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Photos by Christa Jennings
A newspaper clipping from 1921 tells of the first Holly Springs Baptist Church building burning on April 13, 1921.
A painting of Holly Springs Baptist Church and Cemetery by Judy Fowler hangs inside the church near the pulpit.
A plaque hanging inside the church commemorates the Holly Springs Baptist Church and Cemetery Association’s tenth anniversary.
Another plaque hanging in the church recognizes the association’s first Board of Directors’ members.
The association’s first officers are recognized on a plaque hanging in the church.
The association was founded by Rose Glaze and Jean Braden in 2012.
A plaque currently hanging inside the church expresses gratitude for the generous donation by Barney and Linda Ireland, whose donation fully funded restoring the cemetery.
A letter in Rose Glaze’s files from the Alabama Historical Commission notifies the association that on August 12, 2013, the cemetery was added to the Alabama Historic Cemetery Register.
Founder Rose Glaze keeps extensive records of the association and church history, including this copy of the association’s mission statement from October 2011.
A photo reproduced from an old piece of tin is of Rose Glaze’s relatives, Moriah E. May and Andrew Jackson “Jack” Robinson, who died in 1912 and 1926, respectively, and are buried at Holly Springs.
Some of the old graves in Holly Springs Cemetery are covered with a mound of concrete poured over the mounded dirt after burial.
William Maherg’s grave is marked with a marble slab, as well as a stack of flat rocks. He was the one who helped select the cemetery site and was the first to be buried there.
The association constructed a new outhouse to replace the old wooden structure, with one individual stating it is one of the nicest outhouses anyone would ever see.
More than 400 people are buried in Holly Springs Cemetery, with 128 graves having no stones, and plain white marble slabs marking some sites.
The renovated church building has a new roof and ceiling, new carpet, paint, and more, but the old church pews from the wooden plank building remain as part of the church’s rich history.
Photos of the church and cemetery from September 1984 from Rose Glaze’s files, showing when the church building had a steeple.
The plaque commemorating the Holly Springs Cemetery being added to the Alabama Historic Cemetery Register hangs on the front of the church building.
Holly Springs Baptist Church today, after repairs and renovations done by the association.
This 55-foot-long table is one piece of solid concrete, not divided into sections as originally thought.
By Christa Jennings
Senior Staff Writer
Approximately 3-and-a-half miles down a dirt road in the middle of nowhere stands a church building with an adjoining cemetery, both of which would likely be forgotten and in states of disrepair if not for the hard work and dedication of a handful of individuals.
That church is Holly Springs Baptist Church, located on Holly Springs Road in the Weogufka community. For 3 and a half miles, there are no houses or signs of civilization on the way to the church and cemetery, just a winding dirt road lined by forests.
Days of the area being a well established community are long past, and there is no electricity or water at the church. However, some individuals have worked hard for more than a decade to ensure the cemetery and church are taken care of and maintained for future generations, remembering family members who passed long ago.
At a homecoming service last Sunday, the Holly Springs Baptist Church and Cemetery Association officially celebrated 10 years of existence. The association was established on April 12, 2012, after two years of hard work to receive the deed for the property.
At that time Rose Glaze was the president of the association, and a decade later she remains the association president. Her determination and perseverance not only helped in securing the property deed and establishing the association, but also in keeping it functioning and achieving much for the church and cemetery’s well being.
It’s no wonder that Glaze is so dedicated to the area. More than 400 people are buried in the church cemetery, and Glaze said that between her mother’s and father’s side of the family, she’s probably kin to about 350 of them.
She said all of her family at the time was raised in the area and were buried there. She recalls the days when the Holly Springs area was a “huge community” with houses lining the road, as well as the spring that was once across the road from the church, now dried up and only a memory.
Glaze said her parents were raised near the church, and she remembers when area residents would take mule and wagon rides to the building, as well as traveling the road between Holly Springs and Marble Valley.
Now the area has four hunting clubs who enjoy the woodlands where houses once stood and where people would work farmland. Aside from some houses on Red Robin Road, which turns off Holly Springs Road near County Road 35, there are no longer any houses on the way to Holly Springs Church or after it.
However, Glaze’s family ties have kept her connected to the area and the former community, striving to keep the church building and cemetery in good shape for others like her and for future generations.
The church building once also served as a schoolhouse for children in first through sixth grades. The current structure is the third iteration of the church building.
Glaze said that originally the church was a log building, but it burned on April 13, 1921. School was in session at the time, and it was reported that the fire originated from the stove flue.
After that, a plank building was constructed for the church and school. At one point during that time there were 300 people at the church, and some of the church history referred to washing feet.
Eventually that wooden structure was torn down, and the current block building was built in its place.
The church was established in approximately 1850, about 172 years ago. The church pews are old wooden pews, bare of any cushioning.
Glaze is unsure just how old the pews are, but she said they were in use when the church was the wooden plank building. Members bought and paid for the pews, with her grandparents buying one, and small plaques on each pew bear the names of those members who purchased them.
The rich history of the building is being kept alive and preserved by the efforts of the association, which has accomplished a great deal over the last 10 years. Were it not for their efforts, the building may very well have collapsed and deteriorated by now, and the cemetery could be on its way to being overgrown with brush, left to be forgotten in the middle of the woods.
When doing some of the initial remodeling efforts, Glaze said that when they got to the point of getting the rest of the ceiling out, they discovered that every rafter in the building had pulled apart. They had to jack all of them up, pull them back together and secure them.
“It’s a wonder it hadn’t already fell in,” Glaze said.
Additionally, after the rafters had pulled apart, she said one side of the church building was going out. After pulling up the carpet to replace it, they found a wide crack on the floor that ran from the window to the front door.
“That’s how close it was to falling in,” she said.
The association was founded by Glaze, full name Annie Rose Deason Glaze, and her relative, Elizabeth Jean Robinson Braden. The first officers were Glaze, Braden and David Wilson.
The first board members were Glaze, Braden, then Sheriff Terry Wilson, Jeanette Carter Wilson, and Janice Thomas Reams.
The current Board of Directors for the association are Glaze as president, Sandra Robinson as vice president, Braden as secretary/treasurer, and Terry Wilson and Janice Reams as board members.
In the last decade, the association has accomplished a great deal of things for the repairs, renovations and maintenance of the church and cemetery.
On May 30, 2012, the deed was recorded, and that year two window panes were replaced. In 2013 the decayed fascia boards were replaced, the outside of the church was painted, a new church sign was attached to the building, the outhouse building was finished to replace the old wooden outhouse, the association began applying for grants, a CD and paperwork of association records were sent to Sanford University to be placed on microfilm, and CD and records were given to the B.B. Comer Memorial Library.
Also, on August 12, 2013, the Holly Springs Baptist Church Cemetery was added to the Alabama Historic Cemetery Register.
In 2014 the association had a dedication of the historic plaque, and the front doors and back door of the building were replaced. Also in late December that year, the association received a $12,000 grant.
In 2015 the organization completed the metal roof, ceiling and having new carpet installed; painted the inside of the church and the doors; polyurethaned the pews and woodwork; painted the outhouse; replaced the window sashes and polyurethaned the windows; built a fence and installed a gate; put caps on the fence posts; and painted the posts, gates and post caps.
The gate was damaged in early 2016, and mud was thrown on the front of the church. That year the association repaired the gate, washed off the church, and the state historical sign was placed in the front of the church.
For the year 2017, the association set upright headstones that had been knocked down, filed for a cemetery grant, interred Jeanette Wilson on March 4, held its two bi-annual meetings, measured for available grave sites, held homecoming, and Glaze and her husband, Tandy, cleaned inside and outside the church building, as well as picked up limbs in the cemetery.
In 2018, they scraped and painted the fascia boards; scraped and painted the bottom blocks around the church; painted the porch and steps; built, replaced and painted the post bottoms; hung a plaque inside the building and realigned the other plaques; painted the front and back doors; removed the back steps and replaced them with new ones; finished the back steps and added gravel; and put cross ties below the outdoor table.
The table itself is also an interesting piece of the church’s history, with it being used during the church’s homecoming service each year and sometimes used by hunters.
The 55-foot long table is one solid piece of concrete, with no sections at all. Glaze said they had assumed it was in sections and did not realize it was one piece until they were replacing the cross ties.
In 2019 new blocks were put under the table for support, four loads of dirt were spread below the table, a dead tree was removed, and gravel was added on top of the dirt below the long concrete table.
The year 2020 did not see as much activity from the association because of COVID-19. In 2020 the first bi-annual meeting and homecoming were canceled.
That year Glaze and her husband cleaned up the cemetery; checked on the cemetery, building and road; erected a cross in front of the cemetery and church; and the association held its second bi-annual meeting in October.
In 2021, the association reconstructed the column under the concrete table; reworked the rocks at William Maherg’s grave; set Eleanor Fountain’s headstone; added pictures, crosses, flowers, and new carpet runners to the church; painted the inside of the outhouse; held cemetery workdays; held the two bi-annual meetings and homecoming; removed a rusted gas tank from the back of the church property; received a legal permit for work to be done on the cemetery; began work on the handicap ramp at the back door of the church; stained the ramp; replaced a sign; and hung a painting of the church by Judy Fowler inside the church.
One of the most exciting things that has happened to the association recently was having funds for the cemetery restoration donated by Barney and Linda Ireland. Glaze said that they donated $16,500 in cash to pay in full for the cemetery restoration, adding that the association was truly grateful for the generous donation.
Thanks to that, the association was able to have Phillip Morris of Sylacauga help do work at the cemetery for the cleaning and leveling of the headstones and markers, as well as repairing some markers when possible.
Glaze and others were touched by the generosity and pleased to be able to have the work done on the cemetery, improving and maintaining it. It especially meant a great deal to Glaze, who has so many family members there – including the one who was first interred on those grounds.
She stated that the first grave in the cemetery belongs to her third great-grandfather, William Maherg, who died on December 8, 1862.
Glaze said that the area was his land, and sometime after a Mr. Kaul with Kaul Lumber Company gave an affidavit for the church, they saw Maherg plowing and asked him where he would put a cemetery. He responded that he would put one “right here” where he was plowing.
Glaze said that three days later he died, and he was the first person buried in the Holly Springs Cemetery. His grave includes a pile of flat rocks, and his marker reflects that he was the one to select the cemetery site and the first to be buried there.
Glaze said there are “old, old graves” in the cemetery, adding that there are individuals from four wars buried there. She said 128 grave sites do not have stones.
Several graves are marked with small marble slabs with no names or dates. A handful of graves are covered with concrete mounds.
Numerous children’s graves also line the cemetery, with some sites holding multiple children. Glaze said that two children who burned to death were buried together, and in another instance two children who died after eating poisonous wild berries were buried together.
The most recent one buried in the cemetery is Eleanor Fountain, who died July 2, 2020, and her stone was set on March 12, 2021.
There are limited spaces still available in the cemetery for those wishing to be buried there, although it is typically only for relatives since there are so few spaces available.
Glaze said that if someone has a relative buried there, they can fill out a form and notify the association of who their relative is when requesting to be buried at the cemetery. The association charges $100 for grave sites.
Now that work has been done on restoring the cemetery and cleaning markers, Glaze said her next major goal will be to have the state compile their information and records from over the years so that all of it can be preserved and recorded.
Looking back over the last 10 years of efforts, with Glaze starting even before then at the age of 70, she said, “There have been so many miracles… No, it’s been the Lord’s work.”
She said that God has been with her every step of the way during the ongoing efforts, from first getting the deed to restoring the grave markers and renovating the church and facilities.
The association will continue its efforts to maintain both the church facility and the cemetery, with its ultimate mission being the preservation of the church building, cemetery and grounds.
The association is required to meet three times per year. Homecoming is the third Sunday in May each year, and the bi-annual meetings are held the first Saturday in April and October.
The association operates solely on donations and volunteered time. Glaze is appreciative of everyone who has helped along the way, saying that she is so thankful for those who help and that they are “such a blessing,” adding that she couldn’t do it without them.
Donations to the Holly Springs Baptist Church and Cemetery Association can be sent to treasurer Jean Braden at 6248 Coosa County Road 56; Weogufka, AL 35183.
For additional photos of Holly Springs Baptist Church and Cemetery, see “The Coosa County News” Facebook page or website at www.thecoosacountynews.com.