Swift Among the Pines
(From Memories of Miflin • by Albert Schult)
She could not have known the ultimate effect of her actions as she crossed the small creek just east of her home. I feel certain she was seeking a place of quiet solitude where the influences of her responsibilities could be pushed aside for a short while. Her intent was most likely not just to get away alone to collect her thoughts, but also to pursue a closer unity with her Creator. One could imagine, as she walked the shallow hill on the other side, she could hear the gentle breeze creating a low whisper as it was blowing through the long needles of the towering pines.
The pines were in a continuous renewal process of dropping the browned needles to make way for new growth. The ground was so covered that scarcely a weed could grow. As Cornelia Miriam Roberts walked a little farther into this most peaceful setting, I’m certain she found exactly that for which she had been seeking. She would return, time and time again. I suppose this glade became her Eden, a place where she could walk with God.
Miss Roberts was from Mobile, Alabama, where she had attended the Government Street Presbyterian Church. Her sister Susie Roberts married Mr. Charles A. Swift, who was the manager of a logging company operating in Miflin around the turn of the 20th century.
Several members of the Roberts family made the move from Mobile to live in Miflin during these times. When her brother, Platt Roberts, died, his wife and five small children moved to Miflin as well.
Miriam welcomed the company and lovingly cared for her brother’s children by providing them with Sunday School. On Sunday afternoons, she would take them up the hill to her favorite spot and tell them of her dream of building a church there among the pines. After a couple of years, the Platt Roberts family moved back to Mobile.
Miriam was alone once more, but she still dreamed of having a church. Miriam’s dream reached the ears and heart of her brother-in-law, Mr. Swift, whereupon he generously gave her the land of her vision and the lumber with which to begin construction. The project was begun in 1905 and completed in 1907. It was a difficult undertaking for Miriam, but she had taken on the challenge and had the fortitude to prevail.
Services were held in the church for three years before being officially sanctioned and dedicated by the Mobile Presbytery in 1910. Miss Roberts was elected one of the first members of the board of deacons of the church, since there were not enough available men. It is apparent from historical records that she was the cohesive element that would keep the church in continuing progress. I believe her dream and vision was to become the legacy from which many would benefit, including myself.
The building was pristine white with a front, portico-like entrance to a small chapel. A bell tower with steeple was on the left front. The new church was given the name of Miss Roberts’ brother-in-law to honor his generous contribution. Thus, Swift Presbyterian Church was born.