Over 200 years ago the area we now call Liberty was inhabited only by nature and an occasional Indian hunting party. None of today's familiar surroundings were to be found. A place void of homes and roads, free of the network of electric and phone lines, and the whining of machines. The only sounds to be heard were the soft murmurs of water and the rustle of leaves, stirred to the motion by a summer breeze. Into this land came Adam Dale, the first settler of Dekalb County, in 1797.
After the Revolutionary War, the government opened up land for homesteading in Tennessee and gave the Revolutionary veterans first choice. In the spring of 1797, Adam Dale along with his father left Maryland after receiving land grants. His search for fertile land brought him to "paradise". Adam's new home had in previous years been an Indian hunting ground with a multitude of wild game which included deer and bear. Even buffalo still roamed this part of the country. This settlement that Dale had founded would soon become the town of Liberty.
Among those first settlers in this colony was a man in his early twenties named Cantrel Bethel. Not long after arriving in this community, the Holy Spirit touched the heart of Mr. Bethel and changed the course of his life. Having now accepted Christ as his personal Savior, The Lord lay upon his heart to be baptized in the Baptist Church. At that time there was no Baptist church anywhere in this section of the country. So Mr. Bethel rode on horseback all the way to Warren County, Kentucky in order to be baptized. Not long after his return from Kentucky, he secured an "arm" from Brush Creek, and a mission was started near Liberty. They met in homes, and at one time had a little meeting house near a spring in a beech grove at the Forks of Pike where Highway 96 runs into Highway 70. It was at this location, near the residence of the late T.M. Fite, that Salem Baptist Church was constitued into an independent body in August 1809 with 31 members.
Salem Baptist Church is considered the mother church of this region. Several churches have had their beginning under her influence. The Association of connected churches in the local area chose the name, "Salem" as tribute to this church.
(All information was from the "History of the Salem Baptist Association"