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HISTORIC PATHWAYS: In memory of historic Carrithers Chapel

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By Tom Watson

 

“Oh little church with ivy entwined;

A reminder of the past, another time,

When children laughed and mourners cried;

On horseback and in buggies they arrived.

There were picnics, weddings and wakes;

People brought dishes, gifts and cakes.

Babies were christened, sins washed away;

Where are those people who sang and prayed?

Now Carrithers Chapel, is also gone,

As are the echoes of the prayers and songs.”

—TSW, 2001

Carrithers Chapel, that historic little brick church that stood on the old road between Elk Creek and Wilsonville, has left the Spencer County landscape forever. In a deal with the property owner, former Taylorsville resident Joe Bowen dismantled the church, which was one of the most historic buildings in Spencer County. Joe got the brick, stained glass windows, alter and other salvageable wood. He said the roof had fallen in and no one wanted to restore the building, so he made the arrangement.

The original Carrithers Chapel was built on the Adam Carrithers farm off Dale Lane in 1839 after the Taylorsville Methodist Circuit was formed and began meeting at Adam’s house in 1833. After 15 years, the parishioners again felt a new meeting house was necessary and decided to build a church three-quarters of a mile from the original. It was constructed on land acquired by Adam on the main road between Taylorsville and Louisville. Adam and his son, Francis, accepted one dollar for the land on which the second chapel would be built.
After 31 years, Carrithers Chapel II was torn down and a new church built on the site. After standing for 116 years, Carrithers Chapel III is gone and there are no plans for another. 
Mrs. Virgil Rhea wrote in 1925 during a Carrithers Chapel Homecoming that the second church was built on the old Dale homestead, which was also called the Henry Clay farm. It was constructed in the summer of 1885 and dedicated Oct. 24, the same year.
The dedication speaker was B.K. Haull, the presiding elder Robert Hiner and T.J. McIntyre was the minister.  
The bricks for construction of the church were kilned by James Eblen and Sons, according to Mrs. Ira Lee Davis of Taylorsville, who disclosed the fact in a letter to me when I wrote for this same newspaper about 30 years ago.
 Other facts about the church reported by Mrs. Rhea include:
“In 1872, the whole Taylorsville charge only had 165 members. In 1885, there were 292 members on the Taylorsville charge. The present number (in 1925) is 109 for Carrithers Chapel alone. I suppose this is the largest number in years. There are about nine on the cradle roll. The Ladies Aid has about 25 members and is doing good work and looking forward to a bigger and better year.”
The officers of the church in 1925 were J.W. Russell, Joseph R. Carrithers and W.R. McDonald.  
One of the more interesting stories related to the history of Carrithers Chapel is the one concerning the minister George Day.
There was a slave named “George” in Spencer County who was blessed with a great speaking voice and who knew the Bible from cover to cover.
On Oct. 4, 1848, at a quarterly meeting of the Taylorsville Circuit of the Methodist Church at Olive Branch, this motion was approved:
“Moved and seconded that a paper from Francis Day giving permission for his servant George to be licensed to preach be received and entered on record. Moved and seconded that George’s license to preach be received … carried.”
George preached for many years at the basically-white Carrithers Chapel, yet remained a slave. He took the surname of his master and became known as “George Day.”
He must have been an excellent preacher because the congregation consistently asked that he be reaffirmed and his license was consistently renewed.
Yet each Sunday, after services were over, Francis Day and his family returned to their home and George Day resumed his servitude as a slave.
Sometimes things don’t make much sense, do they?