 1896 then elected for a full year Jan 1897 - Dec 1897, S.E. Wallis Jan 1898 - May 1902, J.B. Cole Apr 1902, A.C. Ball Apr 1903 - Dec 1907, S.M. Cole Jan 1908 - Dec 1910, T.N. Moody Jan. 1911 - 1919, A.C. Ball Jan 1920 - 1922, Martin Putman Jan. 1923, R.B. Hicks Jan 1937-Sept 1955. (R.B. Hicks was either the Grandson or Great Grandson of A.B. Hicks who served 1856 until death in June 1858), Jim Bain Oct. 1, 1955 - Aug. 1959, Harvey Jennings Oct. 1959 - May 1960, Arlis Bryant June 1960 - July 1963, James T. Bryant Sept 1963 - May 1986, Billy Guest June 1986, Bobby Knight June 1986 - Nov 1969, Phillip Caples Dec. 1969 - Sept. 1972. Wendall Blount Oct. 1972 - Apr. 1973, John Stone Aug. 1973 - Mar. 1975, Charles Kell Mar. 1975 - 1979, Don Donhue 1979 - Oct. 1983, Ira Alley (Interim) Oct 1963 - Mar. 1984, Buddy Trul? Mar. 1984 - Jan. 1985, and John T. Flippin Jan. 1985 - present.
The church voted to go to half time in March 1943, meeting first and second Sundays, morning and evening. Prior to this, the church had met the second Sunday morning of each month and the Saturday night before. A pastor's home was built in 1954. Beginning with the pastorate of Jim Bain, Oct. 18. 1955, Midway began full time services, morning and evening, as well as Wednesday night Prayer Meeting. The church all at this time voted to do away with the annual call of pastors and call the pastor without tenure.
Clerks who have served the church over the years are: J.G. Ryan, C.W. Howard, J. Marion Blue, C.D. Malone (protem), R.L. Inmon (protem), M.K. Gilder (protem), G.D. Langston (protem), John T. Tedder, J.C. Clyde Edmondson, J.E. Morgan, Danner Lantrip, Owen Inmon, Joseph Mroz, Mrs. Bobby (Suzanne) Inmon, Wilma Rae Johnson, Mrs. James (Shelia) Tedder, (Names not available to Book Committee 1974-1984) and the present Clerk, Mrs. Ann Whitt.
Midway Church is presently a full time church. A Memorial Service is held the first Sunday of May each year. There is a spring revival each year and a summer revival which begins the first Sunday in August each year. The church has Sunday School, ChurchWtraining and Prayer Meeting each week. Mrs. Suzanne Inmon is the church organist. Mrs. Joy Johnson and Mrs. Wilma Rae Johnson are pianists and H. Wilton Griffin is Music Director. Deacons are H. Wilton Griffin, Chairman, Robert Inmon, Bobby Inmon, Danner Lantrip, Norman W. Griffin, Wayne Johnson, Lynn Casey and Bobby Whitt."
The Church Buildings and Additional History
Based on information provided by Norman W. Griffin
The Minutes of the Midway Baptist Church at the organizational meeting of March 18, 1848, refer to a Midway Meeting House. This building was at a crossroad with one road running north and south, between what is now the church and cemetery, and a road running east and west between Houston and Montevista in Webster County. Part of east-west road still in use today intersects highway 341 and is the main entrance to the church and cemetery.
Black folks were also members of the church until about 1870 when they separated and organized a church which became the Midway MB Church on highway 341. Black folks also continued to bury their loved ones in the Midway Baptist Church Cemetery until about 1872. There are estimated to be approximately 100 of these graves, most of which are unmarked.
The church apparently met in the meeting house until 1872. The church minutes show that in that year they discussed building a new log church, who would cut the cypress logs for the project, and how much would be paid. That log church served the congregation until the early 1920s when a more modern white frame structure was built which was typical of other Baptist churches during that time. The log building was bought by Mr. Inmon who moved it to his farm to be used as a hay barn.
According to Norman Griffin, there have been only two official church buildings on the property: the log structure and the more modern 1920s building. The 1920s building was extensively remodeled in the early 1970s including a brick facing and additions.
Mr. Howard Mosley, a skilled carpenter and church member (and widely known throughout the Vardaman area for his quality work,) made pews (benches), the pulpit, and the offering table for the church which were used until the early 1970s.
Sketch by C. Howard, photos courtesy of Dewitt Spencer and Jim Young