Price Family History

    The following excerpt is from the book @ Any Age: An Autobiographical Memoir With Genealogical and Historical Records by Ernest A. Clevenger, Jr. , © copyright 2011, and is used by permission of the author.  The book may be ordered at Amazon.com.  Click here for book description.

    On June 7, 1900, George Bert Fridell married Nannie Myrtle Price of Trenton, Georgia. She was born November 6, 1878, the oldest of twelve children of my maternal grandfather Hugh Armstrong Price, II (b. June 29, 1854; d. May 24, 1931) and Sarah Ellen Craig Price (b. March 8, 1861). To this union was born eleven children. (1) Price, the oldest, was born in December 1901, but died in 1902. Dr. Donnelley (father of Milton Donnelley) said death was due to drinking un-pasteurized cow milk.  (2) Aaron, the second child, was born in January, 1903, but died while they were in Memphis, and was buried there. These unfortunate incidents and their being separated from other members of their families, resulted in their moving to Chattanooga, after first shipping his tools back in care of his father-in-law, Hugh A. Price, II, who put them in storage.

            My great-great maternal grandfather was John Edward Thornton Price, born in Ireland, who married Mary Ernestine Armstrong (b. Nov. 24, 1837 in Rutherford County, Tennessee) and their son, my great grandfather, Hugh Armstrong Price, II (b June 29, 1855 in Rocky Springs, Jackson County, Alabama, d May 24, 1931) married Sarah Ellen Craig (b. March 8, 1861) in the Isaac Craig home on September 16, 1875.

            I learned later in life that my Price kinfolks were largely responsible for the early establishment of congregations of the church in Tennessee and Alabama. I compiled a history of the Rocky Springs Church of Christ from documents furnished by Howard Blazer, Sr., who had preached for the congregation, and from a history by Ralph Wharton (Unpublished), from an article written by my father and from information given me by my uncle, Lonnie Blackwell (who had preached at South Pittsburg).

            The brief history has been quoted by several Restoration Movement historians both in print and on the Internet.  My version reads as follows:

            Early in the 1800's a number of Presbyterian and Episcopalian pioneers had moved from North Carolina and Virginia into the Tennessee River Valley and adjoining areas of Tennessee, some of them founding a community in Warren County, which became known as Old Philadelphia. These were religious people, without a preacher, and they studied the scriptures together. Soon they were worshipping as one body, calling themselves Christians and the church only as the church of Christ.
            A post road from Knoxville to New Orleans was opened in 1805 and some two years later, when the territory of Alabama, then largely occupied by the Cherokee Indians, was opened to white settlers, among the first to arrive and settle in Northern Alabama was a group from Warren County, Tennessee. Some of these people located near the post road and built a community that they called Antioch. This was in 1807. Among these were William J. Price, baptized in 1811 at Old Philadelphia, Tenn., and his wife and a slave named Moses. They selected a home site near a spring they found by following a game trial, and named the place Rocky Springs. It was a little over a mile south of Antioch. W. J. Price was a prominent leader in the church until his death.

         A grave stone marker in the Rocky Springs Cemetery has this inscription:

 

William J. Price
Born January 15, 1793
Died January 26, 1868.

        

        A community grew up around the home of William J. Price, on the post road to Rocky Springs. A post office was established there, along with an Indian Trading Post, a tavern and stables for changing horses on the stagecoaches. On June 12, 1847, the congregation moved into a new building at Rocky Springs, abandoning the old one at Antioch. At that time there were eighty-two members, including six colored.

         Among the records is an item dated February 12, 1827, Jackson County, Alabama. It authorized James Anderson to preach the word of Truth and with the approbation of the congregation at Antioch, of which he was a member. It is signed by the elders: Elisha M. Price, William King and Andrew Russell.

         In June 1851, according to a still extant copy of the minutes, the church listed 130 members of whom twenty-six were colored. Brothers Joel B. Arendale and Thomas A. Hill were appointed deacons. Brothers George Cloud and W. J. Hughes appointed bishops.

         The Civil War was most disastrous to the church. A letter written in 1861 pointed out that there were ten widows with thirty- five children in the congregation, and that they were destitute. In the winter of 1864; the building was burned by the Union Army. Most of the members were scattered. Some returned in 1865 and resumed worship, began slowly to rebuild, completing the building in 1870. By 1875, the church had outgrown the building and a still larger one was built. the present building was erected in 1912 and additions have been made since then.

         When this writer began his investigations into the oldest congregation of the church in Alabama he did not know he would discover activities of distant relatives. Four brothers, Elisha, John, Hugh and William J. Price [Grandma Fridellís relatives] came from Ireland and settled in Asheville, N. C. Elisha was the eldest, being born in 1770. He died in 1876, two days after he reached his l06th birthday. John Price died at the age of 110 and William lived to be more than 75 years old. Both Elisha and William were pioneer preachers of the church of Christ.

         Hugh Price had six children: one son and five daughters. The son, Ed, was born June 24, 1824 (near Rossville, Ga.) and died June 16, 1910 at the age of 86, and was buried in the Whitt Cemetery in Trenton, GA where his wife was also buried.. He was married to Mary Ernestine Armstrong (born Nov. 24, 1837 and died Dec. 11, 1912) who was reared near Murfreesboro, Tennessee (Rutherford County) by her grandfather Hughes.  They also lived in Shelbyville, Tennessee. She studied medicine in school and was known as a medical doctor although she never went into public practice.
         The Rocky Springs church records have E. T. (Edward Thornton) Price and Mary E. (Armstrong) Price, his wife, listed as members from 1884-88. Ed was the father of Hugh Armstrong Price, whose daughter, Myrtle Price Fridell, is the mother of Mary Ellen Fridell Clevenger, the writer's mother.

         William J. Price and Elder Elisha Price are the 4th great- uncles of the writer and Hugh Price, their brother, his 4th great- grandfather.  Most of the information contained in this brief history was gathered from records now (when this was written) in the possession of Howard A. Blazer, Sr., who as stated, "I have the oldest records known of the Rocky Springs (formerly Antioch) congregation. The oldest authentic records in these books began with 1847."

         It was W. J. Price who deeded the property to the Rocky Springs church for the church property and the cemetery that is now the Rocky Springs Cemetery, where he is buried.

         As a point of information for those who mistakenly suggest that the church of Christ was founded by Alexander Campbell it may be shown that Old Philadelphia church of Christ came into existence not later than 1810; that Rocky Springs (Antioch) Church of Christ began in 1807; that Campbell arrived in America September 29, 1809 and did not preach his first sermon until July 15, 1810 (At Washington, Penn.); and that Campbell did not cease to work within an association of the Baptist church until 1827; thus congregations of the church of Christ were in existence in America for at least nineteen years before Campbell laid aside his denominational ties and also began to worship according to the New Testament pattern.

         It is believed that Rocky Springs Church of Christ is the oldest continuous New Testament church in America. Brother Blazer believes it to be the oldest congregation in the world that has been in continuous existence for 168 years and is still worshipping according to the New Testament pattern.

 

            The Dade County Library in Trenton, GA has a book about the early history of the area called A History of Dade County Georgia.  Compiled and edited by Retired Senior Volunteer Program and the Dade County Historical Society.  Published by Esper Publishing Company, 1981.  On page 33 is description of The Price House and Sitton Mill.  The old mill in Trenton, GA was built with material cut and sawed on Sand Mountain by Edward Price, grandfather of W. I. Price.

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