Georgia’s southernmost town, St. George, is located within the “Georgia Bend” of the St. Marys River. This historic postcard, mailed from St. George, illustrates a picnic held along the river in February 1909. I have no idea what occasion warranted such a photograph. It must have been a really mild winter, though, as a few of the boys are standing in the river.
Category Archives: –CHARLTON COUNTY GA–
Though some sources give dates for the Alabaha/Crawfordite churches, there is really no way to determine this as they do not keep the type records which would validate these dates. Since this congregation dates to 1882, it is assumed that the church was constructed around that time.
The memorial pictured above is unique, so far, among these meeting houses. It states that the church was chartered in 1882 and first members were: Henry & Jane Prescott; James J. & Nancy Hendrix; David R. & Millie Wasdin; James & Ester Johns; and Sarah O’Berry. LeAnne Oliveira writes, in part: “The memorial sign was made by my daddy, John Prescott. After his retirement he returned to Charlton County and became very active in the upkeep of Corinth. The Prescotts on the sign were his paternal great-grandparents and the Wasdins were maternal great-grandparents. A board was formed to oversee the upkeep of the cemetery. Because the land was deeded by my great great grandfather to “the members” of Corinth Church the last two surviving members had to sign a quit claim deed in order to legally deed the land and church to the board. My father was buried here in November 2011 at the feet of his father. In order to be buried here today a person must have ancestors or blood relations buried there already. I have a plot marked off for myself and my husband, at the feet of my father. No meetings are held in the church any longer, but the Prescott family holds our reunion on the grounds every April. This church has always been a large part of my life and it sure makes my family tree easier to trace as I can cover half of it back four generations right in that cemetery.“
The interior is plain as are those of all the Alabaha/Crawfordite churches. Since this one has glass windows under the wooden shutters, I presume it is still an active congregation. There’s a privy on the grounds, as is emblematic of these churchyards, but there’s also a nice pump house.
The meeting house and a rather large historic cemetery can be found at the end of a dirt driveway. This is the view when you’re leaving or arriving.
In his fascinating thesis, The “Gold Standard” of the Wiregrass Primitive Baptists of Georgia: A History of the Crawford Faction of the Alabaha River Primitive Baptist Association, 1842-2007, (Valdosta State University, 2009), Michael Holt makes special note of the architectural distinctions of the Crawfordites: “[An] aspect of the Crawfordite tradition that remains today is the construction style of the meeting houses. While other Primitive Baptist Churches, including those in the Bennettite faction of the Alabaha Association, have begun to use brick, mortar, carpet, and other modern construction techniques, Crawfordite churches remain exactly as they would have appeared over a century ago. They are still fashioned from unfinished pine, with no electricity, carpet, or running water…this austere architecture helps keep the connection with the past strong. It should be noted that in recent years, 0ne part of the church grounds has adopted more modern conveniences. The outhouses that adorned the grounds of all the churches in the association have now been replaced with outdoor restroom facilities with running water, though this change was made primarily to bring the restroom facilities in line with public health regulations. However, this addition has not encroached on the overall intended affect of the architecture…“
The Crawfordites are named for Elder Reuben Crawford. Dr. John G. Crowley, the leading authority on the history of Primitive Baptists notes in his article “The Sacred Harp Controversy in the Original Alabaha Primitive Baptist Association,” Baptist Studies Bulletin July 2004 “[they] emerged as a subset of the Primitive Baptists in the 1860s and 1870s. During the Twentieth Century the “Crawfordites” became the most austere and conservative Primitive Baptists in Georgia, eschewing radio, television, neckties, painted and heated meetinghouses.” Michael Holt further notes in his thesis: “Whereas every other Primitive Baptist association has altered somewhat from the original tenets of the denomination, the Crawford Faction of the Alabaha has remained unchanged since the time of its founding in 1842…“
Dr. Crowley’s article can be accessed here. Just scroll down to Primitive Baptists.
PHOTOGRAPHER’S NOTE: This is not a complete photographic record, as there are more Crawfordite churches in the area I’ve not yet visited. They will be added as they are documented.
Sardis is the oldest congregation in Charlton County, founded 7 January 1821. It moved to its present location around 1840. Some sources incorrectly note that this church was built in 1821, but that is not the case, as it didn’t even locate here until 1840.
The pulpit is said to be from the original church (circa 1821) and to contain a bullet hole from an overexcited soldier defending the meeting house during the Indian Wars. I have no idea if this is apocryphal or factual.
The interior is typically unadorned, as are all the Crawfordite churches. I love the worn floorboards seen in the photograph of the entrance below.
The next image shows a detail of one of the holes in the floor. These are found in some of the Crawfordite churches and are used for spitting tobacco.
The support buttresses below the beams are unique (in my travels so far) to Sardis.
As the weather was unsettled while I was photographing Sardis, I didn’t have time to fully explore the cemetery, which is quite large and the final resting place of many Charlton County pioneers. I was drawn, though, to the statuary of the Lowther plot.
To the left of the children’s memorials are the graves of Edwin P. Lowther (19 May 1867 – 19 August 1913) and Avey E. Robinson Lowther (4 September 1861 – 21 December 1903). I believe an infant and another wife, named Birdie, are buried here, as well.
No matter how many historic buildings I uncover in my travels, finding a structure like this is still what motivates my work more than anything else. This is located between Folkston and St. George, near the old logging community of Toledo. (As of 2016, I’m told that this has been razed). Wesley Williams writes: My understanding, from the old folks, is that this started out as a school /church when there was a logging camp in the area. It was later abandoned and turned into a home. For the record…that is how I understand the history from old timers in the area…This is in the Toledo area about a 1/3 of the way between Folkston and St George…
In 1870, twelve members organized this congregation and built a log church near Chesser’s Island on the edge of the Okefenokee Swamp. That structure was moved to this location but burned in 1896. The present church was built soon thereafter; the steeple was added in 1918. Central heat and air was added in 1997-98.
Located just south of St. George is this iconic church. The congregation dates to 1858.
The artesian well-fed pump still works.
The privy is one of two on the grounds, as there’s obviously no plumbing. I believe the church must still be used for homecomings and funerals, at least.
The cemetery is nicely kept and is the final resting place of many pioneers of southernmost Georgia.
Many members of Emmaus were Confederate veterans.
Private Henry Gainey, Jr. Company G, 26th Georgia Infantry (1840 – 1864)
Private Gainey was likely killed in action, as his grave is marked with a Confederate Iron Cross. Beside his grave is that of another Gainey, probably his brother, who was in the Confederate service in nearby Florida.