HISTORY of the FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH,
DeFuniak SPRINGS, FLORIDA 1883-1983
I have copied this from a small booklet created to celebrate the centennial of First Presbyterian Church in Walton Co., FL. I am copying parts where I am assured no living persons are named. And including it on the site mainly because of the names and places mentioned. Hope someone will come forth with more information on the Churches of Walton County.
"The DeFuniak Springs First Presbyterian Church, during its 100 years of existence, has a rich history reflecting its influence on the growth of Presbyterianism. Its contributions to and participation in the activities of Florida Presbytery and the Synod of Florida in mission, education, and leadership training have extended its influence far beyond local boundaries. Church leaders and members during its first century have been generous with their talents, time, and earthly resources to extend the work of Christ's Church through spreading the Gospel and ministering to the spiritual and human needs of those who live in the general vicinity.
"For almost thirty tears Palmer College and Academy was a partner with First Church in many areas of growth and development. Although the college and academy was Florida Synod and Florida Presbytery supported and directed, there is no doubt that reciprocal and mutual concerns and activities enhanced the strength and stability of the First Church.
Organization of DeFuniak Springs First Presbyterian Church in November, 1883, was spearheaded by Dr. Daniel L. Campbell, a member of one of the Scottish families who settled in Euchee Valley. Dr. Campbell became a permanent resident of DeFuniak Springs about the time the Louisville and Nashville Railroad designated 'Open Pond' as the location of one of its stations in 1881 or 1882.
"The railroad and its station, used for purposes of loading freight and / or passengers to and from all sections of the country, brought people out of other parts of the area to forma permanent settlement.
"An evangelist, Reverend H. M. Anderson, probably a home missions minister in the Florida Presbytery, and Dr. Campbell are reported to have been the organizers of the Church which began with a membership of ten. These were Mr. James E.. Bowers, Mrs. Mary Bowers, Dr. D. L. Campbell, Mrs. Anna D. Cawthon, Mrs. Nancy Douglass, Captain and Mrs. A. B. McLeod, Miss Jane McLeod, Mr. and Mrs. W. A. Monroe according to early histories. James E. Bowers, W. A. Monroe, and Dr. D. L. Campbell were elected as elders.
"On July 10, 1886, the membership was strengthened by accession with transfer of ten members from the Euchee Valley Church -- Mrs. Jane Anderson, Mrs. Catherine Anderson, John Anderson, Mrs. Cynthia Bracken, Miss Abbie Campbell, Mrs. Ellen Campbell, McKinnon Campbell, William L. Campbell, Alex D. McKinnon, and Mrs. Ella D. McKinnon. There were also four transfers from the Freeport Church -- J. L. McKinnon, Mrs. Mary McKinnon, Mrs. Mary and W. B. McLeod.
"It was in 1886 that the first deacons, W. B. McLeod and F. C. Eaton, were elected. Mr. McLeod was also Treasurer and in 1888 Captain A. B. McLeod was elected a deacon.
1931 Presbytery Minutes include a paper prepared by Reverend W. E. McElwain D. D. at the request of the Presbytery. In it he reports on his work as Chairman of Presbytery's Committee of Home Missions. In 1896, he began a five year period of 'evangelizing our territory.' With reference to his work with this church he reported:
'Perhaps the best piece of construction work, during this term of service was the caring for , and the development of, the little new church at DeFuniak Springs. At that time it had only about forty members, its pulpit was vacant, and it could pay only about &400 for one half of a minister's time. This church was greatly discouraged because all the nearby churches were supplied, leaving it with no available connections. To meet this situation, a protracted meeting was held, a salary secured, Reverend E. E. Ervin, who remained with the church about ten years. Today the little Scotch Church which came out of the mother church at Euchee Valley is one of the largest and most aggressive churches in the entire Presbytery, Today (1931) it has more than four hundred members and its contributions last year were more than $10, 000.000.
'To this period also belongs the organization of the new church at Laurel Hill. Reverend Mr. Ervin, pastor at DeFuniak Springs, held a protracted meeting here at the close of the meeting a petition was drawn up with eleven signatures asking for the organization of a church. B the order of Presbytery Mr. Ervin organized this church April 24, 1898.'
Membership in 1893 was reported to be 54; 1903, 110; 1913, 200; and 1923, 346. By 1963 the membership had grown to 421. One church, Glendale, has been organized through outreach activities. These outreach efforts were developing, sponsoring, and staffing Sunday Schools and Bible study groups at Glendale, Cluster Springs, Knox Hill, Mossy Head, Gillis Chapel, Jones Schoolhouse, Scotts Mill, and other locations. A member of the present session recalls, as a Methodist, going with one of the Presbyterian Elders to Scotts Mill and teaching a Presbyterian Sunday School class in a Baptist Church. Ecumenical Mission is not a recent development for this church.