WestVirginiaCemeteryPreservationAssociation

Historic Church

Church Name: Pleasant Hill M.E. Church

Date Congregation Founded:
Date Present Church Building Built:

1844
1878
County: Jackson Founding Denomination: Methodist Episcopal Church South
USGS Quad: Ripley Condition of church building/grounds**: Excellent (October 2003)
Coordinates: 38.7559N  81.7401W Preservation Outlook: Excellent
Maintained by: Property owner Construction: Stick frame
Property owner:   Pleasant Hill Church congregation
Date added to WVCPA register: October 2003   Data Updated: 07 September 2012
Accessibility: 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 enlarge

"The Pleasant Hill Church is located in Parchment Valley about seven miles southwest of Ripley on a high point overlooking the valley in both directions.

The 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.

Jabel 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.

The 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.

During 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.

With 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.

Unfortunately, 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. ."

 

Pleasant Hill M.E. Church, Jackson County, WV

 

Pleasant Hill M.E. Church, Jackson County, WV

 

Pleasant Hill M.E. Church, Jackson County, WV

Pleasant Hill M.E. Church, Jackson County, WV      Pleasant Hill M.E. Church, Jackson County, WV      Pleasant Hill M.E. Church, Jackson County, WV

A tribute to Jabel Bowles

by Rev. Joseph Sanders Bowles

"Many men are known by the business they follow rather than by their name.  This simply means that these mens 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.

One 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.

Sometimes 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.

In 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.

When 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."

***

"In 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.

Jabel Bowles was later licensed to preach and preformed several marriages in Jackson County.  He and his wife founded the Pleasant Hill Church in 1844.

(Jabel 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."

Quoted 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

As 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

Additional background research in progress. Contributions of historical accounts of this church are welcomed.


Comments:

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.  

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Updated: 07 September 2012