The Vagabond – Oldest church in Etowah County


By Danny Crownover

Through the years many people have asked the Vagabond about how the late Jerry Jones, former Etowah County Tax Assessor, first became interested in genealogy and history.

We continue the story from last week.

Jerry Jones will never forget the story of the Indian massacres, and when he was grown, he began a search for anything that might add to the events that had been related to him.

The first evidence found by Jerry was an article written by local historian Will I. Martin, who wrote about people and events in this area. This article appeared in 1937 and reads as follows:

“One of the oldest and most interesting churches in Etowah County is located on Rainbow Drive a few miles south of Gadsden and is known as Old Harmony Church.

“Originally, the church was known as the Harmony Meeting House, as described in the deed signed by Edmond Jones on Aug. 20, 1841. The first building was erected before that time was given to the Baptists with the stipulation that Methodists and Presbyterians could use the church. For more than 107 years, the

church has been used by various denominations. The Primitive Baptists have been holding services there for several years.

The adjoining cemetery [located] on a three-acre tract donated by Mr. Jones has been freely used by all denominations, and some of the finest of the old families of the county have members buried there. The original frame building was burned a few years ago and replaced by a concrete block structure.

“There is a legend that when the family of Edmond Jones emigrated to this territory along with others, they were attacked by Indians and were killed except for a five-year old boy who was picked up by white people in the neighborhood of where the Harmony Church was built. That little boy was Edmond Jones.

“When he grew into manhood, Edmond acquired land in the area and from sheer gratitude decided to establish a church open to all. He was not the Edmond C. Jones that later became a prosperous farmer and who owned much land at what is now known as Clubview Heights.

“When the church was built back in the 1840s, it was in St. Clair County until 1866, when a part of the county was sliced off to form Etowah County. The deed to the church property is an interesting document. It reads:

State of Alabama, St. Clair County: be it remembered that I, Edmond Jones, of the State and County aforesaid, for various considerations and divers good purposes do make this deed of gift, in fee simple, for the use of the gospel. That is to say, three acres of land situated and lying in the county aforesaid and including the meeting house known by the name of Harmony Meeting House; which ground I do by these presents bequeath namely, for the use of the church or churches as the case may be to wit: to the Baptist Church that is now embodied there; also to the Methodists and Presbyterians should they form churches at that place. Said meeting house being built on a republican plan; and said land is donated on the same principle, which land I do warrant and forever defend to the said churches against myself, my heirs, executors and administrators, or any other person lawfully claiming or to claim.

Signed with my hand and sealed with my seal, this 21st day of August One thousand eight hundred and forty-one. EDMOND JONES, LS, in the presence of James Lister and James Lister, Sr.”

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