If you have been following us over the past few years, you know I Love To Travel in
history and the unique. On this trip we have found both history and uniqueness. In northeast Alabama,
there is a small church built with love and surrounded by a wonderful natural setting.
I am sure most of us have heard the phrase “build your church on the rock”. Well, on the outskirts of the DeSota State Park in Mentone, Alabama, Milford Howard literally built the Sallie Howard Memorial Chapel into the rock.
Sallie Lankford of Fort Payne was a beautiful, brown-eyed blonde of fifteen when Colonel Milford Wriarson Howard of Georgia arrived in 1880. He came to Fort Payne to study in the law office of attorney L. A. Dobbs. At age of nineteen Milford Howard was admitted to the Alabama State Bar, one of the youngest ever admitted. The honorary title “Colonel” was applied to southern lawyers at that time.
Sallie Lankford and Milford Howard were married in 1885. She became mother of their children and his strongest supporter. A true dreamer, he had early interests which ranged from politics to the two summers he spent in Alaska. There he installed a hydraulic plant for washing gold and built a factory for the canning of salmon. The Alaska investments proved a failure. He returned to the Mentone area to make his mark on its development.
When Sallie Howard died in California, she was buried at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale at the Wee Kirk 0’ the Heather, a reproduction of the Annie Laurie Church in Scotland. Inwardly he yearned to reproduce the Glendale Chapel as a memorial to her in Alabama. In the last year of Milford Howard’s life, in failing health, he set about building the Sallie Howard Memorial Chapel on an elevated spot near DeSoto State Park.
The pulpit was constructed of stones from the nearby Little River. The words from Sallie’s last letter, “GOD HAS ALWAYS BEEN AS GOOD TO ME AS I WOULD LET HIM BE”, were placed on a large beam above the pulpit. Above this quote, his own word, “IMMORTAL”, was used.
Because his funds were running out, he reverted to clear windows instead of stained glass and a simple wooden cross was used instead of the large electric cross he had wanted. With the help of the Civilian Conservation Corps and local residents, the chapel was dedicated June 27, 1937.
Milford Howard died in California on December 28, 1937. To fulfill his last request his second wife, Lady Vivian, brought his ashes back to Alabama to be placed inside the giant rock of his memorial chapel on July 25, 1938.
In September 1973 the Chapel was deeded to the DeKaIb Baptist Association. In March 1984, the First Baptist Church of Fort Payne assumed the ministry of the chapel services. Services are conducted each Sunday morning, March through December, at 10:30 a.m.
Sallie Howard Memorial Chapel
From Fort Payne take Hwy 89/DeSoto Pkwy North. This road will take you into DeSoto State Park. About half a mile past the park's souviner/information store you will come to an intersection where you will have to go right or left. Turn right onto CR 165 and the chapel is a short distance on the right. (almost at intersection of CR 165 and CR 89)