“When I was about eight years old, a woman died shouting at Blooming Grove. That was the worst excited I’ve ever been. We were in a grove meeting. The ladies and the men were separated, you know, and some of the ladies came running over to where the men were and they said Old Aunt Louisa Barnes had died shouting. Some of them said she’d just fainted, but there was a doctor there and he pronounced her dead. It’d be my guess that she was sixty or so.
Back in those days the men sat on one side of the church and the women sat on the other. Dr. John Hankins had this girlfriend in Vernon and one Sunday he went to town to get her and brought her back. They sat together in church at Blooming Grove. Well, that tore the church up. A group of the men came to my Grandpa, who was a Justice of the Peace, trying to get Dr. Hankins prosecuted for sitting with his girlfriend in church. It split the church and it took a couple of years for them to get over it. That’s the way trouble comes up, you know, over the little things.” These are the words of Thomas Hankins taken from an interview, with Rose Marie Smith, six days before his 96th birthday. Source: Rose Marie Smith Hocutt Collection History room, Mary Wallace Cobb Memorial Library Vernon, Alabama.
Thomas Jefferson Hankins, born August 20, 1884 in Lamar County, Alabama, died November 26, 1981. Parents were Samuel Houston Hankins (born 1843-died 1916) and Vicie Langston Hankins (born 1843-died 1889). He was a farmer, businessman, member of Lamar County Welfare Board, member of Tax Equalizing Board, member of Liberty Freewill Baptist Church. Source: The Heritage of Lamar County, Alabama 2000 by Heritage Publishing Consultants, Inc., and Lamar County Heritage Book Committee, pages 324-325, article Thomas and Cora Hankins submitted by Loree Christain Vernon, Alabama.
Blooming Grove Baptist Church constituted October 28, 1860, gets its name from the many blooming dogwoods in the woods around the church. The first church building was made of logs, serving both as church and school. The second building was a two-story wooden structure, also a church and school. This building was destroyed by fire in 1923. The present church was built back in the same spot below the road, near the spring, but later moved across the road next to the cemetery.
The first cemetery was up the hill on Highway 57, there is no record of the first burial. An inventory by Lamar County Genealogical & Historical Society members below gives us information on early burials:
Old Blooming Grove Cemetery Lamar County, Alabama
Number 77 on the 2002 Cemetery Map of Lamar County
Surveyed in 2005 by Rachel Virginia McReynolds and Kawatha “Kay” Chandler Koonce.
Cemetery Marker Donated by Descendants of Noah & Malinda Stone Morrison.
Grave with Cement Top (No Additional information).
Three Cement Block Markers (No additional Information).
Infant Daughters of Mr. & Mrs. Noah Morrison (Appears to be two).
Grave Marked by Fieldstone (No Additional Information).
Cornelius Holliman, Sr. – Born Sept. 25, 1792 – Died Oct. 26, 1862, PVT S. C. Militia War of 1812 ( This is a recent marker place there by descendants ).
John Robertson – July 30, 1865 – Sept. 15, 1873
There are 7 field-stones that appear to be graves.
One unmarked grave, here, is believed to belong to a settler passing through the area by wagon. The freshly dug grave was discovered by church members on a Sunday when gathering for their monthly service.
An attraction for Blooming Grove Church today is the free-flowing spring across the road from the church. Many travelers stop by for a drink of cold water or stop to show the spring to their children.
Source: The Heritage of Lamar County, Alabama 2000 by Heritage Publishing Consultants, Inc., and Lamar County Heritage Book Committee, pages 52-53, article Blooming Grove Baptist Church submitted by Salina Ann McDonald, Fayette, Alabama.