History of Chalk Hill Community

Nell Morisette
NewsTribune Special Columnist

Around 1844 to 1845 on the Old Stage Road, an old Baptist congregation called Chalk Hill was organized. At first it was a Primitive Baptist Church but shortly before 1850 it became Missionary Baptist. One of it's long-time ministers was Elder Bennett S. Browning, son of Jacob Browning. Jacob was the first preacher in Benton County; the Indians gathered on the west bank of the Tennessee River to hear him preach the gospel.

Then around 1887 Shiloh Baptist Church, first called Beaverdam, and Chalk Hill merged to form what is presently known as Chalk Hill Baptist Church. On August 18, 1855, William Hollingsworth said, "For the respect I have for the dead that is buried at the Chalk Hill graveyard and also for the benefit to the Chalk Hill Church which is now established on the grounds," he gave the congregation a small acreage (on the Camden-Reynoldburg Road about three miles east of Camden) "and leave it for a public burying ground."

Several ministers have surrendered to the call to preach from Chalk Hill Church, and several churches have been organized from here.

At one time under Bro. Eugene Blankenship's ministry, two buses ran every Sunday to bring folks in to hear the word of God preached. This was in 1972 and 1973, and Jimmy Bullion was one of the drivers.

As of 1998 Chalk Hill still supports missionaries. Homecoming is the first Sunday in August. The present pastor is Bro. Connie Bolan. After 135 years God continues to bless Chalk Hill Church.

Cemeteries in the Chalk Hill area are: Hollingsworth Woods, this cemetery now has one flat stone with Woods/Vick, a tribute of love. There are approximately 25 to 30 graves. Another is Willie Arnold Cemetery, with the two graves of Willie and Sarah Pafford Arnold. New Bethelehem Cemetery contains one grave, Eliza Robinson, and in the Cole Cemetery (Bell Yard) there are 30 to 40 unmarked graves. One grave, William Russell, has an official government marker which reads Co. E 6 U.S. Inf.

Anderson Presley Lashlee (185201926) was the caretaker of the Bethlehem Methodist Church. The location of this church was near what is now the corner of Harley Road and Shetland Circle.

Presley gave land April 14, 1904, for the New Bethlehem Cemetery. The tale has been handed down over the years that one day Mr. Lashlee made the statement that when he died the church would probably fall down, meaning he didn't know who would keep it up. When he died in 1926 there was such a large crowd attending that the church slipped off the foundation.

The Willie Arnold Cemetery is located in the Chalk Hill area, when the B.C.G.S. started the cemetery book. Virginia Pafford and I read the cemeteries out Eva way. Virginia didn't go with me to this one. This cemetery was located on the homestead of Willie Arnold. Aaron Arnold (1832-1887), Stephen Congo Pavatt (1854-1873), and Nina Bell Arnold (1866-1867) was buried there, but their remains were exhumed and reinterred in the Camden Cemetery in 1893.

Several of the family, including Tracey, Doris and Adam Hightower, Robbie Arnold and I have been to this burying place and were well pleased with what we found. Adam, being the sixth generation down from Willie and Sarah, was real excited when the graves were found. By the graves were crumbled brick. On Willie's will, the last part reads "That my grave together with my wife be enclosed with a brick wall and covered in shingles. This April 17th, Wilie Arnold." They are my (Clara Nell Melton Morisette) great-great-grandparents.

Schools In And Near Chalk Hill

In the early years of the 1900s the communities in the old tenth district were growing in population and prosperity. The adjacent communities of Chalk Hill, Bethlehem and Beaverdan were not pleased with the schools. These early schools were known as Rocky Hollow, Cowells, Hawley and Old Bethlehem.

The Hawley School was located between Old Bethlehem Cemetery and Lashlee Crossing. Some, if not all the schools were log construction and in need of repair. So it was with much work and pride that their dreams of a new school came true in 1915.

The four Walker brothers, Will, Grover, Edd and Bob, along with their sister Ethel Spence, gave nine acres of land on a rise, or hill, on the old Camden and Eva Road (now Spence Road) almost equally located between Chalk Hill and Bethelham (new) cemeteries. Mr. Jim Sheep Lashlee gave an acre making it a ten-acre site for the new school.

Work was started on the new building in 1914, and it was built entirely by the men of the different communities. The patrons of the new school searched for a name; they toyed with "Consolidated" but soon dropped it. Mr. Jim Sheep Lashlee had a hunting friend, Joel Cheek from Nashville, who visited him every winter, and he named the new school after his hometown of Pembroke, Ken. The school opened in 1915 with a large enrollment for a two-teacher school. During Pembroke's early history the school had a circulating library and a horse-drawn school bus. The Pembroke School closed in 1951.


If you have suggestions and/ or additions for these pages, please feel free to write County Host

Brian Nichols

Return to Newspaper Column Index
Return to Benton County Genealogy page


Server space for the TNGenWeb Project is provided through the generosity of US Internet.

The TNGenWeb Project makes no claims or estimates of the validity of the information submitted and reminds you that each new piece of information must be researched and proved, or disproved by the weight of evidence.

You are welcome to copy information found on the Benton County TNGenWeb site for personal use, and share information with other researchers or genealogical organizations, but this information may not be sold or used in a commercial project without expressed permission. All material submitted by individuals for inclusion in this site remains their property.

Copyright 1998 - 2002