On July 5, 1916, a hurricane blew the building off its foundation but it was not badly damaged. Before that, there had been discussion about needing more cemetery space.
In June, weeks before the hurricane, a new pastor was called and began serving. Clearly, the members were not discouraged as on September 17, only three months later, they changed the new pastor’s duties to full-time. Union Church became the first rural church in Alabama to have a full-time pastor.
In June of 1917, the building was moved south to the current location of the sanctuary and put back on its foundation. If the fence in the historic photo below is at the edge of the current cemetery, then the frame building appears to be close to it and hence slightly north of the current brick sanctuary.
The Church prospered in the years leading up to this hurricane. In 1911 there were 17 baptisms that increased the membership to 185. They purchased an additional 3.5 acres of land for $10/acre.
The Church called its first full-time pastor and was the first rural church in Alabama to have a full-time pastor.
Notice what appears to be a new grave in the foreground of the historic photo above. Currently, there is a grave in the approximate location with the date of death as June 27, 1919. Assuming the mound of what appears to be flowers in the old photo is that grave then the photo was taken two years after the relocation. Current photos are below.
NOAA’s Historical Hurricane website cites two hurricanes that impacted this area in 1916.
- From June 28 to July 10 a Category 3 storm crossed the Gulf and into the central US. The maximum wind speed was 105 knots and it came on shore near the Alabama/Mississippi line. UBC is only 3.7 miles from the state line.
- The second hurricane crossed the Gulf in mid-October reaching a Category 2 level at landfall with a maximum wind speed of 95 knots. It came on shore near Pensacola. When this storm blew in the Church was surely still dealing with the issues left by the July storm with the building likely sitting oddly off its foundation.
This was one year before the end of World War 1.