Kinsey Baptist Church

Established 1891

Kinsey Baptist Church

Alabama Historical Association Marker

Organized in 1891 as Enon Baptist Church, the church was also formerly known as First Baptist Church of Kinsey and Kinsey Baptist Church of Christ.  The present name was adopted in 1907.  Organizational services were overseen by Rev. Ephraim Knowles.  Fourteen charter members drew up and signed a church covenant; they were led in singing “Amazing Grace” before extending to each other the hand of fellowship.  The Rev. D. E. Burdeshaw served as the first pastor.  Early meetings were held on the second Saturday and Sunday of each month. In 1911, the church reported 68 active members. In 1956, a brick building replaced the first wooden structure; the original church bell is displayed on the property.  A new sanctuary was constructed in 1978. 

Dedicated October 16, 2016, on the occasion of the church’s 125th anniversary.

[2016:  6745 Walden Dr., Dothan, AL 36303.  31.29555 N,  -85.34513 W]

The Alabama Historical Association. Historical Marker Index Page 

Kinsey Baptist Church

Like many long-standing religious institutions in small communities, Kinsey Baptist Church has been a central unifying presence for its members. It was first organized as Enon Baptist Church in 1891 by fourteen Henry County residents—among them Ephraim M. Knowles, Daniel E. Burdeshaw, Ann Burdeshaw, Abram H. Taylor, and Nancy Taylor. As the church was located in what was then Henry County, Enon Baptist affiliated with the Judson Baptist Association in Abbeville.  After the state legislature established Houston County in 1903, the congregation’s affiliation transferred to the Columbia Baptist Association.

The town in which the church originated, Kinsey, Alabama, was not incorporated until 1957.  However, it developed into a community during the 1880s; Eliza Kincey was the region’s first postmistress, and local residents began referring to the post office and surrounding area as “Kinsey Town.”  Eliza was born Eliza Ann Peneul in 1819 and was raised in North Carolina. In 1854 she married George P. Kincey, who was a farmer, Methodist preacher, and Henry County official. George died in 1877, leaving Eliza widowed with two children. It undoubtedly came as a blessing when she was appointed to oversee the local post office.  Records for 1900 show that she was 81 years old that year and lived with her youngest daughter Susan and her son in law, Charles J. Hammitt, DD. Eliza passed away in 1903 and is buried next to George in Rocky Branch Cemetery.

Reverend Hammitt served as the president of Mallalieu Seminary, a Kinsey Town institution established in 1882 to train Methodist preachers.  Until its closure in the 1920s, Mallalieu enrolled hundreds of students from southeastern Alabama, northern Florida, and southwestern Georgia.

By 1890, with Mallalieu Seminary enjoying increased enrollments each year—coupled with the building of Alabama Midland and Abbeville Railroads—Kinsey’s population had expanded to nearly 250 residents; Enon Baptist’s creation in 1891 reflected this growth and addressed the need for a church specifically for the area’s Baptists. The church experienced three name changes:  in 1904 it became the First Baptist Church of Kinsey;  in 1905 it was renamed The Kinsey Baptist Church of Christ;  and, in 1907 the congregation adopted the name Kinsey Baptist Church.

Daniel Burdeshaw led the congregation to build Enon Baptist’s first sanctuary. He farmed just outside of town with his wife, Ann, and served intermittently as Kinsey Baptist’s minister from its founding until 1912.  Built of locally milled pine and wrapped entirely with clapboard siding, the building reflected the Carpenter Gothic style that had been popular throughout the 19th century.  The rectangular sanctuary provided a simple but accommodating meeting house for the church’s approximately seventy members.  The roof was of particular interest—known as a “spraddle roof,” it began with a steep pitch from its pinnacle that tapered to a softer angle before meeting the exterior walls.  Common for Protestant churches of this era, the original church entranceway was an unadorned alcove that included two doors, one for each gender.  In 1946 a cinder block addition for Sunday School classrooms was attached to the rear of the building. While this addition offered little to the overall aesthetics of the church, it nevertheless served well for the next decade.
Under the direction of Pastor Buford Lawrence, the original building was razed in 1956 to make room for a new meeting house. The second Kinsey Baptist Church featured a brick exterior and included both a rectangular sanctuary and two wings for Sunday School classrooms, church offices, and other facilities.  This structure served for over two decades, but membership growth and expanding church activities during the 1970s led Reverend Wallace Keown to oversee construction of the current building.  The first service in the new sanctuary was held in 1978.

Considerably larger than the first two structures, the red brick church house includes twelve domed windows filled with beautiful azure stained glass, a Greek Revival portico supported by four fluted Corinthian columns, and an impressive four-level steeple. The large, open sanctuary is furnished with three sections of upholstered pews to accommodate about four hundred worshippers.

Kinsey Baptist Church has been an influential institution for the town and surrounding countryside throughout its existence.  Minutes from the monthly Church Conference meetings reveal a congregation engaged within the church, throughout the community, and around the world through their support of foreign missionaries. During the Great Depression church members raised money for local relief projects and organized canned goods drives for local orphans.  They also fought in America’s wars— buried in the small graveyard behind the church are veterans of both World Wars and the Korean Conflict. Several pastors likewise rest there, including Reverend Daniel Burdeshaw and his wife Ann.

 Robert Saunders, Jr.

Sources:

Ancestry.com. 1870 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009. Images reproduced by FamilySearch. 1870; Precinct 4, Henry, Alabama; Roll: M593_19; Page: 327B; Image: 86785; Family History Library Film: 545518. Original Data: 1870 U.S. census, population schedules. NARA microfilm publication M593, 1,761 rolls. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.

Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004, 1900; Census Place: Headland, Henry, Alabama; Roll: 19; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 0090; FHL microfilm: 1240019,  Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1900. T623, 1854 rolls.

Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004, 1900; Census Place: Headland, Henry, Alabama; Roll: 19; Page: 13B; Enumeration District: 0090; FHL microfilm: 1240019,  Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1900. T623, 1854 rolls.

Cutler, Helen H., Henry County, Alabama Records. Volume II: 1821-1901 Marriage Records.  Dothan, Alabama: Cutler Publications, 1993.

Gamble, Robert. Historic Architecture in Alabama: A Primer of Styles and Types, 1830-1930.  Tuscaloosa: The University of Alabama Press, 1990.

“Guide to the Mallalieu Seminary Records, 1887-1927,” Record Group 193. The Wiregrass Archives, Troy University Dothan, Dothan, Alabama, http://www.troy.edu/wiregrassarchives/inventories/193.html.

Hollis, Brenda. “History of the Kinsey Baptist Church,” in Kinsey Baptist Church: 125 Years.  n.p.: n.p., 2016.

Maloney, Christopher, “Kinsey,” Encyclopedia of Alabama Online, http://www.encyclopediaofalabama.org/article/h-3603

“Minutes of the Church Conference,” Kinsey Baptist Church, Kinsey, Alabama. Microfiche.

Watson, Fred S. Hub of the Wiregrass: A History of Houston County, Alabama, 1903-1972.  Anniston, Alabama:  Higginbotham, Inc., 1972.

Kinsey Baptist Church

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Kinsey Baptist Church

6745 Walden Drive

Kinsey, Alabama  36303

334-794-2561

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