Friday, November 21, 2014

History of Lamar County, MS featuring Oak Grove United Methodist Church– Part 1

The combined Oak Grove United Methodist Church and Calvary Baptist Church Thanksgiving Service will be held Sunday, November 23, 2014 at 6 pm at OGUMC.  Pastor Jeff Floyd of Calvary Baptist will preach and OGUMC will host the reception afterwards. Brother Chris Young currently serves as OGUMC’s pastor. 
Here is the humble story of how these two sister churches combined spiritual forces to serve the needs of a small, rural community.  The bond still remains today.
It was 1902 when four Methodist families (Crews, Mucklewraths, Pools and Howells) banded together in the Oak Grove community, then Marion County, to hold Methodist church services. They built a frame building on the location of the Joe Cameron home at the corner of today’s Old Hwy. 11 and Hwy. 24.  By 1908 the name of the area was changed to Lamar County and the rural church building remained in use until 1927. During that year, the Methodist pastor, Mr. C.W. Wesley, was sent to Purvis and the small flock followed.  Since the Oak Grove church building was in poor condition by that time, it was torn down and the lumber was sold.
With the main mode of local transportation being horse, mule or walking, the congregation was not happy traveling the distance to Purvis.  When the Shelton family came to Oak Grove in 1931, they contacted the Methodist of the local community and made arrangements to meet in different homes of the members.  Things progressed and eventually Rev. Tom Pruitt of the Broad Street Methodist Church came and assisted in the Sunday services. By September 1936, several Broad Street Methodist Church members came with Rev. Pruitt, and an assistant pastor, J. Melvin Jones, and officially organized the Oak Grove Methodist Episcopal Church, South, which met in a donate frame structure at the church’s current location.
On Heritage Sunday 2005, the last remaining charter member, the late beloved Mrs. Ena King Cuevas shared her early memories of the church with the congregation.  “In 1936, when my father, Homer King, moved to Oak Grove, there was no Methodist Church; however, it was not long until Broad Street Methodist Church (now Heritage United Methodist Church) started a mission church in Oak Grove. We met on Sunday afternoons in different homes. After the services were over, we children had fun playing together. We were in the country (and I mean country then), and everyone knew everyone in the community, and helped each other when the need arose. For example, if someone was walking along the road, we would immediately stop and give them a ride.”
Ms. Ena stated “On September 6, 1936, Oak Grove Methodist Church organized with 48 charter members. The Rev. Thomas O Prewitt, pastor of Broad Street Methodist Church, presided. The organizational meeting was held in a new church on land donated by the M.H. Crews Family. Newman Lumber Company donated our first church and moved it to the church property.”  There were rooms on both sides which were large enough to hold pews, and also serve as Sunday school classrooms. The pulpit, pulpit chairs, table and decorative glass above the entrance doors were given by Broad Street Methodist Church.
The week following the official founding of the church, Ms. Ena stated they had the most spiritual revival she ever experienced. “There were very few cars so most people had to walk 3 or more miles. The majority of the people living in Oak Grove came – both Methodists and Baptists. Many people accepted Christ as their Savior during this great revival. One person left that night feeling so strong about Christ that, after he had walked all the way home, he walked all the way back to the church and accepted Christ as his Savior. He later became a well-respected Baptist preacher in our community.”
“We only had church every other Sunday, and our pastors were students at USM – known as Mississippi Southern College then – so we think we trained a lot of good ministers.”  It was not unusual during this period for preachers to serve more than one church, thus being circuit riders and alternating Sundays where they preached.  This is where the bond between Calvary Baptist Church and Oak Grove United Methodist Church grew as members from each church worshipped together each Sunday but alternated between the church houses since their circuit riding preachers were on opposite schedules. “On Sundays that we had church, the Baptists became Methodists, and on the other Sundays, we became Baptists. This relationship has continued through the years with our two churches sharing Thanksgiving Service and Easter Sunrise Service.” 
During the early years, there was no electricity, no water, and no bathrooms – just outhouses. “The men’s outhouse was on the left and women’s on the right. We had never heard of toilet tissue, so catalogs came in handy – not nearly as soft as Charmin. Windows were opened in the summer, and paper fans from Hulett Funeral Home were great to move the air. We could hear singing from the Baptist Church next door, and of course, we tried to sing louder and better. Sometimes you could also hear their preacher when he got excited and started shouting.”
Coal oil lamps were on the walls, wooden heaters were used, and homemade pews were installed. Electricity was added in the 1940s. The church doors were always open to anyone who wanted to come.  Many old-fashioned revivals were held with dinner on the grounds and the Spirit of the Lord overflowed the church and many joined. Pastoral service was on an every-other Sunday basis for years but as membership increased, a regular pastor was assigned for each Sunday service.
Do you have memories, stories or photos you would like to share with us about the history of our community?   Feel free to contact us at

Monday, November 10, 2014

Hattiesburg Area Housing Statistics: October 2013 vs. October 2014

As we shared in the last Sigma Realty e-newsletter, the realty market in the Pinebelt area improved in September based on last year’s statistics concerning the number of houses sold, median and average sold prices.

For those wanting to join us in following the progression of the real estate market in our area, here is some specific data from the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) for October.  These statistics are based on residential homes only and does not include land, multi-family or commercial properties.


10/01/13-10/31/13 10/01/14-10/31/14 01/01/13-10/31/13 01/01/14-10/31/14
Homes Sold 120 107 1307 1300
Days on Market 88 90 97 100
Med. Sold Price $122,750 $122,000 $134,000 $139,000
Avg. Sold Price $135,785 $133,543 $145,345 $155,862


Forrest/Lamar Co. MLS 10/01/13-10/31/13 10/01/14-10/31/14 01/01/13-10/31/13 01/01/14-10/31/14
Homes Sold 91 87 1018 1006
Days on Market 89 91 97 97
Med. Sold Price $130,000 $129,900 $142,412 $148,250
Avg. Sold Price $148,943 $143,302 $158,581 $168,525


ALL MLS 10/31/13 10/31/14
Homes Actively for Sale 1091 1072
Forrest/Lamar Co. MLS 10/31/13 10/31/14
Homes Actively for Sale 769 774

Like most industries, the realty market tends to fluctuate a bit with some months being higher and others lower.  Over the past few months, we have seen a slow steady climb in selling prices but October 2014 dropped compared to October 2013.  The year to date for 2013 compared to 2014, however, continues to show an increase for median sold price and average sold price both locally in Lamar and Forrest Counties as well as across the entire MLS area.
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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Protect Your Investment - Hire a Licensed Contractor

by Guest Contributor Marty Milstead
Executive Vice President Home Builders Association of Mississippi

A home purchase or home renovation is the largest expenditure that most people make in their lifetime. However, too many times that investment goes bad when an unlicensed contractor is hired to perform the work.

There are some steps that anyone hiring a contractor should follow to protect their investment:

Verify a license.  Mississippi law requires any builder that is constructing or overseeing the construction of a home for sale to be licensed by the State.  It also requires any contractor performing a remodeling project over $10,000 to be licensed by the State.  All licensed contractors can be found on the Mississippi State Board of Contractors website at

Verify insurance.  Your contractor should carry general liability insurance and workers’ compensation insurance.  The general liability insurance protects the home owner on construction related issues during and after construction on the home.  Workers’ compensation insurance gives protection to the property owner should someone get injured while working on your home.

Verify in writing.  Always insist on a written contract and written change orders.  Include details regarding the scope of work and terms of payment.  Incorporate warranties, guarantees or other promises in your written contract.

Verify that your contractor is a member of the Home Builders Association.  Most qualified and legitimate contractors choose to be a member of their professional trade organization.  Home builder members are more prone to be up to date on current building codes and trends for quality construction.

Verify references.  Ask your contractor to provide you with references. Make sure the contractor has a permanent business location and a good reputation with local banks and suppliers.

By following these important guidelines you will eliminate a lot of potential problems that occur when homeowners and homebuyers use unlicensed contractors.

Marty Milstead is the Executive Vice President Home Builders Association of Mississippi.  For more information you can check out the National Association of Homes at or contact Milstead at 601-969-3446.