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Early History of Chipley

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Chipley Schools

(ca. 1982) The original Chipley School was an addition to the existing schools of Washington County.  The school district was established in 1874 as the Berry Hill School # 14, with an appropriation of $22.50.  Trustees were J. Berry, V. Tharp, and J.H. Morris.

The location of the Berry Hill School was where the Washington County Court House and the First United Methodist Church now stand, and in the spring of 1879 the Berry Hill School became the Limestone Church.

“J.W. Brown was contracted to teach for three months at Limestone Church at a salary of $10 per month, provided the school show a daily attendance of 12 scholars.”

In May of the same year the school was discontinued for lack of average daily attendance, and in 1883 was changed again to become the Jordan School House.  One year later it was renamed the Chipley School with W. J. Tiller and A. McMillan as trustees.  In 1887, the Washington County School Board ordered the school be established as an official public school site.

Chipley High School District Created

In 1890 it was ordered by B. P. I. of Washington County that Chipley High School District be established to include the town of Chipley, along with sections two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, 14,15,and 16, all in Township Four North, Range 13 West under the name of Chipley High School District.

An election was also ordered to decide, “Whether the district shall be specially taxed to increase school privileges.  All saloons and places where intoxicating liquors were sold were required to close on Election Day."

In 1902, the Chipley School was located on the grounds of the present offices of the Washington County School District.  It was constructed of white brick made at Hall’s Brickyard located on what is now Brickyard Road.  The school building had two stories, including four classrooms, an auditorium and a bell tower that occupied space on both floors in the northwest corner of the building.

The first teachers were L.D. McRae, principal; Mrs. W.C. Lockley, Miss Annie Cook, Miss Sparta Blow, and Miss Esther Miller.

On March 5, 1912, an election held in Chipley.  A.D. Carmichael, A.D. Campbell and C. B. Dunn, Sr. were elected trustees and three mills was voted in as the maximum tax levy.

Noted in the minutes of July 1, 1912, Miss Esther Miller, Frances Langston and Rosa Gainer served on the Grading committee of the June Teachers examination.   Fifteen whites and one colored person passed the exam.

In 1916, the twelfth grade was added to Chipley High school, which necessitated the addition of a new building to be located on the north side of the school.  An arcade was built to join the two schools.  The new building, known simply as the high school, had two stories and a basement, with four classrooms, a boiler room and toilets. 

The minutes of 1918 listed Dr. A. E. Gladding as principal of Chipley High School.  Teachers were J.A. Douglas, Normal Department; Marion Alford, Domestic Science; Frances Langston, Mrs. George Meade, Gladys Farrior, Mrs. Eva Shrivalle, Florence Wereline, Mrs. Myrtis Watts, Esther Miller, Helen Cook, Mrs. Nella Shivers and Emma Chambliss.

Early in 1919 the Chipley School district ran out of funds.  The trustees met with the School Board and asked for authority to borrow $1,750 to pay expenses of said school until taxes had been collected. 

In the fall of 1919, John P. Harrell was hired to transport students from Holmes Creek School to the school in Chipley on a flat bed truck.  Before that, transportation was varied for students outside the district who wanted to complete their high school education.   Most of them walked, some even for several miles, while others caught rides with townspeople.  Others rode mail cars, bicycles, horse-drawn wagons, buggies and surreys.

Later, the model -T car appeared on the scene, along with a bus from the Holmes Creek area, and F. L. Cope took over the school bus driving duties and drove for 42 years.  

New High School Building

The present high school building was erected in 1930 and named Washington County High School. 

All high school classes were moved to the new building, leaving the elementary grade students in the two old buildings across the street.  Expansion was needed as time went on, and the school board subsequently purchased small parcels of land adjoining the school property. 

The land south and west of the high school was bought in 1946 from H. H. Wells for $1,250.  A binder of $350 was placed for land west of the athletic field, known as the Hudson property, on October 13, 1947, and the purchase was completed on July 15, 1948.  The T. L. Richards property north of, and adjacent to the high school, was bought on June 30, 1948 for $7,000.  Another parcel of land was purchased on May 11, 1953 from Bertha Wilson and E. C. Daniel.  Another was bought from Spann Braxton in 1973.

The south wings to the high school were added in 1947, with the north wing, the agriculture building and the music building added in 1950.  The first gymnasium, a wooded frame building constructed in 1930, was later used as a warehouse, and the present gymnasium was built in 1955.  Since then, the athletic field has been expanded, and a lot of effort has been put into making it an attractive outdoor ballpark.

The library became obsolete, and a new one was built in 1963 just south of the classrooms and named “The Frances McGeachy Library” in honor of “Miss Frankie,” who taught for many years in the school.  She also served for three years as principal of the school.

In 1946, P. T. A. members met with the school board to request a lunchroom addition for the school. 
The request was granted, and the auditorium in the old high school across the street was cleaned out and set up to be the lunchroom, which began serving lunches in the fall of 1946.  A new cafeteria was constructed in 1958 at a cost of $41,975.

Miss Annie Merle Simmons was the school’s first band director in 1937, and the school produced many fine bands and choral groups over the years. 

Chipley High School has continued to progress as the years passed and is now well known throughout the area. 

Roulhac To Supervise Schools

In July 1913, T. J. Roulhac was contracted to supervise the schools of Washington County under the direction of County School Superintendent W. T. Horne.  Roulhac received $40 a month from the Anna T. Jeans fund, managed by Dr. J. H. Dillard of New Orleans, and $20 from B. P. I. of Washington County.

In 1918, O. F. Long was principal for the Chipley Colored School, and Beulah Cody and Pearla Kemp were the teachers.  Also, T. J. and Patience Roulhac were listed for a number of years among the black schoolteachers. 

A wooden building was moved from the Chipley High School grounds and used as both the elementary and high school, and two rooms were rented for $10 a month to take care of students.

The high school was begun in 1938, with T.J. Roulhac as principal, and the school was subsequently named the Roulhac School to honor the generous devotion of educational services by the Roulhac family.  In 1950, preliminary plans for the new Roulhac School were approved by the school board, and the board ordered construction to begin at the earliest possible time.

With six classrooms, a homemaking room, boiler room and central heating plant, the building was completed in 1952 and by 1963 a gymnasium, cafeteria and other additions were made.

 Kate Smith Becomes Principal

The elementary and high school classes were under the same principal until 1949, when Mrs. Kate McSween Smith, known to all as “Sister Kate,” became principal of the elementary school.  During the 1951-1952 school term Mrs. Smith died, and it was during this time that a new elementary school was built.  Philip Rountree was appointed principal when the new school opened in 1963 and the school was named “Kate M. Smith Elementary School” in memory of Sister Kate, who had been a first grade teacher for many years in Chipley.

The first year in the new building necessitated transportation by bus for children back to the old school for lunch. 

In the beginning, grades one and two were moved to the new building, then others followed, and a library and lunchroom were provided.

Kate M. Smith elementary School gained widespread recognition as an outstanding school for this area.

Those who have served as principals include: Philip Rountree, Kelly Brock, Pat Wilson, and Calvin Stevenson.

Following completion of the new Kate M. Smith Elementary School, the north building of the old high school was demolished, and the south building was used as a junior high school.  Later, the south building was also torn down, and the bell that had been there for many years was moved to a church.

By unanimous decision, the school board sold the bell to the Chipley Free Will Baptist Church for $15.

A new Washington County school district office with a large parking area now occupies the lot where the former buildings stood.  

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 The Methodist Church of Chipley

The exact date on which the Chipley First Methodist Church was founded is unknown. 

Early members remember that the first Methodist preacher here was Rev. W. H. Windham, who served the Holmes Valley Circuit and held services in Chipley in the schoolhouse.

The first written records, from 1887, show that the Chipley Methodist Church was one of seven churches that made up the Campbellton Circuit, Marianna District.  During that time, Rev. D. C. Stanley was pastor and Rev. J. W. Glenn was the presiding elder.  In 1887 the pastor and presiding elder were paid a total of $623.83 for their services.

In early 1889, a cyclone blew down the existing church building and it was rebuilt the same year on the corner of what is now the courthouse lawn.

From 1889 to 1892 the number of churches in the district increased from seven to nine, and in 1891, the presiding elder took up a collection for missions at the district conference and received $2,000, a large sum for that day and time.

Sometime between 1896 and 1900, while the Rev. R. A. Foster was pastor, the name of the circuit was changed to the Chipley Circuit.

Current Church Built In 1903

The current church building, that stands at the top of a hill along Highway 90 just one block from downtown Chipley, was started when Rev. G. N. Winslett (father of the late Edith Stokes ca. 1982) was assigned to the church in 1903.  Winslett was known in the area as a builder and it is said that a great deal of the original work he did with his own hands.

The church bell was installed in the belfry at the time the church was constructed and was actively used by the church to call its members to worship on Sundays until remodeling of the sanctuary during the 1960s.

The spires for the steeple of the current church were constructed by hand and welded by E. M Fowler, a local blacksmith and father of Roland Fowler, a Chipley city councilman in the early 1980s.

The windows in the church were called “art glass.”  The windows were made from granite glass imported from Antwerp, Belgium.  “Art glass” is a process of fusing together small pieces of granite glass to form a picture or a design.

In the 1950s, the adhesive material binding the granite glass pieces together was deteriorating and the windows started separating.  A craftsman from Daytona Beach was hired to reconstruct the windows and seal them in their present glass cases to preserve them.  The windows are unique in that most churches use cathedral glass in stained glass windows. 

The original solid oak pews that were placed in the church in 1907 are still being used today.

The pipe organ was installed in the 1930s and was still the only pipe organ in Chipley as of 1982.  Several years prior to 1982, the organ was reworked, redesigned, and a new console added, along with new pipes build into an alcove, rising high above the choir area, creating an impressive architectural backdrop for the sanctuary.

Rev. Winslett also built the first Parsonage in Chipley.  Construction on the Parsonage was completed during the tenure of Rev. R. C. Williams, who served from 1907-1910.  In 1912 the Chipley-Bonifay charge was organized.

Members of the First Board of Stewards for the Chipley church were: J. J. (Chub) Williams, J. T. Gowen, Sr., Angus I. Miller, J. W. Williams, Dr. W. E. Coleman and W. O. Butler.

Chipley became a station in 1922 with Rev. C. P. Atkinson as its first full-time minister.  The church purchased the Winslett property in 1923-24, and the original parsonage built in 1888 was used as Sunday school rooms until a fellowship hall could be built.

Construction on the fellowship hall began in 1937 and was completed and dedicated that year debt-free.  The building committee consisted of Angus I. Miller, J. T. Bowen Sr. and W. T. Laney.

A new parsonage was built in 1956 (which serves as the parsonage today).  The Rev. Lloyd W. Kimbrough was in charge and lived in the new parsonage for a year.

Rev. Lloyd W. Tubb, who came to Chipley in 1961, directed an extensive remodeling of the sanctuary. 

Contributions To The Sanctuary Included:

The Willing Workers Sunday Sunday-School Class presented the pulpit Bible in 1957.

The altar set, given in memory of J. J. (Chub) Williams by his children Dr. and Mrs. Neal Williams and Mr. And Mrs. Byron (Nellie Williams) Carter.

His wife and children gave the offering plates in memory of L. D. McRae.

The Laney family gave the baptismal bowl in memory of W. T. Laney.

Mrs. Lena Bowen and her children presented the communion set in memory of J. T. Bowen.

Mrs. Julia Daniel was the principal contributor in the presentation of the chimes in 1947.  The chimes were given in memory of the following men who died in battle combat during World War II. Billie McCrary, Theodore Kirkland, Billie McCrae, Lehmon Cooper, Quinton Cooper, James Hudson, and Henry Hudson. The Rev Lee Allen and his wife Jenny are currently serving as Pastors for the Chipley First Methodist Church (2003). 

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 The current Methodist website can be found on the Worship page.

First Baptist Church Founded In 1887 

First Baptist Church of Chipley was organized in 1887 with 19 charter members.  These original members petitioned the West Florida Baptist Association for membership during the 41st annual session meeting with the Magnolia Baptist Church in Calhoun County, October 12-13, 1887.

Rev. T. E. Langley was the first pastor.  He and the 19 charter members first met in a two-room school building on the site where the Washington County Courthouse now stands on Highway 90 and South Third Street.

The property deed on which the first church building was erected, was purchased for $150.  This property, located on the North East corner of Highway 90 and South Fifth Street, was acquired from Mr. and Mrs. E. N. Dekle on October 14, 1901.

Dr. S. B. Rogers, third pastor of the Chipley Baptist Church, drew blueprints for the auditorium; the story is that he sketched the plans at the kitchen table in the home of Mrs. W. O. Butler.  In 1901, under the direction of Dr. Rogers, the auditorium was built.  The church was dedicated in 1902.

The first Sunday School was organized in 1897, and its first Superintendent was J. D. Forester.  The six-point record system for the Sunday school program was adopted in June, 1922.

In the summer of 190l, the first Woman’s Missionary Society was organized in this church.  There were five charter members:  Mrs. Nita Boyd, Mrs. E. N. Dekle, Mrs. Josie Daniel, Mrs. J.D. Forester and Mrs. Faust. 

The Woman's Missionary Society first sponsored the Sunbeams in 1910.  The girl’s auxiliary was organized in 1922 and the young women’s auxiliary was first organized in 1926.

The church training program of the First Baptist Church was organized in 1909 as the Baptist Young People’s Union.

The earliest record book of a business meeting available to FBC is dated 1913.  It was that year that the church began to meet every Sunday instead of meeting twice a month for worship services.

Bro and Mrs. George Gay now own the first pastorium built by the First Baptist Church.  It is located at 305 South Fifth Street and was built in 1913 at a cost of between $1,800 and $2,000.

In 1924, FBC purchased the Hutchinson building adjoining the church on the north side.  At the time it was purchased, Southern Bell Telephone company occupied a portion of the building and continued to occupy it until 1959.

The opera seats in the auditorium were replaced with pews, and the Hammond organ was purchased in either 1938 or 1939. 

In 1941-42, an addition was made to the old telephone building.  Space for three Sunday School departments, a kitchen and recreational room were added.  An educational addition was completed in 1951 on the east side of the church.  At this time the church was air-conditioned and remodeled, including a new baptistery.

Between 1950-1954, FBC had its own radio station – WXAD.  It was built by Charles Hughson and used exclusively for religious programs.

In the mid-1950s, FBC was giving 25 percent of the church income to the cooperative program.  This was the highest percentage given by any church in the state for several years.

The church voted to sponsor a brotherhood on February 8, 1956.  Al Lowe was the first brotherhood president.  The first Royal Ambassador group sponsored by the brotherhood was organized in 1957 with Bill Lee as the first elected leader.

The interior of the pastorium was completely remodeled in the mid-1950s.  In 1959, the rock wall in front of the church was removed and a giant oak tree, also in front of the church, was removed in 1960.

The exterior and interior of the church was remodeled in 1962.  Red brick was added to the outside of the church, covering the original yellow brick, to match the educational building to the east side of the church.

During the early pastorate of Rev. George Gay, the Sunday School had the highest attendance in history, 458.  It was at this time that George Jones was employed as the first full-time Music Education Director.

In June of 1973, the pastorium on South Fifth Street was sold to Bro and Mrs. George Gay for their retirement home.  The new pastorium on North Boulevard West was completed in August 1974.   It was built by Strickland and Son Construction Company at a cost of $56,240.  The property upon which the pastorium was built was purchased from Mr. And Mrs. H. R. Adolph Phares, and the Phares family were the first to live in the new pastorium.

In 1976, FBC purchased property on the corner of South Boulevard and Fourth Street whereon to build a new church.  This property was purchased from Cary Everit for $33,000, and a lot joining on the north side of this property was also purchased from Glover Usery.

The church agreed to purchase the Alford House and property joining the church site on the west side on South Boulevard for $45,000 on September 5, 1976.

Pearson, Humphries, Jones & Associates, Inc. of Montgomery, Alabama, were hired as Architects at a cost of 8 percent of the total cost of building.  American Heritage Bond Company was secured to coordinate the sale of $300,000 in bonds.  Kolmetz Construction Co. of Panama City was hired to build a new church plant.

On November 8, 1978, Mrs. Roy Chance was elected as church historian.  She presented a historical slide and sound presentation to the congregation on November 18, 1979 before moving into the new church building.

The congregation held it first services in the new church on December 2, 1979.  The first day in the new building began with a brotherhood breakfast; the women were invited and provided the program that emphasized the foreign mission work of the church.  

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The current First Baptist Church website can be found on the Worship page.

  First Presbyterian Church

 The First Presbyterian Church of Chipley was organized on October 18, 1896, by the Reverent L. H. Wilson, a Presbyterian evangelist of Florida.  There were 13 charter members; David Andrews, Mrs. Hannah E. Andrews, J.P. Schell, George W. Johnston, Mrs. Frances W. Andrews, Mrs. Lizzie Schell, Thomas E. Andrews, Roy Andrews, Harry A. Schell, Walter H. Johnston and Fred F. Schell.

Services were held in the Methodist and Baptist churches until May of 1904, when the first church building, located on Watts Avenue, was completed.  This is where the present Wesley Seay home stands (this home was rebuilt from the old church).  The sanctuary was dedicated in the fall of 1904.  In 1926, a break manse was built.

Later, as the congregation grew, a new brick building was constructed on fifth Street and was dedicated in 1938.  This structure was considered adequate by the members until the late 1950s, when it was decided additional education space was needed.  This construction was completed in 1958.

From its time of organization, the church has had an active Sunday School program.  The Women of the Church organization has been active since 1919.

The pastors who have served the FPC are:  Rev. L. H. Wilson, 1896-1900: Rev. G. W. Wallace, 1900-1901: Rev. J. W. Laferty, 1901-1904: Rev. A. C. Dolphy, 1904-1905: Rev. J. W. Roseborough, 1905-1906:  Rev. Clyde Johnson, 1906-1913:  Rev. F. F. Schell, 1913-1920:  Rev. T. C. DeLaney, 1920-1924:  Rev. W. H. Eubanks, 1925-1926: Rev. C. B. Ratchfield, 1927-1932:  Rev. J. V. Logan, D. D., 1933-1941: Rev. John Morrison, 1942-1943:  Rev. A. L. McDuffie, 1943-1958.  Rev. Woodrow McKay, 1958-1964:  Rev. William Bodiford, 1965-1966: Rev. Bert C. Swearingen, 1968-1975: Rev. Al Hoyer, 1975-1980: Rev. Hubert C. Shelton was serving in 1982 when this history was written.

Services are held each Sunday morning at 11 a.m., proceeded by Sunday School at 9:30.  There is a full program for youth and adults on Sunday evenings beginning at 4 p.m.  Sunday School and chapel also are held each Sunday at Sunny Hills.

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History Sources: E. W. Carswell's book, Washington, Florida's Twelfth County.  Copyright 1991, E.W. Carswell. All Rights Reserved. And the Chipley Centennial, 1982 Published by The Washington County News and the Chipley Centennial Committee.

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