5 Years in Southern Mississippi by Dr. Whitsitt

The Church of Antioch at Poplar Springs was constituted May 31st of this year (1884) with 34 members.  The officers were N. C. Hathorn, and N. L. McNeese, deacons; C. S. Brinson, treasurer; John Baker, clerk.  I had been preaching here for two years on Saturday before the first Sunday; Bro. Chastain had also kept an appointment here for six months.  AS the pastor of Bethany of which this had been a recognized arm, the new church desired me to continue to supply them for the remainder of the year, since they were under certain financial obligation to the pastor of the mother-church.

The new church began immediately to build a house of worship.  The only objection to their plan was that the building was too small.

About this time, also, a house of worship was begun at Williamsburg.  The members were poor and not much disposed to undertake the work of building, but the pastor urged it, and he and myself, in order to insure success, agreed to put each one hundred dollars into it and to risk collecting these amount from the public generosity.  It was necessary for me to borrow my hundred, and my worthy confrere, who happened to be flush at that time, made me the loan.  I succeeded in collecting about ninety dollars.  The money advanced was turned over to Deacon J. R. Webster, with the understanding that he would build the house; and he did build it, assuming the rest of the responsibility.  Soon the Methodist followed suit and built a good house of worship.  This is one time we got ahead of the Methodist.

I had arranged to spend my leisure time this summer at Rawl’s springs, about thirty miles southeast of Williamsburg.  I made the house of Bro B. F. Rawls my home.  While stopping there I chanced to attend a few days, the protracted meeting of the new church, which had been called Central.  It was here that I first met pastor, Edl. H. B. Cooper.  The railroad from Meridian to New Orleans had just been built.  The Baptist State Mission Board was planting churches along the line of the road.  Elder Cooper was one of their men.  He was the entering wedge in this section to the splendid work, which has since been achieved under Elders Ray, Robison, Barret and others.

At the close of the meeting at Central, a motion was made by Deacon Carter to call a council of the churches that were situated between pearl and Lear Rivers, to meet at Leaf River church, at the time of the August mass-meeting, for the purpose of considering the propriety of forming a new association.  This move had been talked of for many years and was now beginning to take shape.