Archive for the ‘Summerville Presbyterian Church (PCUSA), Summerville, Georgia’ Category

Church for Summerville   Leave a comment

AC April 8, 1917 Page 9

Above:  An Article from The Atlanta Constitution, April 8, 1917, page 9

Obtained via


Summerville Presbyterian Church 1889-1923

Above:  The 1889 Building of Summerville Presbyterian Church, Summerville, Georgia

Image Source = Nan Rich, History of Summerville Presbyterian Church, 1841-1988 (1988), page 2

The 1889 structure of Summerville Presbyterian Church, having become unsafe in 1923, went the way of all buildings past their prime.  The new facility was ready in April 1924.

Dedication May 1924

Image Source = Page 5


Family May 1924

John Dodson Taylor, Sr. (1860-1936) was the bald gentleman in the center of this close-up.  I guess that the woman to his left was his wife, “Hattie” Stoddard Taylor.


Nell Taylor at the Organ, Summerville Presbyterian Church, Summerville, Georgia, 1940s   Leave a comment

Nell Taylor at Organ

My grandmother, Nell Barrett Taylor, served as the Organist at Summerville Presbyterian Church, Summerville, Georgia, for many years.



My Uncle and Father, Boy Scouts   Leave a comment

Scouts in Summerville, Georgia

My uncle Randy is to the left, my father (John D. Taylor, III) to the right

Image Courtesy of Randolph Fleming Taylor

Here is a photograph of my uncle and father standing in front of the Summerville Presbyterian Church prior to October 1959.  Why October 1959, you ask?  The architectural history of that structure provides that date.  I estimate the date of this photograph to be somewhere in the middle 1950s, based on my knowledge of birth dates.



Nell Barrett Taylor in 1990   Leave a comment

Mom in Sville News 1990 with part of article

Uncle Randy sent this scan of part of a 1990 Summerville News article featuring my grandmother, Nell Barrett Taylor.  Here and elsewhere (most Facebook of late) I have read moving accounts of my grandmother’s positive influence on many lives.  Many students benefited much just from her official duties as a teacher.  She helped at least one former student on her own time at home with a college paper.  And then there were her musical contributions to Summerville Presbyterian Church as a musician.  Hers is a fine legacy.



My Great-Granduncle Randolph   Leave a comment


My great-grandmother, Nellie Seguin Fox Barrett, had two sisters (Lucy and Frances) and a brother (James Randolph or Randolph James) Fox, pictured above.  He was born in Hot Springs, Arkansas, in 1879.  He lived in Pennsylvania at the time of the 1930 Census and in Connecticut in time for the 1940 Census.  My uncle Randy wrote in a recent email that Randolph Fox worked for the Bass Shoe Company, which made dress shoes.   (as a “fairly high official”) in Connecticut.  Uncle Randy also wrote to me that my grandmother, Nell Barrett Taylor, once sought some good leather for use at Summerville Presbyterian Church, Summerville, Georgia.  Randolph Fox supplied it.  Randolph Fox also enjoyed eating peaches, which my grandparents shipped to him.  (The peaches came from the family orchard.)



Woman’s Work in the Gospel   3 comments


Above:  St. Mary Magdalene (1899), by Viktor M. Vasnetsov



My priest is female.  I suspect that my great-grandfather would disapprove of this fact, based on the content of this post.

I do recall that his daughter and my grandmother, Nell Barrett Taylor, served on the Session of the Summerville Presbyterian Church, Summerville, Georgia.  My father (John Dodson Taylor, III) asked her what her father would think of that.  My grandmother replied that she thought that her father would approve.



Phils. 4, 3

God’s mercies appeal to her as well to man.  She had some part in the Jewish Church.  She was devoted to the Christ.  Last at the cross and first at the tomb.

1.  Women labored with the Apostles.  It was needed to reach the women who by custom were secluded from them.  She taught the scriptures, aided the poor, and entertained the Apostles.

2.  Like conditions exist today calling for her service & she alone can perform it.  Her service is of God and used of Him.  He is pleased that she breaks the box of spikeward still.

3.  As missionary she teaches and leads woman to Christ where man can’t.  She also trains the young in school, for God.

4.  She builds homes for his servants.  She provided the first parsonage.  2 Ks. 4, 8-10.

5.  As medical missionary she is signally used of God to reach the lost.

6.  As deaconess she is an angel of mercy.  This is her rightful place as in Apostolic days.  Thus she supplements the pastor’s work to great advantage.

7.  Who can’t see in all this the hand of God and hence a call to service.  The prayers & help of every woman in the church are needed.  Help those women who labor in the work.


The Bells   Leave a comment


I found a wonderful website, CHATTOOGA PHOTO HISTORY, while searching for a photograph related to the Taylor Institute.  Here is a link to the Taylor Institute page:  The  website is worth exploring, as I can attest.



From Leaves in the Wind, pages 21-24


“Papa” was John Dodson Taylor, Sr., my great-grandfather.

Nell Taylor was my grandmother and the wife of John Dodson Taylor, Jr.


Papa was a perfectionist in many ways, one being his exacting ideas regarding education.  He wanted his own to have the best of everything; and when I came along, he began to cast around for a good education for me.  He was obsessed with the idea that the county school board was not consistent in maintaining the necessary standards of education.  One year their actions pleased him very much, while the next twelve months brought a change in this conclusion.  This off-again-on-again habit reminds me of the old colored minister who was talking to his white minister colleague.  When asked by the white minister if he believed in falling from grace, the colored minister replied that he not only believed in it; he practiced it!

Papa felt that the local board too often practiced that falling-from-grace theory in maintaining the educational standards; and determined that his youngest chicken should have the best possible education, Papa decided to start a private school in which he could put into practice everything he thought made up a good school.  This he did and promptly dubbed it “Taylor Institute,” or “T.I.,” as it was called by the students.

Papa obtained the old building which had been vacated by the the local school when it moved into new quarters.  (T.I. was housed on the lot where North Summerville Elementary School now stands.)  His next step was to find the best qualified principal available.  It was, as the result of this search, that Summerville obtained one of the finest families ever to grace any community–the Charles E. Bells.  Papa found him at Peabody College.  I used to call him “Fess,” a name he loved as he did a snake.  He was and always will be my idea of a good teacher, a good man, and a true friend.

The day the Bells arrived in Summerville was another big moment in the history of the town.  Papa told me well in advance of their arrival that I was to be the welcoming committee and to get the old Cole Eight polished and shining.  The day dawned bright and a little warmish.  I was in my place at the depot well ahead of the published time for the train’s arrival.  Pete Woods, the agent, only increased my anxiety by advising me that he had word that the train would be fifteen minutes late.

Finally, the train arrived; and Conductor Summerville (his real name) placed a little step on the ground.  I was standing by, wondering what the Bells would be like.  Papa had tried to describe Mr. Bell, of course; and my imagination had added a few flourishes to that picture.  All of these ideas were wrong, I realized, when I saw a handsome, robust gentleman with happy blue eyes and a big smile, attired in a dapper blue suit, step to the ground.  I figured this was my man and so introduced myself.  This was Charles E. Bell.  A displaced Ohioan, he was well indoctrinated in the ways which mark a real Southern gentleman.  His handshake said much.

By this time, Mrs. Bell was standing on the bottom step.  Mr. Bell turned, and with a little bow, offered his hand to Miss Nellsie, as we learned to call her.  I was properly introduced to her, and then began the parade of all the little Bells.  Wanda was the first off the train, then Harold, and all the others.  They just kept coming, until all six stood on the ground.  They huddled in front of the depot while I briefed them as to the plans for their comfort.  This consisted of my depositing them in the side door of the school house, which was to be their home for a day or two until their house was completely redecorated.  This situation was embarrassing, but labor was not always completed on time, even then.  I do not remember who sat on whom except that Harold sat next to me–in fact–almost on my right leg–and Wanda sat next to him.  I seized this opportunity to learn a few names, ramming Harold with my elbow and asking his name.  I was immediately told,

“Puddinin” Tayne.  Ask me again and I’ll tell you the same!

The dye was cast, and for years after that he was know as “Puddinin” Bell.  This was later changed to “Booby” Bell.

I made another attempt to learn names, asking the name of his sister sitting next to him.

Her name is Wanda.  It is an Indian name,

He informed me.

This enlightening answer made me lean over to see if she bore any resemblance to an Indian.  In so doing, my hand slipped, throwing me over the steering wheel, almost causing me to lose control of the car.  That was the first and only time I ever fell for Wanda.

With my tongue in cheek and my head bowed, I deposited the Bells in the side door of the school house.  You couldn’t call that an outburst of Southern hospitality, and it broke my heart to see Miss Nellsie crying.  However, that didn’t last long for a couple of minutes a determined look appeared on her face.  I had never seen such a look before; but that look seems to be a characteristic of ladies names Nell, for my Nell wears it every time she enters a dime store.  When that look appears, I inevitably say,

I’ll meet you at the front door, Honey.

She never hears it, because she has just executed a perfect “charge of the light brigade.”  But this was about Nell Bell, not about Nell Taylor.

Miss Nellsie clipped out a couple of crisp commands which activated all the Bells; and in no time, the school house became a comfortable, temporary home.  Thus was the Taylor Institute born!

Papa figured that since he was paying all the bills for the school, he could claim the right to edit the catalog.  When he chose, he could wield a mighty pen; and his determination and his superb command of the King’s English brought forth a masterpiece.  He sold customers a “bill of goods” about the growing necessity for a good education.  He convinced them that with Taylor Institute in town, then need look no further, that

one would be able to avail oneself of a very unusual opportunity.

First of all, the teachers–”Fess” and Miss Nellsie–were the best.  Secondly, the building was fine.  Thirdly–and her comes the punch line–nowhere in the whole world would you

find a climate any more salubrious

than right here in Summerville.  Not all the natives knew what “salubrious” meant, and I doubt if they cared; but, if they were living in that kind of climate, it wasn’t hurting them, so what the heck!  The catalog helped; and with Papa and “Fess” out beating the bushes, we opened in September with a full house.

Being of the old school, Papa had gotten his education the hard way, and he was determined that his youngest chicken was going to get his the same way.  We gobbled up a diet of McGuffey’s Readers; Robinson’s Arithmetic, a terrific course in mental arithmetic; Latin, history, and other studies, topping it all off with “Fess’s” course in sightsinging.  He was a good singer, always faithful in leading the singing in our Sunday School.  He never failed to hum the first note with the first word of song.  Perhaps this is the reason that those who put in their birthday offerings on Sunday morning were greeted with the singing of

N-Nappy birthday to you,

instead of

Happy birthday.

Our faculty meant business.  We “got it” or else.  I preferred to “get it.”  We had work in all subjects.  Our teachers made no effort to soft-pedal anything.  We just knew they were killing us, yet we survived!  I later attended a military prep school and college, but I actually received more “book larnin’” at T.I. than anywhere else.

One of the happiest memories I have of “Fess” was born in the arithmetic class one day.  While he was working a problem at the board, he chanced to drop a piece of chalk.  As he stooped to pick it up, his pants naturally pulled tighter.  One eager student on the front row had been idly playing with a piece of window shade.  While “Fess” was retrieving the chalk, the room was suddenly filled with a ripping sound.  Fearful that his middle-age had caused complications:  he jumped up–his face crimson.  As he backed against the board, he emphatically dismissed the class and emptied the room–much to our delight.

We had a well-rounded program of sports, even though that was before the days of football in these parts.  We had basketball and baseball for boys and girls, and our teams were good.  In his own right, “Fess” wasn’t a bad coach!  Papa really went all-out for equipment, especially for the boys’ teams.  I always felt that the girls were treated like proverbial step-daughters, for they inherited the old-fashioned baggy-time bloomers for uniforms.  I lived in horror that at some tense moment of a tame one of the player’s clothes might come to a parting of the ways.  This catastrophe never occurred, for the coach had provided them with dependable what-nots and spare safety pins.  We played all the teams in this area and consistently maintained an exceptionally good record for a small private school.

Public schools continued to grow; and the Institute, having served its purpose, finally closed.  However, many of those who attended T.I. cherish fond memories of happy days spent together, and with “Fess” and all the Bells.




The 1988 history of Summerville Presbyterian Church lists Charles E. Bell, Sr. (died October 22, 1970) and Nell Bell (died July 1, 1963) as  members from June 12, 1921, to March 30, 1941.  Their children were Wanda , Katherine Jean, Marion Frances, Charles Jr., William Carson, and Harold.  Their memberships at Summerville Presbyterian Church began at different dates (from 1920 to 1933) and also terminated on March 30, 1941.  Wanda married O. H. “Sonny” Elgin and returned to Summerville Presbyterian Church as a member on February 17, 1946.  She remained a member there until she died, on November 6, 1973.  Her widower joined the group which left the church in the nasty split of 1982 and formed First Presbyterian Church (Presbyterian Church America).  It was a truly nasty schism, complete with a vandalization of the manse one Sunday afternoon.



Cherokee Presbytery (PCUS) Men of the Church Executive Committee Meeting Minutes from January 18, 1962   Leave a comment

Above:  A Cropped Version of a Photograph of My Grandparents, John Dodson Taylor, Jr., and Nell Barrett Taylor, at Summerville, Georgia, Winter 1960

Image Source = Gene McGinnis, Summerville, Georgia


Among the Presbyterian hymnals I retrieved from the old family home in December 1995 was Premier Hymns (1926).   Inside it I found a neatly folded sheet of typing paper, the text of which I replicate, edited only for punctuation, here.  My grandfather was active in the Presbyterian Church on the local and presbytery levels.





PLACE:  Rome, Georgia

Greystone Hotel, Rm 207

DATE:  January 18, 1962

6:00 PM

The meeting was called to order by President Dunn.

The following were present:  George Dunn, James D. Maddox, Robert G. Pllley, John D. Taylor, Todd W. Allen, and Sam Reed

The duties of the Vice Presidents was discussed.

The Dallas Convention was discussed.  Mr. Harold Clotfelter is the Presbytery contact for the Convention.  (P.O. Box 788, Rome, Ga.)

Plans were discussed about the Synod Conference to be held at Camp Calvin, Hampton, Georgia, on February 23 and 24.  All were urged to attend.

Spring Rally:

Publicity–Rev. Robert Pooley

Reservations–Vice President in each district will contact the churches and send number to Rev. Pooley, who will contact the host church

Program:  George Z. Dunn

Dinner:  Host Church

Rome and LaFayette church districts will be held March 26, 1962, at the LaFayette church.

Marietta and Cherokee districts will be held March 27, 1962, at the Mars Hill Church.

Dinner will be served at 6:30 P.M.

With no other business to discuss the meeting was dismissed with prayer by the Rev. Todd W. Allen.

Sam Reed, Secretary Treasurer

Obituary of Nell Taylor   Leave a comment

Above:  John Dodson Taylor, Jr., and Nell Barrett Taylor at Summerville, Georgia, Winter 1960

Image Source = Gene McGinnis, Summerville, Georgia



Retired Teacher

Died May 20, 2001

Mrs. Nell Fox Taylor, 86, Northwest Congress Street, Summerville, died Sunday in a Rome hospital.

She was born in Augusta, on Feb. 2, 1915, a daughter of the late George W. and Nellie Fox Barrett.  She was a member of Summerville Presbyterian Church, where she served as organist and choir director for several years.  Mrs. Taylor retired from the Chattooga County School System after 45 years of teaching.  Her husband, John D. Taylor, died earlier.

Surviving are two sons, the Rev. Jack Taylor, Warwick, and Randy Taylor, Atlanta; two sisters, Lucy Vanlandingham, and Margaret Bartlett, Atlanta; Barbara Nell Jackson, Reidsville, and Kenneth Randolph Taylor, Warwick; and great-grandchildren, Laura Elizabeth Jackson and Franklin Heath Jackson, Baxley; and several nieces and nephews.

Funeral services were held at 2 P.M. Tuesday from Summerville Presbyterian Church with the Revs. Jack Taylor and Chuck Vorderberg officiating.  Interment was in Summererville Cemetery.

Active pallbearers were Earl McConnell, Bud Jackson, John Turner, Billy Price, Arnold Kilgore, Euel Price, Alan Green, and Billy Petitt.

J. D. Hill Funeral Home had charge of arrangements.


The above text is nearly identical to the obituary which appeared in The Summerville News.


I Remember Mother   1 comment

Above:  John Dodson Taylor, Jr., and Nell Barrett Taylor, Summerville, Georgia, Winter 1960

Image Source = Gene McGinnis, Summerville, Georgia


FEBRUARY 2, 1915-MAY 20, 2001


A Eulogy in Remembrance of

Nell Fox Barrett Taylor

Delivered by One of Her Sons

Reverend John Dodson (Jack) Taylor, III


Summerville Presbyterian Church

May 22, 2001

2:oo P.M.


I speak now of loving, laughing, and weeping.  I speak now of mourning and dancing.  I speak of working, creating, and giving.  I speak, finally, of rest.  Thus I speak of life, and of making the difference in life that Almighty God has put us here to make.  This is about the seasons of our lives and specifically about the life of Nell Fox Barrett Taylor, Randy’s and my mother.

Yet I speak not only of Mother, for I am compelled to speak of the man she loved as husband and father for over thirty-nine years.  He was the man who shared the seasons of that life with her.  Nell Taylor would tell you in a heartbeat that John Dodson Taylor, Jr., was her man, the only man she had ever loved.  He was her husband and the father of her two sons, Randolph Fleming Taylor and me.

Like all of us, Dad was thoroughly human.  Sometimes Mother and Dad did not understand each other.  Sometimes they did not even like each other.  But do any of us always understand and even like each other?  No.  But, oh! how they loved each other!  As the years passed their love deepened.

Since Dad’s passing on September 27, 1976, I have often thought about their relationship.  I have been enabled to understand their relationship.  I have been enabled to understand their relationship within the context of the biblical stories of God’s love for all of us; their love was unconditional.  For, as surely as God loves us just as we are, so Mother and Dad loved each other.  Neither one had to measure up to someone’s standard in order to have the love of the other.  St. Paul said it so well:

Love bears all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

I speak for myself.  I remember Mother as well, Mother.  She loved Randy and me with a mother’s heart, for there is no heart like a mother’s heart.  Randy and I are, in some ways, very different.  And that is alright.  Mother realized that this just meant that we were unique.  Not once did I suspect that Mother judged either of us by the other; I never suspected any comparison.

With his knowledge of electronics, computers, and computer programming, Randy has made contributions I can only imagine to the business sector.  Mother and I were, and I am proud of Randy’s successes and contributions.  Moreover, we were, and I am proud of Randy.  Randy moves in and is comfortable with the world of technology.  I move in and am comfortable with the world of the abstract:  philosophy, theology, and ministry to the human spirit and all of its mystery.  I deal, then, with that which we can only feel but which, to me me, is no less real.  Mother was proud of the directions our lives took professionally.

Mother watched as Randy and me struggled to grow and to find direction.  I saw Randy as mischievous and somewhat daring.  I was not as adventurous as he, although I had my moments.  I always admired Randy and his daring, adventurous ways.  And in all of that Mother loved us with a passion.

Mother felt for us.  She cried for us, often at a distance as Randy and I began to move out on our own.  She yearned for us.    Her telephone calls to me–and, as I recall her last call to me, often included the words,

I just wanted to hear your voice.

Mother loved her grandchildren, Barbara Nell and Kenneth Randolph.  She loved her great-grandchildren, Laura Elizabeth and Franklin Heath.

I remember Mother as a church musician.  She looked forward to Sunday morning and to meeting the choir.  She loved choosing and preparing the service music.  Gladly did she leave the selection of the hymns to the pastor, Bob Pooley and Bill Hotchkiss, although she consulted about the choices.

Mother had a strong sense of right and wrong.  She also had strong feelings about what is appropriate inside the church building, especially during the worship hour.  I remember her holy anger and flashing eyes one Sunday morning when she interrupted the prelude, turned to the congregation, and gave them a good old-fashioned and well-deserved tongue-lashing about the noise and chatter which violated and cheapened the sanctity of the prelude, that part of the order of worship which is intended to help set the tone and spirit for worship.  Mother knew well that long ago this sanctuary was dedicated to the worship of God and nothing else.  We forget that all too easily.

I recall a Saturday evening when Mother and I came here so she could finish preparations for music the next morning.  I also remember her sputter then her explosion when we walked in and found a young lady playing “The Rock and Roll Waltz” on her–Mother’s–Hammond organ! Mother understood that everyone’s opinions and tastes are to be honored as their own.  She also knew that each has its own place.  In this case the church sanctuary was most inappropriate!

I remember Mother as teacher in the finest, truest sense of the profession.  Precisely because she put time and effort into preparing her classes she rightly expected her students to put fort he effort to participate and learn.  She burned the proverbial midnight oil regularly, grading papers and writing notes of encouragement on the papers of those who needed  that encouragement.

A little over a year ago Mother and I sat at the kitchen table, talking about her forty-five years as a teacher.  She was staring out of the big kitchen window when, drumming her fingers on the table, she cut her eyes toward me and said,

You know, son, as a teacher I was supposed to make it possible for my students to love to learn, and I failed.

Well, of course, Mother did not fail.

I reminded her quickly of some of the differences she had made:  of the students who not only learned to love learning but who went on to college.  I also reminded her of the students who had graduated thirty-five to forty years earlier, who still called or came by.  I wish I could tell Mother something Randy said said as we sat in the hospital dining room last week.  He pronounced her legacy when he said,

Yes, Mom made a difference in the county, didn’t she?


I remember Mother as Glee Club director.  Music lover that I am, I enjoyed going to Glee Club every day.  We enjoyed going to Glee Club!  She made it fun, and we laughed–a lot!  We also got down to business.  Mother introduced a variety of music, such as standards and show tunes.  There was “In the Still of the Night.”  Show tunes included “Wunderbar,” “The Road to Mandalay,” and “There Ain’t Nothing Like a Dame” from South Pacific.  We had fun with that one!

There is so much more I would like to say.  So I will begin to close on a personal note.  Randy and I are the men we are today primarily because of the shared commitment and influence of Mother and Dad to us.  As the years have passed (thirty-nine have passed since high school graduation), I have come to realize the enormity of the impact of Mother’s life on Randy and me.  We are veterans of military service.  We are college graduates.  And through all of this and more, Mother was there.

In the sphere of the temporal, Mother encouraged us to enjoy all that God has given to us.  Where I am concerned, I have a deep love for music, especially the classics, the music of the masters.  It is music composed by men and women of history who simply had to compose lest the melodies haunting their minds be lost forever.  Thanks to Mother’s influence and encouragement I can lose myself in the solemnity of Bach’s Great Mass in B Minor.  At other times I allow myself to feel the praise and exhilaration of George Frederick Handel’s Messiah.

Mother was a Christian, although not in the sense of just living by a moral code of goodness.  Rather, she knew that she was a child of God.  She, as do all Christians, struggled with her faith, prayer life, and commitment.  She struggled with the difficult questions for which she could never find a satisfactory answer, finally being satisfied to leave the answers to God.

Mother knew the cleansing power of God’s forgiveness that is ours in Jesus Christ.  And whether or not she realized it, she taught me the value of the text from Ecclesiastes: that there is a time and place for everything, that all that has been will be again, and that I should not allow myself to be smitten with my own self-importance!

Mother lived the seasons of her life with dignity and grace.  In the finest sense of the word, Mother was a lady.  She wore the mantle of her faith and lived out her roles she played with thanksgiving and the humility that says she recognized her strengths and weaknesses and kept them in perspective.

Writing 1 Corinthians 13, St. Paul declared the tree greatest of the Christian virtues:  faith, hope, and love.  Faith and hope escorted Mother through the portals of God’s glory and into joys which are unspeakable and full of glory.  She has laid aside this veil of flesh and the mantles of faith and hope.  Now she knows the fullness of God’s love!

To everything there is a season.



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