St John's Episcopal Church

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This article is about the historic church in Elyton. For other similarly-named churches, see St John's Episcopal Church (disambiguation).
St John's Episcopal Church

St John's Episcopal Church was an Episcopal church founded in Elyton in 1850. Among the charter members were sisters Maria and Amy Welton who had been brought South by William Ely, agent for the land in Jefferson County granted by the federal government for the benefit of the Connecticut Asylum for the Education of the Deaf and Dumb. They both married prominent local men and remained in Elyton. Maria became Mrs Nathaniel Hawkins and Amy became the second Mrs Mortimer Jordan.

The church remained small, owing to a general paucity of Episcopalians in the vicinity. They met at intervals at the Hawkins' home, at Jefferson Academy, or in the small courthouse.

In 1871 Hawkins' father, Williamson Hawkins, donated a parcel of land on Main Street (Tuscaloosa Road) for a new church. An existing frame building was moved from Ashville by ox-cart. The following March, a 484-pound bronze bell, cast in Troy, New York, was dedicated at the church. Phillip Fitts was sent as missionary rector to the church.

The establishment of Birmingham at the crossing of the Alabama & Chattanooga and South & North Railroads to the east of Elyton sealed the fate of the small congregation. Fitts was charged with overseeing the establishment of a mission in Birmingham and made the journey after morning services each Sunday to preach at Jules Lockwood's grocery store.

Soon a new Episcopal Church of the Advent was chartered for Birmingham and many leading Elyton families moved to the city and became key members. The bell from the church was installed in St Andrew's Episcopal Church when it was built in 1913. In 1935 the older church was rededicated as St John's Episcopal Church for the Deaf and later moved to Cahaba Heights. The old church was demolished some time after 1980.



  • Rogers, Rebecca Pegues (1973) The Strength of Her Towers: The First Century of the Episcopal Church of the Advent, Birmingham, Alabama 1872–1972. Birmingham: Episcopal Church of the Advent
  • Bennett, James R. (2008) Historic Birmingham and Jefferson County: An Illustrated History. San Antonio, Texas: Birmingham-Jefferson Historical Society/Historical Publishing Network. ISBN 9781893619838