CHUCKEY, Tenn. (May 2, 2016) -- Just as those who gathered in the pioneer days of circuit riders who preached the word of God to settlers on the Tennessee frontier, a crowd of more than 100 people assembled Saturday on the grounds of the Henry Earnest Fort House in Chuckey.
The occasion was the dedication of the Fort House and Ebenezer United Methodist Church and Cemetery as Historic Site No. 499 in Methodism.
Church officials, members of area Methodist congregations and descendants of Henry Earnest from at least six states heard about the significant role played by their ancestors who lived in the distinctive three-story house near the Nolichucky River.
Speakers included the Rev. Ron Matthews, of the Holston Conference Commission of Archives and History; the Rev. Walter Weikel, UMC Johnson City district superintendent; the Rev. Jeff Tallent, pastor of Ebenezer UMC; Wilhelmina Williams, president of the Earnest Family Fort House Inc.; and the Rev. Grady Winegar, of the General Commission on Archives and History of the United Methodist Church.
Making the presentation of the historic plaque and certificates designating the Ebenezer church and Fort House as historic sites was Winegar, who spoke of the central role played by the Earnest family in establishing the Methodist church in Tennessee.
The Fort House dates from about 1780. The Ebenezer church was organized in 1792. Henry Earnest built the Fort House and his son, Felix Earnest, donated the property for the Ebenezer Church and cemetery.
"We rejoice in generation after generation whose stewardship of this house and church has preserved and improved them," Winegar said.