Davis Chapel United Methodist Church and Cemetery


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DavisChapelSardis.jpg (144498 bytes)The first recorded deed for Davis Chapel Methodist Church was in 1851 at which time Robert Jennings deeded to Edward Irby, F. Fitzgerald, Peter Dilleshaw, Robert Redwell and Anthony R. Cabiness, three acres of land for the church. This land, as a result of the treaty with the Chickasaw, was first deeded to a land company, Whitsell, Niles & Cook, by Ish tuck Ka Nah in 1836. In 1840 it was deeded from Ruffin Coleman, who we note also was in possession of that part which was deeded to Fredonia Church, and it is our opinion he was a land speculator and was buying up land from the land companies and reselling it at a profit as the area became more settled. Ruffin Coleman deeded the land to Jack Fackler in 1840 and Fackler deeded it to Robert Jennings in 1851.DavisChapel2Sardis.jpg (68203 bytes)Davis Chapel Church is a stately antebellum church standing in a grove of huge oak trees. It is notable for the beauty of its proportions and for the untouched antiquity of its interior fittings. It is a rectangular building of handsawed, white-pine clapboard, put together with hand-forged nails. Twin doors admit the congregation and to go in and stand, times go back over a hundred years. The smooth plastered walls that were used in that time, the wide-plank board flooring, the upright, pews, the altar and chancel rail, the kerosene lamps with reflectors on the post, even the long-type woodburning stoves, patented in 1858, and kept blacked even though the church is now heated with gas, are all there. The high gallery where the slaves were permitted to worship is still there and on the pulpit is the Bible printed in 1855 at Philadelphia by Lippincott, Grambo & Company, with a notation written on a flyleaf saying the Bible was presented to the Methodists at Davis Chapel, Mississippi by John Rees and Ann Rees, 1860.

GraveyardSardis.jpg (192868 bytes)The cemetery behind the church, in a cedar grove, was originally called Holcombe Cemetery and it is interesting to read the headstones. One reads, "John Speed Taylor, Killed at the Battle of Shiloh in his 18th year." Others showing the immigration of the settlement read, "James Hay, born in Scotland 1809, Died 1866; Dr. John W. Irby, Born in Nottoway County, Va, died in Panola County, MS, 1878; and still another, Louis H. Dorr, born in France, 1816, died in Panola County, 1883." The names Williams, Prince, Floyd, Short, Freeman, Ragon, Butler, Oglesby, Harris and Robertson are among the many others. It is said that a trench was dug on the north side of the cemetery and here the unknown soldiers, Confederate and Union, killed as a result of skirmishes along the Turnpike Road during the Civil War were buried.

In 1838 the Mississippi Legislature passed an act creating the Panola Turnpike and Bridge Company, which was empowered to construct a toll road and to operate a ferry over the Tallahatchie River. This road extended from Panola, first county seat of Panola County, to Memphis.At Davis Chapel, across from the church is a house known as the "Old Williams House." Russell Jackson designed this home as well as the church. It is said that J. W. Williams, who built this home, had his slaves cut the timbers for the church at the same time they were cutting that for his home, from his property. This house was used for a hospital during the Civil War.The church takes its name from the Rev. Lorenzo Davis, a circuit-riding minister, who served several churches in the area though he was blind.

By Publications Committee
t47 (p. 112 Panola County History, 1986)

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The Pulpit Bible at Davis Chapel was published by Lippincott, Grambo & Co., Philadelphia. Date of publication was 1855 and the cost was $14.00. Inside the front cover there is the following inscription, which says "Davis' Chappel" rather than Davis Chapel.

Presented to the Methodist Church
at Davis' Chappel Mississippi
John Rees & Ann B. Rees


Dorr Gravestones