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Historic Georgia Churches

P. Marlin October 2017

Powelton Methodist Church Originated 1795

One of the oldest villages in Georgia, Powelton was a very important town in the post Revolutionary War Georgia back country. Hancock County was formed in 1795 but Powelton was already a prominent village by then. Powelton was considered a major crossroad community in early nineteenth-century Georgia. Powelton Baptist was formed in 1786 by Silas and Jesse Mercer and was subsequently the location of the first Georgia Baptist Convention in 1822.

Very little history of the Methodist church at Powelton is available but the church was certainly organized prior to 1800. The Baptist Church in Powelton was consecrated in 1786 and the community was very prominent on all early Georgia maps. The earliest documented grave in the cemetery is dated 1817. However, a short church history in the Emory University archives, written in 1972, mentions graves with dates of 1802 and 1803. The current building is not the original but was probably built on the site of the first sanctuary since the cemetery age and location supports that. Methodist record which place the date of the present sanctuary as 1830 and mentions that the the structure was ‘re-roofed’ in 1946.

Church history provided by Historic Rural Churches of Georgia.

Antioch Baptist Church Originated 1886

The present building was constructed in 1899 according to historical surveys. Two large towers flank the main gabled structure, which gives it an almost intimidating presence. The towers are an element of the Gothic Revival style, which was in vogue from the 1820’s through the beginning of the 20th century. This style of architecture was based on the colossal structures built mostly in France during the middle ages.

The sons and daughters of ex-slaves in south Taliaferro County and North Hancock County had a vision of expanding their freedom and to shape their own lives as they saw fit. A group of pioneers from the Powelton New Hope Baptist Church, led by Deacon Willie Peak, Deacon Abe Frazier and Deacon Philic Jones came together and founded the Antioch Baptist Church in Taliaferro County, outside of Crawfordville, in November 1886. The oldest documented grave in the cemetery is 1898, which indicates the church building presently on site is probably the original church building.

Church history provided by Historic Rural Churches of Georgia.

Beth-Salem Presbyterian Church Originated 1785

Beth Salem/Lexington Presbyterian is one of Georgia’s oldest, most prominent and historic rural churches. A Georgia Governor and a number of early Georgia movers and shakers lie in the Beth Salem grave yard. The church is located in Oglethorpe County, in the village of Lexington. The founding of Beth Salem in 1785 predates both the county’s and city’s incorporation because a group of Pennsylvanians came southward in 1785 into the area to provide missionary work among the Native Americans.

Later that year they were joined by an old friend, John Newton, at their settlement deep in the wilderness of Indian Territory, approximately three miles southwest of the present location of Lexington. On December 20, 1785, John Newton organized the Beth-Salem Presbyterian Church. From this beginning in the late 18th century, the county, city and church prospered. Lexington and the county grew rapidly from booming cotton production in the early 19th century.

Church history provided by Historic Rural Churches of Georgia.