History Preserved 8

Published 5:24 pm Thursday, October 6, 2016

Shown with the new historical marker are (l. to r.) Willie Vaughn, James Vaxter, Ethyl Austin, Ruth Vaughn, Pastor Robert Earl Vaughn Sr., Randy Austin and Elmer Fox. Photos provided

Shown with the new historical marker are (l. to r.) Willie Vaughn, James Vaxter, Ethyl Austin, Ruth Vaughn, Pastor Robert Earl Vaughn Sr., Randy Austin and Elmer Fox.
Photos provided

Members proud of new official marker

By Emily Williams
New Enon M.B. Church members celebrated the 175th anniversary of their church during homecoming services September 18 at the church, located on Joiner Road in southeastern Panola County.
Members and their pastor, the Rev. Robert Earl Vaughn Sr., were also able to celebrate the installment of their new historical marker from the State Department of Archives and History. The sign had arrived only days before their celebration.
The marker reads: “Enon Baptist Church was established in the 1840s. A school, also called Enon, was organized ca. 1870 and built across the road. Following the Civil War, the church property was deeded to members of the African American community, who continued to use the original church until the 1930s when both the church and school burned.
“The church cemetery, now abandoned, includes the grave of Jim Jones, a self taught veterinarian. The church moved to its present location in the 1940s and was renamed New Enon M.B. Church.”
Bishop E.M. Fondren, 93, who attended Enon School, remembers when the school burned and classes resumed in Enon Church. The school was in operation, he said, from the 1920s until sometime in the 1930s.
Fondren verified the existing sandstone step that led to the school’s front door, and the brick steps from the original church building. Those structures are all that remain today of the school and original church building. Those buildings were located behind the current building, 1.2 miles to the north. A dirt road leads to the site.
After the church burned in the 1930s, a new structure was erected closer to Joiner Road. Hand written church records show the progression of what has now become New Enon Baptist Church.
In the late 1970s the members began raising money to build a third church building.
The foundation was laid and the sanctuary was built and dedicated. In 1983 the fellowship hall was added.
Members of New Enon  placed a fence around the old cemetery and every year they conduct a clean-up there.
During those cleanup projects, members began to examine headstones and pursue research into the history of the cemetery, and nearby church and school sites.
Pictures of the headstones were taken at the old cemetery site along with charcoal etchings of the existing headstones and sandstone rocks. The earliest readable grave marker was dated 1886.
Members also found the gravestone of self-taught local animal doctor Jim Jones.
Jones was a member of Enon Church and a respected member of the community.
Since there were no veterinarians in the area at the time, Jones’ self taught skills were invaluable to both farmers and ranchers.
He was a land owner and his name remains in local lore as the hill where his homestead was located is still known as “Jim Jones Mountain,” elevation 540 feet.
In a project spearheaded by the senior deacon James Vaxter, the church applied for the historical marker from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.
As part of the application process, members sent in a story written by Donna Traywick and published in The Panolian. Traywick had written of her recollections of Jim Jones and his significance in the community.
While researching through local history records for other documentation required by the MDAH, Vaxter verified that Enon Church was founded in 1841.
On October 27, 2015, the church received a letter of approval for a historical marker for Old Enon Cemetery.

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