22 May 1894: As reported in the Nashville Banner, a schism within Nashville’s leading African-American Baptist congregation, First Colored Baptist Church, allegedly drove its pastor to murderous intentions:
[O]ne night, after an especially stormy session of the church, Purdy called a council of his close friends and stated to them that this thing had gone far enough, and that certain of the leaders on the other side, naming Crosthwait, Ewing and Jones, must be killed. He then, according to Neeley’s statement, unfolded a plan by which this could be accomplished, without getting the perpetrators into trouble.
One of the intended victims was attorney Taylor G. Ewing, kinsman of 21st-century Nashville lawyer and man-about-town David Ewing. David reports he lived on until 1922, while the available public record suggests that Rev. Purdy’s indictment for conspiracy to commit first-degree murder did not prevent him from founding Spruce Street Baptist Church the following year and leading it for some time afterward. Perhaps the prosecution ultimately fizzled.
First Colored Baptist Church came to be known as First Baptist Church-Capitol Hill, playing a key role in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s-’60s.