BY BRUCE BRANUM
The Greenville Standard
In a community of Butler County called Central, there is a church called Spring Hill Baptist Church. It is located about eight miles south, southeast of the Butler County Courthouse, not far off McKenzie Grade Road on Butler County Road 32.
The church, which was founded on Sept. 6, 1873, celebrated their 146th anniversary. Equally equivalent was that the church had three couples who reached 67 years of marriage in 2019.
Those couples are James and Wanda Pittman, Mowbra and Lilah Branum, and Bob and Betty Branum.
According to Greenville-Butler County Public Library records, Spring Hill Baptist Church was originally founded by a group of 23 people in the Central community, originally known as Mill Spring.
The founding members included: J.M. Fortune, Benjamin Cooper, W.G. Cooper, J.A. Smith, John Perry, Sr., Isaac Bailey, B.J. Newton, B.R. Rhodes, Mesdames E.R. Cooper, Julia Smith, H.A. Perry, E.P. Perry, Sarah Fiffe, R.R. Bailey, E.M. Owen, J.J. Rhodes, Misses J.E. Cooper, S.R. Cooper, A.A. Cooper, E.M. Smith, R.J. Perry, S.D. Bailey and E.M. Owen.
Notable pastors have been Elder Benjamin Cooper, Allie Shell, R. Lloyd Shell, Charlie Cook, Deck Baker, J.H. Higdon, J.C Vandiver, Charlie L. Perry, J. Ben Owen, Will Davidson, Ralph Mullins, Elmore Thompson, Randy Harvill, Wallace Newton, and David Wood. Several were descendants of the original founders.
Historical documents also note the church originally held services under an arbor and then a log building about a mile from the church’s current location. It has undergone several renovations through the years.
There is a natural spring just down the hill about 300-feet from the church, which supplied drinking water to the church and also a baptism pool.
Spring Hill Baptist Church is also noted in historical records for being the scene for the organization of the Butler County Baptist Women’s Missionary Union in October of 1905.
In the upcoming week The Greenville Standard will cover the stories of the three couples, James and Wanda Pittman, Mowbra and Lilah Branum, and Bob and Betty Branum.