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Chipola Primitive Baptist Church Undergoes Renovation

Submitted by William R. “Bill” Peacock Chipola Primitive Baptist Church was founded in 1870 by Tyus Lundy Hansford, a doctor and minister. The church is the oldest one in Altha and one of the oldest in Calhoun county. It is located on the west side of Highway 71 in Altha. Doctor/Minister Hansford contracted with Daniel I. Richards to build the church in 1873. He also built the pulpit at the same time. The pulpit along with some of the original pews and the communion table are still in the church today. The building was of board and batten construction, wood shingles, and wood shutter windows. There was no electricity or running water. There was a wood burning heater for heat. Water was provided from a pitcher pump. The restroom was an outdoor privy. The first sermon preached in this church was on September 4, 1874, by Tyus Lundy Hansford, who was William R. “Bill” Peacock’s great great grandfather. During church services the women sat on the right side of the church and the men on the left side. Church services were held one weekend each month on Saturday and Sunday with dinner on the grounds. The congregation sang a cappella using Sacred Harp song books that have only four notes-mi, fa, sol, and la. Sometimes they would sing the notes and then sing the words to a song. The first recorded minutes of the church were in 1873. The elders were: Tyus L. Hansford and Wyllis Musgrove. The deacons were Silas H. Stone and Thomas Johnson. The clerk was S.A. Beachump. Membership included the following men and their families: Joseph Cutts, Elisa Cutts, James Dickens, George Hansford, James Peacock, W.E. Moore, Richard Babeth, Benjamin Neel, John McClellan, Benoni Thomas, Philip Tyrus, Morgan Burk, John Davis, John Alday, John Lacy, Robert Nixon, and Robert Mcintosh. In March, 1877, the church petitioned the Chipola Primitive Baptist Association for membership. The letter was signed by the following: T.L. Hansford, S.A. Beachump, John Pippin, J.M. Hansford, C.P. Castilline, E.F. Nichols, and E.H. Bates. Due to dwindling membership the church discontinued regular services in the late 1900’s. In 2002 a group of interested individuals formed a non-profit corporation to seek grants and donations to restore the church as a historical landmark. Restoration is under way at this time as funds become available.

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