History of Bethesda Church in Russellville, TN

100_1003Constructed in 1835, Bethesda Presbyterian Church is a remnant of the Civil War’s effect on East Tennessee. As the war began, the congregation divided in two: many sided with the Confederacy, though many more still were Union sympathizers. During this period, the church closed its doors. The Battle of Bean Station took place on December 14, 1863. After this historic battle, Confederate General James Longstreet arrived at Bethesda Church with 25,000 men who were stationed on the land until February 1864. During this time, the church served as a hospital. In the cemetery just outside the church doors, over 80 unknown soldiers were buried in mass graves. While some Union soldiers were laid to rest here, most of the unknown dead are presumed to have fought for the Confederacy.

In October, Federal troops pushed closer to the encampment at Bethesda during an engagement 100_1000known as “Vaughn’s Stampede.” In November, Confederate troops pushed the Union soldiers back west towards Knoxville. This battle is known as “Gillem’s Stampede.” During this push, a cannonball smashed through the eastern wall and caused severe structural damage. The walls were quickly repaired and reinforced with iron bracings and rods that can be seen in the photo to the right. The original pulpit and high-backed pews remain to this day, and the floors lie permanently stained with the blood and disdain of our American predecessors.

As the war ended and soldiers from both sides began to return home, the congregation attempted to compromise and reconvene. Sporadic services dotted the calendars. Between 1866 and 1871, sympathizers of each cause sat in the outer pews, leaving the middle column empty. Eventually, one side left and helped form the First Presbyterian Church of Morristown. The remaining church body stayed through 1875. However, in time, the majority began attending the new Russellville Presbyterian Church.

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Bethesda has remained closed since that time, save for a few irregular services held for major Christian holidays such as Easter. Now the building stands to serve as a reminder of the sacrifice of our ancestors in East Tennessee. Within its walls and grounds lies the story of a church body that symbolized the civil issues of the time. This once-unified group of people was just another casualty of a war among brothers.

 

As for potential paranormal activity, many have claimed to see apparitions of restless Confederate soldiers both inside and outside the church. The apparition of a weeping woman has also been seen on the far side of the cemetery. Her cries are often heard late at night. We have also heard reports of a “witch” buried on the grounds near the woods.

We investigated Bethesda Church and the surrounding grounds this past Sunday evening. Check back soon to see what we found!

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It’s been a huge week for KPR…

Every night this week, KPR has been meeting and brainstorming about what we can do to take the next step forward, and we’ve got some exciting details to share with you guys.

Official Gear

First up, we’re in the process of ordering some official team T-shirts. If you’d be interested in getting one of your own, please let us know and we’ll try to work something out.

New Investigation Equipment11034841_10203775420566929_1652343002_o

We also just got some brand new gear to use on our next investigation! We now have two new handheld audio recorders, a mic for better audio quality on some anticipated interviews, an EMF detector, and a temperature gun (which would’ve really been a handy thing to have during our investigation of the Baker-Peter’s house when we all noticed a significant temperature change but had nothing on hand to really prove it).

An Aggressive Entity?

We’ve been recently approached by someone concerned that a harmless spirit that has roamed their building for quite some time is now accompanied by something more malicious. We’ve been asked to investigate, so we set up an interview with Darren Holland, a consultant demonologist, in preparation. We’ll have that interview up on our site in the near future.

Next location is LOCKED DOWN!

…And we couldn’t be more excited. We’ve been graciously granted permission to investigate a haunted location in Morristown next weekend. That’s all we can say for now. We’ll reveal more details soon.

And a few surprises left on top of all that…

We have a couple other new pieces of equipment to utilize on our next investigation that we’ll just have to wait to show you! Plus, there are other things in the works that we can’t divulge quite yet. Rest assured, this is going to be a great year for our group! Exciting things to come.

Regards,

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