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SLAVENS CHAPEL


One of the notable rural churches which flourished during Hawk Point's early history and even before, was Slavens Chapel, a Southern Episcopal Methodist Church, which was built in 1865, three miles southeast of Hawk Point where Highway 47 is intersected by Giles Road.

The forerunner church to Slavens Chapel was Cottonwood Methodist Church, which was organized in the same vicinity in 1852. The land on which Slavens Chapel was located was donated by the Slavens family, and Wesley Slavens was one of the ministers of the church. Others wore a Brother Martin, a Brother Hess, and a Brother West.

Leaders of the church included Mrs. Frank Finley, who was organist for many years, John Boyes, Joe Slavens, George James, Welty Smith and Tom Gibson.

Slavens Chapel was noted for great two and three week revivals, during which there would be both morning and evening services. Crowds would pack the interior of the building and more people would stand outside looking through the windows. It was said of Mr. Smith that he could deliver the most articulate prayer of anyone in the history of the church.

On October 2, 1877 a group of interested Baptists met at the Cottonwood Church (not the same church as the Cottonwood Methodist) which had previously been first a Baptist, then a union church made up of Methodists, Christians, and Baptists, and had since fallen into disuse when Methodists and Christians had each built their own building. They reorganized as Mt. Gilead Baptist Church, and on December 8 that year they held their first service, not at Cottonwood as might be expected, but at Slavens Chapel Wesleyan Methodist Church. The congregation continued to meet at Slavens Chapel once a month until the following June, when its new building was completed about a mile east of Hawk Point. The tie between Mt. Gilead and Cottonwood is further indicated by the sale of the old building to Tom Gibson for $5 in 1883 under the supervision of Mt. Gilead trustee J. C. Capps.

The name of Tom Gibson is one that crops up throughout the church history of the region. For instance, he is the only known member of the Cottonwood Methodist Church. He also was a charter member of Slavens Chapel, which he helped build, and when that congregation disbanded in 1920, he nevertheless retained his name on the church roll. Mr. Gibson, who was born in 1849 near the chapel, died in the 1920ís and was buried in Slavens Cemetery. The building was torn down in 1924 and little now remains. In 1970 someone dug into an old well on the church site.

The Slavens Cemetery was apparently a family cemetery on the Slavens farm, and after Slavens Chapel was built, it served as the church cemetery. Many Slavensí are buried there, including Thomas Slavens, who was born in 1792 and was buried there in 1875. An older grave is that of a Slavens infant, 1834. Other names on the gravestones are Weber, Marsh, Cox, Baker, Reynolds, Jeans, Clare, Brown, and Douglass.

The cemetery is located south of the church site, a quarter of a mile off Giles Road back of Schupmannís Sheet Metal Shop.