Miles Chapel CME was the second African American church in Ripley, TN. It was founded after emancipation and I have found dates of 1873, 1876, and 1886 as its dates of origin. The church first held meetings under a bush arbor on land owned by Chaney Jeroe on College Street. A location for the church was soon secured on Elm Street right near College Street, but when the railroad came through the church had to be relocated. It eventually found itself back on College Street, not far from the original location.

According to the plaque on the wall of the church it appears that this building was rebuilt in 1943. It is unclear if that was due to the forced move by the railroad or something else. Today it appears that the church might be inactive, but can you imagine what went on here when the church was active? Imagine all of the Sunday worship services, the church dinners and fellowships, the weddings, the baptisms, and even the funerals. As I stood outside of the church taking photographs I could almost feel the energy of all of the happy times that must have taken place there.

Miles Chapel
Miles Chapel

Early members of the church include Chaney Jeroe, Elias Clay and family, Alex Norvell, Ned Fuller, Richard Byrn, Smith Carson, Lawrence Tyus, Lewis Bord, Hester Burns, Hannah Sutherland, the Halfacre family, and many, many others. Interestingly it seems that a few members of this church also moved to Paducah, Kentucky and established a Miles Chapel CME church there as well.

I also found an ad placed in the Lauderdale County Enterprise on October 22, 1926 regarding Miles Chapel.

“Attention Colored Mid-Wives
Dr. M.E. Coleman, field agent of the vital statistic department of Public Health State Board, is in the county getting the vital statistics of colored babies and instructing midwives (colored).
All that do not get in touch with her will not be recommended
to the State. She will hold a meeting Tuesday, Oct. 26, at the Methodist
Church in Henning at 1:30, Wednesday, Oct. 27 at 1:30 at Miles Chapel
Methodist Church in Ripley. All midwives are urged to be present at one of
these meetings if they want to continue doing their work without getting into
trouble. adv.”

Do any of you have fond memories of Miles Chapel CME? If so, please share!

– Tiffany
Sources: Google Maps, church cornerstone photo my own, Lauderdale County From its Earliest Times by Kate Johnston Peters, Lauderdale County Enterprise October 22, 1926 edition via Lauderdale County, TN GenWeb