If Walls Could Talk: Miles Chapel CME

3 May

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


9 Responses to “If Walls Could Talk: Miles Chapel CME”

  1. Sara Norvell May 3, 2013 at 12:12 pm #

    Oh my Alex Norvell is my paternal great grandfather and his son Tony married my grandmother Sarah Halfacre!!! This is an awesome find!!!

    Sent from my iPhone

    • Tiffany May 3, 2013 at 12:33 pm #

      That’s great! I wonder if they were married in the church? Thanks for commenting as always.

    • William Carson August 27, 2015 at 6:33 pm #

      Hello Sara,
      My name is William Carson, I am descend from the CARSON’S from Ripley, Tennessee. I have been researching my family lines out of Ripley and Paducah since 2006. I believe that we are distant cousins through marriage.

      I would like to make contact with you and other relatives for my research.

      Thank you for your time,
      William Carson

      • Annese Ashton September 3, 2015 at 9:38 pm #

        Are you a descendant of the William Carson born 1904 in Ripley that was the son of Richard Carson and Laura Gildon?

  2. William Carson November 19, 2013 at 10:05 am #

    Richard Byrn, Smith Carson are father and son and were trustees of the Church.
    The early members were mainly related to each other through marriage- CARSON- HALFACRE-NORVELL-JEROE(JAYROE)-CLAY.
    Richard (BRYN) Carson is my 3rd great grandfather
    BornJan 1827 in North Carolina

    Smith Carson is my 2nd great grandfather
    Born Feb. 1850 in Tennessee, USA
    Died 13 March 1929 in Paducah, McCracken, Kentucky- This line of my family are the ones that established Miles Chapel CME in Paducah KY. I actually found members of the CARSON line through my research and had NO IDEA that they existed! Needless to say we are happy to have found each other.

    • Tiffany November 19, 2013 at 10:29 am #

      I’ve discovered family through research as well and even got to go to a family reunion. Love it when that happens. A lady named Sara left a comment on the “About” page of my blog that she’s related to Norvells and Halfacres. Maybe you all can make a connection.

  3. Keeping You Informed March 23, 2016 at 1:18 pm #

    Tiffany, Do you know if anyone rescued the plaques, etc., before the church was razed?

    • Tiffany March 23, 2016 at 1:23 pm #

      Thanks for commenting. No, I don’t know if those items were saved, but I truly hope they were.


  1. Lost Ripley – Miles Chapel | Black Ripley - September 3, 2015

    […] You can revisit Miles Chapel’s first appearance on the website here -> If Walls Could Talk – Miles Chapel […]

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