Bethlehem Church

Heart of Controversy: In 1861, as the secession debate raged across Tennessee, Mary Catherine Sproul taught school here on the church grounds. She was excited to learn that pro-Union leader Horace Maynard would give a speech in Livingston. Then she overheard local secessionists claim they would "riddle his hide" if Maynard spoke. Sproul, shocked, wondered aloud to her students whether their parents were not "heathens and cutthroats? Surely a civilized nation will never tolerate such a course. My God! Are you going to prohibit the freedom of speech in this free, enlightened and blood bought land?" Residents branded Sproul a "Lincolnite," and longtime friends abandoned her. Others threatened her, and a man offered to tighten the noose if local women decided to hang her. The secessionists prevented Maynard from giving his speech. Sproul's school somehow continued, but she wrote that students were "casting reproachful glances at me as though I had committed a terrible crime."