Old Union Cumberland Presbyterian Church

Founded 1805? - Organized Officially 1811

Some sources say the Union Presbyterian Church was founded in 1805.  We do know that Spence Mitchell, an early settler in southern White County, TN, deeded a plot of land for what was called the Union Meeting House on August 24, 1811.  The church was associated with the Cumberland Presbyterian denomination.  

Just across and south of the Caney Fork River from the Union Meeting House (just over a mile away – behind in this photo), the Daniel Haston family had settled a few years earlier.  Union church records indicate that David Haston was the church’s first clerk.  We also know that later generations of Daniel’s family played an important role in what  became known as “Old Union.”

A Brief Early History

The Civil War disrupted the ministry of the Union Cumberland Presbyterian for several years.  Young men from the church joined the Confederate Army.  The building was probably ransacked as soldiers from both sides used the house for temporary dwellings.  Old timers who grew up in the church have told stories about numerous soldiers who were buried in the graveyard, with only cedar markers to identify graves.  Those markers are long-gone, but there is a still an open spot in the cemetery where the burials took place.

Almost 20 years after the Civil War ended, a Great Grandson of Daniel Haston (Charles Thomas Haston) and Rev. William P. Smith committed themselves to resurrect the old church.  On September 1, 1883, the two men made the following entry in the church minutes.  Apparently, the minutes after August 8, 1858 could not be found.  I have been told my descendants of some early members that the original building was destroyed by fire and the early records were burned at that time – perhaps in the 1840s or 1850s.

September 1, 1883 Entry in the Church Minutes

The meeting was opened with prayer by the Moderator…As the old church book does not give a correct statement of the membership of the congregation, the names of many members being omitted and many members having died or removed of whom no notice having been taken of them, it was ordered, That the Clerk with the assistance of Rev. W. Smith obtain all the facts possible and record them in this book, together with the date of organization and such other historical facts as could be obtained.

In accordance with which the following facts have been obtained; viz: The church was organized about A.D. 1811 by Rev. William BarnettSpence MitchellRobert Gamble and Jesse Scoggin were the first elders and David Haston its first clerk.  There were about sixteen members all of whom are now fallen asleep.

The records from the date of organization till Aug. 8, 1858 could not be found and the church was reorganized by Rev. Jesse E. Hickman and a new Session Book was opened.  The last meeting of the Session recorded in it was held Feb. 24, 1861, from which time nothing has been entered except the names of persons who have since joined and not all of them.  Till 1858 it is not known who served the church as pastors. Since that time the following ministers have served; viz: Revds. J.E. HickmanJas. K. LansdenStephen DavisWilliam P. SmithJames T. Williams  and  John S. Kitrell  during which time the  church has been growing and prospering and unusual harmony has existed among the members. There are now so far as can be ascertained, about one hundred and ten members belonging to the congregation whose names together with those who have died or removed will be found in the proper place in this record. 


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