Tag Archives: Churches of Randolph County GA

Mt. Vernon Baptist Church, Randolph County

Lena Baker (8 June 1900-5 March 1945), the only woman ever executed in Georgia’s electric chair, sang in the choir at Mt. Vernon.

Ms. Baker, a mother of three, was forced into a sexual relationship with her elderly white employer, Ernest B. Knight. It was well-known and frowned upon throughout the county. When Knight realized that Ms. Baker was determined to end the relationship he locked her in his gristmill, as he had done many times before. When she tried to escape, they “tussled” over his pistol which fired and killed him. She immediately turned herself in and claimed the shooting was in self-defense. Not surprisingly, the all-male, all-white jury in the ensuing sham trial found Ms. Baker guilty of capital murder and sentenced her to death. She was executed at Reidsville on 5 March 1945 and buried at Mt. Vernon. That this was a tragic, if typical, miscarriage of justice was confirmed when she was granted a full and unconditional pardon by the state in 2005.

Church members placed a headstone on her unmarked grave in 1998 and family members pay tribute every year on Mother’s Day.

As to the history of the congregation, I’m unable to locate anything at this time.

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Springvale Baptist Church, Circa 1910, Randolph County

Springvale Baptist Church was constituted in 1843 and originally known as Bethel. Its first home was a log structure near Pataula Creek. Two more churches, built in 1849 and 1870, would follow and both were gifted to the African-American congregation that grew out of Bethel after the Civil War. In 1893 the name was changed from Bethel to Springvale and the present church constructed about 1910.

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First Baptist Church, Shellman

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Benevolence Baptist Church, 1906, Randolph County

historic-benevolence-baptist-church-randolph-county-ga-photograph-copyright-brian-brown-vanishing-south-georgia-usa-2012

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.

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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.

 

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Presbyterian Church, 1900, Cuthbert

cuthbert ga historic presbyterian church photograph copyright brian brown vanishing south georgia usa 2012

Cuthbert Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Coleman Baptist Church, Randolph County

historic-coleman-baptist-church-randolph-county-ga-photograph-copyright-brian-brown-vanishing-south-georgia-usa-2011

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Abandoned Church, Randolph County

randolph county ga fountain bridge community abandoned primitive baptist church photograph copyright brian brown vanishing south georgia usa 2010

I’m guessing that this was a Primitive Baptist church, considering the inclusion of a door on the side. It’s located beside the Fountain Bridge precinct house.

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First Baptist Church, 1898 Cuthbert

historic first baptist church cuthbert ga photograph copyright brian brown vanishing south georgia usa 2010

Constituted as Mt. Zion Baptist in 1831, this historic church was organized by John G. Gilbert, who served as first pastor. Gilbert moved to the area from Hancock County around 1830. The first church building, of log construction, was erected two miles west of Cuthbert on Eufaula Road in 1831. In 1839, the congregation moved to town, on what is now occupied by Rosedale Cemetery and remained at that location until 1852, when the present lot was acquired and a new church was built to accommodate a rapidly growing congregation. During this time, slaves attended with their owners, and even after the Civil War, at least two black men (Brother John Gaulden and Brother William Wells) were given license to preach at this church. In 1867, land was donated by Sister H. C. Thornton for the purpose of building a separate church for the black congregation. Around this time, from my understanding, the church was renamed Cuthbert Baptist.

An interesting article from the Christian Index by “Uncle” Tommy Muse noted: This church has always had much to contend with. It appears as though Satan has done his best upon this church. He has for many years troubled her wit the anti-missionary subject and has kept some of his most successful and powerful batteries playing upon her. The retail liquor traffic has always troubled this church. She has had to exclude a great many, who were engaged in the sale of liquor. In former years she has had a great deal of trouble with her members drinking too much and for the amusement of dancing and worldly pleasures...Uncle Tommy was associated with the church as early as 1840, and he wielded much influence with the congregation. By his influence, Cuthbert Baptist eventually became a missionary church. It is now known as First Baptist Church.

 Cuthbert Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Fountain Bridge Precinct, Randolph County

fountain bridge precinct randolph county ga photograph copyright brian brown vanishing south georgia usa 2010

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