Mt. Moriah Baptist celebrates 192 years

BY MARY ALICE BEATTY CARMICHAEL

 

Last week, couples were mentioned who owned land and deeded it to Mt. Moriah Baptist Church. A brief sketch of these couples will follow.

Richard “Dick” and Clarita Hagar:

Richard Worrall Hagar (1900-1989) was born in Indiana and was an engineer registered in four states and the District of Columbia. Just prior to his retirement, he was in Mobile working for the firm that had been designers for the new tunnel in Mobile and the Pontchartrain Bridge in New Orleans.

Dick served in the US Navy in WW I and received the Naval Meritorious Civilian Service Award in Cuba during WW II where his best friend was Robert E. Supple, a pilot for Pan American Airlines or Pan American Grace (Panagra) Airlines.

Robert was flying routes in South America and across the Andes and was married to Clarita (Kendrick) and they had a baby girl, Peggy. With the death rate so high for pilots flying the Andes in those 1930 days, Bob asked his dear friend, Dick Hagar, if he, Robert, should be killed flying, if he would take care of his wife Clarita and baby Peggy.

Dick agreed. Bob was killed; Dick was true to his word; and he took very good care of Clarita and baby Peggy. They fell in love and Dick and Clarita were soon married. He took care of Clarita and Peggy the rest of their lives.

Clarita was a most interesting, gifted, creative person who graduated from Howard College about 1927 at the age of 19 and began a career in teaching before she moved to NYC to further her education.

In 1934 she was married to Robert E. Supple, a pilot flying with Pan American Airline or Pan American Grace (Panagra) Airline. By 1938, at age 25, he was killed in a trans-Andes crash in Peru.

In 1941 Clarita and Dick Hagar were married and shortly after that, bought land in Butler County from her father, W. W. Kendrick. They moved to the Mt. Moriah community and lived there, rearing Peggy there and remaining there their lifetimes.

In 1954 when the matter of restoring or rebuilding the old Mt. Moriah Church came up, they were part of the committee to make the decision. Dick and Clarita deeded to the Mt. Moriah Fellowship Church the land that shows in the pencil drawn survey map in Section 13, Township 11, Range 11, Wilcox County which contains the north western part of the cemetery.

Clarita was a charismatic person and was very interested in history and genealogy. She was elected as Alabama’s State President of the Daughters of American Colonists, about 1989, and served the organization well.

Her ancestry in south Alabama, on her Kendrick side, goes back to her great grandparents (names unknown to the writer) whose son, her grandfather Sterling Ramsey Kendrick, was born in 1837 in Conecuh County.

He married Clara Elizabeth Whittle in 1877 in Pine Apple but moved to Monterey, before September 1883 where his 7th child and 5th son, Walter Whittle Kendrick was born.

Walter Whittle Kendrick:

Walter was born in Conecuh County in 1883, father of Clarita, deeded to the Mt. Moriah Friendship Church, Section 18, Township 11, Range 12 in Butler Co., the land just east of and contiguous to the Hagar gift that he purchased as a young man.

This part of the cemetery contained the oldest graves that were marked with granite and marble stones. However, there are known to be a number of earlier graves that had been marked with wooden crosses or small arbors.

None of those have survived. W. W. Kendrick, Clarita’s father, died in Montgomery in 1964 about a decade after his gift to the church. W. W. Kendrick was a son of Sterling Ramsay Kendrick.

Robert “Bob” Powell Atkins:

Robert, brother of Herbert, son of Lewis Walker Atkins, Sr. owned part of the land that the church building was on, the part where the preacher stands, and he gave a deed to the church for that part of the land.

Bob’s Yeldell ancestors were pioneer settlers of Butler County. His three times great grandparents from South Carolina, Robert Anthony Yeldell and wife Margery (Gibson or Carson) came to Butler County in the days of “Alabama fever.”

They arrived while it was the Alabama Territory, before statehood with their family of ten or eleven children and settled in Monterey. Several members of this family had carved on their tombstones the year in which they came to Alabama.

It was their granddaughter, Martha Ann Powell, who married James Oliver Atkins. They had eight children one of whom was their son, Robert Powell Atkins, the grandfather for whom “Bob” Atkins was named.

This younger “Bob” is the “Bob” Atkins who gave a deed to Mt. Moriah Church for the south western part of the land the church and grounds sit on.

Dr. John L. and Grace (Donald) Carmichael:

Dr. John Carmichael grew up in the hills of Clay County, one of eleven children whose parents strongly stressed education and knowledge. After he graduated from the University of Alabama and received his medical degree from Tulane, he and two of his physician brothers settled in Birmingham, where he remained the rest of his life.

He happened to meet a lovely, gentile, soft spoken young lady from Pine Apple that caught his eye and captured his heart. She was Grace Donald, the daughter of Dr. Erskine Grier Donald and his wife, Grace (Yeldell) both of whom had been born in the Monterey area.

Grace, the mother, died when Grace, the daughter was about 3 ½ years old. His father, in order to give his children a better education, decided to move to Pine Apple for education reasons after his wife’s death.

Grace had been educated at Moore Academy, Pine Apple, then Alabama College in Montevallo (where her future brother-in-law-to-be was President) graduated, and received a Teaching Certificate. She taught in Florida and Birmingham.

Grace and John were married in 1928 and their connections to Pine Apple and Mt. Moriah remained very strong with many trips made for visits to her father, sister, brother, aunts and uncles who were living there.

John and Grace had five children who also loved the Pine Apple visits. Ultimately, Dr. John bought Grace’s ancestral home at Mt. Moriah which her great grandparents had built and in which her Yeldell grandfather, mother, and she herself had been born.

Dr. John gave the beautiful old home to his wife. The Donalds had also been generational members at Mt. Moriah Fellowship and the Yeldells worshipped there.

As plans to rebuild Mt. Moriah church advanced, the Carmichaels were part of the committees that made the decision to rebuild the old wooden church. It became apparent the church and cemetery were lacking ownership of the land on which they were located.

The Carmichaels were glad to give a deed to the church which her parents, grandparents, and other earlier generations of her family had worshiped and where so many had been buried.

Her three times great grandfather, Col. Richard Warren, Revolutionary War soldier, rests in an unmarked grave.

It had most likely been marked by a wooden cross in what is today an unknown location. The provenance of his burial there comes from a contemporaneous article in the Greenville Advocate when a man who had been to Col. Warren’s funeral wrote and mentioned he had attended the funeral at the Mt. Moriah Fellowship Church where his friend now lay buried. (To be continued)

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