Yellow River Baptist Church was founded on the banks of the Yellow River, a few miles south of the Alabama line, on 14 June 1840. The nine founding members were listed as John Robertson, James Barrow, David Gartman/Girtman, Elizabeth Steagall, Margaret Weeks, Elizabeth Wood, Mary Wood, Mary Senterfitt and Nancy Busby.
Yellow River Baptist Church was the first known Baptist church in what is now Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa and Walton County, Florida. Its initial members came from both sides of the river, as well as north into Covington Co, AL. Through the years it seeded many of the surrounding Baptist churches either directly with support or through members leaving and joining the new churches.
This book is a compilation of the existing membership lists from 1840 through 1950, providing both the actual pages from the original records and an index of all the names in the book with links to the actual images. In addition, there is a chronology of the currently known history of the Church; images and transcriptions of a number of the important documents issued by the Church over the years, such as their Articles of Faith; images of the deed purchasing the land where the existing Church stands; photos through the years and a number of the newspaper articles published during the homecoming celebrations from 1950 forward.
Just some of the surnames found in the records include Baggett, Barnhill, Barrow, Bush, Campbell, Carter, Carver, Clary, Cobb, Collinsworth, Cook, Dannelly, Davis, Devereaux, Dixon, Etheridge, Flowers, Fountain, Fuqua, Garrett, Gartman, Gaskin, George, Gordon, Harsey, Hart, Helms, Howell, Huggins, Kennedy, King, Madden, McWilliams, Milligan, Moore, Morrison, Parker, Peaden, Richburg/Richbourg, Senterfitt, Smith, Steele, Stephens, Stewart, Stokes Thomas, Tillery, Turvin, Wilkinson, and Wood.
The oldest church records came home in May. The grandson of a woman who was likely one of the church clerks brought them to the church a few weeks ago. One look at them encouraged the pastor to call me. They have been through a lot of poor handling. Pages are scrambled and fragile but are still readable! I am currently documenting each page as they are currently ordered and separating the pages with acid-free tissue paper. My four goals are to 1) Try to organize the membership rolls so the opposite page with information on baptism, etc. can be linked to the names. After making sure I have all pages scanned, I will use the scanned pages to link pages using my notes. The original scans did not do this, therefore losing information. 2) Scan the pages that came up missing between Baker Block Museum's scan and the files being given to me. We had the transcription effort but no scanned pages for a handful of pages. 3) Determine if it would be wise to re-scan all pages as .tiff or .pdf files at a high resolution and do that if it seems wise. There will be less degrading of the files over time if they are accessed much. 4) Stabilize the pages in an archival box and seal.
I've made progress on scanning and organizing the pages and hope to have all completed by the church homecoming in June 2018. While there are no plans to update the book above, I will be including an extensive chapter in my upcoming book on Oak Grove covering the history of the church that I've uncovered this year.
I am wrapping up the re-scans and replacement of the missing original scans. I've also started a spreadsheet of all of the members, which membership list they are on and will add in their mention in the actual minutes. Finally linking the page with the names and some information and the opposite page with additional information for some members has provided additional information on when members joined and left and in some cases that they died and a date is included. I hope to be finished by the end of the summer and will discuss with the church what would be the best way to get the additional information out to descendants and interested persons.
Author and Local NW Florida Historian