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First Baptist Church makes historic finds

First Baptist Church makes historic finds
By MARVIN DOWNING
Special to the Press
MARTIN – Mush.
Mush.
Mush.
Nine First Baptist Church members recently expected to find much when they examined the contents of the 1905 auditorium cornerstone removed from a home freezer the night before. It was dried mush, if there is such a thing.
We anticipated fragments, too, and they were there abundantly, ranging from small paper pieces to a Bible cover.
As best we could discover besides that back, there were parts of “The Martin Mail” of December 2, 1904, “The Baptist Banner” and “The Primitive Baptist.”
All of those periodicals were then published in Martin. According to the research of Rebecca and Larry Holder, that Mail issue was a special edition which included an extensive history of Martin and Weakley County. There was obviously scripture on a piece about the size of small playing cards. Attempts to separate any of it basically resulted in something like chalk.
We were gratified to find near each other the masthead of the Martin Mail and a partial picture of Hall-Moody, a Martin Baptist Institute then less than 5 years old and forerunner of the University of Tennessee at Martin.
Another scrap showed the old cigar factory at the corner of Broadway and Frederick Streets. In later years, Martin Manufacturing occupied that spot where The Color Shop is now located.
How do you separate such materials? Carefully, of course.
Larry Washburn, minister of education and administration, whipped out his pocket knife and surgically operated, peeling back a sheet at a time. But a knife can only lift so much. We supposedly needed a spatula, which no one had in their pocket, purse or tool kit.
Larry Holder ingeniously started using the edge of a Mid-week memo, which worked amazingly well. Retired photographer Tom Frey captured the personal efforts and digitally documented the legible images.
Participating in the exploration were pastor Dr. Mike Sams, Larry Washburn, Tom and Thelda Frey, facilities manager James Bryant, Larry Holder and archives committee members Patti Waggener, Sandy Downing and Dr. Marvin Downing.
The Freys have lovingly taken hundreds of photos (some jokingly say thousands or more) covering the construction of the new worship auditorium and the demolition of the 1905 sanctuary.
Holder is compiling a pictorial book drawing heavily from the Frey’s dedicated work.
Published in The WCP 11.13.12

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