Category Archives: –RANDOLPH COUNTY GA–
Pam O’Connell writes: My Grandfather, John Watts, was born in this house in 1899, as was his Father before him. My Mother was raised here, and we spent Summers and various holidays here. This was our family home. Our farm was close and has been in our family since 1840. My Grandfather passed away in 1984, and this is where he lived his entire life. He had three siblings that did not stay in Shellman once they reached adulthood. There used to be an adorable potting shed on the left, a screened slat house out back, the cook’s house and the old stables, where my Mother kept her horses. This house is very special to me.
Though the present church building dates to 1906, Benevolence Baptist Church was constituted on 16 May 1840; it succeeded nearby Walnut Grove Baptist Church (known as Mt. Paran when organized with nine members in November 1831). In 1840, Missionary Baptists accepted five acres of land from Thomas Coram, first settler of this area, with the intention of forming a separate church. For this generosity, Abner Ward suggested the name Benevolence for church and community. Members hauled lumber from Dawson and built the first church building, dedicated 17 May 1842, with Reverend James Matthews, Pastor, and A.M. Albritton, Clerk. First deacons were James Sherman and John Winfrey. Other early clerks were David Holman, Abner, E. H. Keese and G. W. King.
An Act of Benevolence, a play by Anna Kirsten Beard and Karan Pittman detailing the lives of the church’s pioneer members, provides historical and genealogical information. I’ve abridged it here as a list of these early settlers: Reverend James Matthews; Isaac Osteen; Simon D. & America Jane McLendon; John & Nancy Winfrey; Samuel, Edith & Mary Sherman; John M. Frazier; Ansel & Ann Crawford Albritton; Eleanor Collins; Mary Walker; Isabella Wamble; Sarah Stapleton; Thomas Coram.