Historic Tennessee Church the Site of Civil War Hospital

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Blue Springs Lutheran Church | Greene County, Tennessee | Organized c. 1811

This church was constructed in 1893, but the congregation and cemetery were established many years earlier, in 1811 by German Lutherans who settled in the village of Mosheim. Mosheim was one of the earliest villages in
Greene County. Located on an old stagecoach route, Mosheim later grew and gained importance as a railroad stop when tracks for the Virginia-East Tennessee Rail Line were placed directly through the small town in 1858. In 1872, Lutherans established Mosheim College (Institute) in this area, named after German theologian Johann Lorenz Mosheim (1693-1755). The “Old College,” built around 1870, was a massive two-story brick building located north of the big spring that was purchased for the Lutheran school. Originally known as “Blue Springs,” after a local water source that contributed to the settling of this area, the town was renamed Mosheim in 1870 to reflect the college’s success.

Mosheim College in Greene County, Tennessee.

Early records indicate that when it was founded (sometime before 1811), this church was originally called Patterson’s Church, organized by Rev. Charles Zacharius Schmidt. The original building was a log structure, erected on the same site where the church stands today. By 1820, its name had changed to Golden Springs Church, and then sometime between 1825 and 1830, the church changed its name to Blue Spring Church. Sometime before the Civil War, the original log church was replaced with a brick one.

The Battle of Blue Springs, October 1863

In October 1863, a battle broke out about one and a half miles east of this church site. Although the Battle of Blue Springs was a comparatively small battle, there were heavy casualties, totaling 100 Union and 216 Confederate dead and wounded.

Union General Ambrose Burnside (1824-1881)

The brick building that served the church at that time was used as a hospital by Union General Ambrose Burnside. According to local legend, amputated limbs of soldiers were buried in the front portion of the cemetery and a mass grave was dug out to make space for all the bodies of the dead. A marker has been placed in the area where this mass grave is believed to be located.

1893: A New Church is Built

The current building, erected in 1893, is the third used by the church at this site and has Folk Victorian with Gothic and Revival influences. The Rev. Francis Marion Harr, pastor of the church in 1893, is recognized as the architect and builder of the church. Sheathed in weatherboards, the decorative features of the building include Italianate brackets, drip moldings, and dentils at the cornice. A three-story bell tower on the façade and pedimented windows on the side elevations are prominent exterior features.

The church disbanded in 1964 when only five members were left. Six years later, the Tennessee Synod, of which the church was part, named a committee to get rid of the church that had “become more of a burden than an asset.” This aroused interest in the church so the board of trustees of the Blue Springs Cemetery Association and the Synod agreed that the building could remain standing if it was brought up to certain physical standards. The church received a facelift in 1971. That same year, the old Lutheran church became the Mosheim Church of God under a renting arrangement. It served in this capacity until 2009. Ownership of the church eventually fell to the Blue Springs Church Association which was formed in 2015 by a group of concerned citizens and relatives of those buried in the cemetery with the goal of returning the church and grounds to its former appearance.

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In 2017, the church was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Blue Springs Lutheran Cemetery

The adjacent cemetery pre-dates the church and is an important part of its history. Blue Springs Cemetery includes the graves of soldiers from the War of 1812 through the Vietnam War. At least 32 Civil War soldiers are buried there, in addition to a mass grave containing the remains of soldiers who lost their lives during the October 1863 Battle of Blue Springs. The oldest grave in the cemetery dates to 1830.

You can find a listing of all of the known burials here on Find A Grave.

Captain Bushong, Blue Springs

Buried at Blue Springs

While researching the people buried at Blue Springs, I was able to find a handful of portraits of them to help bring their stories to life. If you have any additional information about the lives of the people mentioned below, please feel free to email me (kelly@theforgottensouth.com) so I can add your notes.

Robert and Mollie Cansler

This picture is believed to have been taken a short time before Mollie died in 1872.

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Robert Gordon Cansler was born in 1827 in Burke County, NC. He served in the Mexican War, US Army, Private Company H, 2nd Regiment Tennessee Infantry Volunteers from 6/16/1846 – 5/27/1847. He fought in the battles of Vera Cruz and Cero Gordo (April 18, 1847) in Mexico. Robert died in 1890.

Mary Edith “Mollie” Lancaster Cansler was born in 1844, likely in Alabama. After she married Robert Cansler, the couple had at least two children, John (b. 1868) and James, born in (1870).

Solomon and Christena Paxton Wampler

Solomon Wampler was born in Virginia in 1800 and on December 18, 1823, he married his first wife, Mary Margaret “Polly Ann” Harmon Wampler. They had at least nine children before she died in 1869. In 1870, Solomon married again to Christena Paxton Wampler, pictured here.

Christena Paxton Wampler was born in 1845. In 1870, she married Solomon Wampler. Solomon and Christena had 3 children together before he died in 1881. Christena Wampler died in 1894 and they’re both buried at Blue Springs.

Rev. James Knicely Hancher

Reverend James Knicely Hancher was born in 1819 in Sullivan County, Tennessee.

Hancher was one of the pastors who helped found numerous Lutheran churches in Northeast Tennessee during the mid to late 1800s.

He was the son of Rev. William Hancher Jr., another early Lutheran pastor. Rev. James Hancher died in 1897 and is buried at Blue Springs.

Stephen Ailshie & Anna Amassa Troubaugh Ailshie

Stephen (1823-1905) Anna (1824-1878)

Stephen Ailshie was born in Greene County, Tennessee in 1823 to John Daniel Ailshie & Elizabeth Dunlap Ailshie. In 1843, he married Anna Amassa Troubaugh. Stephen died in 1905.

Anna Amassa Troubaugh was born in 1824 to George and Regina Troubaugh. After they married in 1843, Stephen and Anna had five children together. Anna passed away in 1878.

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John Larkin Clemmer


John Larkin Clemmer was born in 1843 to George and Polly Clemmer. He married Mary L. Matthews Clemmer (1843-1907) and the couple had 5 children.

According to the inscriptions on his headstone, John was a Freemason and also fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War. He died in 1909.

George Washington Wampler & Martha Jane Kersterson Wampler

George (1867-1930) Martha (1867-1959)

George Washington Wampler was born in Tennessee in 1867 to James Solomon Wampler and Barbara Ailshie Wampler. In 1888, George Wampler married Martha Jane Kesterson. George died in 1930.

Martha Jane Kesterson Wampler was born August 15, 1867, in Greene County, Tennessee to William Kesterson and Rebecca Ailshie Kesterson. After they married, Martha and George had 9 children together. Martha died in May 1959.

Nancy Jane Moore Bible


Nancy Moore was born in 1861 and was twice married. First to F.C. Bible who died in 1900. She married her second husband, Mr. David Moss, who preceded her to the grave by six years.

According to her obituary, Mrs. Nancy J. Moore died on her 75th birthday in 1936 at the home of her daughter, Mrs. J. H. Franklin, following an illness of two weeks of severe heart trouble.

John Adam Bible


John Adam Bible was born in 1823 in Mosheim, Tennessee to Adam and Elizabeth Neas Bible. He was married in 1847 to Regina “Leann” Knipp. They had 7 children.

John Adam Bible died in 1891.

Regina Leanna “Leann” Knipp Bible


Regina was born December 14, 1828 in Greene County, Tennessee to Daniel and Regena Bowers Knipp. In 1847, Regina married John Adama Bible and the couple had 7 children together.

She died in 1891 and the inscription on her headstone reads: “Sleep on dear mother and take thy rest. Thou art done with the cares of this life.”

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