A History of the Leach Seventh-day Adventist Church
The Seventh-day Adventist Church first began in Cedar Grove in 1882 when Elder Samuel Fulton came here with a tent. He brought Brother Billy Dortch with him as song leader. After they had preached a while and gotten an interest, they organized a Sabbath School. One Sabbath morning Johnny Kelly (later known as J.W. Kelly), when he was about nine years of age, started to walk to Sabbath School. He got to about where Grigg’s Chapel stands and found a note tacked on one of two white oak trees that stood there together. He took it down and took it with him to Sabbath School. When he got there he found a lot of excitement there already, because he saw that during the night the tent had been burned down. He handed the note that he had found to the folk there and it read something like this: “If Elder Fulton preaches anymore we will cut off his head and put it on a stake at the forks of the road,” a place just beyond where the tent was. Night came and people began to come to hear Elder Fulton preach. Elder Fulton got up in the smoke house door at Johnny Leach’s place and read the note that had been posted. Then he asked the people gathered if they wanted to hear him preach and they said they did, so he said, “Alright, I’ll preach.” Some of the boys said they would guard him while he preached since, hearing of the trouble, they brought their guns with them. One of these boys was Anderson Lewis, Fay Grogan’s father and later one of the charter members of the Leach Seventh-day Adventist Church. Another was John Ike Reeves and another was Willie Wilson’s father. Elder Fulton went ahead with his sermon and had no more trouble. Now because they had no place for meetings, they decided they would build a church. Back then there was lots of timber and every man knew how to use tools, so they went to the woods, felled the trees and built the log church that stood for some years near where Ray Kelly's place is today. They organized this group into the first Seventh-day Adventist Church in this area in that little log church building in 1883. Charter members were: Brother and Sister Sam Eskew; Brother and Sister Johnny Leach and their daughter, Sophia; Brother and Sister Jim Jolly; Brother and Sister Nathaniel Pearson; Brother and Sister George Cook; Brother Anderson Lewis and his mother and his sister, Sister Rachael Jane Lewis; Sister Maggie Lewis Williams; and Sister Annie Haynes. There were about thirty members in all. Elder Fulton had to leave soon after the church was organized; this left the little church with no leader. Because of this lack of leadership, the church began to dwindle - but some always met each week for Sabbath School at least, at first in the little log church, later in some of the members’ homes. The winter of 1902 and 1903, Elder Hagle and his wife came with a hand organ. He would preach one week in the little log church and the next week at the Christian Chapel. Before he left he reorganized the church with twenty members. They appointed a man to lead, Brother T. W. Kivett. At the 1903 Camp Meeting they asked Brother William Keele to move down here and help strengthen and build up the church. He served as a local Elder for a long time. He was a Colporteur and he gave many Bible Readings in the area. Elder Roscoe Burr was President of the Tennessee River Conference (as our Conference was then called.) He was born in this area and did all he could to build up the work here. The Elders met in the little log church until the spring of 1910 when they built a frame church on the land where the present church now stands. Brother B. R. Carter (father of Hattie May Carter-McLeod, wife of the late Elder J. O. McLeod) led out of the building of this new church. Elder A. L. Dickerson later came and was the first District Pastor, and so the first pastor of the Leach Seventh-day Adventist Church. He and Elder Donald F. Hanes later, helped to build up the work here. The Church grew and in 1943, under the leadership of Elder Victor Esquilla, the Church built a brick veneer church on the same property. They met in this church until 1970, when, under the leadership of Elder Gordon Collier, the present building was erected. The charter members believed in Christian Education and the first Church School was conducted in 1883 or 1884 by Sister Samuel Fulton in the little log church. For awhile there was no school, then one was conducted where the current former school building is and Mrs. Keele taught there for some years. “Aunt” Carrie Gregg also taught in this school two years. Later in about 1959 or 1960 the current former school building was built. Sister Eager (Elder Eager’s wife) taught several years here. At one time we had a Junior Academy here- first through the tenth grades.