The Mount Liberty Cumberland Presbyterian Church is located about eighteen miles east of Charlotte, Tennessee, in Dickson County, on the Ashland City road near the Harpeth River. The church property joins the Bellsburg School.
The Mount Liberty Cumberland Presbyterian Church was organized in January, 1866, by Rev. J. A. Dunlap. It has not been determined who the charter members were. The first elders of the church were: W.B. Smith, G.W. Scott, E.S. Gleaves, and W.B. Ross. "The church had been an arm of the New Sharon congregation of Cheatham County." The church was enrolled in Charlotte Presbytery in January, 1886.(1)
First building. The first building was built about time the church was organized. It was a one room framed building. The building was used as a school as well as a church. It was torn down in 1889.(2)
Second building. The second building was built in 1889. It was a one room framed building. In 1952, three Sunday school rooms were built across the back of the building.(3)
The following ministers have served the Mount Liberty Cumberland Presbyterian Church: J.A. Dunlap, 1866;(4) J.P. Walker, 1885; W.E. Jones, 1886; W.M. Cooley, 1888-1890; T.O. Webb, 1892-1896; B.C. Scruggs, 1897-1898; J.F. Lackey, 1899-1900; T.S. Matthews, 1901-1906; John L. Boaz, 1908; J.E. Powers, 1909-1912; G.W. Phillips, 1913; W.M. Woodson, 1915-1916; G.W. Phillips, 1918-1920; A.W. Clinard, 1921-1922; J.L. Dillard, 1923; S.A. Sadler, 1924; A.W. Clinard, 1925-1926; G.E. Danley, 1928-1929; J.L. Dillard, 1931; G.E. Danley, 1932; Z.N. Clinard, 1934-1936; Carl F. Davis, 1938-1944; Harold Davis, 1946-1948; Joe W. Bright, 1950; Howard Herndon, 1954; and J.J. Douglas since 1955.(5)
Entertained presbytery. Charlotte Presbytery met with the Mount Liberty congregation twice: September, 1884,(6) and September, 1898.(7)
In 1899, Mount Liberty became a part of Clarksville Presbytery.(8) Since that time, Clarksville Presbytery has met with the Mount Liberty congregation on the following dates: March 10-11, 1908;(9) March 16, 1917;(10) March, 1934;(11) September 29, 1942;(12) and September 26-27, 1950.(13)
Members entered full time Christian service. The Mount Liberty church has had one member to enter the ministry - Rev. Will Johnson. He received his ministerial training at Cumberland University, Lebanon, Tennessee.(14)
Also, the Mount Liberty church has had one other member to enter full time Christian service, Miss Annie Bell Harris. She has taught Bible in the public school of Orange, Virginia, for a number of years. Miss Harris received her training at Bethel College, McKenzie, Tennessee.(15)
1. Minutes of the Session of the Mount Liberty Cumberland Presbyterian Church Book I.
2. Ettie Hooper Weakley (This information was received by the author in a personal interview on October 21, 1955.)
4. Minutes of the Session of the Mount Liberty Cumberland Presbyterian Church Book I.
5. Minutes of the Cumberland Presbyterian General Assembly 1885-1955, (statistical tables).
6. Minutes of the Session of the New Hope Cumberland Presbyterian Church Book I.
7. Minutes of the Session of the Wells Creek Cumberland Presbyterian Church Book I.
8. Minutes of Tennessee Synod of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church October 17-20, 1899, pp. 47-48.
9. Minutes of Clarksville Presbytery of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church March 10-11, 1908, p. 3.
10. Ibid., March 12-14, 1918, p. 16.
11. Ibid., March, 1934, pp. 1-2.
12. Ibid., September 29, 1942, p. 1.
13. Ibid., September 26-27, 1950, p. 1.
14. Ettie Hooper Weakley, op. cit.
[SOURCE: "A History of the Existing Churches of Clarksville Presbytery of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church." A Thesis Presented to the Faculty of the Cumberland Presbyterian Theological Seminary McKenzie, Tennessee. In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Bachelor of Divinity. By Ollie Newsome Harvey May 1956.]
According to session records of the Mt. Liberty Cumberland Presbyterian Church, the church was organized in January 1866 by the Rev. J.A. Dunlap, who became its first pastor. The first elders were W.B. Smith, G.W. Scott, E.S. Gleaves and W.B. Ross. Mr. Scott was the grandfather of Mrs. Charlie (Inez) Harris and great-grandfather of Anna Belle Harris, Woodrow Harris and Betty (Mrs. Carl) Batson. Mr. Gleaves was the great-grandfather of Mrs. Louise Primm on her mother's side. The first building was log and served both as a church and a school. It had split logs for seats.
Some have reported that Mr. Albert Pardue gave the land on which the church is guilt. Mr. and Mrs. Pardue are buried in the Mt. Liberty Cemetery; the tombstone shows that Mr. Pardue was born in 1840, which would have made him 26 years old at the time the first church was built. Mr. Tom Bell quoted Mr. Pardue as telling him many years ago that as a young man he loaded cordwood at the Mouth of the Harpeth for $.25 a day and saved his money. In light of the above facts, it seems reasonable to believe that Mr. Pardue did not give the land for Mt. Liberty's first building. Mrs. Susie Spann said she heard in her youth the Mr. P.B. Swift gave the original land. Mr. Swift operated a sawmill down in the hollow back of the present Mr. Liberty manse. Records at the courthouse show that Mr. Swift did own land beside and back of Mt. Liberty Church at one time. Perhaps Mr. Swift did give the first small plot of land on which the log church was built.
In 1889 the log church was torn down and a one-room frame building was erected. It is the sanctuary of the present church. More land was needed on each side of the church; therefore, Mr. and Mrs. Albert Pardue, who had become wealthy, gave land for for the cemetery and for the school. Mr. Harry Brown, the oldest man in our community now, said the land west of the church was given by Mrs. Albert Pardue and came off the farm now owned by Mrs. Susie Spann, and the land for the schoolhouse and cemetery east of the church was given by Mr. Pardue and came off the farm owned in recent years by Mr. Brown.
In 1952 three Sunday school rooms were built across the back of the church. In 1962 the old porch was torn off and a new front, including two classrooms, was built to the church. In 1964 the sanctuary was remodeled. In 1974 the manse was built during the first year of the Rev. Vaughn Fults' pastorate. The building committee for the new manse included Samuel Pardue, Dale Hardin, Kenneth Harvey, Frances Hall and J.W. Johns. The decorating committee was Wylodine Johnson, Willie Mai Frady and Mary Elizabeth Fults. Dale Hardin made the draperies and curtains for the manse. Contractor to build the manse was Duke Brothers of Charlotte. The cost, including some extra things, was $30,000.00. The lot, which was bought from Mr. Orel Mills, cost an additional $1,000.00. Brother and Mrs. Fults spent their first night in the manse July 27, 1974.
Mt. Liberty was affiliated with Charlotte Presbytery until 1899, when presbyterial boundaries were changed and Charlotte Presbytery became a part of the new Clarksville Presbytery. Tennessee Synod changed the boundaries again in 1962, incorporating Clarksville Presbytery into Nashville Presbytery. Thus Mt. Liberty has belonged to three presbyteries. Mt. Liberty is the only church in the denomination named "Mt. Liberty." The Mt. comes from the fact that the church is built on Harpeth Ridge.
Mt. Liberty has been served by several pastors and supplies across the years. Records of pastors prior to 1890 are not available except for the first pastor, J.A. Dunlap. Pastors and supplies since 1890, in consecutive order, are as follows: 1890 William Cooley, 1892 T.O. Webb, 1895 B.C. Scruggs, 1899 L.T. Lackey, 1901 T.S. Matthews, 1907 J.D. Lewis, 1907 John L. Boaz, 1909 J.E. Powers, 1914 W.M. Woodson, 1918 G.W. Phillips, 1920 A.W. Clinard, 1922 J.L. Dillard, 1924 A.W. Clinard, 1929 J.L. Dillard, 1931 G.E. Danley, 1934 Z.N. Clinard, 1937 Carl F. Davis, 1946 Harold Davis, 1950 J.W. Bright, 1954 Howard Herndon, 1955 J.J. Douglas, 1956 Raymon Burroughs, 1957 Melvin Stott, Jr., 1959 Glenn Kapperman, 1960 Z.N. Clinard, 1961 Robert Prosser, 1964 Hudson London, 1968 Mike Wall, 1973 Roger Grimsley, 1974 Vaughn Fults.
Rev. Will Johnson was raised in the Mt. Liberty Church. He went to Cumberland University in Lebanon, where he was a classmate of Cordell Hull, who became a Senator from Tennessee and later Secretary of State. Bro. Johnson never married. He and his sister Anna, lived on the Bellsburg side of the Harpeth, near Three Island Ford.
Miss Anna Belle Harris of Mt. Liberty has spent much of her life in full-time Christian Education work. She is a graduate of Bethel College in McKenzie, Tennessee. After teaching at Bellsburg and Jackson Chapel, she taught Bible in the public schools of Orange, Virginia, for 27 years. She conducted Vacation Bible Schools in various presbyteries, including Choctaw Presbytery in Oklahoma. She returned to Bellsburg in 1975 and continues to be active in the Mt. Liberty Church.
Mt. Liberty has accomplished much for the glory of Christ and the good of the community across the years. The church became a full-time church in 1974 and is a growing church. It now has 128 members, with good attendance at Sunday school and worship services. Additional organizations within the church, such as CPW (Cumberland Presbyterian Women), Men's Fellowship and youth group, are quite active. The church supports the various denominational causes. The church is on one side of Highway 49, the manse on the other side, facing one another. The congregation offers warm Christian fellowship to all.
[Source: "Bellsburg Dickson County Tennessee." By Vaughn and Mary Elizabeth Fults, 1976, pages 30-32.]