THE FIRST CONGREGATION HERE
Sometime around 1895, three women began meeting in a home known as the Mitchell Home. This was located north of Highway 4, East of Curtis Creek near the present location of Billy Peeler’s sawmill site, between the Hugh Graves and W. T. Simpson homes. These women began studying the bible together, and were gradually joined by others and thus the birth of the present congregation here. From 1895 until sometime in the early 1900s, they continued to meet in homes and in an old school building.
THE FIRST PREACHER
William Eli Crum was born at Hickory Flat, Mississippi on September 28, 1860. Brother Crum was converted at the age of fourteen and baptized by this father who was also a gospel preacher. He began preaching in 1880 and preached continuously until his death in 1924 at the age of sixty five. Both he and his wife, Olivia are buried in the Old Hickory Flat cemetery.
THE FIRST MEMBER
The first known member of the New Testament Church in the area of what is now known as the Beech Hill community was Mrs. Parolee Graves. She was baptized in 1898 at the age of sixty three. Brother Will E Crum administered the baptism. The exact date of the penning of the name Beech Hill is not known, but assumed to have been when the first building was erected. Stories handed down credit Parolee with the naming, probably influenced by large beech trees in the vicinity of the first building. Mrs. Graves died October 12, 1911 and is buried in the Shelby Creek cemetery.
THE FIRST BUILDING
John Peeler, an early worshipper, lived in Shelby Creek bottom. Around the turn of the century, he donated land on top of what is now Hobson Hill for a building site for the first church building. The first building was constructed by Billy Johnson, also an early member. The one roomed structure was approximately forty by fifty in size, and faced the east. It was located just south of the three grave markers that are still standing.
All early baptisms were done in Shelby Creek, down the hill on the west side of the building. Many remember people being baptized in all forms of inclimate weather. It has been said that one of the original elders was baptized in a severe snow storm. In later years, the pond near the Spight May home was used for baptisms. This was located behind the present J. T. Street house.
In 1940, a new church building was built at the present location. This building was never torn down, but over the course of years has been enlarged and remodeled to look as it does today.
THE FIRST APPOINTED ELDERS
Louis Graves, Spight May and John Peeler. Brother Peeler died in 1954, Brother May in 1964 and Brother Graves in 1981 at the age of 101. All three of these men obeyed the Gospel in early manhood and served the Church for many years.
THE FIRST FULL TIME PREACHER
Marvin Rainey was born in 1919 to Bynum and Lillie Brown Rainey in Alcorn County, Mississippi. He graduated from Freed-Hardeman College in 1949, and was very knowledgeable in preaching the gospel. Brother Rainey came to the Beech Hill congregation to preach full-time in 1955. This was the same year the first preacher’s home was built. Brother Rainey died on October 12, 2000.
OTHER FULL TIME PREACHERS
1959-1961 William (Bill) Lambert
1961-1964 Roy Balkcom
1964-1967 Burt Perry
1967-1971 William Jerry Coats
1972-1975 David Lipe
1975-1981 Howard Reese
1981-1990 James Draper
1989-1992 Mike Eaton, Associate
1990-1992 Raymond Seig
1992- ____ King McCarver