Date Congregation Founded:
Date Present Church Building Built:
Methodist Episcopal Church South
Condition of church building/grounds**:
Excellent (October 2003)
Pleasant Hill Church congregation
Date added to WVCPA register:
Data Updated: 07 September 2012
Easily accessible - located on a knoll overlooking the Parchment Valley and Parchment Creek above CR 15 just north of Given. Good, solid driveway area by cemetery and church to park and turn around on. The road up to the church (CR 15-6) is very steep and the gravel sometimes loose, so take it slow and easy. This is a beautiful location, and as you can see in the photos, particularly so in early October as the leaves are changing.
** Condition of church
building and grounds as observed on the given date - may not be
representative of care at other times of the year Scale:
Excellent - Good - Fair - Poor - Abandoned
Click thumbnail photos below to
Pleasant Hill Church is located in Parchment Valley about seven
miles southwest of Ripley on a high point overlooking the valley in
first settlers of the community were natives of Franklin County,
Virginia, and arrived here about 1818. In the year 1844 a circuit
rider named Sam Black came through Jackson County. With the help and
encouragement of Jabel Bowles, a class of the Methodist Episcopal
Church, South, was organized at the Bowles home. Charter members
were label and Nancy Mason Bowles, Job and Frances Bowles Kessel,
Samuel and Melinda Simmons, Mason and Sarah Stout Bowles, Joseph and
Mercy Carney Stout, Henry and Mary Elizabeth Simmons Parsons, Jeptha
and Rachel Lewis Mason.
Bowles was the leader in building a log church a few yards from his
home. The new church was called the Bowles Church for many years,
sometimes Parchment, then later Pleasant Hill. It was located about
300 yards down the hill from the present church. Jabel Bowles was
licensed as a local preacher in 1860 and was continued in this
status until his death.
congregation grew and by 1875 the little log church had become
inadequate. The present building was started in 1876 and was
dedicated September 1, 1878, with Rev. EL. McGee as pastor. The
building committee consisted of L.W. Bowles, James M. Kessel, Ammon
H. Boswell, George R. Casto and William A. Kessel. Land for the new
church was given by George R. and Margaret Casto. The church was
built adjacent to the cemetery which had been established some 50
years earlier. The first person buried in the
Pleasant Hill cemetery was Miss Susannah Parsons, who died in 1826.
most of its history Pleasant Hill was a part of the Ripley Circuit.
For many years the circuit consisted of Ripley Epworth, Mount Olive,
Briscoe and Pleasant Hill. In 1887 Rev.S.E McClung reported that
Pleasant Hill Sunday School was organized and lessons for 60 persons
secured. We do not know whether this was the first Sunday School or
simply a reorganization.
outstanding leadership and an energetic membership, Pleasant Hill
became one of Jackson County's outstanding rural churches during the
latter part of the 19th and the first part of the 20th century. In
1944 in spite of wartime travel restrictions, more than 160 people
attended the centennial of the church's founding. At that time a
memorial to Jabel and Nancy Bowles was dedicated.
by the late 1960s, declining population of the community brought
about discontinuance of regular worship services. However, an active
board of trustees makes sure that the church and adjoining cemetery
are kept in good condition. A homecoming is held annually the third
Sunday of August. ."¹
tribute to Jabel Bowles ²
– by Rev.
Joseph Sanders Bowles –
men are known by the business they follow rather than by their name.This simply means that these men’s chief business was being
human beings.Jabel Bowles had a little hillside farm upon which he raised
corn, wheat, oats and such things as he needed for his family.But this was only incidental.He raised these things in order to pay expenses.His chief business was just folks.He visited them in sickness or misfortune with words of
wisdom; ministered to them in time of need, gave them good advice
when they sought it, and was a friend of all at all times.
rule of his I shall never forget.When a couple married in the community, he made a gift for
the bride.He went to
the woods, selected the timber and made with his own hands, with the
meager tools he possessed, a cedar bucket, a poplar bread tray, a
potato masher, and rolling pin, not with which the bride was
supposed to discipline her husband, but it was used to flatten out
the biscuit dough.
there was added a piece of furniture.All these he made with his own hands.Nor did he neglect the spiritual well being of his neighbors.In fact, he believed this duty to be his first consideration.So he became known as a local preacher.He built a log cabin in his yard and there preached on Sunday
in the absence of a regular monthly circuit rider.
the springtime, he always prepared a hotbed in which he raised sweet
potato, cabbage, and tomato plants sufficient for himself and any
neighbors who were in need of them.He would have considered himself insulted had anyone proposed
to pay for such favors.
I was a small child, I remember him blowing a horn of some kind
calling his neighbors, as many could hear, to worship.He kept this up all the days of the War between the States."
a Mason County deed dated 1821, Jabel Bowles deeded to John Cantrill
and two other trustees two and one-half acres of land to be used as
a school lot.It seems
probable that the log building mentioned above was on this lot.Such a building was frequently used for both church and
school purposes in pioneer days.
Bowles was later licensed to preach and preformed several marriages
in Jackson County.He
and his wife founded the Pleasant Hill Church in 1844.
Bowles was, in December 1847, a part grantee in a deed to the
trustees of the Ripley Methodist Church, South (M.E. South denom.)
– second church deed in Ripley."²
from a submission
by local historian James C. Kessel in"Jackson
County West Virginia Past and Present 1990", page 51, published
by the Jackson County Historical Society
found printed in "Church History of Jackson County", by
Corinne Staats Fisher. This text is a portion
of what was printed in the Jackson Herald, April 22, 1981
research in progress. Contributions of historical accounts of this
church are welcomed.
This delightful old church
has been lovingly, and beautifully restored and maintained. In
our opinion, this is an excellent example of the art of keeping the
dignified, elegant beauty of these historic houses of worship alive
and in use for what they were intended.