Page 2  -  Excerpts from
"A Concise History of the Introduction of Protestantism into Mississippi & the Southwest"
by John Griffing Jones
The three refugees all had families and their forced separation from wives and children was inexpressively
painful to their hearts as husbands and fathers, but no other alternative promised them any security from the
malice of their persecutors and, committing their all to God, they bowed to their fate.  Why they had fallen into
such sore trials was not for them to decide.  They had an abiding consciousness of having aimed to do right.  
They had not desired to wrong either the Provincial Government or the Papal hierarchy.  their sole object had
been to worship God and do good to their fellow men, according to their understanding of the Holy Scriptures.  
God knew their hearts and would judge of them accordingly.  the path of duty, though crowded with difficulties,
was the only path of safety and, by the help of God, they would constantly endeavor to walk therein at all
hazards.  If they were faithful, Infinite Wisdom would overrule all for their good and for the furtherance of the
 Amidst the surrounding gloom, light was already breaking in the East.  The United States Government was now
a fixed fact, and the Natchez District was claimed as having been included within the chartered limits of the
colony of Georgia, and was now legally an integral part of that State, and would ultimately, perhaps in a short
time, come under the Federal Government, when they would be permitted to return home in peace and safety
and serve God in the way they conceived to be right, with none to molest them.
 Their families and neighbors hastily collected and prepared such supplies as they would need on their long and
perilous journey through the various tribes of Indians inhabiting the vast region between the Natchez country and
Georgia.  Travelers' bread was made by a union of corn meal and bear's oil, and other articles were added in the
way of food, such as they could carry.  All things being in a state of readiness, a new and unexpected difficulty
sprang up.  Not a man could be found willing to risk the penalty of "aiding and abetting" in the escape of the
refugees.  Their absence from home a single day or night might throw suspicion on them and lead to disastrous
consequences; and the question was asked, with increasing anxiety, "Who will take their supplies to their place of
concealment on Bayou Pierre?"  The question was soon answered.  There lived in the vicinity a noble-hearted
and daring woman by the name of Chloe Holt, who acted in the capacity of accoucheress for the settlement and
was every way suitable for such an adventure as was now on hand.  Aunt Chloe had a kind and sympathizing
heart, but an iron will, was determined and bold, and withal was a little eccentric.  While she was all aglow to have
the pleasure and honor of conveying the needed supplies to the exiles, she wished to hit a backhanded lick at
what she considered the cowardice of the men in the neighborhood.  "If the
men in the neighborhood," said she,
"are so fainthearted that not one of them can be prevailed upon to take Dick Curtis and his companions in exile
their promised supplies, in order to secure their escape from the clutches of these gospel-hating Catholics, if
they will furnish me with a good horse, surmounted with a
man's saddle, I will go in spite of the Spaniards, and
they may catch me if they can."
 The families and friends of the refugees were glad to avail themselves of her generous offer, and a suitable
horse was accordingly brought and saddled as she desired.  All things being ready, she made her appearance,
dressed in gentleman's clothes and mounting the horse in cavalier style, boldly dashed off.  The journey was
hastily and successfully made.  She took the last sad farewell of the loved ones at home to the sorrow-stricken
exiles, delivered them their supplies, gave them her blessing, and returned as she went.  No one molested Aunt
Chloe, and that adventure was her boast to the close of life.  It is supposed she died and was buried in Warren
County, somewhere about the head waters of Big Bayou.  Could we find her grave, we would make the effort to
have a suitable monument placed upon it to perpetuate her name and noble deed to generations yet unborn.  
Whoever may, in future, write the history of the Baptist Church in Mississippi, let them not forget to make
honorable mention of Chloe Holt.  Peace to your ashes, old friend, wherever they rest.
 The 23rd day of August, 1795, the day on which Mr. Curtis and his companions in tribulation, left their homes
on Cole's Creek, was a dark day to the little Church in the wilderness.  Their only available pastor had now been
driven away from them.  For a time, how long they knew not, they were not to see his face, receive his Godly
counsel or hear his fervent prayers.  Hamberlin and DeAlvo, also, the first fruits of their prayers and faith in the
Natchez Country, had to share the exile of their pastor.  How dark and mysterious did all these things appear, not
only to desolate wives and weeping children, and a bereaved Christian brotherhood, but, also, to the departing
refugees.  But the hand of God was in all this, as we shall presently see.  Under the appropriate advice and
encouraging Christian example of the Stampleys, John Jones and other experienced members of the Church,
both male and female, the first impulses of grief and despondency at parting soon gave way to a more confiding
faith and cheerful hope of better days to come.
 The general conclusion was, if possible, to live nearer to God, so as to avail themselves of his constant
protection, support and guidance.  Soon after receiving their supplies by the hands of Mrs. Holt, the exiles began
to move northward, threading their way along the old Natchez and Cumberland trace, fording or swimming the
smaller streams, making rafts of logs to ferry themselves over the larger rivers, sleeping on the ground at night,
with the sky for a covering, until they arrived in the white settlements northeast of the Indian country.  In process
of time, they got to the former home of Mr. Curtis, on Great PeeDee, in South Carolina, where they remained
over two years and a half.  Here their religious privileges were unrestricted, and in spiritual matters, they passed
off the time profitable to themselves and others.  Mr. Curtis was active ad acceptable as a preacher, and during
his sojourn there was regularly ordained by Elders Benjamin Moseley and Mathew McCullans, and was duly
empowered, whenever he should return to the Natchez Country, to constitute a Baptist Church according to the
"faith and order" of that denomination.
 In the meantime, the Natchez District was claimed as being within the chartered limits of Georgia and,
consequently, as belonging to the United States and Col. Ellicott, with a suitable force, had been sent on by the
General Government to enforce the claim, by negotiation if possible, if not, by force of arms.  After many
vexatious delays, under a variety of pretexts, Col. Ellicott had to assume a belligerent attitude, and inform the
Spanish Commandant if he did not evacuate Fort Rosalie by the 30th of March, 1798, he would reduce it by
bombardment, and placed his ordnance about where the lower end of Main Street in Natchez now is, for that
purpose.  The Fort was evacuated before day that morning and during the day, the Americans took possession
of the works.  While this much-desired event was verging to maturity, the Baptist community of Cole's Creek were
not idle spectators.  They had resumed their meetings for public worship under the leadership of the Stampley,
Harigail and others.  They had written to their long-banished brethren in South Carolina to return home and
expectation was on tiptoe to hail their arrival.
 With light hearts and buoyant hopes, they commenced their homeward journey.  Now, they could sing, "In all my
ways Thy hand I own, Thy Ruling Providence I see."   Mr. Curtis had improved much as a preacher by
associating with his elder brethren in the ministry and by the frequent opportunities he had of preaching to
different congregations; in addition to which, he had obtained ordination and was now duly authorized to
complete the organization of his Church in Mississippi and to administer the sacraments of Baptism and the
Lord's Supper.  Hamberlin and DeAlvo had, also, been much improved in religious knowledge and experience.  
To avoid the Seminole and Creek Indians, they took the usual route by the way of Middle Tennessee, then
turning southward through the Chickasaw and Choctaw Nations.  Already a rude Church had been built of logs in
Stampley's Settlement and furnished with pulpit and seats.  It was Saturday night and Messrs. Curtis Hamberlin
and DeAlvo were within half a day's ride of home.
 At early dawn, they resumed their journey, thinking it no harm to travel a little on Sunday under such
circumstances.  They separated and each was making for his home, when Mr. Curtis fell in with cheerful
companies of former acquaintances on their way to "the house of prayer."  They assured him that he would not
find his wife and children at home, for by that hour, they were certainly on their way to Church, so he turned with
the company to the house of God.  When they arrived at the Church, Mrs. Curtis, with her household, had not
yet made their appearance, but he was assured that all were well and that they certainly would soon be there;
and, as the hour for preaching had come, the brethren insisted on his going immediately into the pulpit and
preaching them a sermon.  He submitted and while, with his head depressed below the bookboard, he was
turning to his hymn and text, his wife came in, unobserved by him, and quietly took her usual place by the wall.  
The congregation being mostly within doors, and waiting one for another, no one gave her an intimation of the
presence of her long-exiled husband.  When he rose up she looked at the pulpit to see who was going to
officiate, and seeing it was her own beloved, long-lost, but now restored, husband, it was more than her womanly
heart could endure in silence.  She shrieked and swooned away, and was borne from the house in an
unconscious state.  Cold ablutions were resorted to and consciousness soon returned; and the cordial greeting
and soothing words of her husband soon quieted her nerves.  All returned to the Church, and Elder Curtis, as we
shall henceforth call him, preached an appropriate and feeling sermon.  This incident the writer obtained more
than twenty years ago from our former fellow-citizen, John I. Stampley, son of Rev. Jacob Stampley, who was
then a lad, but being present, retained a most vivid recollection of the exciting scene.
The dark and menacing clouds of persecution had now passed away and all was light and love and joy in that
little Protestant brotherhood.  On the return of Elder Curtis to his home in the Natchez Country, the voice of the
oppressor had ceased in the land.  The Stars and Stripes had been thrown to the balmy breezes  that fanned old
Fort Rosalie and liberty of conscience was proclaimed to all.  Our hitherto oppressed and down-trodden Baptist
community met in Conference and under the superintendence of their beloved Elder Curtis, who presided as
Moderator, they completed their organization "in due and ancient form," as a regular Baptist Church.  This could
not have taken placed earlier than the summer of 1798.  Their first Church was called Salem, i. e. peace, and
stood among the upper branches of the South Fork of Cole's Creek, in Jefferson County, on what is still known
as "the Salem road."  Their usual place for immersion was in Harper's Fork, a little to the south of the Church.
 The author, however, did not set out to write a history of the Baptist Church in Mississippi, for which he is wholly
incompetent, but only to record the facts and dates of its original implantation and early progress.  He has felt it
due to the general cause of truth, as well as the fair fame of worthy ancestors, who were the principal actors in
the scenes described, to correct errors already extant, and to rescue from impending oblivion interesting facts
and dates that ought to be known to posterity.
 If ever the history of this branch of the general Church in Mississippi is correctly written, honorable mention will
be  made of Elder Curtis and his worthy coadjutors, who breasted the opposition and persecution of the Papa.
hierarchy for nearly eighteen years.  With many of them the writer was well acquainted in his boyhood and had
then, and still has, the most exalted opinion of the depth and uniformity of their personal piety, which had been
nurtured in storms and was as firmly rooted as the mountain oak.  So far as the author knows, they almost
universally prayed in their families evening and morning, and were strict observers of Christian decorum in all the
details of life.  Elder Curtis died October 28, 1811, at the house of a friend on Beaver Creek in Amite County,
where he had gone to seek medical relief from a cancer that occasioned his death.  Inquiry has been made for
his grave of late years, in view of placing a suitable monument on it, but it has not been found.  "His ashes lie, no
marble tells us where, with his name no bard embalms or santifies his song."
[See photograph of his gravesite
below. NB]
 But his record is on high!  He was a plain, honest, unsophisticated man, a sincere and spiritual Christian, and
an uncompromising and zealous preacher of the Gospel.  If he was very pointed and plain spoken at times in the
pulpit, his manner suited the rough work he had to do.
 His wife, "Aunt Pattie," as she was familiarly called, survived as a hale old lady until about 1818-19.  She died in
Jefferson County and is buried on the plantation of Mrs. Samuel Bolls, two or three miles east of Fayette.

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Grave of my 4-g-uncle, Richard Curtis,
Jr., who started the first Baptist Church
in the Southwest Flordia Parishes in abt.
1788 (the second church of any
denomination started in the territory);
and who was responsible for building six
churches in surrounding counties..
Died: October 28, 1811, at the home of
his sister, Hannah Curtis Courtney, on
Beaver's Creek, in Amite County, MS.