History of the Byrneville United Methodist Church

The Byrneville Community was established in 1860 by Bob and Martha KENDRICKS. As others visited this pleasant area, they liked it and moved in with their families to eventually establish a community. The Eligia BEASLEY family moved into the community in 1865. J. W. GILMORE moved into the area in 1885 and produced the first cotton crop in Escambia County. Mr. GILMORE constructed the first cotton gin in this county in 1890.

In 1890, Mr. R. D. BYRNES established a sawmill in the area. The first church building was erected with lumber given by Mr. BYRNES. He also provided the lumber for the first school and the community took his name for their own - Byrneville.

This first church was located near Canoe Creek and was completed in 1891 with Rev. J. B. TATE preaching the first sermon in 1892. In addition to the church, there was a cemetery at the location and two markers remain today (about 1980). These markers show that Birdie BUSBEEE, infant daughter of Cornelia and S. H. BUSBEE died in 1892 and E. S. FORE died in 1885. The building was sold for $87.00 and the money was used toward a new church that was opened in 1892 with Rev. J. B. TATE preaching the first sermon. This new church was located near the location of the present church.

In 1925, the church was moved to its present location under the pastorate of the Rev. J. A. BRIDGES. This was a large wooden building with four Sunday School rooms (two on each side of the sanctuary). Mr. L. S. GILMORE served the church as Sunday School Superintendent during many of these years with a total of fifty (50) years in this position.

The wooden building was used until the block building in use today was completed in 1948 under the pastorate of Rev. E. G. HOWELL. During part of this time, church services were held at the Byrneville School. The first member to be received in the present church was Ann REID JOHNSON. The old building was sold for $1,000 which was used in the construction of the new building.

The Educational Building at the rear of the church was added in 1954 under Rev. Luther GANDY. The pews and carpet were added in 1970 while Rev. William HUTTO was serving the charge. The colored windows and stucco finish were also added under Rev. HUTTO in 1974.

In 1977 the facility was enlarged with the addition of three Sunday School rooms and central heat and air conditioning were added. Rev. John DICKINSON was the pastor during this time.

The first parsonage was located at the corner of Bluff Springs Road and the Church driveway. A great deal of the construction was done by church members. The present parsonage was built in 1963 with volunteer labor supplied by the members of the Church. The parsonage was constructed over a thirteen week period with work being done on the weekends and evenings under the supervision of Mr. Edgar Hugh REID. The ladies of the church supported the men in their efforts by supplying “dinner-on-the-grounds.” Rev. Zedoc BAXTER was pastor during this time.

This history is based on the contents of typewritten sheets of information that were provided to West Florida Genealogical Society (WFGS) members when they surveyed the Bryneville Cemetery. The information in those sheets was reportedly taken from a document written by Mr. T. T. WENTWORTH, as well as information that was gathered by church members.