West Blocton Bible Methodist

Alabama Bible Methodist Conference


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West Blocton History Short Notes.

Also written in Charles Edwards Adams book "Blocton - The History of an Alabama Coal Mining Town" are other incidents and noteworthy items regarding members of the church.  Here are some listed below:

Near 1883 The first mine near Blocton opened called No. 1 Mine.

  "The No. 1 Mine also mustered a ball team  in the nineties (1890's) It was called the Blocton team and it's fame reached far and wide.  Some times an excursion train would carry the team to Bessemer, Montevallo, Aldrich, Randolph and other places.  The players were: Joe Smith, first base: H. H. Farrah, second base: Fred Lawley, third base: Bob Burton, right field: Louie Farrah, left field: Albert Bracknell, center field; Charley Fuller, short stop; Pat Finnen, pitcher, and Joe Sansing, catcher and DeWitt Edmonds, utility man.

Note, the Bracknells were early members of the Wesleyan Methodist Church.  I do not know the relationship o Albert Bracknell mentioned here to the church but perhaps he was one of the early members.

Near 1886

The Tuscaloosa Catholic Parish, St. John's supported the organization of a mission church for Blocton in 1886.  The Reverend John Cassidy traveled to Blocton every second and fourth Sunday to offer Mass in a private home; identified by some sources as the residence of the John Finnen family."

While the John Finnen family is identified as hosting the first Catholic congregation in West Blocton, they are also listed as having been some of the first members of the Wesleyan Methodist Church.  If these were indeed one and the same people this indicates a change of mind around about 1914.  The Cassidy family is also listed as one of early church member families but we do not know if they were related to the above named priest.

Near 1891

 "A column was published in the Blocton Courier titled "Our Business Houses and What They Handle: Churches and Schools.  Listed as a Blocton Business was JOHN GILBERT POOL ROOM, near L & N Depot which keeps the latest newspapers and magazines: also cigars and cider"

And later in the article it is listed is the following:  "W. B. BRACKNELL. FRUITS AND PRODUCE.  He always has country produce on hand." (The Bracknells are also listed as early members of the church)

The name John Gilbert family is also associated with the Wesleyan Methodist Church because they are listed in 1915 as being among the earliest members.  Perhaps his association with the early Wesleyan Methodist lead to a new line of work because John Gilbert is again mentioned in the book on page 123 as being the street contractor and later as the water maintenance man. Around 1915 we find the following note:

"Town of West Blocton    To:    Oskar Israel

You are hereby notified to meet in front of Post Office the 14 day of July 1915 7 o'clock A. M. for the purpose of working the streets of West Blocton for five days.  Bring a good shovel.  Also bring the notice or pay Street Tax ($3.50) or make excuse.  Five days after work date, all who fail to work, pay or report excuse will be returned. This 8 day of July 1915" signed by John Gilbert.

Dropping back to 1907 we learn the following:

"The town election of 1907 was reported in the January 31 Centreville Press. W. H. Logan, a local attorney, was elected mayor.  Councilmen were M. C. Davie, merchant; L. J. Hays, cafe owner; M. M. odess, merchant; E. D. Reynolds banker-mine investor; E. M. Stamps, and T. J. Vickers.

Note in the above the vocation of E. M. Stamps is not listed.  However later he no doubt served as one of the first pastors of the Wesleyan Methodist Church during the 1920's.

Near 1929:

"The community took pride in the thrice-weekly appearance of the West Blocton String Ban led by George Deerman on Station WAPI in Birmingham.  Other members were Henry Fayette, the Fitts brothers, Fred Henderson, Curtis Martin, and Will Finnen.  Their introduction to WAPI was in January 1929 by T. T. Dison, Majest radio dealer in West Blocton."

Near 1933:

One day in the summer of 1933, miners, still apprehensive about the sincerity of the Act (National Industry Recover Act of 1933), gathered at dawn in small groups in the heavily wooded areas north and south of town and cautiously moved eastward to an outdoor meeting on a shaded hillside near the Catholic Church to organize and elect officers.  Other union organizational meetings were held at Hill Creek ballpark as sunrise.  Arthur Finnen recalls that he and his brother William and a third person met with a Birmingham UMWA organizer to whom a petition was presented declaring the intent to organize.  Will Finnen was later to serve as local president of the Hill Creek union.

Near 1934:

The Centreville Press reported on the building of the new school building for grades 7 through 12 by the Civil Works Administration.  The agreement called for a local contribution of materials so the old church building that was currently in use as a chemistry class room was torn down and used for lumber.  During the construction the classes met in the Free Will Baptist Church and also the Wesleyan Methodist Church. Harmon Fredrick reported that during his junior high days in the early 1940's the sidewalks that circled the abandoned Number One TCI school site were broken into pieces and laid as mosaic-style sidewalks at the new WBHS.

Near 1950:

"The Hill Creek mine would operate until 1950.  Like other local mining enterprises, it occasionally shut down or employed only a small number in slow market times and during the Great Depression.  It supported its own commissary near the mine's tipple and washer, and for many years Marvin M. Martin was store owner-manager.  Cars hoisted from the mine were drawn for more than a quarter mile by dinky steam locomotive to the tipple near the railhead.  Once the mine was in operation, the McGrawtown residents frequently hear the loud, shrill whistle of that small locomotive as it plied its way from near the mine entrance to the tipple.  On the day in 1950 when operations ceased, Arthur Finnen, Berl Dyer, and Lester McCulley pulled the last trip of cars from the mine.  Also working the day were Hulet Reach and the blacksmith-mechanic, "Preacher" Henderson."

Near 1957:

"In spite of the handicaps that substandard facilities imposed on students and teachers, capable and talented students from the school continued to display their ability to overcome. One music student of the era made his mark on the community an state even before leaving high school.  Jerry Carter was a member of a high school quartet,  the Crownsmen, other member were Charles G. West, Billy Roy Finnen, and Charles Carroll, Jr."

Near 1967

" The West Blocton Lions Club under leadership of Harmon Fredrick and Howard Pate, had a list of accomplishments to report.  They had sponsored a youth center at the old high school building featuring roller skating.  The Lions Community Center also provided Ping-Pong and billiards.  The Lions supported Girl and Boy Scout activities, contributed to sending the WBHS football team to the Sugar Bowl to see Alabama play Nebraska, and sponsored a Christmas lighting contest."

Later on in 1973:

"A musical group was organized in 1973 called the Believers Quartet consisting of Billy Roy Finnen, Sr. his son Billy Roy, Jr. and Brian and Dewey Williams of Anniston.  The quartet had concerts in Anniston, and in several locations in Georgia and Florida."

West Blocton and Church historical short notes.