HISTORY OF PAYNE CHAPEL AME CHURCH
Alberta, Wilcox County, Alabama

Written by members of Payne Chapel AME, date unknown, and contributed by Earl Wills, church Clerk.
Transcribed by B.J. Smothers



Payne Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church was first organized as a "community prayer group" under a "brush arbor" in the vicinity of the road that carries vehicles to the Alberta Elementary School just beyond the marker of "Johnson Circle".

The property belonged to a Black man, Levi McCampbell, known as "Uncle Levi". Uncle Levi owned a large tract of land including the right of way portions of the Southern Railroad.

As theprayer group continued to grow, the group decided to organize a church and name it "Payne Chapel A.M.E. Church". Uncle Levi donated the land where the church and cemetery are now located. He knew enough about law to deed the land plus a tract large enough for a parsonage for the church.

There is a record of when the church enetered the Central Alabama Conference. Unless destroyed, some of the early records are int he bookcase located in the rear of the church. However, other evidence indicates that the church was a member of the conference in the late 1800s. The author's mother, Ida J. Whitehead, and father, Dave Wills, met in 1898 or 1899 at a Sunday School Convention about 10 miles from Uniontown, Alabama at St. Paul A.M.E. Church. Ms. Whitehead was a delegate from Demopolis, Alabama and Mr. Wills' sister Nannie was a delegate from Payne Chapel A.M.E. Church. Mr. Wills brought his sister to the convention in a horse-drawn buggy. Through their recommendation, Ms. Whitehead was invited to come to Alberta as a schoolteacher. Mr. Wills and Ms. Whitehead married in November 1900.

The building was badly shaken by a tornado in the early 1930s. The church family attempted to tear down the structure and build a smaller edifice but that was not satisfactory.

Several pastors have been appointed to Payne Chapel since the building was completed. But God saw fit to appoint Reverend Frances Brown, who has been serving for 20 plus years as pastor. Rev. Brown has proven to be a leader and Christian worker.

The current church has carpet, pews, microphones, comfortable pulpit furniture, and air conditioning. Much work is still continuing.

Payne Chapel - Johnson Cemetery



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31 Oct 2000 | 31 Oct 2000
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Black Families of Alabama's Black Belt