Saturday, May 1, 2010


Marvin and Samme Templin have compiled a book of historical information about Tranquillity Methodist Church in northwest McMinn County where they are members. They gleaned material from not only the church records and conference archives but public records as well. The diary of Samme’s aunt Emma Carpenter Stair, who was ninety eight when she passed away, was also a valuable source.

This is not the first venture into the past for Marvin and Samme. They previously compiled McMinn County Tennessee Cemeteries, which contains gravestone information from all of the known cemeteries in McMinn County along with information about each cemetery and its location.

The story of how Tranquillity and Buttrams methodist churches came to exist only one mile apart is somewhat vague. Most agree it resulted from a disagreement between brothers Hiel and Noah Buttram. The purchase of a pair of shoes has been passed down as the cause, but different sources do not relate the same story. An elderly resident was asked shortly before his death to provide the missing details, but he replied that it was best to let dead dogs lie.

“The Little White Church on the Hill” begins with a time line of church history starting with the organization of Tranquility in 1848. On the date of January 6, 1869, is this entry: “Rev. T.T. Salyer made a report that the quarterly meeting of the Decatur circuit that Tranquillity Church was held by the M.E. Church North, and that he found the doors locked and the windows nailed, upon the 17 day of December 1868, on arriving here to fill the appointment: since which he has made no further effort to preach, as our members have all gone to the M.E. Church North.”

Also included in the book is the unit and unit history for each Civil War veteran buried in the cemetery along with the dates of enlistment of those who served. It was an unusual situation in that while located in Confederate territory, most of the the people supported the Union. Jacob E. Sliger was the only one of the many Civil War veterans buried in the church cemetery who was Confederate.

The obituaries section contains many details of historical interest. In the obituary of William F. Carpenter, who fought with the Union, we find: “Mr. Carpenter’s company, were instrumental in saving Athens when the Southern army in an attack that was a complete surprise, swooped down upon the Yankees. But the company, ever on the alert, sought refuge in the courthouse, and at the county jail, and these two buildings saw service as forts. Soon the quiet hours gave way to the rumbling of cannon, the crackling of musketry, the rattling of sabers. for several days the Union forces were confined to the two buildings. Ammunition and food was just about exhausted. Then came the day to decide victory or defeat. The Union won, the enemy was driven back, and the city of Athens was saved in what history acknowledge to be one of the hardest fought battles of the section.”

Reports of the pastors and lay leaders give insight into church activities while the many pictures tell the story of the people. An impressive and interesting history all can be proud of.

To obtain a copy of the “The Little White Church on the Hill” you can contact Marvin and Samme at 423-746-1690 or on the internet. The price of the book is $30.00 plus shipping and the proceeds benefit the Tranquillity UMC Building Fund.