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  • St. Paul's Episcopal Church History, Columbus, MS

    A History of Columbus, Mississippi, During the 19th Century

    By William Lowndes Lipscomb, Georgia P. Young,
    United Daughters of the Confederacy Mississippi Division.
    Stephen D. Lee Chapter No. 34, Columbus
    Published by S.D. Lee Chapter of the Daughters of the Confederacy, 1909
    Original from Harvard University


    The earliest members of the Episcopal church who settled in Lowndes county and in Columbus were Mrs. Sarah Frazier Neilson, wife of Capt. Wm. Neilson, who settled Belmont in 1822, Mrs. Bland Beverly Randolph, wife of Capt. E. B. Randolph, who settled Goshen in 1824, Mr. Jack Billington, who came to Columbus in 1828 and Mr. Abram Maer in 1832.

    After 1832, quite a number of citizens from the best families of Virginia, North Carolina and other states emigrated to Columbus, among whom were the Stantons, Acee, Boykin, Lightfoot, Meade, Ross, Whitmed, Evans, Vaughan, Walsh, Brownrigg, Long, Ramsay, Chandler, Smith, and others, and by 1838 they were able to organize into a strong influential and wealthy church. In 1839 they finished a large substantial frame church, situated on the northwest corner of the lot now occupied by Gen. S. D. Lee.

    The building was 40 by 60 ft. in dimension, painted white with ornamental frieze, open front hall which contained the entrance doors into the main auditorium and the stairway to the the galleries above. It was well seated with high straight- back maple colored pews, with a seating capacity for 350 to 400 persons. It had galleries on three sides for further ac- comodation, and in the west gallery was erected a pipe organ, the first ever brought to Columbus; accompanying music and such as chants, anthems, glorias and oratorios were first introduced into church worship. This church was consecrated by Bishop Kemper, of Missouri, in 1839. The first pastor was the Rev. Mathis L. Forbes, a young Scotchman, well educated, social and friendly in his manner and well adapted to the new and mixed population pouring into Columbus. He was very popular and had good audiences to hear him preach. General Richard T. Brownrigg, a devout and wealthy vestryman, was its first senior warden, and continued in that office until his death.

    St. Paul's Episcopal church has been served by the following pastors, (Ext. church record); Revs. M. L. Forbes, George W. Freeman, (afterward bishop of Texas) ; Wm. F. Halsey, Benj. M. Miller, (1849) in temporary charge; Edward Fontaine (1848), N. P. Knapp, J. H. Ingraham and A. D. Corbin; T. S. W. Mott, Robert F. Clute (in temporary charge) J. D. Gibson in 1858, John Coleman, J. T. Pickett, J. L. Tucker, Jr., Blair Linn, William Munford, W. W. DeHart, (temporary charge); J. L. Lancaster, R. Grattan Noland, Wm. H. Barn- well, and Walter R. Dye.

    In 1854 the old church was sold, and the city hall rented for service, which was shortly afterwards destroyed by fire. In 1856, a new church edifice was projected and after some delay in its erection, was completed in 1860. This building was of brick and in design is a model of symmetry and architectual proportion, which, if enlarged in its dimensions and finish would well resemble a Gothic Cathedral of Medieval Europe.

    Its erection and completion was largely due to the liberality and enterprise of two devoted laymen and vestrymen, J. J. Sherman and Gray A. Chandler, men who had already made their mark in the financial and commercial development of Columbus from a very early date in its history. Mr. J. J. Sherman was for a score of years its senior warden. This building was consecrated Dec. 15th, 1860, by Bishop William M. Green, of Mississippi.

    The church is handsomely seated and well furnished, with a pipe organ, which was obtained very largely through the active agency of Miss Jeannie Vaughan, daughter of Dr. B. A. Vaughn, whose fine taste and deft fingers have contributed much to the ornamentation of the church.

    In 1899 the church erected a fine modern building for Sunday school and social purposes, which adds much to the comfort and pleasure of the congregation. The pastor, Rev. W. R. Dye, resides in a comfortable, well appointed rectory situated on the same lot with the church.

    Col. W. C. Richard is its present senior warden and a flourishing "Altar Guild" is active in its attention to the wants of the church.

    The Right Rev. Hugh S. Miller Thompson is the bishop of the diocese of Mississippi in which St. Paul's church is located.

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