PORT GIBSON, Miss. (WJTV) – The steeple at Port Gibson Presbyterian Church is to the city what the Golden Gate Bridge is to San Francisco. The heavenward-pointing hand is the town’s trademark.

The church was organized a half century before the building with steeple was built. It came into being in 1807 as Bayou Pierre Church. This is a replica of the building at the Bayou Pierre overlook on the road out to the Windsor Ruins.

The pastor was Zebulon Butler when the church moved to Port Gibson in 1827. They built this building in 1860. Lore has it that the first service held here was Pastor Zebulun Butler’s funeral. 

Well, the hand on the steeple then. It was perhaps carved by a 17-year-old young man named Daniel Foley. Young Foley did, in fact, carve the intricate communion rail at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Port Gibson. But did young Foley also carve the Presbyterian hand?

“I’ve heard that as well. Unfortunately, we don’t have any written records that go back that far. Our session minutes only go back to about 1938,” explained Pastor Mike Herrin. 

As far as the steeple goes, the hand up there today is the third hand. The original wooden hand deteriorated so much that it was replaced by a metal hand by 1903. That hand also deteriorated and was replaced in 2017 by the current new and improved hand.

Lore has it the chandlers in the Presbyterian church came from the riverboat Robert E. Lee. A story or fact?

“We have recently gotten a picture showing these chandlers in place on the Robert E. Lee, and we’d always been told that’s where they came from. And now we can prove it because we have the picture,” said Herrin.