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Norvell Camp Ground



The James Norvell, who gave the land that became the Norvell Camp Ground, was the husband of Mary Knott. James and Mary were the grandparents of Dr Alexander Smith Norvell, father of Van Calhoun Norvell and Dr James Knox Ladd Norvell


Bell-Buckle Methodist Church

"Salem Church and Camp-ground, located on Bell Buckle Creek, Bedford County, Tennessee, about ten miles from Shelbyville, are historic. The first cane was cut on this creek in 1805. Here at an early day was formed an important settlement. As early as 1807 or 1808, the neighborhood was included in the Duck River Circuit. Tradition says that in 1807, the neighbors cut round poles, and erected a meeting house on Mr. Norvell's land, and called it Salem." (Christian Advocate, 1876.)

The Rev. John B. McFerrin said it was built of logs and poles covered with clapboards held in place by weight poles. The men and their families who worshiped in that log church were Townsend Fugitt, Robert Blair, Burrel Featherston, William Peacock, Martin Hancock, Major Sutton, Allen Wallis, the Pearsons, Norvells, Armstrongs, McGrews, Hensleys, Davises, Greens, Kelleys, Lynches, Sruggs, Marshes, Thomases and many others. It soon became evident that the congregation had outgrown their little log church. Under the leadership of the Rev. John Brooks and others what was known as Norvell's Camp Ground was established just South of Salem Cemetery. A hewn log church took the place of the original structure. It was here that the Annual Conference held its, session in 1821.

The Salem congregation grew, and in time the church was replaced by a frame structure. Material from this building was used in the construction of a house, still standing, known as the "Jacobs' Place." The new church was famous for its great revivals held by such men as Thomas Marks, Fountain Z. Pitts, Joseph Myers, C. C. Mayhew, John R. Thompson, and others. The Rev. A. T. Crawford was the last pastor of Old Salem.

In the year 1875 the congregation moved to the town of Bell Buckle which had grown up around the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad depot one mile from Salem. A large brick church was constructed and continued as the place of worship of the Methodists until the year 1893.

In the meantime, Webb School, was moved from Culleoka to Bell Buckle in 1886. "Old Sawney" Webb, headmaster of the school, was a Methodist and there developed a relationship between Webb School and the Methodist Church which continues to the present. Webb School teachers have provided leadership in the church and many Webb students have been a part of its life.

In 1893 the present church was built under the leadership of the Rev. T. L. Duncan. The membership of Bell Buckle Methodist Church still embraces descendants of families which founded the original church at Old Salem. The lives of many young men of Webb School, who later entered the ministry and other professions, have been influenced by its ministry. The congregation has given one member to the world mission of the church. R. M. Paty, M.D., was sent to China in 1923.

James F. Swiney, Jr., Pastor


Owner/SourceJames F Swiney, Jr
Linked toBell Buckle, Bedford, Tennessee; KNOTT Mary; NORVELL James, Sr

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