The McAdoo Cumberland Presbyterian Church is located about seven miles south-east of Clarksville, Tennessee, between the Big and Little McAdoo Creeks.
The McAdoo church is older than the Cumberland Presbyterian Church itself, dating back before 1810.
First immigrants. James Hutchinson and his wife, Sarah, emigrated from Virginia in 1796, and settled in the McAdoo community in 1797. The country was thinly settled, and no religious services were being conducted at this time. By 1800, the country was filling up rapidly, and James Hutchinson and his wife joined with David Beaty and Henry Anderson in a petition, asking the Transylvania Presbytery to send them a preacher. In response to a second petition which they made, Transylvania Presbytery sent a licentiate, Finis Ewing, to preach to the people. 1
If often call to mind, as if it were but yesterday, the evening when a traveler as I supposed, an entire stranger, rode up to my log cabin. . . . His eyes were red with weeping; and the tears seem scarcely dried on his cheeks. He inquired for James Hutchinson. On being informed that I was the man, he seemed overjoyed. He said, "I have so long traveled this Indian path without seeing a house, that I seriously feared it would be my lot to lie out this night, and take my chance with the wolves. I have cried and prayed to the Lord, as my helper; and now after sunset, faint, weary, and disconsolated, he has brought me to this hospitable home. 2
Finis Ewing arrived on a Thursday night in 1801. Mr. Hutchinson spent the next two days riding horseback through the settlements on Cumberland and Red Rivers, and the region about Clarksville, inviting people to attend the service on Sunday at the home of David Beaty. 3
Finis Ewing's first sermon. On Sunday morning, Mr. Ewing was astonished at the size of the large congregation.
A stand for the speaker had been placed in the piazza which, with the house and a large space in front, were full of people. Mr. Ewing retired for a short time . . . to wrestle in prayer for divine aid. He entered the stand with that solemnity and awe which seemed at once to disarm prejudice and destroy indifference. He seemed impressed with a deep sense of his responsibility and the value of the souls, for whose salvation he was now about to make his first effort. Whatever his learning, talents, or the character of his discourse might prove to be, all must have been convinced he was a man of God. 4
Many eyes were filled with tears. Many who had come to laugh, returned weeping. Many who had been prompted by a vain curiosity, were awakened to an interest in the gospel of their salvation. . . . Several stubborn sinners were for the first time seriously alarmed, and a few confirmed infidels awfully shaken, by that discourse. 5
This was a glorious occasion, for it was the first service at McAdoo, as well as the first sermon preached by Finis Ewing, one of the founders of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. 6
Ordination of Finis Ewing. By the fall of 1803, new congregations were formed in various places. The country was too new for any one congregation to support a pastor; but all united could sustain a missionary on the circuit.
Several congregations in this district which had been collected by Mr. Ewing, but not yet duly organized, sent a petition to the Presbytery, praying that he might be ordained, permitted to return, and serve them as their minister. 7
At the first meeting of Kentucky Synod in October, 1802, Transylvania Presbytery was divided and a new presbytery was formed, Cumberland Presbytery. Finis Ewing was ordained by Cumberland Presbytery on "Friday before the third Sabbath in November, 1803." 8
We never thought to inquire whether there were any better preachers; the one we called for was good enough for us. We knew not, and cared not, how learned, talented, and popular others might be; our choice had fallen on one who had proved himself to be all that we desired. We would not have exchanged him for a Davis or a Witherspoon. I do believe, if the Presbytery had sent us another Wesley or Whitefield, we would have been disappointed and dissatisfied. There was one man who, two years before, had come among us "weeping, bearing precious seed, who could come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him." We preferred that man to all others, whose spiritual children on the circuit could be counted by scores and hundreds; and that man was Finis Ewing. 9
Date of organization. There is a contradiction concerning the date of organization of the McAdoo church. Cossitt stated that "Mr. Ewing continued to labor on this, his first circuit, for a year and a half or two years after his ordination." 10 This would not have been any later than November, 1805. The History of Tennessee stated, "The McAdoo Presbyterian Church was organized in 1807 or 1808, by the Rev. Finis Ewing, as an Old School Presbyterian Church." 11 From the evidence revealed, the McAdoo church was organized between 1805 and 1808.
First elders. It has been impossible to determine who the charter members were. The first elders of the McAdoo church were: James Hutchinson, William Morrow, William Hogan, and Wylie Hogan. 12
Received into presbytery. "In 1810, when the Cumberland Presbyterian Church was organized, it was placed under the care of Anderson Presbytery [this was actually Cumberland Presbytery in 1810] ." 13
Brush arbor. Finis Ewing conducted his first camp meeting, on his circuit, at McAdoo. 14 "Regular camp meetings were kept up for many years." 15 The first place of worship was a brush arbor between Big and Little McAdoo Creeks. 16
First building. The first building that was built, after the brush arbor, was a log building. It stood on the same site of the brush arbor. It has not been determined when this building was built, nor when it was torn down. 17
Second building. In 1887, the second building was built on the same site of the log building. It was a one room framed structure, fifty-two by thirty-four feet. This building was heating with a coal stove. One Sunday afternoon in 1942, the building caught from a grass fire and burned. 18
Religious services were discontinued at McAdoo until July 24, 1949, when a Sunday school was started in the church yard. When fall weather came, the Sunday school was continued in the home of Emmit Pace. Rev. Thomas H. Moore, a non-denominational minister, preached for the congregation. 19
Third building. On November 5, 1949, the session appointed a building committee which consisted of Allen Watson, Emmit Pace, Gerland Ryan, Madel Brown, and Alonzo Williams. A forty-eight by thirty-two foot basement was completed on December 10, 1949, with a cost of $474.87, all labor being donated. The upper story, a framed structure, was completed the following spring and summer, and the entire building was dedicated on August 20, 1950. A gas heating system has been installed in the new church. 20
The manse. The McAdoo and Bethel Cumberland Presbyterian Churches built a manse together. It was built in the Sango Community, next to the Bethel church. It was completed on January 1, 1953. The house, costing five thousand dollars, had five rooms and a bath. 21
The following ministers have served the McAdoo Cumberland Presbyterian Church: Finis Ewing; Mr. Bonds; Mr. Daniel; D. Stephens; William Casky; J. C. Provine; James Frazier; A. H. Berry, 1853-1855; H. L. Burney, 1856-1874; J. N. McDonald, M. J. Martin; Mr. Welburn, 1886; 22 F. E. Foust, 1887; J. W. Sullivan, 1888-1889; J. J. Rye, 1891-1896; H. M. Gardner, 1897-1901; C. W. Welch, 1902-1903; J. W. Turner, 1904; R. F. Adair, 1906; J. J. Rye, 1907-1909; W. H. McLesky, 1910; A. L. Green, 1911-1913; J. E. Powers, 1914-1920; N. R. French, 1921-1923; W. A. Blades, 1924; A. H. Sykes, 1926-1927; A. W. Clinard, 1928-1934; J. W. West, 1935-1940; J. T. Coleman, 1941-1942; 23 Raymond Kinslow, June 4, 1950-August 5, 1951; Z. N. Clinard, August 19, 1951-October 4, 1953; and Jo Westcott since January 1, 1954. 24
This church has been generally prosperous, and at times abundantly blessed: it has been remarkable for the number and extent of its revivals. These seasons of refreshing have kept the ranks filled and the church flourishing; while many emigrants have gone forth to the new states and territories, forming in various places, the nucleus of other churches which, by the blessing of God, have been gathered through their instrumentality. This has been the mother of churches in other states. Hence have originated some very able and useful ministers; among whom are the two Morrows and Wm. I Hutchinson, a son of the venerable Elder whose statements we have had occasion to repeat. Rev. Robert Morrow, D.D. is known as the President of Chapel Hill College, in the state of Missouri. . . . McAdoo at present is probably among the largest and most efficient country churches in Middle Tennessee. 25
Entertained presbytery. The McAdoo Cumberland Presbyterian Church has been a member of four presbyteries: Anderson [this was actually Cumberland Presbytery in 1810], Nashville, Lebanon, and Clarksville. "In 1810, when the Cumberland Presbyterian Church was organized, it was placed under the care of Anderson Presbytery [this was actually Cumberland Presbytery in 1810], of that church." 26 The church was a member of Nashville Presbytery in 1853, because the session minutes were approved by that presbytery in October, 1853. The following note was made by the committee on session records: "Examined By Nashville Presbytery up to October 1853, the above date." 27 In 1884 McAdoo was listed on the roll of Lebanon Presbytery. 28 In 1899, the McAdoo church was dropped from the roll of Lebanon Presbytery and became a part of Clarksville Presbytery. 29
Since 1899, Clarksville Presbytery has met with the McAdoo congregation twice: October, 1918, 30 and September 31-October 1, 1952. 31
1. F. R. Cossitt, The Life and Times of Rev. Finis Ewing (Louisville: Rev. Roy woods, agent for the Board of Publication of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 1853), pp. 70-73.
2. Ibid., p. 72.
3. Ibid., pp. 74, 111.
4. Ibid., p. 75.
5. Ibid., p. 76.
6. Ibid., p. 112.
7. Ibid., p. 77.
8. Ibid., p. 111.
9. Ibid., pp. 110-111.
10. Ibid., pp. 111-112.
11. History of Tennessee (Nashville: The Goodspeed Publishing Co., 1886), p. 801.
14. Cossitt, op. cit., p. 112.
15. History of Tennessee, op. cit.
16. I. T. Wilson (This information was received by the author in a personal interview on February 4, 1956.).
20. Minutes of the Session of the McAdoo Cumberland Presbyterian Church November 5, 1949-August 20, 1950.
21. I. T. Wilson, op. cit.
22. History of Tennessee, op. cit.
23 Minutes of the Cumberland Presbyterian General Assembly 187-1955, (statistical tables).
24 Minutes of the Session of the McAdoo Cumberland Presbyterian Church Book IV, p. 130.
25 Cossitt, op. cit., pp. 112-113.
26 History of Tennessee, op. cit., p. 801.
28 Minutes of Lebanon Presbytery of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church Fall, 1884.
29 Minutes of the Synod of Tennessee of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church October 17-20, 1899, pp. 47-48.
30 Minutes of Clarksville Presbytery of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church March 12-14, 1918, p. 15.
31 Ibid., September 31-October 1, 1952, p. 1.
[Source: Ollie Newsome Harvey. "A History of the Existing Churches of Clarksville Presbytery of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church." B.D. Thesis. Cumberland Presbyterian Theological Seminary, 1956, pages 90-98]