Sunday, September 27, 2015

Rehobeth Methodist Church
circa 1839

This church is located in an area where once wealthy slave owners were not timid in displaying their wealth. Church attire was a concern among members. Wealthier women wore their New York fashions and silks in contrast to their poor sisters who dressed in their long black calico dresses and bonnets. Should they had hid their wealth?

The church is located in rural Copiah County on Barlow Road in the Barlow Community.

"Rehoboth was Methodist church about four miles northeast of Somerset. The Taliaferros, Browns and Hawkins, and we went there on Sundays to church, and a good many other people...I think she (Cousin Melissa Taliaferro) always wore those "party dresses" to church for Bertha remembers her at Rehoboth in a light green silk with bare neck and arms."
Edwina Burnley Memoirs

Melissa Ann Brown Taliaferro

How does this church connect to my family?
The Taliaferro and Brown families, who were members of this church, were slave owners of members of my family.

Melissa Brown Taliaferro's husband, Richard H Taliaferro, owned 44 slaves; father Edwin Rice Brown owned 190 slaves, per the 1860 Copiah Slave Schedule.

Melissa's picture is courtsey of Suzanne Brown.
Religion in Mississippi

15 comments:

  1. The church looks tidy and well preserved, so I hope it is still in use. What an interesting thought about the dresses! Are there 3 doors on the front? One looks tiny.

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    1. The church is still in use. The door in the middle is an average size door and my thoughts were it lead to a small storage area. I like Suzassippi's supposition that it leads to the bell tower.

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  2. Perhaps a door to the bell tower? I do like the large doors. I suppose from what I can recall growing up, those who were wealthy, or at least had more than us poor working folk, always gussied up for church.

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    1. Some conservative pastors wanted things to remain as it was in the early days of their church history, simple dress. As wealth increased, folks "gussied up" wearing their jewelry and fancy dresses. In my neck of the woods, some folks think we are too casual in what we wear to church.

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    2. And that is often the case nowadays! I liked the tradition in the townships of South Africa, where all the women wore a black skirt and white blouse--partially so no woman would feel out of place or lacking compared with others, but I also liked that it kept the focus off what someone was wearing and in the spirit of the worship. The services I attended there were among the most significant I ever enjoyed.

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    3. I think I would have enjoyed that church service.

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  3. I've been reading some Christian focused novels from the late 1800s - early 1900s and there is quite a bit of discussion among the characters about how rich people should/could dress so that they don't shame the poor. Some said dressing in calico would drive the price of calico up and out of reach of the poor, others said dress simply and on and on.

    At one point my father's churches mandated everyone wear red and black outfits - black suits or skirts and red blouses and shirts. Kept the fancy down.

    I suppose that still goes on - the fancy dressing and the plain dressing. I must admit that on the rare occasions I go to church, I don't pay much attention to it.

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    1. I like it when we are asked to wear a certain color for a church service. I guess it is the feeling of unity that I like.

      Folks are still the same and the fashion parade is still active. Like you, I don't pay much attention, not on my list of complaints.

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  4. LindaRe, great write up on the history of Rehobeth Methodist, especially the info about the ladies church attire.

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    1. Thank you Professor Dru. The discussion about women's proper attire for church is not a "johnny come lately" conversation. It has been around for a while.

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  5. I can remember how well-to-do women used to wear mink stoles to church when I was a child. A few years ago I saw a mink stole for sale at a flea market. It was similar to what I remember the wife of the owner of a construction company wearing to church years ago. It was priced at only f$15. It's amazing how styles change over time.

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    1. One of my aunts who loved to dress well for church owned a mink stole and a matching hat she loved to wear to church.

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  6. Linda, this is an interesting subject. After reading the comments, I am compelled to offer a historical perspective on "dressing up" on Sunday.
    Keep in mind that in the black tradition, especially in the south, Sunday was the only day that ladies and gentlemen could "dress up" . Ladies could carry their "good pocket books" and men could wear a jacket and necktie. I'm sure from slavery to Emancipation and throughout the reign of Jim Crow, a "negro" could find him/herself in serious "trouble" for dressing up and " trying to be uppity". It happened to my father. Dressing up on Sunday afforded many black people in small southern towns an opportunity to exhibit their individuality and "somebodyness". Many also believed that wearing your best honored God as well. Hats, gloves, stockings, high heels, suits and ties were always worn to church by black adults in my town of Hattiesburg. Although we had black entrepreneurs and of course ministers, educators and undertakers, most adults in the southern "towns" were in domestic service, farming and in numerous types of manual labor jobs working for others. Therefore, dressing up on Sunday was considered a privilege. Thanks for hearing me out.

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  7. Linda, this is an interesting subject. After reading the comments, I am compelled to offer a historical perspective on "dressing up" on Sunday.
    Keep in mind that in the black tradition, especially in the south, Sunday was the only day that ladies and gentlemen could "dress up" . Ladies could carry their "good pocket books" and men could wear a jacket and necktie. I'm sure from slavery to Emancipation and throughout the reign of Jim Crow, a "negro" could find him/herself in serious "trouble" for dressing up and " trying to be uppity". It happened to my father. Dressing up on Sunday afforded many black people in small southern towns an opportunity to exhibit their individuality and "somebodyness". Many also believed that wearing your best honored God as well. Hats, gloves, stockings, high heels, suits and ties were always worn to church by black adults in my town of Hattiesburg. Although we had black entrepreneurs and of course ministers, educators and undertakers, most adults in the southern "towns" were in domestic service, farming and in numerous types of manual labor jobs working for others. Therefore, dressing up on Sunday was considered a privilege. Thanks for hearing me out.

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    1. Saundra, I totally agree. My people were poor and the only time they dressed "up" was mostly for Sunday church services. They would start during the week to make sure their clothes were clean and ironed and if something needed mending, that was done. Saturdays was busy getting hair cuts, pressing and curling hair and making sure the car was clean and shinny. Some Sundays, the men would sit all day in their Sunday suits, I think this gave them their "somebodyness.".. I can also remember out growing my Sunday dresses and shoes, staying home because I didn't have anything to wear...One summer, my grandmother's nephew came to visit from somewhere up north, and he was dressed in his white shirt and tie. Apparently Sonny didn't bring any of his work clothes. Grandma was so concerned Sonny would get himself in trouble visiting the Hazlehurst area without his work clothes and that was in the 60s.

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