Woman chronicles church’s 100-year history with book

Taylor Pardue Staff Reporter

October 31, 2013

It took Jessie Vestal more than five years to complete her book on Pilot View Friends Meeting’s centennial, but earlier this year she finished the project.

Vestal began working on a collection of photographs, names and other information for the church’s centennial event in 2008. She served on the church’s centennial committee and got the idea to record the group’s history in an easy-to-read format.

“When they put me on the committee for the hundred-year, and we started talking about things to do, I said, ‘I’ve always wanted to do a history of everyone who’s ever joined,’” Vestal said.

She didn’t finish in time for the 2011 celebration, but she kept working and finished it in January of 2013.

Vestal began her book by collecting church records as far back as she could go. She said the Quakers have always recorded the minutes of their church meetings, which made the project easier.

Many congregations submit the minutes to Guilford College for preservation. The college was founded with Quaker roots and still collects the records of churches in the area.

Pilot View Friends Meeting officially was started in 1911 in Yadkinville. The congregation began meeting in 1900 in a brush arbor across the road from the existing building.

Services were not held in the colder months because they met outside in the woods.

In 1908, the wood frame church building was built at the current site. The church traces its history back to the first official service at Nov. 11, 1911, at 11:11 a.m.

The now brick building has underwent several renovations since then, including the addition of a steeple.

Vestal said Quakers traditionally do not include steeples in their church designs, excluding the flashy symbol in preference of a more humble style.

Vestal combed through records and contacted families in the church to request pictures of the members.

More than 578 individuals are included in the book and more have joined the church since she finished, Vestal said.

Each entry is focused on a particular family. The family members are grouped together rather than making the reader search for individuals all through the book.

“I hate history books that I have to look here for one person and somewhere else for something,” Vestal said. “So I tried to get everything under that family, their parents and children.”

Included in the book are black and white photos of the church’s early days, a list of all the pastors the church has had, worship and Sunday school attendance records through the years, the charter members, and a list of the church’s beliefs.

Vestal contacted James William and Co., Inc. in Yadkinville and worked with Sam Williams to produce the books.

The thick paper pages are enclosed in sleeves and put into a three-ring binder. Other copies are available without the sleeves and a spiral-notebook backing.

She ordered an initial batch of 175, of which only 28 have not been purchased or donated.

Vestal finished the book in January, two months past the church’s 2012 homecoming in November. She plans to donate a copy to the church at this year’s homecoming instead.

Vestal met with Yadkin County Public Library Librarian Malinda Sells Monday morning to donate a copy to the genealogy department there.

“We’re just very excited about receiving a copy of Ms. Vestal’s book,” Sells said. “We have so many people who come to our local genealogy and history room, and this is just going to be an invaluable resource for them to have available.”

Vestal also has donated a copy of the book to Guilford College.

The book is available for purchase for $25 per copy. Those interested may contact Jessie Vestal at 336-466-0773.

Reach Taylor Pardue at 835-1513 or at tpardue@civitasmedia.com.