Jackson Parish was founded in 1845. In 1850, Wade Pool who is shown above and the founder of Salem Baptist Church, moved to a location in the eastern part of Jackson Parish on a crossroad of the “Old Natchitoches Road” which ran from Monroe to Natchitoches. Geographically, where he settled is just west of Eros, north of Chatham and east of Vernon about 15 miles southeast of Ruston and 25 miles southwest of Monroe.
Wade Pool was born in 1825 to Mary (Wright) Pool and Stephen Caldwell Pool. Exactly where he was born is debatable but it is known that it was either in East Feliciana Parish in Louisiana or Amite County, Mississippi which share a common border. The reason for the debate is due to the way records are listed which lead credence to both locations being possible birth places.
By 1836 Wade’s family had resettled in Catahoula Parish. Around 1845, when Wade was at the age of 20 he is thought to have traveled to Texas with his favorite uncle Baxter Pool. Five years later, Wade moved to Jackson Parish where it is said that he bought a full section of land but since the Courthouse burned records of this transaction was lost.
A blacksmith by trade, Pool set up his shop in front of his house. In August of 1850 a group of farmers met there with the intent of organizing a church, which they decided to call Salem Baptist Church.
It is not known exactly where the name Salem came from but according to an article written by Vera Canady in 1960 it is believed to have been in honor of a preacher who was banished from a colony named Salem for preaching religious freedom.
For several years thereafter Wade’s blacksmith shop was where the church held services, with Wade serving as the Church Clerk, as there was not a church or school located anywhere near there. Eros did not have its beginning until some 48 years later, in 1898.
Now at the age of 30 and still a bachelor, it was in 1855 that Wade would begin to notice his future wife Elizabeth Temperance Pierson (shown below) who was 16 years younger than him and lived about three miles away. As fate would have it the Civil War broke out and Wade joined the Confederate States Army. When Wade returned in 1865, after being a prisoner of war and “paroled” to Monroe, LA, the pair was married.
In 1874, the Pierson family donated two acres of land to the Salem Church where a log house was built (shown below) . Not only were church services held on the site but Mrs. Mary Collins, wife of Sam Collins also taught school there. A spring, that was located behind the structure and still known today as the old “Church Spring” furnished water to the church and was where baptisms were held.
Around 1886, just a few hundred yards from where Wade Pool had his blacksmith shop, a new church was built with a small room in the back for a classroom where the present day structure is still located. In 1893 another structure was built following a fire to the original building, which was used until 1949 (shown below)when the present building was first built just four years after Richard Pool was born.
Knowing the history of the church and the Pool family makes it easy to see why restoring Salem Baptist Church is so important to Richard Pool. It also makes it easy to see how his tremendous act of benevolence is intertwined into his dedication to God, Country and Family.