History of Forest Grove Old School Baptist Church

The exact date of the meetings that resulted in the organization of the Forest Grove Old School Baptist Church is not known. As early as 1875 there was a building on this site referred to as the Baptist Meetinghouse; however, the church was not organized until January 26, 1886 with 19 members, many moving their memberships from Little Creek, Nassaongo, and Indiantown. The first building was constructed of board and batten siding with crossbuck shutters over the windows. Elder John W. Timmons was chosen first pastor. He served only until April 24, 1886, when he died at a fairly young age.

In 1896 Brethren Levin Hastings (son of Elisha, father of Elmer F.), D. J. Parsons, George W. Adkins and John H. Parker with Elder A. B. Francis as chairman were appointed a building committee to erect the present building. The new building was to be painted white inside, steel grey with darker trim on the outside. The pumphouse, originally a woodshed and storage area for sawhorse tables, and water shelf with a pitcher pump was erected in 1905. The communion set was purchased in 1951 with goblets and plates from the church and a flagon given by Mr. and Mrs. (Agnes Laws) Elmer Hastings. In 1963 Mr. and Mrs. (Olive) Elmer Hastings purchased new pews, window shades and door locks for the meetinghouse. Bro. Elmer was appointed deacon in 1964, the first the church had had in 30 years. In 1977 at a cost of $4, 992.66, the renovated pumphouse became the first in-door plumbing the church had had.

History of the Salisbury Old School Baptist Church

Salisbury Old School Baptist Church was constituted between 1778 and 1780. The earlier date seems logical since the Salisbury Association was formed in 1780. The first sermon was preached by Elijah Baker under a great White Oak tree on Lemmon Hill, home of Dr. Richard Lemmon. The Congregation met for several years at the home of Dr. Lemmon as well as at homes of others of the congregation. The first building was completed in 1802 and was known as the Salisbury Baptist Meeting House.

In October 1816, there were 87 members. Generally, over the years the membership as averaged around 15. In 1913, a new brick building with slate roof and basement was completed and ready for service. An additional meetinghouse existed known since the Salisbury Church agreed in 1841 to sell the land of the Branch Meetinghouse. The first pastors mentioned in the minutes were Daniel Hancock (until 1814) and John Benston (until 1817). The longest serving pastor was Elder Silas Durand (1867-1918). In 2006, Salisbury Church decided to merge with the Forest Grove Church.

The two churches became Forest Grove-Salisbury Church on May 21, 2006. On August 20, 2006, the final meeting was held at the Salisbury Meetinghouse.

Other Churches with incomplete historical records

The Nassaongo Church was organized about 1790 with Elder Handcock as the first pastor. Records are incomplete; however, the present building was built about 1898. According to land records in Worcester Co., there are about two acres of land accompanying the church. The meetinghouse is on Route 12 (Snow Hill Road).

The Indiantown Church at Powellville was organized about 1790 and continued an active church until the late 1970ís or early 80ís when the remaining members joined the Snow Hill Church. The building was burned by the fire department at the request of the remaining members.

Rewastico Church on Athol Road near Mardela Springs was constituted September 30, 1815, with nine members. This church met for many years at the Barren Creek Springs Presbyterian Meetinghouse in Mardela during winter months and at the Rewastico Meetinghouse during summer months. Elder Harold Bennett was the last pastor. Sister Minnie Gambrill became a member in 1948 and died in the late 70ís or early 80ís and was the last member.

The Fishing Creek Church, Woolford, MD., was constituted in March, 1790, with the building being constructed about the same time. Elder Stevens Woolford who died in 1832 was the first pastor. The land had been given by his father by deed in September 1794. The meetinghouse, which still exists, contains a balcony for slaves and free colored members. Services were held intermittently until 1915. The last service was a funeral in 1920. In 1920, three members remained. In 1927 the Woolford family formed a foundation to maintain the site. Baptisms were held in the river at Liberty Hall, home of the Woolford family. Frequent ministers were Elders Gilbert Beebe, Grott, and Purrington.

The Salisbury Association was formed in 1782 with 10 churches and grew to have at its largest size 18. Earlier members were Salisbury (1778), Indiantown (c. 1790), Nassaongo (c. 1790) in present Wicomico County, Maryland. Four churches were in Dorchester County: Fishing Creek (1790), Bonwells Mills, and Jones Mills. The association met at Bonwells Mills church in 1800, and at Jones Mills in 1810. The other church remains elusive as to name.

In Delaware, the Sounds Church (1779), the second Baptist Church in Delaware, met in homes and never had a meetinghouse (it no longer exists). The Broad Creek Church (this was the third Baptist church in Delaware) in Sussex County was constituted May 31, 1781. Members from this church formed Gravely Branch Church in 1785 (it was near Bethel, DE). The Little Creek Church (also known as Smith Mills Church) was organized in Sussex Co., DE, in 1802 and remained an active church until Sister Pattie Krewatch died in 2001 and Sister Elsie Houston in 2002. Other churches, the Mispillion (1783-1843) in Kent Co., DE, were a part of the Salisbury Association. The Mispillion Church was originally a part of the Philadelphia Association but was dismissed to join the Salisbury Assoc. in 1789. They had no meetinghouse until 1796. There was also a church in Millsboro, DE, for a short time. In Worcester Co., MD, existed the Pitts Creek Church which was established in 1817 with 26 members. In 1832 a tract of land was deeded to the church upon which the meetinghouse already stood. The building burned in 1886. It is not known when the division between the New School and Old School Baptists occurred at Pitts Creek. A New School Baptist Church of the same name still exists.

In Northampton Co., VA, the Messongoes Church was organized about 1779. This church existed well into the twentieth century. Elder Tommy Polson was a well-known and respected minister of this and other churches in the Salisbury Association.

In 1876 the Snow Hill Old School Baptist Church was organized in an old shingled building with biweekly and later monthly services. In 1924 the building was replaced by the present brick structure. This church has a baptistery in the basement.

The Primitive Baptist Home for the Aged

In 1928 churches in Maine, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland established the Primitive Baptist Home on the corner of Naylor Street and Church Street. The house contained 25 bedrooms--7 on the first, 11 on the second, and 7 on the third floors. On the first floor were two living rooms, one sun parlor, a dining room and a kitchen. This home was surrounded by two acres of land with fruit and shade trees. The home was sold in the years following the second World War to provide needed housing for young married couples.