Iotla Church Rd, Franklin, NC 28734
Worship at 9:45
Iotla is a Native American name that means Beautiful Peaceful Valley. The valley and churches and school all retained this name. Most believe the first Circuit Rider may have been Andrew Hammell who served the circuit between 1838-1839. The first member of the church was Phillip Guyer in 1833. By 1882 Itotla was named as one of the churches of the Franklin NC district.
The first church was a one room building. The material being hauled by wagon and constructed by members, friends in the valley, all work and materials being donated. The building was painted white, plain windows, lighted by oil lamps and heated by wood stove. Curtains were used to separate the classes during Sunday School. During this period a path connected the Methodist and Baptist Churches. The members of each church attended each other’s church on “preaching days”. This was also the days when travel was by horse, buggy and wagon. The men sat on the left side, women and children on the right. The pews also were hand made.
The highlights of the church year were revivals, prayer meetings, singing and “Quarterly Meetings”. On “Quarterly Meeting Days” the Presiding Elder would preach, have Sacraments, and a picnic dinner on the grounds. The business of the church would be conducted after dinner. Around 1921, Rev. Jim Green, an Evangelist, came to the Valley and preached a “Revival in the Iotla High School”. This seemed to be the biggest Community Revival the Valley had known. As a result many members were taken into both Baptist and Methodist Churches on profession of faith. Shortly after both churches began building new churches of blocks and brick about 1922 or 23.
The second church was constructed on the site that the present church now stands. During the building of this church the old one was tom down, and church was conducted in the Iotla High School. This church was noted for its beautiful architecture, vault ceiling, arched stained glass windows donated by members of church in honor of their parents. This church had four classrooms, electric lights, a coal and wood heating furnace. The church was built mostly by donated labor. Mrs. Ralph West was organist. In 1943 this church burned, along with church records. It was thought the cause was due to the electric system, since these were the days when pennies were often used behind the fuses.
A few days later another building crew was composed. A block building was erected back on the same foundations as the church that burned. The blocks were laid by Claude Russell. Edgar Tippett did the stuccoing. Stained glass windows were again donated by members of the church. The Duke Endowment Fund gave $2,500 on this building. The rest of the money and labor was donated by members, people of the community and the Baptist Church. A central coal fired furnace was put in and again electric lights. The church was dedicated May 25, 1947. While the church was being built, the Methodist united with the Baptist Church for services. The Methodist Minister and Baptist Minister alternated the Sunday services.
In 1963 the vestibule was added. This part of the church was the only project in all the periods of our church history that was done entirely by hired labor, because at that time all the men of the membership were employed at public jobs. The Conference gave us approximately S700. The rest of the finances were donated.
In 1967 the grove of trees was cut and parking lot excavated and graveled. Another new furnace was installed in 1974. A new ceiling and bathroom were put in in 1976. Carpet in the aisle was put down in the late 60’s. In 1977 a new copper covering was put on the steeple and the driveway was paved.
In 1978 the members saw the need for a Fellowship Hall. Johnny Southard worked on the estimations for an addition adjoining the back of the church. This idea was abandoned due to the space between the church and driveway.
In 1980 it was decided to build a separate building at the side of the parking lot. A building committee was appointed of Johnny Southard, Jake Myers, John Foglia and Albert Lillard. Mr. John Campbell gave the first donations to the Building Fund and was also the oldest member working on the building. A1 Lillard drew the sketch, and Bob Sloan finished it.
In March 1982 the foundation was laid out by Ray Lillard, A1 Lillard, John Campbell, Ervin Smith, Bill Richardson, Johnny Southard, and Jake Myers. Spence Ledford, Bucky Asby and J.M. Shuler, members of the Baptist Church, helped pour the foundation. Soon afterward the building was built under the supervision of Ray and A1 Lillard. The following men helped; John Campbell, Johnny Southard, Jake Myers, Bob Sloan, Bill Richardson, Guy Andrew and Paul Tompkins. Spence Ledford, Bucky Asby, J.M. Shuler helped with the drying in of the building. The building was finished and a new well drilled by October 1982 at a cost of $13,000. This was paid for by donations, by members, memorials and friends. The Baptist Church gave $500 to buy chairs for the Fellowship Hall. The labor was all donated. In 1982 new Methodist Hymnals were put in by members in memory and honor of families and friends. In 1983 the pews were cushioned by donations of families and friends. The church was painted on the outside.
This history has been compiled from records of: Church records, Register of Deeds Office in Franklin; Record of Rev. T.A. Mansfield, 1905; Methodism in Western N.C. by Elmer T. Clark; Tuttle catalog No. N.C. 287 & 287.6; History of Methodism in Franklin by Rev. Donald W. Haynes; Descendants of first members; Rev. P.L. Green research; Mr. Crude Meadows and monuments in Iotla Methodist Cemetery.
Mildred Richardson Bicentennial History Chairman. 1983