“Old” Jones Chapel Missionary Baptist Church was located on Buford Ellington Rd of what is now the Ames Plantation located on the county lines between Fayette and Hardeman Counties in southwestern Tennessee. The church is the family’s ancestral church home and burial ground. At one time a school also stood on the grounds. The church building is empty now as the church moved to a new location but the cemetery behind the church is still there and burials continue today. The school building was demolished years ago. You wonder, how did African-American, ex-slaves and sharecroppers, come to own this valuable piece of property?
Caleb Baker Jones, son of John Walker Jones who established the Cedar Grove Plantation in 1826, deeded 1 acre of his land to his workers for purposes of erecting the church, school and cemetery. A review of Fayette County land records in 1880 show the small parcel of Caleb’s property as owned by the Jones Chapel Church (diagram below). The handwritten deed, dated November 2, 1872, recording the donation of one acre of land in District 13, Fayette County, Tennessee, by Caleb Baker Jones to Christopher (Kit) Thompson and Washington Brown as Trustees “for the Colored people of this neighborhood” … “to build and establish a church and schoolhouse for them and upon which is now erected a building known and called Jones Chapel situated about four miles north of La Grange…” Caleb was a Confederate soldier during the Civil War (pictured below in Confederate uniform). According to census records, he owned several hundred acres of farm land and 33 slaves prior to the war. One wonders about his motivation for giving the land to his field “workers”. One (1) acre of land was not much to him and his family but still…
Thanks Caleb, you ol’ Reb!
The cornerstone from the church building shows the building was dedicated in 1870. The Deacons inscribed on the cornerstone are Spencer Govan who was married to Martha Lambert, Louis Harvey who married Martha’s sister Alice Lambert, Nelson Turner (my great-great uncle) and Robert Waddell.
The school was originally called the Cedar Grove School and established after the Civil War by the Freedmen’s Bureau. Below, is a picture (undated) of the old school building after its name was changed to Jones Chapel School.
Many of our ancestors worshiped and learned to read and write in these buildings. Many are resting eternally in the cemetery behind the church. We praise them all.
Click Here to See Jones Chapel Cemetery Memorials