Montgomery Glover "Gum" Calloway
Montgomery G. Calloway
Montgomery G. Calloway was born in the state of Georgia the 23rd of December, 1866. He was the son of James D. Calloway (1833-1900) and Lucinda Belle Banks (1845-1939). According to Federal Census records he lived in Fayette County, Georgia during the early years of his life. Around 1887, he moved to Walker County, Alabama. He was married to Francis Elizabeth "Lizzie" Williams the 5th of August, 1888 in Walker County. They had eight children between 1891 and 1914.
The northern part of Walker county was where brother "Gum" Calloway, as he was known, did his greatest work. He planted the work known today as the Liberty church of Christ. The two acres of property was deeded to the church from land he purchased at the price of a cow. He farmed in the community and preached and taught in the evenings. He preached under brush arbors and in groves. From house to house he taught the word of God with regularity and deep commitment. He also planted works in other areas, such as the Corinth church of Christ between Jasper and Hanceville over in Cullman County.
While he never was a nationally known preacher, while others enjoyed a wider knowledge among the brethren, he continued to stay the course among the brethren. Long after his departure to the life beyond, the people of the county recalled the life and work of brother Gum Calloway as a mainstay to soundness and strength of the church in that area. Levi Sides, who grew up in the community, and whose parents are buried just a few feet from where the Calloways are buried, remembered stories from his youth about old brother Gum Calloway and the work he did. Sadly, a generation is rising who does not recall the works of Gum and Lizzie Calloway.
Brother M.G. Calloway passed from this life May 14, 1925, and was buried in the Liberty church of Christ cemetery. Lizzie followed seven years later on October 26, 1932. Upon their marker, just under their names are the words, "They Died As They Lived A Christian."
-Sources: Gleaned from Census and death records found on Ancestry.com. Written: 03.13.2013 by Scott Harp, web editor.
Special thanks to Levi Sides, who grew up in the Liberty church of Christ. He told me about the old preacher, brother Gum Calloway and his work among the people in the Boldo community.
Liberty Church of Christ
Walker County, Alabama
Liberty Church of Christ was getting a face-lift when I arrived there early one morning, and the church members were getting ready for a gospel meeting, but in early days of the church, a brush arbor might have been the setting for their meetings. Hubert Calloway, a deacon at Liberty, and his wife Glenda, remember attending several. "It was a big room made of brush on top of 4 poles," Mr. Calloway said, "which sometimes stayed up for weeks."
Around 1887, Montgomery (Gum) Calloway came from Georgia on a mule, set up a brush arbor, and began preaching. He waited a week before he entered his land into the courthouse records and established a homestead on 40 acres. Then, he bought 40 more acres for a hundred dollars. Later, he purchased 2 acres from Scott Murray in trade for a cow. He simply decided to deed the two extra acres on the opposite side of his 80 to the church, which is the site of Liberty Church of Christ today.
There have been at least three buildings since the beginning of Liberty, but the members haven't changed that much. Liberty has a membership of around 150. "We still pray, sing, and talk on a regular basis, and still worship the Almighty God," Stanley Ryan states. He has been the preacher at Liberty since June, 1988. His wife, Pattie, helps with the secretarial duties. They have three children: Beth, Sarah, and Caleb.
Liberty cemetery's first grave may have been J.D. Calloway (1838-1900), although many are unmarked. L.B. Calloway, who was in World War I, only lived a short time after his return home. Other veterans are Alford W. Cunningham - World War I; Arnold Tyree - World War II; Charles M. Ellis - World War II; Garle Lee Banks - World War II; James M. Mathis - Vietnam; and Luther Lee Hudson - World War II.
When I asked about interesting facts, the answer was overwhelmingly Asa Plyler, along with Mr. Homer Calloway. Mr. Plylar rode an old gray mule from Parrish to Liberty Church to preach in the 1920's. He did this once a month for three years. Mr. Plylar was the first preacher of the Church of Christ to be designated the Rural Minister of the Year in the state of Alabama. He still preaches every Sunday, and has a radio program. He said, "I haven't had a recess in 70 years." He started when he was seventeen. "I bought my first testament with a quarter from selling a possum," he laughs.
Other preachers from the past were: S.F. Hester; C.A. Wheeler; C.V. Alexander; O.J. Payne; John T. Lewis; Avery Fike; Gus Nichols (an internationally known preacher); Brodie Plyler; John Odum; W.A. Holly; and W.C. (Casper) Calloway, who passed away last year.
Past elders have been: Johnny Payne; Tommy Wheeler; C.V. Alexander; Howard Sanford; James Portzer; Martin Portzer; Tommy Chambless; Earl Lollar; Napolean Calloway; Pervie Calloway; Joe Calloway; and Bill McCaleb.
Ida Portzer is said to have been the first person baptized into the Liberty Church of Christ. Homer Calloway and Sally Portzer are the oldest members.
Homer Calloway remembers having church meetings in his grandmother's, Lucinda Calloway's, home before there was a church building. "My daddy, Gum, would ride his mule all over, wherever they wanted him to preach, or he would walk, preach on Sunday and Sunday night, then walk back on Monday morning," he says, shaking his head with a smile. "You won't find anybody doing that today." Mr. Calloway is 84 and lives a short distance from Gum Calloways' old homestead with his wife, Lela.
Present Elders are Brodie and Grady Plyler, and Elton Romine. Brodie Plyler said, "It wasn't long ago, we spread dinner on the grounds at decoration. Now, everyone is in a hurry." Decoration at Liberty is the First Sunday in May.
Deacons are: Hubert Calloway, Carl Harbison, Tommy Wheeler, J.C. Hyche and Jerry McClemore.
Liberty Church of Christ has hope of continued growth, "but we will always be one big family," says Homer Calloway, "and I'm proud to be a part of it."
-Dawn Calloway, Mountain Eagle, TV Times, 1989, page 16; Note: This is a timed piece. Some of those enlisted as living may be now deceased.
Directions To The Grave of M.G. Calloway
M.G. and Lizzie Calloway are buried in the Liberty church of Christ cemetery just north of Jasper, Alabama. Take old U.S. 78 to Hwy. 69 north. In less than a quarter mile turn left on Sunrise Road. The church and cemetery will be less than a mile. The cemetery will be on the right, and the Calloway plot is at the edge of the cemetery and next to the road.
View Larger Map
Liberty Church of Christ in Boldo Community, Walker County, Alabama
Calloway Plot In Center Of Picture
Elizabeth September 26, 1871 - October 26, 1932
M.G. December 23, 1866 - May 14, 1925
They Died As They Lived A Christian
Photos Taken 02.08.2013
Page produced 03.13.2013
Courtesy of Scott Harp