New Prospect Baptist Church Historical Sketch
Submitted by Joyce Farris
Also see Captain Jacob Pruitt, Tavern Of Old Byler Road Recalled
New Prospect Church is located about 200 yards north of Highway 195, two miles east of Haleyville. The church was organized in the fall of 1824. No charter members are known definitely as such of New Prospect. However, the following gives room for imagination: The land records show that New Prospect Church is in Township9, Range 10, Section 28, and the land closest around the church site was entered by Richard McMahan in 1820, Johnson McKinney in 1821, Jacob Byler in 1822. Jacob Byler was a brother of John Byler after whom the Byler Road was named. Jacob Pruett entered section 31 in which the town of Haleyville is located was entered by Jacob Pruett in 1825. Jacob Pruett is buried in New Prospect Cemetery.
It at least seems suggestive that some or all of these men and their households made up the charter members of this church.
New Prospect is the oldest Baptist church in Winston County and believed to be the third oldest Baptist Church in the state of Alabama. The church is 50 years older than the Clear Creek Association, which was started in 1874. Records show New Prospect was a charter member. The oldest minutes of the Association were in 1883. The pastor in 1883 was W. W. Davis, father of the late Elder W. Davis and great grandfather of Dr. Oscar Davis, who was the first native-born Winston County boy to be president of the Baptist State Convention. The clerk this year (1883) was John C. Long Sr. The messengers to the
Association were: H. R. Fulmer, James F. Wilson, and J. C. Long Sr. The first reported membership shows 116.
For many years New Prospect was the largest church in the Association. She is truly called a mother church. Macedonia, Haleyville First, Ephesus, Corinth No.2, and Sunny Home were organized more or less with members from this church.
The first church was a 16 by 20 foot log building erected by members, and stood until 1884. The second building was erected in 1884 and served until 1901, when a larger, 30 by 50 foot church building was built. J. H. Wilson (now deceased) was foreman in charge of erecting this third building and was assisted by his son, Charlie G. Wilson, J. H. Stevens, J.W. Smith, J. A. Defoor, and others. Weatherboarding for this church was hand dressed. The church burned on August 13, 1924, and was rebuilt the same year. Isom Cheatham, a faithful member, was helping put a new roof on the church during a cold rain in December 1924 when he took pneumonia and died. His death was a great loss to the church and community. There have been numerous additions to the building since 1924. In 1977, a three-bedroom brick pastorium was completed on the church grounds. A new sanctuary was completed in June 1999, with a Dedication Service held on August 29, 1999. The old sanctuary and adjoining rooms now house the Juniorís Church and Sunday School rooms.
New Prospect has a membership of 322 (1999). Mrs. Ida Wilson is the oldest living member. She joined the church in 1929 but due to her health now resides at Haleyville Health Care. Mrs. Christine Knight, widow of the late Winfred Knight, holds the record for the most years of continuous active membership.
Source: History of the Clear Creek Baptist Association, by Rev. Jerry Burns, The Haleyville Advertiser, August 22, 1946, the150th year Celebration Program, September 29,1974 and the 175th Anniversary program, October 17, 1999.