Old Shady Grove
Methodist Church

From the works of Jonathan Smith

No old records of this congregation, indicating the founding date and circumstances of its initial organization, have surfaced but its origins were evidently reliably reported late in the nineteenth century. "Shady Grove was another one of the early Methodist churches of Henderson County. Here was a well known campground and church which were established between 1830 and 1840. Among those connected with this church were the Renshaws, Andersons, Corbets, Hurts [Harts], Cogdills, Sherwoods, Hamlets, Youngs and others."(HISTORY OF TENNESSEE, Henderson County, by W. A. Goodspeed, 1887, page 802)

The campground and old log meetinghouse were located along a small stream called Taylor Branch (mistakenly called Tyler Branch on some recent maps), a tributary of the middle fork of the Forked Deer River. There was ample water for the crowds that attended the old days-long campmeetings here.

The meetinghouse stood on a level site, well above the branch, just west of the congregational cemetery (the ruins of which are still evident), located on a small table of land nearer the branch. The site was reached by an old lane with "connections" to the stage road to the south, some part of which lane is still in evidence.

To reach the location, now, drive from U.S. Highway 412 north onto Hopper Road, some .8 mile, turn east onto Poplar Springs-Juno Road and at about .1 mile walk directly north through a field; a large oak tree now occupies the general site of the meetinghouse. A prosperous farmer named GEORGE ANDERSON owned the land upon which the Shady Grove meetinghouse and cemetery were located. His first deed to the Methodists for this real property reads: I, George Anderson of the County of Henderson and State of Tennessee have this day bargained and sold and do hereby transfer and convey unto Revd. John Renshaw, Wm. K. Corbet, E. R. Hurt, David Cogdill, Henry B. Sherwood, James Hamlet, John Yong, John Youst and James Rentfrew, trustees of the Methodist Episcopal Church at Shady Grove for the use and benefit of said society or church to them and their successors forever for the consideration of ten dollars to me paid a tract or parcel of land in the State of Tennessee, Henderson County, containing by estimation one acre be the same more or less and bounded as follows. Beginntng at a white oak the north east corner of a tract of land originally owned /by/ Jonathan Wallace running thence west 13 poles to a hicory thence south 12 poles to a stake thence east 13 poles to a stake thence north 12 poles to the beginning, to have and to hold the same to said trustees and their successors for the benefit and use of said society or church, its members and assigns forever. I the said George Anderson do hereby covenant with said trustees that I am lawfully seized of said land, have a good right to convey it and that the same is unencumbered. I do further covenant and bind myself my heirs and representatives to warrant and forever defend the title to the said land and every part thereof to the said trustees and their successors for the use of said society or church and its members against the lawful claims of all persons whatever this 10th day of August 1837. Executed and delivered in our presence this 10th day of August 1837.
Witness John N. Hart
Witness John C. Ballew
Witness John D. Coffey
George Anderson (SEAL) his mark

Ackdg 24th March 1856 State of Tennessee

Henderson County

Personally appeared before me, Jesse Taylor, Clerk of the County Court of said County George Anderson the within named bargainer with whom I am personally acquainted & who acknowledged the execution of the within deed of conveyance to be his act and deed for the purposes therein contained. Given under my hand at office 24th day of March 1856.
Recorded April 16, 1856
Jesse Taylor Clerk // Jas . A. Henry Register

Almost a dozen years later, on March 17, 1849 George Anderson conveyed two acres "on which the meetinghouse and graveyard is now situated" to the congregation's trustees, evidently in an effort to clarify his gift, adding an acre to the initial conveyance to the church group. (Henderson County Deed Book P, pages 92-92; registered March 24, 1856)

According to tradition, presumably fairly reliable, a new log meetinghouse was built here about 1868, replaced by a frame house about 1880. (Conversation, Jonathan Smith with Virginia Scott Houston, church historian, June 15, 2001) The old house having fallen into disrepair, along with the circumstance that A. J. and Bettie Amis, W. B. and Mollie Ainis and Annie R. Chick, donated a little over an acre of land on an improved road (now U.S. Highway 412) to the trustees of Shady Grove Methodist Church "on which to erect a house of worship," August 16, 1927 (Henderson County Deed Book 47, pages 72-73;registered September 10, 1927), the congregation moved to its present location and erected a frame church in 1928.

The old church site, two acres, were sold to Oliver Holmes for $225 on September 8, 1927 (Henderson County Deed Book 46, page 222;registered October 29, 1927); the old house was demolished and some of its better-conditioned materials were used in building the new church. Years later, James C. Hopper acquired the old Shady Grove acreage and he owns it yet (2001).