FRIENDSHIP BAPTIST CHURCH
A brief History
Among the very earliest settlers in Maury County were many of the Primitive Baptist persuasion. Some of them came into the valley drained by Fountain Creek soon after Armstead Redding, himself a member of this denomination, blazed the first trail into the area in 1807. He was soon followed by others and, by 1810, a congregation had formed and a meetinghouse erected on land donated by Jones Kendrick. This church was called: Fountain Creek Primitive Baptist Church. Whites, free men of color and slaves worshipped together for many years. It stood in a place just to the west of what is now Culleoka. The only remains there today is an old nearby graveyard which includes the remains of many of it members.
What caused the church to divide and move in the late 1820’s or 1830’s is not known. Whatever the cause, Mr. John Toombs gave six acres of land to the congregation in 1833 and soon thereafter a group of the white members built a meetinghouse just east of where the Village of Culleoka soon began to take form. It took the name Friendship Baptist Church, and, Elija Hanks, a renowned evangelist of the epoch, became one of its first elders. By 1840, Hanks was preaching a doctrine that differed from Primitive Baptist beliefs in several points and led a number of area congregations to change their denomination. Friendship was one of the churches that helped form the Duck River Missionary Baptist Association in 1845.
The name of the first occupant of a grave in the cemetery on the hill beside Friendship Church is probably lost to us. Possibly there were burials made prior to 1845 but this is the earliest date recorded on inscribed stones. It is interesting that these stones are for five members of the Edward T. Bryant family, all of whom died within a few weeks of each other, from August to November, 1845.
John Tombs was a son of Edmund and Sabra Tombs who immigrated from Virginia very early in the history of Maury County. He was one of the first Baptists to settle in the area around Culleoka and in 1833 gave six acres of land on the eastern edge of the settlement for the building of a church and a cemetery. Soon after coming to this county, John Tombs enlisted for service in the War of 1812. It was in that year that he also married Miss Catherine Weems. To them were born: William W.; Anthony M.; John H.; Mary A. Goad & Nancy Hardin. Mr. Tombs passed away on 4 Mar 1875 and is buried here on this hillside near where his cabin once stood. The name was spelled Tombs, Toomb, Toombs, and Tombs by various of the descendents of John Tombs.