Old McKendree Chapel in 1962

Old McKendree Chapel is one of those other places I always swing by when I’m home. Maybe one of the appeals is the way the site changes so little. This photo was taken in 1962.

Some trees are missing

Storms and old age have taken their toll on a lot of the trees, but the grounds look much the same in this photo from 2006. One of the biggest changes in the building itself was the removal of the weatherboard siding in 1977. There’s some controversy over which is the “authentic” rendition of the building. You can read a more complete history of the church in a 2010 post where I described the nefarious trap the Methodists set to recruit wayward Lutherans.

Logs had been covered

The same Lutheran-snagging door shown in this 1962 photo is still there, even if the siding is gone.

Photo used on phone book

One of my 2010 photos was used on the cover of the Cape-Jackson telephone directory.

Lane leading to chapel

The old chapel sticks out when the leaves are off the trees.

13 Replies to “Old McKendree Chapel in 1962”

  1. The Chapel is built on land donated for the purpose by William Williams. Adjacent to property was land owned by Isaac Williams. Are there any readers who know the relationship between the two Williams?

  2. Fall was a time district MYF groups gathered for wiener roast around a big bond fire. I have special memories of this place.

  3. Years ago, my parents gave me a painting of the chapel done by some artist. I still have it on one of my walls.

  4. Great seeing old stuff like this…I wonder how and why they constructed the neat over roof on the structure in the 1800’s…must me a Methodist thing. I saw a bunch old churches in Europe, but none with a double roof?

  5. I think they put a double roof on the church so that after a couple of generation people would ask why they did that. 🙂

  6. A good follow-up post on Old McKendree, Ken! I can help with some of the comments and inquiries as I am a member of the board of trustees of the chapel and an inveterate student of local Methodist history and geneology.
    First, you astutely observe that “some trees are missing” from the earlier photographs of the chapel grounds. To be sure, a good part of the appeal of chapel was the fine grove of oak, maple, elm, poplar, and hickory trees that soared over the chapel as if they were the spires of a magnificent outdoor cathedral. Until attrition took its toll over the last 25 years or so, several of the spires were ancient and enormous trees that were standing well before the Revolutionary War. Despite the losses, many of their offspring continue to grace the grounds. And in fact, the adjacent Williams family cemetery across Bainbridge Road was the site of two state championship trees — a black hickory and another I can’t recall (there are plaques on the interior wall of the chapel with the details).
    As for the “nefarious trap the Methodists set to recruit [perhaps you meant “redeem”!] wayward Lutherans,” McKendree Chapel was for the entirety of the antebellum years in Cape County the focal point and center of gravity of Protestantism. The Chapel hosted dozens of “camp meetings,” or outdoor revivals, that drew settlers by the scores and often by the hundreds, for miles around, in an ecumenical spirit that included many non-Methodists, like the Lutherans, I suppose. These camp meetings were not only religious gatherings, but also the predominant and sometimes the only social and cultural events of the day. The Chapel, itself, is to this day a holy place, a national Methodist shrine, the oldest Protestant church still standing west of the Mississippi River.
    Finally, the answer to the question about the relationship between the William Williams and Isaac Williams families is problematic. The geneology of the extended Williams family is exceedingly complicated and uncertain, but as best as can be discerned — after many hours of research — William and Isaac were brothers, both settling in the Williams Creek area (most of which now is in the easternmost part of the City of Jackson)in the first decade of the 1800s. The complication is that both families named sons after their uncles (as was a common practice)so that, for instance, Isaac Smith Williams was the son of William Williams, and a different William Williams was the son of the original Isaac Williams. Isaac Smith Williams was a state representative and state senator and followed his father as the class leader at Old McKendree, and it was this branch of the family that donated the two acres on which the Chapel is situated. When the Methodist Episcopal Church divided in 1845 over the issue of slavery (a precursor to the Civil War 16 years later) the William Williams/Isaac Smith Williams branch sided with the anti-slavery Methodist Church North, and the Isaac William/William Williams branch sided with the Methodist Church South. Sorry for the extended reply, but it is even more complicated than what I have tried to describe. SNL

    1. Steve, Don’t apologize for the long post. I’ve always been intrigued by the building and grounds.

      It’s such a welcoming place. Of course, as I found out, that door (since fixed, I’m told) wanted to hold on to you if you were tempted inside the building.

  7. Some of my family are buried in the cemetery across the road. Over the years I’ve seen it in all conditions, from well kept to almost completely overgrown. Regardless of the condition of the cemetery, however, I have invariably found the chapel and its grounds well tended. So much has changed in Cape since I moved away from the area in 1981, Old McKendree Chapel long ago became a point of connection and continuity with the past, one I try visit as often as I return to Cape (which is becoming rarer with the passing years). Thanks for sharing this update.

  8. Old McKendree Chapel was the setting of our daughter’s (Jacquelyn Rochelle -“Chelley”)wedding to Chris Lewis. Charlie Seabaugh, CHS’58 married them on the steps of the church and it made a beautiful wedding site with all those wonder old trees surrounding the century old church. Was one of the prettiest weddings I’ve ever seen.

    Enjoyed the comments about the church from Steve Limbaugh. I’m going to reprint those comments about the church in my family album to give it a little more depth and meaning. Thanks, Steve.

  9. Do you have any information on the old house that is on the right about 1/10 mile before the chapel? It has a no trespassing sign on it. It looks as if it is an original structure built in the 1800’s.

    1. The best I can remember is that the building was a reconstruction of a log cabin that had been moved from somewhere else. The project started with a lot of fanfare and enthusiasm, but nothing much has happened there in years that I can see.

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