Friendship Church and School

Bernice Historical Society

People and Places

Friendship Church

Five miles east of Bernice on Louisiana Highway 2 in the little community of Shiloh you will find a cemetery on the north side of the highway and a wooden one room frame building to the south. These two places are all that remain of a community I know as Friendship.

In 1873 Friendship Baptist Church was established in a grove of trees where the cemetery now stands. The first pastor was Reverend Willis Gray followed by Will Harrell and Prince Jones. The next pastor called was A. W. Hawthorne who would serve the church for the next forty years.

The original church was torn down on January 6, 1930 and completely rebuilt by March of that same year. The Building Committee consisted of Fate Davis, Scott Hicks, John Bell, Nelson Hicks and Abe Fields. The Deacon Board at the time of construction was John Hannon, Bob Wright, Billy Neals and John W. Sherman. The church was built by carpenter Ross Ferguson of Bernice.

The church went thru a partial renovation in 1937 under the leadership of Pastor C. P. Payne.

After the end of WWII many of the members left the Friendship Community and moved to Bernice. A piece of land was purchased from Mrs. M. D. Cole at a beautiful spot on the west side of town. Membership at this time rose to 223.

Many are the names of those who passed through the doors of the old Friendship Church and many are still remembered throughout our community. Several of those are: Amanda Sherman (Leader of the Missionary Society), Wordie Hicks, L. D. Sherman, Charlie Hicks, John T. Sutton, Ezza Fields, Effie Reed, Katie Fields, Norma Sherman, Stanford Rodgers, Ethel Island, Hortense Sutton and a host of many others.

Friendship Church is alive and well in Bernice but to me it will forever be considered part of Shiloh.

Friendship School

Across the highway from the Friendship Cemetery and now located on private property you will find the remains of the Friendship School. The school opened in Shiloh in 1918 serving grades one through six. The school was constructed with timber from the grounds of the adjacent Friendship Baptist Church.

A photo Edna Liggin took when they had cleaned off the trees and land around the building. Grateful the owners of property were thoughtful enough not to bulldozer down the old building and recognized the historical significance.
The Photo was submitted by Edna’s daughter Molly Liggin Rankin

In 1949 the teacher was: Vester L. Evans who was later on the staff at Westside as Vester Evans Sutton.

Other teachers known to have taught there were: Alice Gray, Mary Sampson and Earline Nute.

Although I can find no proof of the fact I believe that this school was one of three built in Union Parish during this time period that were called Rosenwald Schools. These schools were built with funding from the Rosenwald Foundation which was directed by the head of the Sears Roebuck Company in coordination with planning from his friend Booker T. Washington. Over 5000 of these schools were built throughout the South.

The largest group of windows always faced East and West so that light would flow through; there was no running water, no plumbing and no electricity. In spite of this the buildings were of new construction and considered a vast improvement over those which existed at the time.

Friendship School would eventually be consolidated with the Bernice Colored School. The picture of the school was taken by Edna Liggin shortly after the area around the school had been cleared.

Cathy Buckley is a native of Union Parish and lifelong citizen of Shiloh. She served as Principal of Spearsville High School for many years until her retirement. Cathy is now the director of the Bernice Depot Museum and a active member of the Bernice Historical Society.


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