Poplar Springs Baptist Church
By Harold Graham
Poplar Springs Baptist Church was organized on November 10, 1849, with Elder Erasmus L. Carter selected as is first pastor, Brother Daniel Overstreet as its first deacon, and Bro. Maston Bishop as its first clerk, a position he relinquished in November 1850 to Bro. W. J. West. In April 1850, Bro. Maston Bishop was appointed as a second deacon.
The original membership is said to have numbered about 30. A note in the September 1851 minutes state that the membership was then 33. No composite list was taken for the early years; however, the following names are reflected in the minutes through the year ending December 1850:
Elder Erasmus L. Carter, selected as minister for 1850
Bro. Daniel Overstreet, deacon
Bro. Maston Bishop
Bro. Jacksonrec. by letter
Bro. J. D. Dunahoe and his wife Annarec. by letter
Elizabeth Gipson, by experience
Jehu Fountain, by experience
Bro. King, a black man, by experience, and with consent of his
owner, Ephraim Lovett
Sister Nancy King, by letter
Washington, a black man belonging to George Dunagin, by letter
Bro. Riley Bishop, by experience
Bro. David C. Williamson and his wife Elizabeth, by experience
Bro. M. Gary
Thomas C. Wells
Sisters Nancy Walker and Mary Ann Walker, by experience
Sister Clarissa Fountain, by letter
Bro. John Jordan and wife Elizabeth, by letter
Sister Margarett L. Carter, by letter
Bro. Elias Price and wife Nancy
Bro. Francis Gibson and wife Mary, by experience
Sister Frances Walker by experience
Brother Charles Wells, by experience
Brother Thomas Barfield, by experience
Sister Mary Fountain, by experience
Bro. John Walker, by experience
Bro. Ezekiel Walker, by experience
Bro. Robert Hopgood, by experience
Brother W. J. West and his wife Martha, by letter
Sister Rachel Hopgood, by experience
Sister Sarah Ann Carter, by experience
Bro. Preston Tailor, by experience
Sister Caroline Gary
Sister Liz (?) Adams
Sister Elizabeth Co______
By the end of 1873, the membership had grown to well over 100 members, the exact number hard to determine since the lists for 1872 and 1873 often contain duplicate names as well as the names of members who were either deceased or who had been dismissed. The most frequent surnames mentioned in the early minutes of the church are Adams, Baucum, Boutwell, Brown, Bruner, Dean, Gary/Garry, Hall, Hammond, Harris, Harrison, Horn, Jones, Rainer/Rayner, Satterfield, Simmons, Thomas, Thrash, Walker, Welch, Williams, and Yarborough/Yarbrough.
Pastors of the church during the early years, as best can be established through the minutes, were Rev. E. L. Carter (1849-1852), Rev. John Williams (1853-March 1856), Rev. Willson West (April 1856-1857), Rev. Henry Gill (1858-April 1862), Rev. James L. Matthews (October 1862-1866), Rev. J. L. Lattimore (1867-August 1868), Rev. S. King (October 1868-1869), Rev. J. C. Ellebee (1870-1873), Rev. Daniel Fore (1874-September 1885), and Rev. B. W. Dearing (October 1885-1888). Church minutes are missing for much of 1890-1907, but ministers who served during this time included Revs. Z. K. Gilmore, L. F. Simmons , and T. J. Miley.
In May 1850 the congregation proposed that a church facility be constructed, and a committee consisting of D. Overstreet, D. C. Williamson, and Thomas B. Wells were appointed to oversee the process. A site just north of the present church building was selected for the first meeting house. The first building was a one-room structure measuring 20 x 24 and having only one door. The windows were openings in the wall with wooden shutters. The seats were logs split in halves, with pegs for legs. The seats were set upon the dirt floor, which had been leveled and packed. In one rear corner of the room seats were reserved for the Negro slaves who wished to attend the services. Across one end of the building was a huge open fireplace built of clay which would burn wood about 8 long (or the length of a fence rail).
Once the church building was completed Bro. Thomas Coker was appointed to take care of the facility for the next twelve months, his duties likely including seeing that wood was at hand, that fires were made when needed, that the dirt floor was kept tidy, and that the window and door shutters were opened and closed as needed.
On the second Saturday of July 1876, the church voted to construct a new building to replace the old one and a committee consisting of A. J. Rainer, S. B. Hammond, and A. M. Harris was appointed to oversee this process. The dimensions of the new church were 30 x 40 and 12 high, built in a California style, well framed and securely braced, with two doors and ten windows, one window in each end and four on each side with both doors to be on one end. The roof was to be of heart pine board, timber fashion, 4 x 20, and to show less than one third length.
Between the years 1890 and 1906, a third building was constructed along with the present auditorium. The timber used in the construction was sawed at the mill of Mr. Bob Yarborough at Wickware. Mr. Joe Clark, who worked at the mill, devised an extension to the mill carriage that would accommodate logs forty feet in length. From long leaf pines in the area, he then sawed lumber for the building that measured 2 x 14 x 40 and this was used for ceiling and floor joists. These beams were hauled to the site by connecting two wagons, one behind the other, with four yoke of oxen hitched to the lead wagon.
After the beams reached the building site, long peeled poles were angled from the ground to the building so that the beams could be manually drawn up the poles and placed in position. Carpenters involved in this maneuver and the completion of the new building included Mr. Daniel Harrison, Mr. Jim Edwards, Mr. Alex Edwards, Mr. Ben Edwards, and Mr. Rob Edwards
Poplar Springs Baptist Church
In November 1946, the church added Sunday School Rooms and in 1954, an educational annex. In 1970, a two-story annex was built to include a fellowship hall and Training Union rooms. In 1984 the wood and metal steeple was replaced by a fiberglass steeple and in 1997 a pastorium was purchased. These improvements and others, reflect a growing and committed membership.
The current church is located on property donated by George Alfred Hammond in 1930 and is approximately 3. 4 miles east of Newton on Airport Road. The exact location of the original church is unknown, but is said to have been back in the woods from the current site.