Soule's Chapel Church

The South Reporter, January 27, 1966
By R. B. Henderson

The site of Soule's Chapel Methodist Church, one of the strongest of the pioneer churches of Marshall County, was located in Section 5, Township 5, Range 2 East, about eight miles southeast of Holly Springs. The church was organized in the 1840's and deed to the church property was executed on June 6, 1849. The deed of gift was made to Soule's Chapel Methodist Church, Holly Springs District of the Memphis Conference. Land in the Soule's Chapel area was sold to the United States Government by Henry Love, a half-breed Chickasaw chief, on March 6, 1836. The same year the Government sold most of the land in the area to W. C. Mitchell, a speculator in Indian lands. In 1838 Mitchell sold Section 5 and other tracts of land in the area to three brothers, Silas, Jonathan and Wiley Hollowell, who came to the area from North Carolina. Mr. W. C. Brown of Holly Springs is among the prominent citizens of this county and other areas who is a descendant of the Hollowells. The Hollowells held their lands well, selling only two tracts in ante bellum years. These sales were to R. P. Harris in 1845 and M. W. Robertson in 1850. It was not until 1866 that any other land was sold in the community and these were sales for taxes. These tracts were sold to John T. Brown and M. Pegues. Historical records of Soule's Chapel are not presently available; however, random articles appearing in the Holly Springs newspapers during the 1880's indicate that the church was strong and active at that time and was a center of Methodism in Marshall County. The church was located on the old Holly Springs and "Mouth of Tippah" road and many neighborhood roads and paths led to the church. Above the church, a ridge road branched off to Waterford. There was not a Methodist church in Old Waterford or the later village at the present site and most of the members of this faith attended Soule's Chapel Church. Changing economic conditions brought about by World War I, population shifts and construction of modern roads that bypassed the community greatly weakened the old pioneer church and a few years later it was declared inactive by the Methodist Conference.

Most of the remaining members transferred to the Waterford Church, three miles southwestward. Year of inactivation of the old church is not remembered. Mr. L. A. Boatwright says that he attended services there in 1916, and Mr. W. C. Brown believes that "it was about forty years ago" when the church was consolidated with Waterford. The church building has been gone for many years. The only reminders that a church was once located there are the large flat rocks that were used as cornerstones. Two red clay bricks were picked up at the church site that would indicate the church had a brick chimney or flue. According to Mr. Brown, the community was heavily settled, especially in the eastern part southwest toward Waterford. Early pioneers recalled by Mr. Brown were the Jones, Sullivans, Macniels, Smiths, Jacksons, Martins, Hankins and others. Of the one time habitation, only the dead interred in the church cemetery remain. At the present time the community is inhabited mainly by colored families, some of whom own their own homes and others who rent from the absentee landlords. The extensive cemetery, now remote and isolated to present day travel, is just a few yards east of the church site. It has been unused as a burial ground form many years and has been almost reclaimed by nature. There are many monuments yet standing; others have fallen down and some have become covered by leaves and soil. The entire area of the cemetery, covering more than an acre, resembles a liveoak grove with the trees standing like sentinels over the monuments. Some of the inscriptions on the stones read:

Thomas Archibald Macniel, 1841-1906

John Hankins, Co. A 18th Mississippi Cavalry

Joshua A. Abston, December 19, 1791, August 6, 1852

Cordelia A., wife of Jacob W. Morton, died March 2, 1859

Mary E. Reese, wife of A. M. Reese, born August 1796, died January 1, 1851

John W. Martin, born 1822, died February 15, 1855

William Oscar Brown, October 2, 1859, August 22, 1901

John Thomas Brown (may be James Thomas Brown), May 30, 1834, December 21, 1905

Sarah Jane Brown, wife of J. T. Brown, born May 29, 1880, died 1915

Nancy Macniel, Born in Moore County, North Carolina, 1806, died in Olive Branch, November 28, 1884

Emily, daughter of James Jackson, October 6, 1831, November 30, 1851

Amanda L. Day, daughter of B. F. and M. T. Greslin, died May 20, 1859

Julia A. Franks, wife of James Jackson, 1828-1859

Descendants of the pioneer families are numbered among the prominent citizens of Holly Springs and many other sections of the country. It is possible now to reach the old churchsite and cemetery by about one-half mile walk from the nearest community road.

Submitted by Vikki Highfield

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