One of the first religious organizations to enter Washington County was the Cumberland Presbyterian. The first Cumberland Presbyterians to locate in Arkansas were the Pyeatts and Carnahans, who, in 1812, emigrated from Northern Alabama, and located at Crystal Hill, fifteen miles above Little Rock. The party consisted of James and Jacob Pyeatt and James and Samuel Carnahan. The next year the father of the Carnahans, Rev. John Carnahan, removed to Arkansas, and, in the house of Jacob Pyeatt, preached the first sermon delivered in what is now Arkansas by a Cumberland Presbyterian. He formed a circuit, and was placed on the roll of Elk Presbytery. In 1814 he was licensed, and in October, 1816, was ordained.

The intermediate meeting for the organization of the Presbytery of Arkansas was held at the house of John Craig, on White River, in 1823. R. D. King, Reuben Burrow, John Carnahan and W. C. Long were present, and James H. Black and J. M. Blair were received as candidates. The presbytery was constituted at the same place in May, 1824, by Revs. John Carnahan, W. C. Long and William Henry. At the next meeting, in the fall of the same year, a quorum was not present, but Rev. Andrew Buchanan presented himself as a candidate, and in the spring of 1826, with three others, was licensed. Soon after the Carnahans, Blairs, Buchanans, Pyeatts and Crawfords removed to Cane Hill, in Washington County, and there, on August 30, 1828, Revs. William T. Larremore and J. M. Blair organized Cane Hill Cumberland Presbyterian Church, with James Billingsley, James Buchanan, William Reed and Robert Buchanan as elders. Meetings were held for four or five years in a log school-house, standing where the grave-yard near Boonsboro now is. One session of the presbytery was also held there. About 1832 or 1833 a large log house, 35×50 feet, was erected, and was occupied until 1858, when the building known as the White Church was completed. It is a frame structure, 40×50 feet, and cost about $1,500. Among the pastors who have served this congregation are John Carnahan, J. M. Blair, Samuel Harris, George Morrow, B. H. Pierson, John Buchanan, J. T. Buchanan, F. R. Earle, R. F. Adair and J. T. Molloy. Soon after the organization of the church a Sabbathschool was established, and, with the exception of a short time during the war, it has since been maintained.

During the pastorate of Rev. Samuel Harris the congregation was divided, and Salem Church organized. A portion of the members became dissatisfied with Mr. Harris, and elected another pastor. His adherents then organized a new congregation, with James B. Russell, James Haygood and Lewis Haygood as elders. This occurred in 1844. The successors of Mr. Harris have been Rev. Mr. Braly, B. H. Pierson and Dr. F. R. Earle. A school building located near Boonsboro was used as a place of worship until the erection of Cane Hill College. The congregation now numbers about 110 members. The officers are as follows: W. C. Braly, G. M. Haygood, J. R. Pyeatt, H. C. Pyeatt, A. E. Andrews and Z. B. Edmiston, elders, and W. F. Moore and J. S. Edmiston, deacons. Recently about eighteen members have withdrawn, and organized a new congregation about one and one-half miles south of Boonsboro.

Billingsley congregation of Cumberland Presbyterians was organized some time about 1850, and for many years was known as Mount Zion Church. Among the first members were G. B. Nolen and wife, Merritt Baker and wife, Nancy Stevenson, John Billingsley and Miriam Dodson. The elders were John Billingsley, G. B. Nolen and Merritt Baker. Until the Civil War the congregation was under the care of Rev. Ambrose Williams, and since that time it has been chiefly supplied by B. F. Totten, J. T. Molloy and F. R. Earle.

Previous to May, 1888, services were held in school-houses, but at that date a neat frame building was completed, at a cost of $540. In 1887 seventeen members of this congregation withdrew and organized Pleasant Grove congregation, with L. Tankersly, S. Dell and L. C. Blakemore.

The Fayetteville Cumberland Presbyterian Church is a part of the Arkansas Presbytery. Its early records were destroyed during the war, so that reliable information of the pre-war period is very meager. A Rev. Feemster is given as one of its earliest preachers. On June 3, 1867, the following members reorganized themselves into a church: Samuel H. Buchanan, E. H. Buck, M. G. Bonham, L. F. Graham, J. D. Henry, Dr. James Stephenson, Sarah Sellars, M. S. Bonham, Esther Crockett, L. M. and A. E. Routh, Adeline Graham, M. J. Reif, Margaret Calfee, Sarah Hodges, Martha Stephenson and L. A. Henry. Since 1867 the pastors have been as follows: Revs. Samuel H. Buchanan (now Dr.), John Buchanan, F. R. Earle (now D. D. and president of Cane Hill College), S. S. Patterson, J. L. Dickens, Rev. E. E. Morris, G. A. Henderson and J. T. Molloy, the present pastor. Dr. Earle was recalled three different times after his first pastorate. The largest accessions to the church have been made under Rev. A. M. Buchanan, R. G. Pearson, an evangelist, and Rev. Molloy, the total membership now being 114. Their first building was of brick, erected at a cost of $2,500. Their present church edifice is a frame structure, built during the centennial year. Two ladies’ societies, the Aid and Foreign Missionary, are in a flourishing condition.

West Fork Cumberland Presbyterian Church was organized in the summer of 1853, in a school-house one mile and a half from the town of West Fork. Two years later a log building was erected. The original members numbered about twentyfive, of whom four are now living. They are J. C. Stockburger and wife Martha A., Maria Brown and William Hutcheson. The first elders were J. C. Stockburger and E. Baker. There is now a membership of over fifty, and in 1881 a new frame church house was completed.

Barker Cumberland Presbyterian Church was organized in 1881 by Rev. Samuel Cox, with the following officers and members: N. Rose, E. P. Haynes, S. A. Cox, elders; J. L. Barker, deacon; M. Hodges, treasurer; Margaret Cox, L. Landon, E.Haynes, A. D. Haynes, Tennie Haynes, Clara Cox, Jessie Loften, Margaret Loften, Mrs. Rose Huston Landon. During the same year a house of worship was erected. It was a frame building, and stands on the “old Barker farm.” The pastors have been Rev. Samuel Cox, J. H. Pigman and S. L. Robinson.

Middle Fork Cumberland Presbyterian Church was organized in August, 1887, with L. J. A. Prather as pastor. G. W. Van Hoose and Pleasant King, elders; George King, deacon, and G. W. Van Hoose, clerk. The congregation was composed of members from White River congregation at Maguire’s Store. The petitioners were, besides the above officers, John C. and M. L. Moore, F. L. Davidson, J. Maguire, Matilda Maguire, members. E. A. Hammontree was chosen clerk, and John Wells ordained deacon. The pastors have been M. Smith, Mathias Spires, M. D. Cox and J. C. Peters. The congregation, now numbering thirty-two members; worship in a school-house.

Little Elm Baptist Church was organized by Elder T. H. Day, with the following members: M. W. Marrs, deacon; D. K. Clevenger, C. T. Clayton, James Jackson, Annie Day, Mary J. Clayton, Sallie Beaver, Lucy Slaughter, Belle Gibson and Mary Shelly. The church was organized in a school-house, but in 1883 a union meeting-house was erected. It is situated nine miles west of Fayetteville. T. H. Day served the congregation as pastor for six years, and was then succeeded by H. B. Borders, the present pastor.

Spring Valley is the name of a flourishing church at Spring Valley, organized by Elders A. J. Vaughn and C. S. Fritts. It now belongs to Spring Valley Association, which was organized in October, 1877.

Beersheba Cumberland Presbyterian Church is situated on the Middle Fork of White River. It is a member of Arkansas Presbytery, and was organized about 1878 by the Rev. Samuel Black. Among its original members and officers were Elders A. Hight, W. C. Douglass, J. S. Guinn and George W. Arnett, and Deacon Nathan Reed. The first building, erected in 1878, was built at a cost of about $200. The pastors have been Revs. Prather, Black, Goin and Pigman, under whose charge the membership has reached to the number of about twenty persons.

The Barker Cumberland Presbyterian Church, a member of Arkansas Presbytery, was organized in 1881, by Rev. Samuel Cox. Elders N. Rose, E. P. Haynes, S. A. Cox, Deacon I. L. Barker, Margaret Cox, E. Haynes, A. D. Haynes, Tennie Haynes, M. Hodges, Clara Cox, Jessie Loften, Margaret Loften, Mrs. Rose, Huston Landon, L. Landon and W. Cornstep were the original members. Rev. Samuel Cox was followed in the pastorate by Rev. Benj. Pigman and Rev. Benj. L. Robinson. The society has twenty-three members, and a house of worship valued at $1,051. It is a frame structure, located on the old “Barker farm,” and erected in 1881.

The Cumberland Presbyterian Church, located five miles east of Prairie Grove, was organized in 1887, by Rev. T. Molloy, of Fayetteville. Their membership has increased from twentyfour, the original number, to thirty-four, the present membership. They occupy a union church with the Church of Christ at that point.

Back to: Washington County, Arkansas History

Source: History of Benton, Washington, Carroll, Madison, Crawford, Franklin, and Sebastian Counties, Arkansas. Chicago, IL, USA: Goodspeed Publishing Co., 1889.