Vardaman History Project - Poplar Springs Baptist Church/div>
This page is still under construction. Aerial photo by Bing, church photos by Jim Young
POPLAR SPRINGS BAPTIST CHURCH
The Poplar Springs Baptist Church with its adjacent cemetery is located in the Reid Community in the northern part of the Vardaman area.
One night, probably in the year 1839 according to Monette Young's history of the area, a convoy of oxen-drawn wagons creaked to a stop in a flat area of land to begin what became later known as the Reid Community. They stopped just a little east of what would became known later as the Rocky Mount community. A large group in this convoy was the John and Gilly Bennett Hardin family which included their fourteen children, six of whom were grown young men and women, and three teenagers and five younger children. In addition to the Hardin group, the Stribling family and also the Henderson family were in the convoy. They were just some of the people moving west from Alabama and Georgia to take up land in what had but recently been the Chickasaw Indian nation. In 1855, John and Gilly Hardin persuaded John Morgan and his family, who had originally moved farther west to Lafayette County, to come back east to this area. John Morgan's wife Adaline was Gilly Hardin's niece.
A Baptist church had been organized in the Rocky Mount community by this time, however, some of those who lived farther east felt the need to organize a church of their own which would be easier to get to in the bad traveling days that winter and rains brought to the hilly sand and clay roads they had. So in March 1861 a group gathered to organize a church.
The church was organized in a meeting in the home of John and Adeline Morgan. It is believed that Bro. Jimmie Martin was living in the area and helped in the organization of the new church. The charter members and organizers were John and Adaline Morgan, Rev. David Wilson Hardin, Wash Murff, Mr. and Mrs. Ben Landreth, Mr. and Mrs. Jimmie Vanlandingham, Eveline Poteete, and Mr. and Mrs. John English.
The Landreths actually lived closer to Lloyd which probably had a cemetery by this time but not a Baptist church. It was decided that for the convenience of all that the new church building would be located where it still stands and that the name of the local voting precinct, Poplar Springs, would be given to it. So a log structure was built.
The minutes of the Poplar Springs Baptist Church from 1861, when the church was organized, to 1936 were transcribed by Miss Imogene Springer and provide a wonderful story of the church through those years.
The first meeting recorded in the minutes are from the Saturday before the 4th Sabbath in March 1861. The meeting was again in the home of John and Adeline Morgan. W. M. Gordon preached followed by a business session where Josiah Hollerman was elected Clerk Protem. There was preaching again by Bro. Gordon the following day. This pattern went on for many years: preaching followed by a business session on the Saturday before the 4th Sunday in each month and then a prayer meeting followed by preaching on the 4th Sunday. The next meeting was in April 1961 and it was noted that the church met in the new church house. At this second meeting, Bro. John Morgan and Bro. G.W. Murff were elected as the church's first Deacons.
The original land purchase for the church property was part of 160.2 acres bought by Ebenezer R. Gaston from the U.S. Government on March 8, 1839. This was previously Chickasaw Indian land which was being sold under the provisions of the Treaty of Pontotoc. Mr. Gaston (born 1782 and died 1860) was a land speculator in Chickasaw and Calhoun Counties. The land was owned by Mary Ann Stribling in 1861 and on September 18, 1861 she sold 6.77 acres to the Baptist Church at Poplar Springs for $1.00.
During the early days of the church, blacks also became members. In September 1862, for example, the minutes show that "Haly belonging to J.M. Sprewill" was accepted for membership and was baptized along with several other new members.
Occasionally, especially during the winter months, there would be no preaching due to the weather preventing the preacher from getting there. There was one occasion noted in August 1864 that there was no preaching "due to the call from 18 to 55". This apparently refers to the Confederate Army conscription for men in that age range.
The log building was replaced by a wood frame building in 1883. This is apparently the building that was used until the one in current use was built. A modern fellowship hall was built in the late 1980s-early 1990s.