Monday, October 8, 2007

Memories of Dycusburg Methodist

Connie Brasher-Gould shares these memories of the Dycusburg Methodist Church. This information appears in The Churches of Crittenden County (pp. 62-64) by Matthew T. Patton and Bonnie R. Gass (2003).
My earliest recollections of the Dycusburg Methodist Church are of when, as a small child, I went to Sunday School there. My grandmother, Eula Vosier, taught the children’s class in the back left corner of the sanctuary. In those days, though, it was not called the “sanctuary,” as it was just the “church,” in one big room.

On Sunday mornings, the clear tone of the big bell being rung in the church loft could be heard all over the town, reminding the people it was time to assemble at the top of the “big hill.”

Back then, Dycusburg Methodist Church was on a four-church circuit, so the preacher was there to hold a full worship service on one Sunday a month. That weekend, he would arrive on Saturday, have “preaching” that evening, stay overnight (usually at Eula and Lucian Vosier’s home), and then have “church” on Sunday morning. (Some of the reasons the preacher stayed with the Vosiers may have included: the home being fairly close to the church with a spare bedroom, and, the fact that Mrs. Vosier was a very good cook couldn’t have hurt.) Services were well attended, music was good, and the “amen” corner and a couple of men who always slept through much of the service made it interesting even for the children.

On the Sundays the preacher was “filling the pulpit” at one of his other churches, the bell still rang and the members came together for Sunday School. They would sing two or three hymns, with Mrs. Mollie Lee Graves at the piano and Lucian Vosier leading the singing. Anyone who wanted to went up and sang in the choir (a custom continued to this day), have announcements and prayer, and then divide into smaller groups in the four corners of the church for the prescribed Bible lessons. After the lesson and taking up the offering, they would again assemble, sing more hymns, hear reports on attendance and offerings for the day, and be dismissed with another prayer.

Once a year, if I remember correctly, the District Superintendent came with the current preacher, and held what was called, “Quarterly Conference.” This was an annual meeting when all business was conducted in the church during the past year was reviewed and plans for the next year were made.

Quarterly Conference was an all-day affair, sometimes referred to as “preaching all day and dinner on the grounds,” or vice-versa. Families brought baskets with wonderful home-cooked food—fried chicken, country ham, all kinds of home-grown vegetables and cakes with truly ‘heavenly’ tastes—that was spread on makeshift tables set up at the edge of the parking lot.

After the meal, the adults would go back into the building for the business meeting and the children would keep themselves occupied outside with various games and inspecting the “initial trees” in the woods beside the parking lot.

Another familiar memory of customs in the old church was the Christmas tree. Every year at Christmas, a huge cedar tree was placed in the front right corner of the church and decorated for the season. On Christmas Eve, there was always a special program. Some people brought surprise gifts for their family and friends. The church provided individual bags with fruit and candy in them for all who attended the program. Some of the adults received a shiny new silver dollar. My Uncle Bud (Frank Anthony Vosier), although very Christian in his practice of everyday life, was not a regular church attendee. However, he was always there for the Christmas service, as were several others infrequently seen at regular services.

The Ladies Aid Society (now United Methodist Women) was a strong support group within the church. Almost all of the ladies in the church belonged to this group that met in homes and spent many hours studying the Bible and piecing and sewing quilts.

In 1945, the church members decided they needed more space and a furnace to replace the old stove to heat the building. It was decided that a basement would be dug under the existing building. This would give them space for Sunday School rooms, a furnace room and a coal bin. Later, a kitchen was added in one of the rooms.

The digging started, but soon it was evident this wasn’t as practical and easy as it seemed in discussion. Supports under the building had to be moved and then the old building began to feel unstable. It was apparent the old building had to come down before it fell into the hole that had been dug under it. When the basement was finished, a new building would be constructed over it.

F.A. “Bud” Vosier was contracted to build the new church. Mr. Bud was considered an expert carpenter and builder in Dycusburg, having built many homes and business structures. Also, he was the principal carpenter in the building of the “Wolverine,” the first diesel-powered packet boat, built in 1932, making regular trips from Dycusburg to Paducah.

As Mr. Bud and his helpers labored on the church project, his niece, Elaine Brasher, took him to see the Methodist church in Princeton, KY. He borrowed some ideas from this and other churches in his design of the interior of the building such as an entry area partitioned off from the main room. This not only allowed late-comers a place to wait until an appropriate time to enter the service, but it also afforded a buffer between the cold outside air and the heated sanctuary. He also elevated the choir loft behind the pulpit, and put a small room on either side of it for classrooms.

Perhaps his proudest accomplishment, but most labor-intensive detail within the building, was the curved altar rail. The top of the rail was a 1 x 4 or 5 inch plank to start. The curving was accomplished through a series of soaking the wood with water, then forcing it into a hand-built frame with movable pegs. After the soaking, Mr. Bud would place it in the frame to dry. Then, take it out, soak it again, replacing it in the frame, again and again. Each time he went through this process, he moved all but the center pegs a little to make the wood conform to the curve he envisioned for the finished altar.

When the new church building was completed, pews from the old church were reinstalled. It is generally reputed that Mr. Bud Vosier built these pews many years before, and they are still in use today.

A dedication service was held in the new building on June 27, 1948.

1 comment:

David Sullivan said...

Thank you for Connie's memories. The more people share with us regarding Dycusburg, the greater the possibility of discovering our family's roots increase.

Like the family of my GG-Grandmother, Rachel Catherine Tolley/Sullivan, we know nearly nothing about Isaac Sullivan either.

Among some of the potential families that may have been his, Methodist Minister Fletcher Sullivan Jr might have possibly been his Father. Fletcher lived over by Wingo in Graves County. Isaac lived in Graves County in 1860. Yet Isaac married Rachel in Dycusburg in 1870.

Learning about this Methodist Church plants a new hope in me that maybe a connection between Methodist Fletcher, and Isaac getting married in Dycusburg, might be suggesting that there truly could be a possible link between them.

Like I said, thank you for sharing this memory. The more we learn, the more doors could open up to us.

With MUCH appreciation,

David Sullivan