The following article about the history of the Middle Island Seventh Day Baptist Church is taken verbatim from Corliss Fitz Randolph's 1901 book, A History of the Seventh Day Baptists in West Virginia:

THE MIDDLE ISLAND CHURCH

 

The Middle Island Church originally organised was situated at Lewisport, now a part of the village of West Union, in Doddridge County on Middle Island Creek. Here the New Salem Church had erected a house of worship several years before, for the use of several families living in that vicinity who were members of that church. A graveyard had been established on a plot of ground adjoining the churchyard.

 

On the 19th day of August, 1831, there was presented to the New Salem Church a list of twenty-nine names of individuals who had joined the Middle Island Church. The New Salem Church approved this action, and on that date, and likewise at a meeting held in February following, granted letters of dismissal to others who wished to join the new church at Middle Island.

A permanent organisation was not consummated, however, until a later date, as will be observed from the following certificate:

"This is to certify [to] all whom it may concern that the Seventh Day Baptist Church at Middle Island was this day organised according to [the] rules and regulations of the Seventh Day Baptist Denomination.

July 15th, 1832

John Davis, Elder

Joel Greene, Elders”

At the time the permanent organisation of the church was effected, Gamble Shannon was called to the office of deacon, and Ephraim Bee was elected clerk.

 

It was voted that the quarterly meetings should be held on the Sixth Day of the week before the first Sabbath in the months of February, May, August, and November.

 

At the regular quarterly business meeting of the church in November, following the organisation, there was presented to the church a controversy which had arisen between Ephraim Bee and Nathan Davis. This dispute shook the infant church to its foundations, and planted the seeds of trouble for years to come. So serious was it that at the regular meeting in February next, Ephraim Bee was relieved of his duties as clerk of the church until the unfortunate difference should be adjusted.

Nathan Davis was a justice of the peace, and before him had been tried a suit at law in which Ephraim Bee and one William J. Lowther were the principals. Decision was rendered against Ephraim Bee, and a judgment entered for the sum of nine dollars ($9.00). The latter charged partiality on the part of the court in favour of Lowther, and the matter was taken to the church.

The church referred the whole matter to a committee, which after a careful review of the case, acquitted the justice of the peace of any charge of bias, and decided that due acknowledgment should be made him by his accuser. The committee further recommended that the suggestion of the accused justice be followed, to the effect that the case be tried again ab initio, before another justice.

Upon their request, letters of dismissal were granted to a considerable number of the leading members of the church, in February, 1835. The records of the church were committed to safe keeping in the hands of William J. Davis, and the church went into a state of lethargy for a period of more than nine years.

There was a called meeting of the church held August 30, 1844, and the active work of the church resumed. At this time Ezekiel Bee was received into the membership of the church, and invited to become its pastor. Five months afterward the invitation was accepted, and he became one of its leading spirits for several years, or until he severed his connection to become a member of the newly organised South Fork of Hughes River Church.

On January 31, 1845, the Articles of Faith were abandoned, and none were adopted in their stead until after the second revival of the organisation of the church nearly twenty years afterward. It was likewise voted on May 2d following, to revise the covenant of the church, and a committee was appointed for that purpose. The committee consisted of Ezekiel Bee, Josiah Bee, Amaziah Bee, and Joseph Jeffrey. On August 1, 1845, they presented their report which was adopted as follows:

"We, the Seventh Day Baptist Church at Middle Island, do covenant and agree to give ourselves to the Lord and to each other by the will of God ; to watch over and pray for each other as the Lord by his grace may enable us; and to be faithful and punctual in attending to Sabbath and church meetings; and to be mutual according to our abili ties in contributing to defray such expenses as may necessarily devolve upon us; and strive, as much as in us lies, to live peaceably with all men: and further agree that, if any one or more of our brethren trespass against us, we will strictly adhere to the rule given us by our Saviour in Matthew XVIII, 15-16-17; and to take the Scriptures for the rule of our faith and practise."

 

At the meeting at which the new covenant was adopted, steps were taken toward obtaining a deed from the New Salem Church for the lot owned by that church at Lewisport. After some delay occasioned by doubt as to the proper course of procedure, the deed was obtained in the name of William J. Davis, Joshua J. Davis, Joseph Jeffrey, Amaziah Bee, and Ezekiel Bee, as trustees. A new fence was built around the graveyard, but the old log church which had already disappeared was never replaced. The meetings of the church were held for the most part in the homes of its members, as follows:

 

Meetings were held frequently at the schoolhouse at the mouth of Sugar Camp Run, within a few steps of the site of the present house of worship of the Middle Island Church. This schoolhouse was built of hewed logs, and was one of the first school houses built in that part of the country. As early as 1845, the church had voted to hold its quarterly meetings alternately at Middle Island and Meathouse Fork.

 

For upwards of forty years, the only pastor recognised by the records of the church was the one already mentioned, Ezekiel Bee. October 31, 1845, he was called to ordination. At the business meeting of the church held August 7, 1849, he received from the church the following credentials:

"Doddridge County, Va. Know all persons whom it may concern, that we the Seventh Day Baptist Church of Middle Island have legally appointed Brother Ezekiel Bee pastor of our church, and thereby authorising him to administer and officiate in all the ordinances of the Gospel in our church and elsewhere, as circumstances may require.

May the 4th, 1849

Joseph Jeffrey, Clerk."

 

At a church meeting held January 5, 1851, the following delegates were appointed to attend the convention called to meet with the New Salem Church for the organisation of the Virginia Association, at the time of the division of the South Western Association into the Virginia and Ohio associations:

 

At a business meeting of the church held March 9, 1854, the following questions were propounded:

"1st. Is it proper and right for a brother when he is grieved with a brother, to absent himself from the church and neglect to take Gospel measures to remove difficulties and restore peace and good feeling, and thereby promote union and prosperity? In answer to the above question, the members present voted that it was not proper nor right that a brother when grieved with a brother should neglect to take Gospel measures to remove difficulties.

 

2d. Is it our duty as christians to deal and traffic in intoxicating liquors, thereby promoting vice and immorality? Voted not our duty.

 

3rd. Is it the privilege of the christian in carrying out his profession to drink of the intoxicating draught with habitual drinkers, using it as a beverage? Voted not the christian's privilege.

 

4th. Can we as christians be justified in retaining as members those brethren who have gone into the ways of the world, using profane language, and engaging in vain amusements, and combating, without calling for reformation? Voted to the above question that we should call for reformation.”

 

Twelve years afterwards, these questions were ordered expunged from the minutes of the church; but they are interesting in the light of existing conditions implied by them, and also as marking a certain type of activity in the career of their author, Ezekiel Bee, a type of activity which was very marked afterwards in his connection with the South Fork of Hughes River, or the Pine Grove, Church.

 

The church had already entered upon troublous times, for previous to the meeting of March 9, 1854, no meeting had been held for nearly two years; and after this meeting none was held for a period of almost four years, and then no business was transacted beyond that of organising for the day, and appointing Stephen T. Davis permanent clerk.

 

Nearly nine years now elapsed before any further record appears.

 

On August 10, 1866, an unsuccessful attempt was made to transact business; and three weeks afterward, August 31, 1866, a meeting was held at the home of William J. Davis, on Rock Run, when "The remaining few resolved to revive the church," and the church entered upon another stage of its existence, which although more or less uneven has continued without intermission up to the present time.

 

Previous to the revival of the church in 1866, the following had served as officers of the church :

 

Deacons / Term of Service

  • Gamble Shannon / chosen July 15, 1832

  • Josiah Bee / chosen for one year, May 1, 1846 and chosen for one year, August 6, 1847

 

Clerks / Term of Service

 

Moderators (appointed for the day only)

 

Pastor

Ezekiel Bee (Called to ordination October 31, 1845 and appointed pastor May 4, 1849.)

 

There is no record of a treasurer, nor of the need of any money, except as follows:

  • Fee for recording deed to lot at Lewisport. [Amount not given.]

  • Cost of fencing graveyard at Lewisport. Thirty Dollars.

 

During the first thirty-four years of its existence, the church made no palpable effort to provide itself with a house of worship. Presumably the desire to possess the lot and grave yard at Lewisport formerly owned by the New Salem Church, was inspired by such a hope. But apparently no attempt was ever made to realise that hope.

 

February 4, 1848, Nathan Davis submitted a proposition to the church offering to give the church a site for a house of worship just across the creek in the newly organised village of West Union, which had been laid out on the lands of Nathan Davis, and made the county seat of Doddridge County. Doddridge County was formed from parts of Harrison, Lewis, Ritchie, and Tyler counties by an act of the General Assembly of Virginia, passed on the 4th day of February, 1845. The interests of the new village and county were promoted largely by members of the Middle Island and New Salem churches, and it was but natural that there should be a desire on their part for the Middle Island Church to locate in West Union. But for some cause, the offer was rejected. Nathan Davis, together with his brothers William and Joseph, had purchased twenty thousand (20,000) acres of land here in 1807 at the rate of twenty-three cents an acre, and at the time of the organisation of the Middle Island Church and for many years after, their holdings continued large. It was Joseph Davis who conveyed the lot for a meetinghouse and graveyard to the New Salem Church at Lewisport.

 

MEMBERS

At a meeting of the New Salem Church held August 19, 1831, there was presented the following list of members of the New Salem Church who had joined the Middle Island Church:

 

On the day that the foregoing list of names was presented to the New Salem Church, that church granted letters of dismissal to the following, presumably to join the Middle Island Church:

 

On the twelfth of February next, the New Salem Church granted letters to the following also, presumably to join the Middle Island Church:

 

The following additional names appear in the records prior to the revival of the organisation in 1866:

 

RE-ORGANISATION AND SUBSEQUENT HISTORY

On the last day of August, 1866, there was a business meeting called at the home of William J. Davis on Rock Run, when "the remaining few resolved to revive the church." Joseph Jeffrey acted as moderator for the day. Prayer was offered by Amaziah Bee. Stephen T. Davis served as clerk. Amaziah Bee was given licence "to preach the Gospel for the term of six months."

 

Other business meetings were held at the home of William J. Davis on September 19, 1866, and October 19, 1866, respectively. On the Sixth Day of the week before the first Sabbath in December, 1866 (November 30), a business meeting was held at the home of Joseph Jeffrey, near West Union. At this meeting James B. Davis was received as a member and given licence to preach, for one year. This was the last business meeting of the church held in the neighbourhood of its original location.

 

Several members of the church still lived at or near West Union, and retained their membership in the Middle Island Church, until the organisation of the West Union Church, in 1888, when such of them as were still living, became constituent members of that church.

 

The majority of the members of the Middle Island Church, however, lived at New Milton, on the Meat House Fork of Middle Island Creek, some seven miles above West Union. There also lived at New Milton several families which still retained their membership with the mother church at New Salem. These together with the members of the Middle Island Church, and other Sabbath keepers residing in that vicinity, had maintained worship on the Sabbath for several years, meeting sometimes in private houses, sometimes in school houses, and sometimes in the Township Hall. Many of these families were several miles apart, and lived on Red Lick Run, Wolf Pen Run, Sugar Camp Run, and Lick Run, besides the main stream of Meat House Fork, into which the others flowed.

 

These people all united in building a house of worship for their common use, near the banks of the Meat House Fork of Middle Island Creek, at the mouth of Sugar Camp Run, on the line dividing the farms of Jepthah F. Randolph and Amaziah Bee, both of whom contributed land for the site of the new meeting house.

 

The Middle Island Church held its first business meeting in the new building, on the Sixth Day of the week, September 5, 1867. At this meeting, James B. Davis, who had previously been appointed a committee for that purpose, presented an expose of faith, which was adopted. This meeting was also marked by the report of a council which met that day to pass upon the qualifications of James B. Davis, who had been called to ordination by the church. The council recommended his ordination.

 

The church was now fairly launched upon its new period of existence, which dates from the very middle of its period of seventy years of history embraced in this book. The fortunes of the church during the second period have ebbed and flowed, but the church has maintained a continual active life.

 

MEETING HOUSES

The Middle Island Church existed for thirty-five years without a house of worship. The second one of the log cabins erected at Lewisport, by the New Salem Church, on the lot given it by Joseph Davis, was already crumbling into ruin when the Middle Island Church was originally organized. The church met, for worship and business meetings alike, in the homes of its members at Lewisport; on Rock Run; and on Meat House Fork in the Township Hall at New Milton, and the school house at the mouth of Sugar Camp Run.

 

A few years previous to 1830, the Bee family, consisting of the widow [Rhoda] of Asa Bee, with several of her children, settled on the Meat House Fork of Middle Island Creek, securing the proprietary right practically to all the land from about half a mile above the mouth of Red Lick Run, to the mouth of Georges Camp, embracing a strip of land some four miles in length, and half a mile, more or less, in width. This family included Asa (2d), Ezekiel, and Amaziah, all Seventh Day Baptist clergymen; besides Ephraim, Josiah, and John D., all active members of the Middle Island and New Salem churches.

 

The Bee family was soon followed by the family of John Kelley, which, like the Bee family, came from near Salem, New Jersey, and emigrated thence to western Virginia after the Shrewsbury Church had taken up its home at New Salem. Two of the sons of John Kelley, Nathan and Asa, married and settled, the former on Lick Run, and the latter on Sugar Camp Run. A sister [Keziah] of Nathan and Asa married Samuel Polan, who embraced the Sabbath and settled on Meat House Fork.

 

Here also came Jepthah Fitz Randolph, who had left New Salem in the spring of 1845 and gone to Milton, Wisconsin; but after a single summer spent there, became dissatisfied and returned to Virginia, where he determined to settle on Meat House Fork, and called the post office which he established and kept in his house, New Milton, after Milton, where he had spent the summer in Wisconsin.

 

Two or three other families also settled here, including that of James Ball Davis, who had lived for some time previously in Ohio.

 

Some of these families were about equally distant from the Middle Island Church at West Union (formerly Lewisport), and the New Salem Church, and consequently did not remove their membership from the New Salem Church. The latter church maintained a preaching station at Meat House Fork, and when the question of building a new house of worship was agitated by the Middle Island Church, the members of both churches living on Meat House Fork evinced a keen interest in the matter, with the result that the Middle Island Church was removed bodily to New Milton. The members of the New Salem Church for the most part continued their membership with the mother church, many of them until death. A good sized group of these members of the New Salem Church transferred their membership to the Middle Island Church, March 5, 1887. At the present time, there are but two or three members of the New Salem Church living on Meat House Fork.

 

Previous to October 17, 1865, subscription papers had been circulated for funds for the erection of a house of worship near the old school house at the mouth of Sugar Camp Run, where the people living in the neighbourhood had so often met for worship. On that date a meeting was called at the old school house, of all parties interested. At this meeting a building committee was appointed, consisting of Stephen T. Davis, Samuel Polan, Jepthah F. Randolph, James B. Davis, and William Jeffrey. This committee was really an executive committee with plenary powers. William Jeffrey soon moved away to Kansas, and at a meeting held January 28, 1866, Amaziah Bee and Franklin F. Randolph were added to the committee; and Stephen T. Davis and Franklin F. Randolph were elected chairman and secretary, respectively, of the committee. Both had acted in these respective capacities at the first meeting. Amaziah Bee, Jepthah F. Randolph, and James B. Davis were appointed trustees.

 

Samuel Polan was elected treasurer of the committee; Amaziah Bee, collector; Jepthah F. Randolph, general agent; and Stephen T. Davis, assistant general agent.

 

The committee agreed to let a contract for the new building, and make themselves responsible personally for its cost. To this end, they drew up and executed a bond, making themselves responsible, each to all the others, to bear equally the expense involved in the undertaking.

 

On September 20, 1866, the contract for the building was awarded to Dennis Carder, for the sum of two hundred and five dollars ($205.00) and the work proceeded. By the terms of the contract, the building was to be completed by January 1, 1867. The time was afterward extended to February 1, 1867.

 

The original plan for the building contemplated a rude sort of structure called, in local parlance, a "Yankee frame," with the walls made of boards one and a half inches in thickness placed perpendicular, and nailed at the top to a transverse plank running lengthwise of the building, on which to lay the joists. At the lower end, the boards were nailed to the sill. The joints in the walls were to be covered by strips half an inch in thickness and two or three inches wide, extending from the eaves to the sill. This was a style of building much in vogue in that country at that time.

 

As the work progressed, the plans were changed, however, resulting in a substantial building, weatherboarded (clap- boarded) without, and ceiled within, at a cost, when completed, of about six hundred and fifty dollars ($650.00).

 

The work had reached a stage sufficiently near completion for the Middle Island Church to hold its regular Quarterly Meeting, September 5-7, 1867, in the new house of worship. But the building was not entirely completed until sometime during the summer of 1870.

 

The meeting house was used as it was originally contemplated, not only by the Middle Island Church, but by the Salem Church also, for the use of its members living in that vicinity. The Salem Church maintained a regular monthly service here until March, 1885, when nearly all the members of the Salem Church in the neighbourhood joined the Middle Island Church. This monthly service of the New Salem Church, when not conducted by the pastor, was led by Jepthah F. Randolph, a deacon of the New Salem Church, until his death in 1879.

 

The above mentioned building is the one still used by the Middle Island Church for a house of worship. The old log school house which originally stood near the site of this meeting house, and which was used as a house of worship for many years, was sold at public auction to the highest bidder, after the erection of the meeting house. It was purchased by Jepthah F. Randolph for the sum of four dollars ($4.00), and removed to his farm, where it has been in use ever since as a farm building.

 

At a business meeting of the Middle Island Church held March 1, 1878, a committee was appointed to stake off a site upon which to build a house of worship on the lot at West Union (formerly Lewisport), given to the New Salem Church, probably about 1810, by Joseph Davis for a churchyard and graveyard; but at the request of the New Salem Church, which never held a legal title to this property, Joseph Davis conveyed it to the Middle Island Church by a deed dated March 31, 1848. The above mentioned committee reported to the church on April 7, 1878, that a location for a meeting house had been staked off, according to the instructions of the church. Here the matter dropped and the project was not revived again until in 1889, when the newly organised West Union Church desired to build a house of worship. It was decided, however, that a more suitable location could be found elsewhere.

 

The deed for the lot at West Union runs as follows:

"THIS INDENTURE made the 31st day of March, in the year One Thousand Eight Hundred and Forty-eight, between Joseph Davis and Hannah, his wife, of the county of Doddridge, and State of Virginia, of the one part, and we, Joshua J. Davis, William J. Davis, Ezekiel Bee, and Amaziah Bee, trustees, in behalf of the Seventh Day Baptist Church on Middle Island, all of the county and state aforesaid, of the other part, Witnesseth, That the said Joseph Davis and Hannah, his wife, for and in the consideration of the sum of Fifty Dollars, to them in hand paid, the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged, has granted, bargained, sold, assigned, enfeoffed, released, and confirmed, and by these presents grant, bargain, sell, alien, enfeoff, release, and confirm unto the above named trustees, their heirs, and assigns forever, for the use of the Seventh Day Baptist Church on Middle Island all that piece or parcel of ground that the Seventh Day Baptist Meeting House formerly stood on, near the Middle Island Bridge, adjoining lands deeded by the above named Joseph Davis to Samuel Chana [Chaney]; and the lines of said lot or parcel of land run as follows : Beginning at a Stone, No. One; thence sixteen poles to a Stone, No. Two; thence ten poles to a Stone, No. Three ; thence sixteen poles to a Stone, No. Four ; thence to the beginning containing one acre, to have and to hold the above described tract or parcel of land unto the above named trustees, their heirs, and assigns for use of the above named church forever, with all appurtenances, and they the said Joseph Davis and Hannah, his wife, themselves, their heirs, do covenant that they will forever warrant and defend the above described tract or parcel of land from themselves, their heirs, and assigns, and not otherwise, unto the above named trustees, their heirs and assigns forever. "In testimony whereof the aforesaid Joseph Davis and Hannah, his wife, have hereunto set their hands and fixed seals the day and year first above written.

Joseph x Davis (his mark)

Hannah x Davis (her mark)

Signed and sealed in the presence of us, Joseph Jeffrey and Tho. S. Neely

 

We, Joseph Jeffrey, Thomas S. Neeley, Justices of the Peace in the County aforesaid, and State of Virginia, do hereby certify that Joseph Davis, party to a certain deed bearing date 31st March, 1848, and hereto annexed, personally appeared before us in our County aforesaid, and acknowledged the same to be his act and deed and desired us to certify the same acknowledgment to the Clerk of the County Court in order that the said deed may be recorded.

Given under our hands this the 31 day of March, 1848, Joseph Jeffrey and Thos. S. Neely

 

We, Joseph Jeffrey, Thomas S. Neely, Justices of the Peace in the County aforesaid and State of Virginia, do hereby certify that Hannah Davis, the wife of Joseph Davis, party to a certain deed bearing date the 31st March, 1848, and hereunto annexed, personally appeared before us in our County aforesaid, and being examined by us privately and apart from her husband and having the said deed fully explained to her, the said Hannah Davis acknowledged the same to be her act and declared she wished not to retract the same, and had willingly signed the same.

Given under our hands this 31st day of March, 1848, Joseph Jeffrey, Tho. S. Neely

 

April 14, 1848, This deed of bargain and sale from Joseph Davis and wife to Joshua J. Davis and others, was this day presented in the Clerk's Office aforesaid, and the same was admitted to record.

Teste. S. P. F. Randolph, Clk., Copy Teste. Luther E. Kile, Clerk

(Recorded in Deed Book No. 1, Page 286)”

 

The deed for the lot where the present house of worship stands is as follows:

“THIS DEED made this 31st day of October in the year 1865, between Amaziah Bee and Rhoda, his wife, Jepthah F. Randolph and Deborah, his wife, of the County of Doddridge and State of West Virginia, of the first part, and James B. Davis, Jepthah F. Randolph, and Amaziah Bee, Trustees, and their successors in office for the Seventh Day Baptists on the Meat House Fork of Middle Island Creek of the county and state aforesaid, of the second part, "Witnesseth, That the said parties of the first part for and in consideration of the sum of one dollar, to them in hand paid, the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged, do grant unto the said parties of the second part a certain lot of land for the use and benefit of the aforesaid Seventh Day Baptists, said land being situate on the Meat House Fork of Middle Island Creek, in the County and State aforesaid, and bounded as follows ; to wit, Beginning at a small sycamore near the lower end of Jepthah F. Randolph's farm, and running thence N 64 E 136 feet, N 14 W 144 feet, S 74 W 100 feet, S 12 E 165 feet, to the beginning, containing about 72 square poles with all the appurtenances, with covenants of general warranty.

Witness the following signatures and seals. Amaziah Bee, Rhoda Bee, Jepthah F. Randolph, and Deborah F. Randolph

 

I A.B. PARKS, a Justice of the Peace for the county aforesaid in the State of West Virginia, do hereby certify that Amaziah Bee and Rhoda, his wife, whose names are signed to this deed bearing date on the 31st day of October, 1865, have acknowledged the same before me in my county aforesaid, and the said Rhoda being examined by me privily and apart from her husband, and having the deed aforesaid fully explained to her, declared she had willingly executed the same and does not wish to retract it. Given under my hand this 1st day of Nov., 1865, A. B. Parks, J. P. In New Milton Township

 

I, A.B. PARKS, a Justice of the Peace for the county aforesaid in the State of West Virginia, do hereby certify that Jepthah F. Randolph, and Deborah, his wife, whose names are signed to this deed bearing date on the 31st day of October, 1865, have acknowledged the same before me in my county aforesaid, and the said Deborah being examined by me privily and apart from her husband, and having the deed aforesaid fully explained to her, declared she had willingly executed the same, and does not wish to retract it.

Given under my hand this 13th day of Nov. 1865, A. B. Parks, Justice”

 

PARSONAGE

Some time in the spring of 1901, while a series of revival meetings was in progress at the church under the leadership of Rev. Judson G. Burdick, who was in the employ of the Board of Managers of the Seventh Day Baptist Missionary Society, the question of building a parsonage was broached. The church had just accepted the resignation of its pastor, Rev. David W. Leath, and a call had been extended to Rev. Darwin C. Lippincott, with whom the question of a suitable home for his family would enter largely into consideration when he made his final decision as to accepting the call.

 

At a special business meeting of the church held April 26, 1901, it was decided to purchase additional land adjoining the church lot, on which to build a parsonage. On July 17, 1901, Rhoda Bee (widow of Amaziah Bee), Thomas W. Noble and Keziah Noble, his wife, executed a deed to the Middle Island Church, for seven and a half acres of land adjoining the church lot, for the consideration of five hundred dollars ($500.00).

 

Already on June 30, 1901, the church had appointed a parsonage building committee, consisting of Rev. Darwin C. Lippincott, Ezekiel B. Kelley, Abner J. Davis, Varnum B. Lowther, and Linville B. Davis.

 

Rev. Darwin C. Lippincott was appointed chairman, Ezekiel B. Kelley, treasurer of the committee, and Franklin F. Randolph, clerk. The committee was instructed to build a parsonage, and was clothed with power necessary to do so. The committee immediately entered upon its duties, and in a few months the parsonage, together with a barn and other like accessories, was completed at an aggregate cost of some fifteen hundred dollars ($1,500.00).

 

GRAVEYARDS

In addition to the graveyard at West Union owned by the church, there is another within a short distance of the present house of worship, originally given for that purpose by John Davis Bee, probably. At the present time, the owner of adjoining land surrounding this graveyard is Franklin F. Randolph, from whom the church purchased an additional half acre adjoining the graveyard to be added to the original graveyard, at a cost of twenty-five dollars ($25.00). The deed for this addition was executed May 10, 1897.

 

PREACHING STATIONS

As early as January 1, 1845, the Middle Island Church decided to hold its Quarterly Meetings at Middle Island and Meat House Fork, alternately. Probably there was no other preaching stations maintained by the church until after its re-organisation in 1867. Since the re-organisation, preaching stations have been maintained at various times by the church, on Long Run, the Bear Fork of Cove Creek (where the Conings Church is now situated), Rock Run, Hughes Fork of Buckeye Creek, and Lick Run. Lick Run is the only one of these stations still maintained by the Middle Island Church. The interests at other points mentioned are cared for by other churches.

 

PASTORS

The first pastor of the Middle Island Church, under its re-organisation, was Rev. James B. Davis, who was called to that trust, September 4, 1868. He served the church for four years. Then followed an interim of two years and a half, during which the church had no recognised pastor, when Rev. James B. Davis was again chosen pastor for one year from March 6, 1874; and again on March 4, 1881, he was chosen pastor for one year. From February 28, 1879, Rev. Lewis F. Randolph conducted the Quarterly Meetings for two years.

 

Rev. Hiram P. Burdick was called, on October 30, 1887, to the pastorate, giving one-half of his time to the Middle Island Church and half of it to the Greenbrier Church.

 

For a year from January 26, 1890, Rev. John L. Huffman conducted the Quarterly Meetings.

 

On March 6, 1891, Rev. Marcus E. Martin was chosen pastor, and continued to give part of his time to the church, until May 1, 1899, when Rev. David W. Leath began his labours as pastor. David W. Leath served for two years and was succeeded on July 1, 1901, by Rev. Darwin C. Lippincott, who has continued in that capacity to the date of this writing, August 1, 1902. Darwin C. Lippincott, while a student in Salem College, had previously done service for the church during the period of 1893 to 1896.

 

Rev. James B. Davis, from the time of the re-organisation of the church, up to the day of his removal from the bounds of the church in 1890, preached once a month and conducted Quarterly Meetings in the absence of any one else to officiate, whether he was pastor or not.

 

Amaziah Bee, a licentiate member of the church, also from the date of the re-organisation for a period of some twenty years, or until failing health forbade his continuing longer, preached for the church as often as once a month. He often supplied some preaching station besides. Beginning with December, 1898, Samuel A. Ford, a licentiate member of the church, preached for the church once a month for two or three years. In connection with the foregoing, it should be borne in mind that the church has never had a pastor who has given his entire time to the church. The pastor has either been some one devoting a part of his time to ministerial work, preaching once or twice a month for a mere nominal salary, and dependent upon daily labour upon a farm for his living ; or he has divided his time with one or more other churches.

 

LICENCED TO PREACH

The records of the church show that the following were licenced to preach:

  • August 31, 1866- Amaziah Bee was licenced to preach for a period of six months

  • March 1, 1867 - Amaziah Bee was licenced "to preach when and where a door may open."

  • November 10, 1866 - James B. Davis was licenced to preach for one year.

  • September 3, 1869 - Granville H. Davis was licenced to preach within the bounds of the church for one year.

  • September 8, 1872 - Albert Shock was licenced to preach "when and where a door may be opened."

  • March 17, 1893 - Alvin M. Davis was granted licence to preach for one year, "when and where an opportunity may offer and a door of usefulness may be opened."

  • September 2, 1898 - Samuel A. Ford was granted licence to preach "wherever opportunity affords."

  • March 2, 1900 - William L. Davis was granted licence to preach "wherever opportunity offers for one year."

  • March I, 1901 - The licence of William L. Davis was renewed for one year.

  • March 1, 1867 - James B. Davis was called by the church to ordination; and on September 5, 1867, a council met with the Middle Island Church to consider the expediency of the ordination.

 

The council was composed of the following members:

 

The council recommended the ordination of the candidate. The ordination service was deferred, however, until early in the year 1868, when it was conducted by Rev. Samuel D. Davis, of the Lost Creek Church, and Rev. Jacob Davis, of the New Salem Church. In the meantime, James B. Davis had been licenced by the church on December 6, 1867, "to preach the Gospel of Christ when and where a door may open."

 

DEACONS

The records of the church show that deacons were chosen and ordained as follows:

  • January 4, 1867 - Amaziah Bee was chosen deacon. He was relieved of this office on March 4, 1870.

  • March 4, 1870 - Walter Fields McWhorter and William Buckeye Davis were chosen deacons by the church, and were ordained on the following day.

  • September 1, 1876 - Johnson J. Lowther was chosen deacon, and was ordained December 2, following.

  • August 7, 1881 - Charles L. Polan was chosen deacon. He was ordained on the 3d of the following September

  • September 6, 1889 - John A. Polan was chosen deacon, and ordained on December 7, following.

 

MODERATORS

Until 1889, the church never had a standing moderator. The presiding officer was appointed for the day only, on which he served. The regular business meetings occurred four times a year, at the time of the Quarterly Meeting, or communion service.

 

During a period of twenty-three years one hundred and twenty-one business meetings were held, of which one hundred and two were presided over by fourteen different members of the church; sixteen were presided over by members of other churches; and of three, the presiding officers are not named.

 

The venerable Joseph Jeffrey, who had been one of the mainstays of the church during the first period of its existence, presided over four of the first five meetings of the second period.

 

Rev. James B. Davis presided over forty-one meetings, extending over a period of eighteen years.

 

The following table serves to show these officers, together with the years in which they served, and the number of times each served :

 

Name / Years in which they served / Times served

 

Non-members of the Middle Island Church, who on the occasion of visits to the business meetings of the church, were, out of courtesy, appointed moderator for the day:

  • Charles A. Burdick  (General missionary on the West Virginia Field) 1872-1874

  • Hiram P. Burdick  (Pastor of the Middle Island and Greenbrier churches, jointly) 1888

  • Jesse Clark  (A deacon in the Greenbrier Church) 1887

  • Samuel D. Davis  (An ordained minister in the Salem Church) 1887, 1889

  • John L. Huffman  (Pastor of the Salem Church) 1889

  • Abram Herbert Lewis  (Representative of the American Sabbath Tract Society) 1868

  • Lewis F. Randolph  (An ordained minister in the Greenbrier Church) 1877

 

On December 6, 1889, the church elected Franklin F. Randolph permanent moderator for a term of one year, and year by year he has been re-elected to that office up to the present time.

 

CHURCH CLERKS

At the church meeting held August 31, 1866, when it was determined to resuscitate and reorganise the church, Stephen Thorp Davis, who had been elected church clerk, August 26, 1852, served as clerk again. For the next three meetings held September 14, 1866, October 19, 1866, and November 30, 1866, Amaziah Bee acted as clerk.

 

At the next meeting held January 4, 1867, James Ball Davis was elected clerk for the day. The minutes of the meetings held March 1, 1867 and May 31, 1867, are attested by Stephen Thorp Davis as clerk.

 

James Ball Davis then served as clerk until September 4, 1868, when Charles L. Polan was elected to that office permanently. He continued to serve as clerk of the church until February 29, 1884, when he resigned and Linville Bee Davis, the present clerk, was elected in his stead.

 

On September 4, 1885, John A. Polan was elected assistant clerk. He, too, remains in the service, as originally elected.

 

MEMBERSHIP IN SUPERIOR BODIES

The Middle Island Church was admitted to membership in the General Conference at the annual session of the latter body, at Brookfield, New York, beginning September 6, 1832.

 

There is no record of membership of the church in the Western Association, and none of membership in the old South-Western Association. But upon the organisation of the Virginia Association in 1851, the Middle Island Church appears as one of its constituent members.

 

Upon the dissolution of the Virginia Association, the Middle Island Church remained without associational connection until the organisation of the South-Eastern Association in 1872, when the church became a constituent member of the new body, with which it has always remained in harmony.

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