By: M.N. Walters
By the late 1770’s the Revolutionary War was going on and great
terror and danger to life and property prevailed in the newly formed
Colonies of the Atlantic Seaboard. Gangs of Tories invaded homes,
burned crops and destroyed property of the Colonial settlers seeking
Meanwhile, far to the West, stories were filtering back as to the
lands painted by nature with the brush of profusion, wilderness and
majesty. Buffaloes bellowed and fought around the salt licks, deer
stalked down the streams to slake their thirst, bears passed through
the cave and underbrush.
Some 300 years have passed since hardy settlers had carved the lands
of the East into a dwelling place-Now that same Spirit of ‘Newness’
was found again in the hearts of men.
The flag of Spain had been raised over the ‘Great-Bend’ area of the
rushing Tennessee River, during the years 1512 to 1699. De Soto had
passed through the area claiming it from the Cherokee and Choctaw
Indians for the Crown of Spain. Marquette and Joilet came from
France and painted the French Banner in the soil from 1699 to 763.
Col. Abraham Wood, in the name of the King of England, while
searching for an outlet to the ‘South Sea’, later known as the
Pacific Ocean, raised the English flag in the year 1763.
By now, hunters, explorers, traders and travelers were blazing the
way for the settlers, whose entry was marked by increased interest.
Indians had for many years resisted the influx of the white man, but
now his impoverished and destitute condition made them easy prey for
sharp-dealing white men. Stand after stand was made by the Indians
along the great “Tenese” (Tennessee River).
It remained for the Revolutionary War to reveal that Spain had again
hoisted her flag across the area. Yet in 1798, the United States had
brought sufficient pressure to bear that Spain withdrew all hope of
settling the land. From earlier years, Georgia, as a colony and
later as a state, had claimed all the land south of the Tennessee to
the Mississippi River as their rightful land. This was divided by
the Georgia General Assembly in 1795, into plats of a newly created
County called ‘Burbon’, and sold to speculators. The people of the
United States became indignant and the Georgia Legislature passed a
Rescinding Act in 1796. But the speculators refused to give up their
bargain. Near was broke out repeatedly between the ‘settlers’ and
the intruding ‘speculators’ who sought possession of the land. The
area passed into the hands of the young government of the United
Thus, the land of present-day Mississippi was divided between old
‘West Florida’-a costal band extending below the 31st Parallel; the
Mississippi area, between the 31st and 32nd Parallel; and North of
the 32nd Parallel to the borders of the State of Tennessee, formerly
claimed by Georgia, now an area under the jurisdiction of the United
States. When Congress organized the Territory of Mississippi from
the old Mississippi Area, the land North of the 32nd Parallel was
under the care of the Mississippi Territorial Governors. Disputing
this claim were the Choctaws and Chickasaws of what is today north
Mississippi. These claims were not resolved until the final treaty
with the Indians in 1832, when the Indians gave up their last claim
to the lands of Mississippi.
The settlers from the North and East were already tilling the soil
and erecting their homes in the area, making private peace with the
red men. Among these earliest settlers were numbers of Baptists,
along with others of various religious persuasion from Georgia,
Virginia, South and North Carolina, they came, lured by stories of
the fertile soil and abundant wildlife.
A group of these moved into the Farmington area and began their new
life. Of them it can truly be said, “It is a common ground, indeed
for true American greatness and heroic courage-a place of pioneering
giants-the land of hope and promise, in the midst of hardship and
With the settlers to this area came not only their physical
possessions, but also their spiritual heritage. A group-how many we
do not know-set up a Baptist Church, fostered on faith, determined
by God’s Grace to see their children and their children’s children
reared in a God-like manner. Thus near 1800, the Baptist Church of
Farmington had its beginning. The location selected for this infant
endeavor was beside a wilderness road which ran North and South,
nearby the center of the thriving community. The high ground of the
area provided swift run-off of the rain waters, and yet the land was
level enough to provide ample area to stake out the teams of horses
and oxen, which brought them to worship. Soon the infirmities of old
age, the difficulties of the region, and illnesses required that a
suitable place be found to decently ‘bury-their-dead’. North of the
Church some ¼ mile of a site was cleared, and here the settlers
sorrowfully buried their loved ones.
Worship at the Church was regular, the Sabbath was observed as best
they could, what with so much work to do, and so little time for
finishing it. Various pastors, along with traveling preachers found
their way to the young Church, and shared their ministry with these
hardy pioneers. The building, as their homes, was of native logs,
bur served the people well.
The area was now called ‘Madison County of the Mississippi Area,’
and as such was governed by the laws of the United States and the
Territory of Mississippi. After the appointment of Governor Sargent,
he, along with later Governors Claborne and Holmes, by appointments,
conducted the legal affairs of the white man. The first
‘white-man’s-law’ was established under a tree by a judge holding
court in the community of Troy, south of Farmington.
In 1817, Congress admitted all the land of the Territory of
Mississippi as the State of Mississippi, and by 1832, the northern
part of the state was safely within her bounds. This area was within
the limits of old Tishomingo County.
The Community of Farmington continued to prosper, as did the Church.
The physical prosperity was marked by a need for incorporating the
land surrounding the Church into a Town. This was done by an Act of
the Legislature of the State of Mississippi in 1838. Prosperity
continued so much that the town limits were increased in 1839 and
again in 1842. The latter extension included the provision that
residents within the corporate limits were only required to give
work to the roads within the town six days per year, and not to have
to work other roads at all.
Farmington Academy was chartered in 1839, to be set up ‘within or
near’ the Town of Farmington, for the purpose of the ‘Encouragement
of learning amongst the students’. Likely this was established on
the site of the present church building, as in 1842 Thomas Dobbins
gave deed to “an acre” of additional burying ground bounded on the
west by the eastern line of the school property.
The Town of Farmington (a contraction of Farming-town) now had
within its area a Church, several home, General stores, a Post
Office, Blacksmith shop, Saddle and harness shop and a ‘Wheat-fan’
Manufacturing plant, which sold over the State. On Feb. 5, 1849, a
Masonic Lodge was chartered, being Farmington No. 116, F.&A.M.
As the Railroads in other areas built up the towns, the Railroad
sounded the decline of the once prosperous Town of Farmington.
In 1855, the Mobile and Ohio, and the Memphis and Charleston,
crossed some four miles west of the town. Rails being the chief
transportation of this era, much of the prosperity soon began to
re-locate in the vicinity of the rail crossing. Soon the ‘Pride’ of
Northern Tishomingo County’ began to wane, many of its merchants and
shops moving into Crosstown. Later this town was re-named Corinth,
which soon became the center of trade for the area.
The settlers spiritual ties were still anchored firmly to the
Baptist Church at Farmington-the church continued enjoying a measure
of success in the Master’s work. Here in 1853, a famous son of the
area was to be ordained to the Gospel Ministry-Mark Perrin Lowrey,
Civil War hero and founder of Blue Mountain College in later years.
The Church was affiliated with the old Chickasaw Baptist Association
for many years and on September 14-17, 1855, entertained the 17th
anniversary of that large body of Baptists.
Upon the growth of Corinth, the Masonic Lodges at Farmington and
Danville consolidated in 1857 and formed Corinth Lodge No. 116,
F.&A.M., taking the number of the former Farmington Lodge.
The clouds of war hung heavy over the land, and the few slaves held
by the citizens of Farmington continued their work and worship with
their masters. Soon war with its fury burst forth over the land. The
representatives of Old Tishomingo County split their votes
concerning secession, but yielded to the will of the majority vote
of Mississippi, and thus became the second state to join the
Confederacy. Residents of the area joined more than 80,000
Mississippi troops serving the Confederate Army.
Far to the north of Farmington in rapid succession the Battles of
Fort Henry, and Fort Donelson set the stage for Shiloh. On April 6
and 7, 1862, the booming guns of that battlefield duels could be
heard in Mississippi. The dead, dying and wounded, along with the
survivors of the Confederate Armies were brought and trekked back
through Farmington, toward Corinth, where another stand was
intended. On May 3, 1862, a skirmish between forces of the Union and
Confederates was at Farmington, also on May 4th and May 8th, other
skirmishes were fought.
May 9th brought full battle to Farmington. The Union forces led by
Maj. Gen. John Pope and the Confederate forces commanded by Maj.
Gen. Earl Van Dorn were ready for battle. One account of the battle
relates, “On the 8th of May, Gen. Pope, commanding the advance of
the Federal Army, moved up with two full Brigades and occupied
Farmington. Gen. Beauregard determined to accept the gauge of battle
thus thrown down to him, and at once moved out to attack. Generals
Bragg and Hardee were to attack the right and center, while Gen. Van
Dorn attacked the left and rear. Gen. Price moved out with his force
to within an easy march of the rear of Pope’s command without
molestation or even the knowledge of the enemy. Early on the morning
of the 9th, the signal guns were fired and the whole army began to
advance. Gen. Hardee attacked the enemy with such spirit as drove
him at once from his line of works, and the Missourians coming in
contact with one of those Mississippi swamps that is almost
impassable, the enemy made safe his retreat before his rear could be
But he left his Headquarters tent, telegraph operator and office,
with tents and wagons, with all his dead and wounded in the hands of
Confederate Gen. Halleck. Although more than double the force of the
Confederates, Pope absolutely refused to come out into the open
ground and give battle. Gen. Beauregard withdrew his forces inside
the fortifications around Corinth. The battle was familiarly known
as “The Farmington Races.”
The battle of Farmington left as casualties for the Union-16 killed,
148 wounded, and 192 missing. For the Confederates-8 killed, 189
wounded, and 110 missing.
On May 10, 12, 19 and 22 additional skirmishes were fought in or
The Farmington Story
By: M.N. Walters
(Continued from Oct. 18 & 25 & Nov. 1)
After the actual battlefields moved away from Farmington the area
was used primarily as a hospital zone for the wounded Union forces
from this and other battles. The blood of many brave men stained the
ground around hills where once stood the town. Most, if not all the
homes, stores and shops of Farmington were destroyed. The building
of the church was torn down and used as flooring for the tents of
the Union soldiers encamped on the site. Membership in Farmington
Baptist Church told the toll of the ravages of the war, dropping
from 64 in 1860 to less than half that number in 1866.
Slowly the life of the land was restored, the church site was moved
to the site formerly occupied by the school, beside the cemetery.
Here cannon raked trees, stood like sentries, the breastworks,
trenches, and gun site emplacements marked the hillside on which the
church and cemetery stood. Undaunted in spirit the Baptist set about
erecting their second building for worship. This was a ‘shanghai’
frame structure consisting of a large single room for worship-the
first building on the present site of Farmington Church. It stood
until 1904, when because of natural deterioration, it was needful to
remove it and erect a new building. The new building was built along
the same style, having a ‘ship-lap’ exterior.
The prosperity of the church was marked by growth, great men had
come and gone, the church continued to be a landmark for the area.
By 1870, it’s membership growth almost equaled it’s pre-war high of
The yellow fever disease of the late 1800’s was felt in the area,
and was noticed by a decrease of membership of the church.
In 1884 the famous debate between political candidates was marked by
the address of ‘Private’ John Allen on the grounds of the Farmington
Church. At various times the church building served as a schoolhouse
for the pupils of the community.
In 1943 disaster struck again, as on a beautiful Sunday morning the
membership was preparing to assemble for regular worship. To their
horror, they arrived to see their building going up in flames. Heavy
were their hearts as they beheld-cried the wife of one of the
deacons, “Look,-the Church is burning.” “No,” her husband replied,
“Only the church house is burning, the church will be there when we
all get there.” This spirit prevailed, and on the spot that morning
enough finances were raised to begin immediate construction of a new
Thus, the fourth building was erected for Farmington Baptist Church.
Later additional additions were made with enlarged Sunday School
rooms, etc. In 1964, a complete renovation and addition of a large
brick auditorium was completed. So that in the fall of 1964, the
church in its new building welcomed the 158th Anniversary Session of
the Mississippi Baptist Association.
Today, more than 450 strong, Farmington Baptist Church stands
spiritually growing, treading in the footprints made by her
spiritual forefathers, which are deep enough and spiritually strong
enough and that those marks may be safely followed. She contributes
regularly to World-Wide Mission efforts, provides spiritual
educational training for her congregation, marries her young folks,
spiritually feeds those attending her services and finally buries
those whom God calls home.
Farmington Baptist Church-The Farmington Story-The past is glorious,
The Present is heartening, and The Future is bright for the
continued fruitful ministry of Farmington Baptist Church, oldest
Baptist Church in North Mississippi.