Cedar Grove Foundation sets fifth annual 'Let's Celebrate History' display

From Staff Reports
Cedar Grove Foundation's fifth annual "Let's Celebrate History" display will be held at the Elizabethton Public Library Jan. 20-Feb. 27.
Appropriately entitled "The Three Robes," this rare and unique display will honor Carter County's oldest African American Churches and their leaders. St. Paul United Methodist Church, Brown's Chapel AME Zion Church and Phillippi Missionary Baptist Church all boast strong cultural, religious and educational community ties.
Phillippi Missionary Baptist Church will celebrate their 136th anniversary this year, thanks to pioneer and founding father, Horace Leftwich, a former slave who became a preacher. Leftwich was brought to Tennessee by Lt. William McQueen of the 13th Regiment of the Tennessee Calvary. He stated in his own memoirs witnessing the fall of Fort Sumter and other incidents during the Civil War.
Other notable pioneers responsible for strengthening Phillippi's foundation were the Rev. W.A.C. Breedlove, teacher and principal of Carter County's first African American school, George H. Phillips, and William Jobe of Jonesborough, who was given permission to preach by Sinking Creek Baptist Church.
Brown's Chapel AME Zion's establishment is credited to the Rev. B.B. Brown, who officially organized the church in 1894. The congregation, however, existed prior to 1894 and held services within the Cedar Grove Community. Brown's Chapel was the home church to some of the county's earliest African American families, Civil War participants and their descendants, like Josephine Taylor (Carter County's oldest slave), and her daughter, Mrs. Nannie Graham, who served 34 years as Sunday School superintendent.
St. Paul UMC, founded in the late 1800s and known during that time as the "Colored Methodist" church, was also known in the community as "The Ladies Church." The women outnumbered the men, and that tradition holds true today. The most memorable preacher is the Rev. J.A. Tinner, having preached all over the area. Tinner was born in North Carolina and resided in Shell Creek with his 11 brothers and sisters.
St. Paul was a gracious host for Carter County's first African American school. During a flood on Cat Island, the school was destroyed and relocated on the premises of St. Paul.
Breedlove was the teacher for the school and also held services at St. Paul for the Phillippi Baptist Church congregation. Several years later, Phillippi Missionary Baptist Church moved to its current location.