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Marshall County, Tennessee

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Bethbirei Presbyterian Church is the oldest church in Marshall County, Tennessee.  It is about five mile north of Lewisburg.  The oldest part of the Cemetery, is across the road from the church.  When I was there in the summer of 1981, a hot, humid day,  the weeds were head high and very dry.  I ventured into the weed jungle, to try to locate a headstone.  There were sunken areas designating old graves, but no stones. There may have been some, although doubtful,  but none were found that day.


The Church, Church yard and newer Cemetery were lovely and well-kept. At that time, there were several locked, glass show cases in the foyer of the Church, containing  mementos of the Church's history and of the former Pastors.  Several Dysarts, over a span of years, were Bethbirei pastors.


Samuel Argyle Appleby, his wife, Ann Rebecca (Ewing) Appleby and two of their children are buried in the newer cemetery.  This cemetery seems to be more for the Ewing, Leeper, Dysart families,  intertwined in life, closely, with the Applebys.


Appleby Family records, indicate that John Appleby and his wife, Sarah (Bell) Appleby and his wife are buried in the older section of the Cemetery (across the road).   They are surrounded by their friends and, possibly, some close family members, from those days of long ago. 


There are several unmarked graves across the road in front of the church, but impossible to count.  Also, there is a colored cemetery to the southwest of the early graves. (church records)


"A marble slab bolted to a huge native stone in NW corner of Churchyard bears the inscription:  "June 1, 1810.  On this  spot was preached by Rev.  Samuel Finley the first and organization sermon of Bethbirei Church, from "Upon this Rock, I will build My Church." (from Appleby Newsletter, Oct 1981.)


Information from the Presbyterian Historical Society of Philadelphia, sent the following information in 1981.

The first church organized in Marshall County, Tennessee, was "Bethbirei, House of My Creation" on June 1, 1810 with 26 members.  In 1815, she had 144 members and in 1818, she had 183, the greatest number in her history.  Bethberei is the "mother" of five churches.  In 1819, she gave of her members to organize the Cumberland Church of Farmington; in 1840, to Bethel and to Round Hill; in 1847, to the first Prebyterian Church of Lewisburg and in 1896, to South Berlin.  At times, in her first 50 years she had more black members than she had white ones. 


Bethberei has occupied two buildings.  The first, a log one which was replaced with the present one in 1882.

The Bethbirei Presbyterian Church is number 151 on the American Presbyterian/Reformed Historical Sites Registry."


At Bethbirei Cemetery

Old Section


1.  John Appleby, husband of Sarah (Bell) Appleby

son of William Appleby and Elizabeth McKeehan

born 21 Dec 1778  of Cumberland Co. Pennsylvania

died 6 Apr 1863

age 84 yrs. 5 mo. 15 days


2.  Sarah (Bell) Appleby, wife of John Appleby

born 8 Jan 1772

died 8 Dec 1852

age 80 yrs 11mo.


Newer Section


3.  Samuel Bell Appleby, husband of Jane Emmaline (Ewing) Appleby

 son of John & Sarah (Bell) Appleby

born 2 Feb 1808

died 4 Dec 1887


4.  Jane Emmaline (Ewing) Appleby, wife of Samuel Bell Appleby

daughter of George and Jane E. Ewing

born 31 July 1811

died 2 June 1846

age 35 years 10 mo.


5.  John Simeon Appleby, son of Samuel Bell Appleby & Jane (Ewing) Appleby

born 1 Feb 1844

died 24 July 1844

age 6 mo. 24 days


6.  Margaret (Appleby) Bond, wife of William Winton Bond

daughter of Samuel Bell Appleby & Jane (Ewing) Appleby

born 21 Nov 1837

died 3 Mar 1887


7.  William Winton Bond, husband of  Margaret (Appleby) Bond

born 23 Sept 1829

died 21 April 1891


8.  Emma Bond, daughter of William Winton Bond & Margaret (Appleby) Bond



9.  Lena Bond,  daughter of William Winton Bond & Margaret (Appleby) Bond



10.  Samuel Argyle Appleby, husband of  Ann Rebekah (Ewing) Appleby

son of Samuel Bell Appleby & Jane Emmaline (Ewing) Appleby

born 1 June 1845

died 7 Jan 1923

Obit below


11.  Ann Rebekah (Ewing) Appleby

born 2 March 1846

died 9 July 1928


12.  Flora Bell Appleby, daughter of Samuel Argyle & Ann Rebekah (Ewing) Appleby

born 28 Jan 1867

died 1 Oct 1875

age 7 yrs.  8 mo.


13.  Infant Son of Samuel Argyle Appleby & Ann Rebekah (Ewing) Appleby

born 10 June 1873

died 28 June 1873




Samuel Argyle Appleby was born June 1, 1845, in Marshall county, Tennessee. His parents were Samuel and Jane (Ewing) Appleby, of Scotch-Irish descent.  He chose farming and stock raising as his life work and took an especial interest in Jersey cattle.  He was the first man in his native county to introduce the registered breed.  He devoted to his business such intelligence and industry that he prospered much.  He took a great delight in his cattle, they were his pets and no employee  was allowed to abuse them, in fact that was his feeling toward all dumb animals.

His interests extended far beyond his private affairs.  He was much interested in education and served for several years as a public school director.  He was a public spirited man, interested in public improvement and the welfare of the community and in every movement that had for its object the promotion and betterment of humanity.

He accepted Jesus Christ in early life as his personal Savior and united with the Presbyterian church at Bethbirei and lived a consistent Christian life until his death.  So many of the sweet Christian graces shone out in his daily walk:  Humility, patience, kindness, thoughtfulness, gentleness.  He lived a beautiful, clean, pure life.  In the language of a close kinsman, "He was never heard to use an uncouth word, not even by proxy.  He was absolutely free from any of those objectionable habits.

On February 22. 1866, he was married to Miss Ann Rebecca Ewing near Lewisburg, Tenn., with who he lived a devoted happy life.  He and his wife enjoyed the companionship of each other for nearly fifty-seven years.  They celebrated their golden wedding February 22, 1916, at their home in Pulaski, Tenn., where thy were living at that time.  It was a great occasion, a happy reunion of their children and friends.

Mr. Appleby in later life was elected to the eldership in the church at Bethbirei, and when he later transferred his membership to the First Presbyterian Church at Pulaski, Tenn., he became an elder in that church.

He died on January 7, 1923, while he an his wife were on a visit in Lewisburg, Tenn.  He is survived by his wife, one daughter, Mrs. S. K. Walker, of Lewisburg, Tenn., Professor F. T. (Flavius Thomas) Appleby, of Florence, Ala., S. C. (Cecil) Appleby of Pulaski, Tenn., (sons) and one (half-)brother George Cathey Appleby of Nashville, Tennessee.

He was buried at the Bethbirei cemetery in Marshall County, Tenn., where so many of his ancestors and friends are resting.  Funeral services were conducted by Dr. M. S. Kennedy of Pulaski, assisted by Dr. Walker of Lewisburg.





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15 January 2006

revised 6 April 2006