Go-To-Sunday-School-Day, Hendersonville, TN, 1917

Postal card, 3.5 x 5 inches, advertising Tennessee Governor Thomas Clarke Rye‘s, “Go-To-Sunday-School-Day.”

This item is witness to a day past when Hendersonville’s three churches (known now, respectively, as First Presbyterian ChurchHendersonville Church of Christ, and First United Methodist Church; First Baptist Church was established in 1944) cooperated in a drive to motivate the villagers to “join, or attend the Sunday School of [their] choice.”  That very likely wouldn’t happen today; another thing that wouldn’t happen is a Tennessee governor launching a ‘Go-To-Sunday-School-Day’ drive for Easter Sunday.  Be that as it may, it happened, as this little card evinces.

The Christian Church in Hendersonville, Tennessee in 1917 was a congregation of several dozen members (Hendersonville was not then much more than a village…maybe 300 residents or so).  Sara Elizabeth Roberts had not been born, but her parents and siblings were members at the Christian Church.  James Alexander Harding drove his buggy from Nashville on April 3, 1893 to hold a tent meeting in Hendersonville.   His was not the first Restorationist preaching in Hendersonville, but the results proved to be the longest lasting. It was Easter Sunday and about a dozen memebrs covenanted to establish a congregation which yet meets not a half-mile from where Harding pitched his tent.  The worship on Easter Sunday 1893 was acapella, as it was on April 8, 1917, and remains so to this very day.  At some point in the 1920s the congregation began to consistently use ‘Church of Christ’ to distinguish itself from those Christian Churches using instruments and supporting missionary societies.  The nearest such, so-called digressive, congregation was along Gallatin Road across the county line nearer Nashville.  Further in, at East Nashville, were Seveneenth Street and Woodland Street Christian Churches.  Vine Street Christian Church was still downtown in 1917.   But in 1917 this acapella congregationally autonomous and independnet congregation threw in with Presbyterians and Methodists to get folk in Sunday School.  Of course they did, they were basically family in the village then, and all the children rotated among the various special church events.  The adults did, too, particularly at revivals or gospel meetings as the case may have been.  At some in that same general time frame the Christian Church at Hendersonville discontinued Christmas programs for the children.

By the time of Sara Roberts’ childhood in the late 1920’s and early 30’s young men from David Lipscomb College, students and some faculty, held forth from the Hendersonville pulpit.  She did not attend DLC though she did complete the tenth grade at the little grammar school in Hendersonville.  They did not award diplomae for completing the tenth grade; no matter, she eventually completed her GED–after retirement–under the tutelage of her daughter, my mother, who did go to DLC. My youngest daughter, Sara, is named for her great-grandmother.

McGarvey C. Ice, Harding College 1929

Rendering printed texts generally, and photographic images in particular, into a digital form provides wide access to all sorts of wonderful things.  Colleges and universities, including my employer, undertake these projects with institutional publications like yearbooks, campus programs and other documents.  Not only are these ventures a service to the alumni, they are a great boon to genealogists.

One example is how I know that my grandfather spent some time in the late 1920’s at Harding College, then in Morrilton, Arkansas.  Graduating high school a year early, he then spent two years at Christian Normal Institute in Grayson, Kentucky and completed what would be today an associates’ degree in 1928.  I know he took courses at Harding and at Cedarville College in Ohio.  By the early 1930’s he was teaching high school science and coaching basketball in Vinton, Ohio.  Later he would pursue graduate study at The Ohio State University, National College of Audiometry and others.  But Harding intrigued me, and seeking to learn more, I discovered that Brackett Library at Harding University has scanned many bulletins and yearbooks, plus oral histories and more, dating back to the early days in Morrilton.

I find in the 1929 Petit Jean that McGarvey C. Ice took more than a few courses at Harding.  It appears that he graduated with a B.A. in Science in 1929.

MC Ice Harding College 1929

Look for him here, fourth row, center:

Harding College Senior Class 1929

If a Harding yearbook was among his effects I do not recall seeing it, and thought that he only took a few courses at Harding one summer.  Seeing these, though, it appears to me that he spent more time at Harding than I previously knew.  A new discovery opens more doors, raises more questions, suggests new avenues and horizons.


Which Church Did Christ Build?: A Tract by John T. Hinds

While I’m thinking about McMechen, I thought I’d post this tract by John T. Hinds.   I think it a fair assumption, based on his post-script, that the handwriting on the envelope (the inked address) is Hinds’.  K. C. Ice’s hand pencilled the tract’s title on the end of the envelope, as was his preference, for his system of storage and retreival (whatever that was and however it worked for him).  If I’m right then this tract pre-dates 1912, as do the other leaflets Hinds mentions in the postscript.

K. C. Ice at McMechen Christian Church, McMechen, WV 1911-1912

In late 1911 Kromer C. Ice, aged 35 and one-half years, began his second stint as pastor at the Christian Church in McMechen, West Virginia. He served McMechen from July 1907 to May 1908, just after graduating from Bethany College as the only student in the Master of Philosophy course, but prior to his marriage to Rosa Birdie Sandidge. By 1911, not only was he married, but they had a toddler. Their son, McGarvey, turned two in October. The Ice’s came back to West Virginia from Powersville, Missouri where KC practiced medicine for a little over one year. Returing to their native West Virginia, they were again close to home and family. What led them to leave is as mysterious as what brought them back.

Kromer kept a skeletal diary of his ministry, recording the amount of his monthly support and the topics, text and titles of sermons preached, and occasional notations of pastoral ministry. Browse the scans and you will see restorations, baptisms and a wedding or funeral or two.  As I sift what sermon manuscripts reamin from his years of ministry I might find matches to the list of sermons below.  Until then his list will perhaps prove helpful in gaining some insight into how, in the life of one preacher at one church, the text shaped a congregation.

He preserved this account, consisting of about a half-dozen smallish ledger book leaves, held tight by a solitary rusted paper clip, in an envelope marked only ‘McMechen Church Acct.’  Though it is all I have of the McMechen years, it is evidently more than exists anywhere about any of the early McMechen years, period.  I post these pages here in hopes that someday someone from McMechen searching for an ancestor might find something.  Knowing what it is to search, I’ll do whatever I can to assist fellow seekers.

As I scrutinize his diary I see one fascinating connection…concerning Mrs. J. W. Seibert and John C. Seibert.  On 14 April 1912 one Mrs. J. W. Seibert was “fellowshiped in the cong.[regation].”  That evening John C. Seibert was “received by confession and baptism.”  The following week presumably the same John C. Seibert was “fellowshiped.”  I find in Preachers of Today, A Book of Brief Biographical Sketches And Pictures of Living Gospel Preachers (Batsell Barrett Baxter and M. Norvel Young, eds.) 1952, on page 311 in the entry for Charles Austin Siburt this note:

Reared in Christian Church.  Family led out of it through personal work of C. D. Plum and debate on Instrumental Music by Foy E. Wallace and Sam P. Jones in Moundsville, W. Va.  This year, had opportunity to preach convictions in First Christian Church in Jackson.”

Siburt provides his place of birth as McMechen, W. Va. and date of birth as 17 January 1914.  Charles Austin was baptized by Edgar Roy Saum in 1926.  In the next volume of Preachers of Today (vol. 2, pp. 400-401) Siburt further indicates his father served as an elder in the Christian Church, but was “converted through debate held by Foy E. Wallace, Jr.”

That Edgar Roy Saum appears twice in the index to Christian Standard indicates to me that in 1926 the Siburt family was still worshipping and serving among the Christian Churches, very likely still in the river town of McMechen, West Virginia.  For this reason I conclude the Siburt ‘conversion’ occurred sometime after 1926.  Charles Austin Siburt does not mention, though, that he was ever ‘re-baptized.’  I suspect then that his ‘conversion’ was limited to changed convictions about the propriety of instrumental music.  Charles Austin Siburt’s son, Charles Austin, Jr. preached for many years and taught at Abilene Christian University.  Though I never met Charles, I find our connection in history fascinating and wish we could have connected before his death.  It appears my great-grandfather baptized his grandparents (?) and I would like to think helped set them on a path of service among the McMechen church long after his (KCI) ministry came to a close.  Through their faith, then, a son and grandson embraced preaching and teaching and through them God only knows how many lives have been touched.  I’m assuming that ‘Seibert’ and ‘Siburt’ are one and the same…I think it is at least plausible, if not probable.

I should like to learn more.  If so, I’ll post it to this blog.

Ice Family Portrait, ca. 1915

Kromer Columbus Ice holding daughter Areta (b. 1914); Rosa Birdie Sandige Ice holding son McGarvey (b. 1909).  About two year after this photo was taken Rosa and the children lived in Shreve, Ohio while First Lieutenant KC Ice tried in vain to save soldiers from epidemic flu in stateside base hospitals.  At times he had one orderly to assist.  Her raven hair turned white from worrying about him.  Overseas orders in hand, he was waiting in Maryland for the next departing ship when the truce was signed ending the war.  He resumed his medical practice in small town Jerry City, then Bladensburg, Ohio.

The Church Revealed in the Scriptures, a broadside tract from Ozark Bible College, ca. 1942-1944

Ozark Bible College called Bentonville, Arkansas, home from 1942 to 1944. I suspect KC Ice picked up this broadside on one of his tours. He built his own travel trailer and with his 1933 Willys he pulled it hither and yon from Ohio to Florida to California, and back…more than once. Coming or going from central Ohio to California he no doubt pulled in to Bentonville and set up for the night.  If his stay there was anything like his ca. 1925 visit to David Lipscomb College in Nashville, Tennessee, he camped off to one side of the campus and spent a couple days visiting classes and chapel.  (At Lipscomb they called on him to lead prayer in chapel, which he did).  After spending a few days touring and talking he moved on. This newsprint sheet of slightly squattier dimensions than an 8.5 by 11 sheet of paper was folded and added to a stack of other papers.  He brought it all home to keep and read and store and treasure and file away and reread someday. I keep it in one of my stacks of paper, with many others like it, to read and store and treasure and file away and reread someday.

For a bit more about Ozark Christian College, now located in Joplin, Missouri, click here.