This Easter morning service exactly 130 years ago was nothing akin to the type of Easter service typically held at churches in the modern day. However, it also seems entirely appropriate to celebrate the homegoing of a clearly beloved community member on the day of the Resurrection. Best wishes to all my readers for a blessed Easter!
Interior of Palmer Chapel at Cataloochee
"Rev. P.P. McLean held a memorial service in memory of Eli Collins at Witchers Chapel Sunday April 21st 1889.
The morning broke in full splendor, solemn quietude pervaded the land. Before 9 o’clock the stillness was broken by the call to Sabbath school. At 10:15 we repaired to the place appointed where the men of God should stand forth and speak in memory of a sainted brother. The services were opened by appropriate singing after which the minister arose and said, “We might, as one of old, ask what it is that has caused this large assembly to come to the house of God this beautiful Sabbath morning. We presume it is because a servant of God has been called home to rest.”
A very appropriate hymn was then announced which was followed by scriptural reading suitable to the occasion. Then was read the life incidents of the deceased brother, followed by another hymn sung by the minister. He then announced the text and proceeded to its discussion which was clear, able, and forcible, making vivid to the minds of his hearers things that have been passed far down the vale of time.
The audience was large and attentive. A collection amounting to $3 was taken for foreign missions. Reception of members into the church, three. The services were concluded by appropriate singing and prayer.
Witcher’s Chapel was located in close proximity to the area which later became Judson and was named for William Witcher of Macon County.
The Witcher’s Chapel Methodist Episcopal Church South was located on the south bank of Alarka Creek and on the former Parch Corn Flower/Flour reservation (which Thomas Wentworth Pledge Poindexter purchased prior to the Cherokee removal) – which later became part of Judson. In September 1858, Elizabeth Poindexter, widow of T.W.P. Poindexter sold, for $1, a half-acre parcel to the trustees of the Witcher’s Chapel Methodist Episcopal Church South (consisting of Joel Sawyer, Edward DeLozier [her son-in-law], John Anderson, and James Ingram) for the purposes of constructing a church house for both school and church purposes. The building served for several decades as a church, school, and meeting-house for the community.
Newspaper announcement of service times - Witcher's Chapel Methodist Episcopal Church South
Source: Swain County Herald, 24 January 1889
The name “Witcher’s Chapel” disappears from the written record (in the records that I have been able to access) after 1891. It is possible that it later became the Judson Methodist Episopal Church.
Eli Collins (ca. 1807 – 1889) was originally interred in the Judson Public Cemetery. At the time of Fontana Lake’s impoundment, his grave was identified (though was apparently only marked by a fieldstone). No discernible remains were found, therefore, it is likely that a symbolic shovelful of dark earth was dug and placed in a new container, and reinterred in Lauada Cemetery.
Judson, NC (1938). Thanks to Don Casada for identification of the church and cemetery.
Source: NARA Southeast
Ancestry.com, Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Cemetery Removal Records
Macon County, NC Register of Deeds
National Archives and Records Administration, Southeast – TVA Records
Swain County Herald, 25 April 1889