The following excerpts from the "Chronicle" were provided by Mrs. Alton Murrah, and includes information from a history of Harmony Church published in the Nevada County Picayune, Prescott, AR and family memories by Elizabeth Garrett Murrah (Mrs. Alton) of near Sutton as well as memories of Mrs. Bulah White, widow of the Rev. John E. White.
Harmony Community, located in southwestern Nevada County, can be proud of its heritage. The spirit of the pioneer lives on in the sons and daughters of this old settlement. Just this past August, the Harmony Methodist Church celebrated its one hundred fortieth birthday.
More than once through those one hundred and forty years, it looked as if the tradition of services that began in 1849 in this little country church would have to be carried on elsewhere. But as each disaster befell the church, the congregation bandcd together with the same spirit and determination that their pioneer forefathers had shown as they tamed, what was in the 1800s, a ^Sharsh wilderness.
. . . By 1849 there were enough people in theHarmony community to warrant the construction of the first church building. Some of these early settlers were the Garrets, Wrens, Woosleys, Wooduls, Waddles, and Franks.
A Methodist circuit rider - Joseph Elias Garrett - had dreamed of the day when it would be possible to have a place of worship in the community. He donated the land for the first church building. With the help of another early settler, Samuel Elias Franks, Samuel's oldest son, Dave, and others in the community, a split log building was put up.
Mrs. Bulah White, wife of the Rev. John White, was born in 1880 nearby. Before she passed away in 1984 at the age of 104 years, she wrote her memories of the church. She described the location of this split log building as being "just above, I think, the pin oak tree there at the Dr. Waddle graves."
Joseph Elias Garrett, the first benefactor of the Harmony Church, died in 1853, too soon to carry out his plans for a better church and cemetery. He and his wife were buried behind their home. Mrs. Alton (Elizabeth Garrett) Murrah is his great granddaughter. In her memories she states that "Their graves are covered by a concrete slab, put there by my father Tom and his son Arthur, surrounded by pecan trees planted there years later by family members. A nice granite monument was placed there in 1987 by Arthur's son Charlie and daughter Glenda. The properly is now owned by Mr. and Mrs. Barney Foster. "
David F., son of Joseph, carried on with his father's wishes in 1861. Mrs. Murrah writes this of her grandfather. "He was a farmer and sawmill operator. The mill was in the ravine Near Harmony Church. I remember the large boiler and mill site there. My grandfather married Amanda Caroline Steele. They had 10 children, 8 sons and 2 girls. They were Edd, Thomas Steele, Jim, Joe, Frank, Jasper, Christina (Tina) and Mary. Two small boys are buried by their parents at Harmony. David F. carried out the dreams of his father with the church and cemetery and planned to have his parents transferred by never did."
"He sawed the lumber for the church which was built in 1861. His sons hand planed the thick, wide boards (probably 2" x 18") for the benches. Then the people of the community worked togethor to build the church: Dr. Wren, Willis Sutton, Mrs. Franks, the Woodulls, Lamberts, Waddles, Woosleys, and the Garretts, probably more."
Out of the ashes of the old church rose the beautiflul brick church that now stands on the site. Mrs. Murrah writes that "Letters were sent out to interested people and money came in unbelievably. A beautiful red brick building with rest rooms and many other conveniences was built in time for the homecoming the next June with $71,709.20 paid on it. The total expense of $74,458.87 was paid at the homecoming. A real monument to my Great-Grandfather's dream."
Yes, Harmony Methodist Church is a monument not only to Joseph Elias Garrett and all the early pioneers, but to all those who have kept alive the spirit of Harmony through all these one hundred forty years.