Photo of Elder John Henry Hubbard

Photo is of the MTA symbol.  MTA is the abbreviation for the Order's name. The 3 V's is an abbreviation for the Latin phrase "Veni vidi vici" meaning "I came, I saw, I conquered."

Photo of rear of Creek Stand Methodist Memorial Chapel and cemetery.  The memorial chapel is a replica of the original  original Mt. Zion Church.  

Photo of Cooper Chapel A.M.E. Zion Church cornerstone

Photo of a U.S. Public Health Service Syphilis Study round-up at the Creek Stand A.M.E. Zion Church - from National Archives SE Region digital files.

INTRODUCTION TO HISTORIC CHURCHES AND CEMETERIES IN THE RIDGE PROJECT NEIGHBORHOOD

Early History


The early history of places of worship in The Ridge comes from oral history and other documents.  Churches were either Methodist or Baptist.  This held true even after emancipation when former slaves established their own churches.  The white Methodist church was affiliated with the Methodist Episcopal Church South or the Southern Methodists.


A Creek Stand resident who is descended from the Floyd and Lloyd families explained that the early white settlers attended church in nearby Uchee in Russell County. According to him, the rules for attendance at Uchee were very strict and if a person missed services twice, they were ousted from the church.  ​Finally, the settlers in Creek Stand built a church around 1850.  Supposedly, the land was donated by the Ellisons, the Lloyds and the Paces. The church was called Mt. Zion.


Sarah G. Talbot must have been one of the first people laid to rest at Mt. Zion as hers is the oldest internment there. She was born in 1807 and died in 1847. Eva Chandler Gagnon, was Sarah's granddaughter. Eva participated in documenting cemetery records in the 1960s.  She also wrote a memoir called Home Place. In the memoir, Eva provided an account of attending worship services at Mt. Zion.  Home Place was published by Eva Gagnon and a copy is available at several libraries in the U.S. The publication was not copyrighted. Here is an excerpt in which she described Mt. Zion:


This church served a radius of five or six miles...In Ante-bellum days there was a membership or attendance of about four hundred.  The church was built in a grove of trees on top of a little hill and was a pleasant place in which to spend a Sunday morning.  There were oak trees and pine; on a summer's day there were bird calls and butterflies flitting about....Once a year there was a very important day when the members of this church entertained members of the other Methodist churches for miles around.  The women of the neighborhood had to provide the food...The preacher lived about five miles from this church, so it was one of his duties to pay pastoral calls to the homes of the members.  Sometimes he spent several days, but he usually arrived on a Friday or Saturday afternoon before a second or fourth Sunday.  His family came with him if the weather was good.


​A search of historic newspaper articles from the late 1800s and early 1900s reveals that Creek Stand and Warrior Stand were included in the Montgomery District of the Southern Methodist Church.  A pastor was appointed each year to the Warrior Stand circuit.  It is believed that the pastor of the Warrior Stand circuit was the minister referred to by Eva Gagnon.  To cite some of those ministers according to historic newspaper articles about the proceedings of church conferences: In 1889 C.D. Perry was the Warrior Stand circuit pastor; in 1896 it was H.M. Gillis; in 1897 it was J.O. Noble; and, in  1909 it was S.B. Brooks.


African American churches of the Baptist and Methodist denominations began to spring up after the Civil War, although these congregations most likely existed informally during slavery.   A descendant of African American pioneers explained that his church first met in a brush arbor before the church building was constructed.  This appears to be a common beginning for many African American churches in The Ridge Project area.  Sweet Pilgrim Baptist Church was organized in 1863, Antioch Baptist Church was organized in 1870, the original Cooper Chapel A.M.E. Zion Church structure was built in 1870 and the original Creek Stand AME Zion Church structure was built in 1895.  


A November 1911 article in the Montgomery Advertiser reported the proceedings of the Alabama Conference of the Negro Methodist Episcopal Church.  J.H. Hubbard was presiding elder of the Union Springs district (this was John Henry Hubbard).  A.W. Williams was appointed to the Warrior Stand circuit, G. H. Williams was appointed to Creek Stand and L.D. Green was appointed to Boromville.


The United States Public Health Service Syphilis Study (also known as the Tuskegee Syphilis Study).


There were numerous church and school locations within south Macon County, Alabama that were used as round up locations during the Syphilis Study.  Round up locations were sites where public health workers met with study subjects for "treatment" and/or to transport them to Tuskegee for exams.  On page 102 in the book Tuskegee's Truths - Rethinking the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, the text was published from a 1955 letter issued to study subjects instructing them to meet with the government doctor at the location closest to their homes.  The Ridge Project and Ridge Neighborhood locations included:  Cooper's Chapel, Creek Stand, Cross Roads, Swanson, Hannon, Roba, Armstrong, Ft. Davis, Cotton Valley and Mt. Nebo.  


Mosaic Templars of America


The Mosaic Templars of America (MTA) was the one of the first highly successful, independent African-American operated businesses.  The idea for the fraternal order was conceived by former slaves John E. Bush and Chester W. Keats in 1882 at a time when race relations was at an all-time low and white insurance companies were reluctant to offer burial insurance to African Americans.   The MTA was incorporated in 1883 with a mission to provide life and burial insurance to African Americans and with values encompassing the ideals of love, charity, protection and brotherhood.  The headquarters for the organization was located in Little Rock, Arkansas.   


Along with payment of the insurance benefit, each deceased member of the Order was provided with a distinctive custom-made Vermont marble marker engraved with the MTA symbol.  These headstones are found today in many rural cemeteries in the South, including the historic cemeteries of South Macon County - the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church (Roba), the Boromville A.M.E. Zion Church (Boromville), the Creek Stand A.M.E. Zion Church (Creek Stand), the Cooper Chapel A.M.E. Zion Church (aka the Warrior Stand cemetery), and the Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church cemetery which is located north of Tuskegee on Highway 81 near the city of Notasulga.