I Remember When...They Burned the Organ!
Our family attended the Mt. Bethel Church, and until I was a good-sized boy they had no musical accompaniment to their singing. Indeed, few enjoyed such then. The song leader arrived at the pitch for the song with which he felt comfortable as best he could. At our church the song leader used a tuning-fork. That little instrument fascinated me. I watched him adjust a sliding bar on the instrument, strike the tuning-fork lightly against his shoe heel, lift it to his ear, sound the pitch for the audience and then lead the song.
The tuning-fork worked quite well, but many wanted to purchase an organ for use with the sing. Finally, after considerable debate, the church voted to buy an organ. (Incidentally, many churches then frowned upon the use of a piano. Pianos were associated with places of worldly amusement -- dance halls and the like.)
The decision to purchase the organ at Mt. Bethel Church was by no means unanimous and several members left the church. Some of them never went to church anywhere afterward. Others joined nearby churches...
The church installed the organ, one of those old-time "pump" or "pedal" kind. But they did not for long enjoy the use of it. The people were shocked when they arrived at the church house the following Sunday morning, discovered the organ missing and even more so when they discovered the still smouldering embers of it in the church yard.
Someone notified the county sheriff, and he brought along two tracking dogs, but neither man nor dog could find the culprits. No arrest was ever made in the incident. However, the church promptly purchased another musical instrument -- a piano. There were no further such incidents and the church enjoyed the use of that piano for many years.
-- O. H. Griffith, From the Sweetgum Grove Bulletin, 1990