The original log church, one of the first in Sequatchie Valley Tennessee, was built by Thomas Swafford sometime between 1820 & 1827.
By 1853, the log structure had been replaced by a larger frame building & deeded by Thomas Swafford to three trustees, Samuel Swafford, Isaac E. Swafford & John Hale, for the use of the Methodist Church.
Known originally as the Swafford Meeting House & Graveyard, bounded by Jonathan Clark line & Sequatchie Creek.
Thomas Swafford was described in 1855 by a Methodist minister, as "a wealthy Methodist living nine miles above town (Pikeville) ."
Sometime during the Civil War a second building was demolished by Union soldiers & lumber was taken to build barricks @ their camp a few miles down the road on the Samuel Worthington plantation.
After the War the church was rebuilt by the early 1870s.
The present building was completed in 1912, it being officially known as Swafford Chapel Methodist Episcopal Church South.
The first homecoming or reunion was held in 1941 & continues to be an exciting event that attracts Swaffords from all across the country.
Swafford Chapel Cemetery (partial Listing)
(b.1783 SC - d.1856 TN)
Thomas was born in Greenville County, SC & died in Bledsoe County Tennessee & is buried in the Swafford Chapel Cemetery.
Sometime after 1800, eight Biblically named Swafford brothers: Abraham, Aaron, Isaac, Jacob, Thomas, Paul, John & William moved west from Greenville County, South Carolina into the Sequatchie Valley.
Thomas married Matilda Howard, daughter of Peter Howard of Greenville County, SC (records show Howard was a Revolutionary War veteran). By 1813 the Swaffords had moved into Bledsoe County, Tennessee.
Soon after the Creek Indians had been defeated & the close of the War of 1812, the Swaffords were moving again.
By this time, Thomas & Matilda's family had grown to ten children: Nasson, Alfred, Thomas Jr., James, Nancy, John, Aaron, William & Lucinda & Malinda (twins). The Swaffords moved this time to the Mississippi territory.
By 1820 Matilda was dead as well as some other members of the large clan & Thomas had left Monroe County, Mississippi, to return to Sequatchie Valley,Tennessee. By 1822 Thomas had taken Elizabeth Nichols for his second wife. Their children were: Samuel & Sarah (twins), Frances & Isaac E.
In 1824 Thomas decided to settle in the valley where he first had settled in 1813. He purchased a 154 acre tract on Sequatchie or Crow Creek.
By the 1840's Thomas Swafford owned more than 1,000 acres in the valley, including the area that the Swafford Chapel & graveyard are now located.
Thomas Swafford's home & plantation was in Bledsoe County's District 4 & a voting poll.
Thomas Swafford lived & died on his farm which was located just south of the present day church & cemetery.
written by Elizabeth Robnett
Bledsoe County,TN historian