George Pugh Ashley County, AR
- The following was sent to me and thought I would share it with the group. Maybe someone is researching Pughs in Ashley County, AR. This is not my line.Mary Pettyjohn
Hamburg Presbyterian Church
The first Presbyterian congregation in Ashley County was organized by pioneers of the Presbyterian faith who had migrated here from the southeastern U. S. There was no Presbyterian congregation in Ashley County for them when they arrived, so they went to Union County to request help from a Presbyterian congregation there. The Arkansas Presbytery sent two pastors from neighboring areas to Ashley County in 1859 to investigate the possibility of organizing a church. A formal church was indeed organized in 1859 in Ashley County's Mill Creek township and was called the Orion Church. In 1866 the church moved to Hamburg and changed its name to the Hamburg Presbyterian Church, but they had no place of their own to worship, so they used the Methodist church for three years until 1869. The current church building was completed in 1871.
Early members of the church were merchants, farmers, timber workers, lawyers, teachers, and community leaders. Members included William McCombs, campaign manager for Woodrow Wilson in 1912; Charles Portis, author of True Grit; and George Pugh, one-time president of the American Bar Association.
The church appears much as it always has on the exterior, but the bell tower used to be much taller and the front entrance was a recessed porch. The tower was shortened and the porch enclosed about 1910.The building still features decorative brackets under the eaves and distinctive half-timbering over the wood-plank siding. The bell tower is decorated with gingerbread. The windows predate the 20th century. The building retains its original wood floor, and there are seven or eight original pews remaining inside the church. These pews were made by former slaves. The church originally had a balcony for blacks, but it was enclosed to make Sunday school classrooms. Portions of the sanctuary were converted into a kitchen and Sunday school classrooms as well. The Presbyterian congregation was aging and dwindling in attendance, so the Presbytery discontinued the church. The Garden Club acquired the building in October, 1987, and has not made any major structural changes to the building except for the addition of a storage closet in the sanctuary.