New Enon, Mt. Olivet churches part of Panola since 1840s

Published 8:48 am Thursday, March 3, 2022

Mt. Olivet News

We are happy to hear that Will Lawrence is home after a long stay in a Jackson hospital.

Out congratulations to Little Miss Nora Barens, daughter of Mary Francis and William Barnes, and granddaughter of Rev. Charles and Amanda Reed. She recently placed first alternate in a beauty pageant.

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When I drive by the Mt. Olivet Church sign I want to jump out and change the date to 1838. Church services were held in Bear Skull Springs log schoolhouse two miles southeast of the present church.

A bear skull was found near the big spring at the head of a creek near the schoolhouse, giving the school and creek its name. Several denominations worshiped at the church together. This no doubt brought on some lively discussions.

In the 1850s a big log room was erected near the present location and used as a Methodist church throughout the Civil War. The earlier log building was replaced by a frame building around 1878.

The women wanted to help with the new structure, so in their long dresses and bonnets they helped with the hewing of the logs. Then they prepared lunch for everyone.

During revival time the services went from Sunday to Sunday. The men would accompany the women to the door and then waited for the service to start before they entered. The people would crowd around the back and sides. The coal oil lamps gave off heat and soon the church would get hot. Most of the ladies carried fancy fans that would spread open.

In 1936 the church had 200 or more members. In 1993 Mt. Olivet was named Small Membership Church of the Year.

Just a few short miles northeast of Mt. Olivet is New Enon M.B. Church. Only three years after Mt. Olivet was formed, the original Enon Church was started in 1841 with 38 members. There was an Enon school across the road from the old church. Bishop E.M. Fondren, who recently passed away, attended school there. My nephew said he has bird hunted around the location of the old school.

When the school building burned in the 1930s the children attended classes in the Enon Church. Later part of that building also burned and the structure was moved to its present location on Joiner Road, and is now known as New Enon.

On Oct. 27, 2015, New Enon was granted National Register of Historical Places status. The historic cemetery where slaves and slavemasters are buried was instrumental in the status being granted. Other well known people are buried there, including Jim Jones.

Jim Jones had a third grade education. He found some old medical books in an abandoned house and became a self-taught veterinarian. He was the first vet in that part of the county and became a valuable asset to farmers and ranchers.

I remember as a little girl he came to doctor a horse of my daddy’s that was very sick. The potion that he concocted in his kitchen laboratory worked. He brought me a large bouquet of daffodils once, and came to our farm many times.

Larry Browning and I had the privilege of attending a memorial walk to the cemetery several years ago. The concrete steps of the old church are still there. It was signed and dated by Martin Smith in November, 1918.

Mt. Olivet, for 184 years, and New Enon, for 181 years, have continued to be a viable part of northeast Panola County.

Mt. Olivet Church has sent out six preachers, one of whom was my brother, Ellis Palmertree. He was a prisoner of war in WWII.

New Enonhas sent out many ministers and Christian workers, one of whom is Barbara Vaxter Humphrey. Barbara was a very dedicated piano student and started teaching for me when she was 14.

Her father is James Vaxter, a senior deacon at New Enon. He has worked many hours on the church grounds, the old Enon Cemetery, and the road to the cemetery.

Do you have stories about the history of your church or community that readers would enjoy you sharing? Call or text me anytime at 901-828-8824. I would love to hear from you.