The following account is based upon the information handed from one generation to another. No attempt was made to make a written record of it.
The story of the Pleasant Run Church is closely related to the settlement of the community at and around the headwaters of this creek.
The older people have told me that their parents told them that the valley along the creek known as Pleasant Run was about the beginning of the nineteenth century, one mass of canebrake from where the Old Jellico Creek Church now stands to its headwaters, a distance of about five miles. As the case usually is, a few bears, lots of wildcats, and other animals found this condition a paradise for them. To into this region marched the early settlers with their rifles in their hands, their family by their side, and a few household goods, and clothing which they had brought with them from across the mountain.
The first settlers who settled on Pleasant Run Creek came from the mountainous section of western North Carolina. They came through the Cumberland Gap. Their life had been hard. With most, it remained that way.
In order to understand how the lives of these people were affected by settlements elsewhere, let us go to some of these places of settlement.
Burnside became a small river port early. People came up the Cumberland River in boats from as far away as Nashville. Many of them brought their families, their livestock, and their few household belongings with them. One thing they did not bring was salt. This was because of its scarcity. They had to get this necessity from somewhere else.
There is a valley extending from where Careyville, Tennessee is up past Jacksboro and on past Lafollette, Tennesse, on toward Cumberland Gap. This valley was settled early because it was a level region, bordered on the north by fairly high mountains and on the south by high hills. Somewhere in this valley there was a large salt lick or a large salt spring. The settlers learned to evaporate this water and get salt. They used large basins. They called the territory immediately surrounding this salt lick Goose Creek.
The distance between Burnside and Goose Creek was about 100 miles. Today this distance can be covered by automobile in a few hours. A typical family at that time would leave Burnside early in the morning and if all went well they would camp somewhere about where Greenwood is today. They would pitch camp early in order to repair a wagon wheel, a piece of broken harness, or an oxbow. The second day they would camp at a large sulphur spring near where the Pleasant Run Church is located, the next day they would camp near the mouth of Briar Creek, and finally after a week or ten days of travel they would reach Goose Creek. Here they made salt for three or four weeks. In about six weeks they would return with their year's supply of salt to Burnside.
This trip to Goose Creek became an annual affair. Hundreds of people made the trip. Other people began to make the trip. The routes they traveled became a well-worn and well-marked road. It became familiar far and wide. This route became known as the Jacksboro Road. It passed just in front of where the Pleasant Run Church now stands through the corner of where the cemetery is located.
A man by the name of John Gilreath was young at this time. He married a woman by the name of Mary Gregory. He cleared up a few acres of land and built a two-story log house about a hundred yards off the Jacksboro Road and about a quarter of a mile west of the present location of the Pleasant Run Church and Cemetery. Mary and John prospered. Mary gave birth to thirteen (13) children. Their names were: Ben, Lewis, Hannah, Matt, Vina, Sallie, Wiley, Julia, Leroy, Jane, little Sid, Sol, and Vira.
So traffic over the Jacksboro Road increased. People on horseback, on foot, and in wagons shuttled back and forth. Later, during the Civil War, both Confederate and Union soldiers marched over this road. Missionaries of different faiths went over the road--Baptists, Methodist, and a few Presbyterians were in the group.
John and Mary Gilreath were inclined to be friendly toward strangers. Their home became a stopping place for many of these people. They were converted to the Methodist faith. This happend about 1835. They with their relatives the Neals, the Moores, the Lovetts, the Wilsons, the Ashtons, and others, built a log church house near the center of where the cemetery is now located. Old Uncle Jeffy Moore's child died. It was buried near the church house. This child has the honor of being the first person buried in the Pleasant Run Cemetery. Someone brought their slaves to work on a piece of land they owned on down the creek. One of these slaves died. He has the honor of being the second person buried in the cemetery.
After about 20 years, the people decided that they wanted a larger church house. After going through the usual habit of arguing and quarrelling, they decided to build it. The house was built with its front entrance about where the cemetery gate is now. The door to the entrance was on the left side of the front. The pulpit was to your right as you entered. As you entered, you faced the audience. The wood stove was in the center. There was no piano. The song leader got his tune with the tuning fork. The sermons were long but filled with the Gospel.
When the next generation came along there was a demand for a new church. This was in 1880. The brothers and sisters, together with the church officials, made sure that everything was in order before they started this building. In 1883 they built this church.
Many people had a hand in this work. Uncle Frank Neal was there. He was a young boy at this time. He and some others cut a board tree over on the side of the mountain opposite the church house. They dragged the tree trunks over to a two-wheeled cart.
Uncle Frank Neal who lived on Caborn Creek gave the trees for lumber. Willis Alcorn and his brother Bob Alcorn sawed the lumber free of charge. They had a sawmill on Caborn Creek at this time. As to whom helped on the building, we will have to rely partly on a diary kept by Dr. McClancy. He was there. The Caddells, the Lovetts, the Gilreaths, the Neals, the Wilsons, the Moores, and many others were there including the Ashtons, and the Bensons, and the Rosses.
Many pastors have served this church. To name a few of them you will have to recall people by the name of Mercer, Pruitt, Wolf, ?ingry, Evans, Diller, ?anham, Cox, Perkins, Godsey, McClancy, Iradon, Ruggles, Monce, and many others.
This church has continued to hold its own throughout all of these years. Since its beginning in 1835, there has elapsed one hundred years. The church is still going, not strong but it is still alive.
I believe that someday all of those throughout these years who have contributed a small part in founding this church and in keeping it going will receive a greeting of "Well Done".
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