Saturday, June 2, 2012

God, Others & Ourselves. A Tribute to Charles Harrell Moran - First Methodist Church of Dresden

Charles Harrell Moran (Brud) was a beloved icon in Dresden Tennessee.  He was a Godly man who enjoyed helping others.  He was very much a farmer, banker, and gentleman.  He was "green" before it was called green.  He was always looking at new methods of farming.  He planted trees along the highway, which were later cut down, and was given the nickname Johnny Appleseed of Weakley County.  He was a major force in saving the Moran Home place after the bank crashed during the depression.  He sponsored orphans oversea's and boys at home.

Though there were many women in his life Harrell Moran never married.  We'll never know the reason he remained a bachelor but one thought is that Harrell was sickly throughout his life.  He took trips to climates that were supposed to better for his health, but he always returned to Dresden.  There is some speculation that Harrell may have been in love but that the family didn't approve of his selection.  That of course ended the relationship.

His family always knew of his generosity and selflessness and loved him that much more because of it.  However, it's nice to know that the community in Dresden recognized his generosity and contributions as well.  The following tribute was written sometime in the 1960's just a year or so before he passed away in 1968.  Part of it was written in 1956 and was included in the tribute.  It includes a lot of historical information about the MORAN family and the FIRST METHODIST CHURCH,
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The following was one of the programs during Youth Activities Week at the First Methodist Church at Dresden, Tennessee.

As you know, this week our theme has been God, Others and Ourselves in this order.  Tonight we are honoring a man who has lived by this Christian way.

TONIGHT, MR. HARRELL MORAN, THIS IS YOUR LIFE.

Not only has Mr. Harrell been a leader in our present church, but the Morans back to his grandfather, Mr. James H. MORAN, have been influential in the history of our church.  I am reading these facts from the written record of out church.

Not only is Mr. Harrell loved by the members of our church, but by everyone who knows him, especially young boys and girls.  He has been doing thoughtful things for teenagers and younger children for a long time.  For the past few years he has remembered the cub scouts and boy scouts by giving them a weiner roast in the city park.  Lately he gave the Rainbow girls a very nice banquet at the City Cafe.

But long before the '60s Mr. Harrell was remembering young boys.

We have a small gift for you, Mr. Harrell, which we hope you will enjoy.  We can never say enough to show our appreciation to you for the many kindnesses you have shown.

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On February 4, 1833, in the presence of Mr. James H. MORAN, grandfather of Mr. Harrell MORAN, the lot on which our church now stands was purchased from Mr. John Lewis TERRELL for the consideration of $41.50.

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In the same year, 1833, the first church building was erected - a long, narrow frame building, patterned after the fashion of the time - painted white with two doors at the front and two aisles - one for the men and one for the women.  It was lighted by candles and each member was required to take turns furnishing a basket of candles for the "meeting house", as it was called at that time.

The MORAN family was very active in all of the activities of the church at that early date and have continued to be active down through the years.

In 1868 this long white frame church was replaced by what was then considered to be a handsome and imposing brick edifice - rectangular in shape - with the conventional two front doors and a belfry with a tall steeple pointing heavenward on the front end of the roof.  A big bell was hung in this belfry and its clear, sweet, beautiful tones could be heard for miles around calling the village folk to worship.  An extract from a beautiful letter from Mrs. J.B. EZZELL, the former Miss Fanny MORAN, says: "Please, if possible, make some mention of the bell, and a plea that for years to come it will be used as a call to worship.  I frequently meet old Dresdenites who say 'if I could just hear that old church bell ring on Sunday mornings it would make me a better Christian'".

"When new pulpit furniture was needed for this new church Mrs. J.W. MORAN, mother of Mr. Harrell, and Mrs. C.W. COTTRELL, were sent to Nashville to select it.  Mrs. MORAN personally paid for one chair and Mrs. COTTRELL personally paid for the other chair leaving only the settee for the church to pay for.  What these ladies bought is the same furniture that is now used in the ladies parlor.

The beautiful maple tree which you find standing in front of this present building, which blesses us with refreshing, cooling shade, was planted there as a sprout by Mr. J.W. MORAN, father of Mr. Harrell. To carry on the family tradition of thoughtfulness, Mr. Harrell has planted another small tree close to the large one to start its growth so it will someday replace the older tree.  it stands a living monument of his thoughtfulness and devotion to his church.

In the cornerstone of this second church building was a list of all contributors to the building which included the name of "Fanny Moran - $1.00" who is a sister of Mr. Harrell and who was born the day before this celebration took place.  As a young girl she was an ardent, earnest church worker - dearly beloved by her Sunday School Class of little girls who grieved when she left Dresden.

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The first woman's organization of this church was the Ladies Aid Society organized October 5, 1880.  Dues were ten cents per month - twenty-five cents initiation fee.  For lack of literature, they studied the Sunday School lesson at the meetings.  Mrs. J.W. MORAN, Mr. Harrell's mother, was a charter member and its second president.
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In 1869 the church's first organ was purchased.  At first there was a violent opposition to this new innovation.  The pastor whose name by a singular co-incidence, was Brother ORGAN.  At that time Miss Sophia Gunn of Nashville came to Dresden as a young music teacher.  Two years later she became the bride of Mr. J.W. Moran and later the mother of Mr. Harrell.  She, of course, was very much interested in music in the church and volunteered to solicit funds for the proposed organ.  But, upon learning that it was about to cause a split in the church, she again made "her rounds" returning all contributions that had been given her.  However, in a short time harmony prevailed, the contributions were again given with quite enough for its purchase and she was sent to Nashville to select and buy it.  She became the first organist.

The church that was erected in 1868 was twice struck by lightning doing serious damage each time.  One time the cornerstone was knocked out and its contents partially destroyed.  The last time repqirs were made it was evident that before many more years a new building would be needed.  In 1923 the work was begun under the pastorate of Rev. S.L. JEWELL.  Mr. Harrell was treasurer of the building committee as well as a valued member of the Board of Stewards.

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The following is an assignment in English of Harry T. CHANDLER when he was enrolled at the University of Tennessee, Department of Correspondence Study in 1956 and which was read at this program honoring Mr. MORAN.

Our Mr. Harrell
Almost daily for the past fifty years the lives of the residents of Dresden, Tennessee have been influenced and brightened by the presence of Mr. Harrell Moran.  In the early twenties when I first knew "Mr. Harrell" as the boys called him, he was a young man of about thirty-five years of age, tall and thin, being nearly six feet in height and weighing 150 pounds, smiling blue eyes, quick in his movements, soft spoken but firm in his speech, a merry ring to his laughter, and the patience to work and play with the teen age boys of the community.

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Mr. Harrell was a good business man, director of the local bank, farmer, a bachelor, devoted Christian, and lived with his brother's family in the largest house in town. (In actuality the house belonged to Harrell and his brother's family lived with HIM)  Through the summer months after the close of school many of the young boys around Dresden were given jobs plowing, hoeing, and planting on Mr. Harrell's farms.  The jobs provided the boys with a little spending money as well as keeping them occupied, and out of mischief.

The young boys of the twenties, no different to the boys of today, were looking for adventure, and we found it in Mr. Harrell's big woods located on one of his farms near town.  We boys were permitted to cut enough trees in the woods to build a cabin as headquarters for out club.  Mules and pond scoops were furnished by Mr. Harrell to dam up a small pond in the woods.  The pond was stocked with brim and bass making it a fine fishing hole, and the deep end was turned into a swimming pool.

Every summer Mr. Harrell would gather up a carload of boys and take a camping trip to White Oak Creek, a good fishing stream near Waverly, Tennessee.  Once we had our camp set up under Mr. Harrell's direction we swam, fished and took live easy for a week or two.  On these camping trips Mr. Harrell passed along to the boys his knowledge of woodcraft, camping, cooking and many other things one should know when camping out in the woods.  Every boy lucky enough to get to go on one of these camping trips with Mr. Harrell came back with a deeper appreciation of the great outdoors.

With the coming of harvest time each year Mr. Harrell would get ready to fill his big silo with silage.  The silage was to be used as food for Mr. Harrell's cattle through the coming winter.  The fodder was cut and brought in from the fields, the silage shreader was towed into place near the silo, and a small herd of goats was brought in from the farm.  As the silage was shreaded and blown into the silo it had to be tramped in order to pack it in as small a space as possible allowing more silage to be put in the silo.  The tramping was done by the herd of goats, and Mr. Harrell never failed to let the boys know that the goats were in the silo and needed someone to drive them around and around.  All the boys in the neighborhood were soon assembled outside the silo impatiently waiting their turn as goat herder.  Mr. Harrell was always patient although the boys probably got in his way and slowed the work more than they helped it along.

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In 1929 many banks were forced to close and Mr. Harrell's bank was one of those that closed its doors.  In order to help meet the bank debt Mr. Harrell sold most of his farm land leaving the home place and the big woods untouched.  This financial loss was a severe blow to Mr. Harrell, and forced him to change his pattern of life.  Down through the years Mr. Harrell has continued to work hard, spend a few days each summer with the boys on a camping trip, never lost his cheery smile, and further endeared himself in the hearts of the people of Dresden.
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Today at seventy-five years of age Mr. Harrell is not seen as much on the streets as much as in days gone by, but he still spreads cheer and good will among the people he comes in contact with.  Mr. Harrell is till a faithful member of the Methodist church, still likes to walk through the big woods on a warm spring day where he occasionally meets one of his young boys of long ago hiking throught the woods, and passing Mr. Harrell's knowledge of woodcraft on to another generation of young teen age boys.

Now you have a picture of our Mr. Harrell, kind, patient, sharing both knowledge and time with young boys, molding young characters, and endearing himself forever in the hearts of those fortunate enough to know him.


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