Sardis Primitive Baptist Church, Folkston

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.

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.



21 thoughts on “Sardis Primitive Baptist Church, Folkston

  1. Bobbie Pearson Brown

    My GGGRANDFATHER on my father’s side was Ruben Crawford founder of the Crawfordites. Many times traveling by would stop and visit. I have kin buried there.

  2. Melissa Lariscey Williams

    It’s hard to believe that “Primitive Baptists” spit tobacco in church. They were more straight-laced than the regular Baptists! ☺

    1. Louise Bryant

      If you are donating to Sardis Cemetery you may contact Pete Conner at 912-496-4748 or Lawanda Jones at 912-496-7774 or George Gibson at 912-496-2180 or Andy Gowen at 912-496-3594, all of Folkston . All donations will be appreciated. Thank You and God Bless !

  3. Louise C Leonard

    Been to church there many times back in the late twentieth century. Definitely a lovely place. This church separated from some of the others back in the 90s, I believe. Not sure if it continues or not.

    1. donna

      it broke off in the late 80’s . There is service being held there but not the old time believes , We the Merritt’s will be put to rest there.

  4. Julia Phillips Neumann

    I grew up not even 1/2 mile from this church. I believe it is the most beautiful in Charlton Co. My grandparents on my mothers side (Tommy and Myrtle Roddenberry) as well as their parents and family members are buried there.
    My Mema was Myrtle Murray Roddenberry and there are many Murray’s there also.

    1. Julia Phillips Neumann

      I love this place. I think it’s the most beautiful church in Charlton Co. I grew up not even 1/2 mile from there.
      My grandparents on my mothers side (Tommy and Myrtle Roddenberry) along with their parents and I believe also their grandparents are buried there.
      My Mema was Myrtle Murray Roddenberry. There are many Murray’s there also.

      1. tina peddie

        Julia, I think we are cousins! The Roddenberry’s are related to my Charlton Co ancestors: JONES, STRICKLAND, MOORE, MATTOX (my jethro J. Jones lived there on 1860/70 census w/his wife, Sarah A.Moore); Sarah is descendant of Thos Hardeman b 1730 VA, d . Effingham Co GA. Others related are Sirmans, Registers, Raulersons, etc. Pls email me if you’d like to compare:
        BEAUTIFUL CHURCH! I plan to go see it next time I’m there!

  5. Donna

    I grew up in that church, there were once over 100 of those churches in one denomanation, this one broke off in the late 80’s, it is how ever being used for serve for another group. The Church has never changed in its appearance, I have family member’s buried out there, My sister was laid to rest there in 2008, I know alot about this church and it’s history, There are many like this one in Ga, the surrounding county’s.. I took a picture of the church in Oct of this year, Still looks the same.

  6. LeAnne Oliveira

    Those holes were definitely used for tobacco. Rev. W.O. Gibson was my great great grandfather and his daughter Annie Gibson Prescott (my great grandmother) is buried with many of my other ancestors at Corinth Primitive Baptist Church which is also in Folkston. It is of similar construction to Sardis and according to stories my Grannie Goldie told me Rev Gibson preached there on occasion. My father attended services there and he is the one that told me people used the holes in the floor to spit through. It should be noted that the holes are bigger than they appear in the photo.

  7. JoDee Gibson

    The holes were definitely used for spitting tobacco & the bullet holes in the pulpit came from settlers firing into the church, mistakenly believing that Indians were hiding in the building. My great grandfather, Rev. W.O. Gibson, was the preacher at Sardis for 40 years & a member for 58 years. Next time you visit the cemetery, be sure to look at the inscriptions on the rear of the Lowther children’s graves. It’s a great cemetery with lots of interesting headstones.

  8. Barbara Ribling

    There is some faint staining around the hole. It does seem unlikely that it was used for spitting tobacco. It occurred to me that maybe that is where they stuck the staff used to wake sleepers when it wasn’t being used. Lol! Thank you for the photos and information about these churches. I have never seen them or heard about them until now. Very interesting!

  9. Cheryl Thomlinson

    I have seen holes drilled in floors to provide a drain for water when floors are scrubbed. Examples can be seen at the Agrirama in Tifton, Georgia.


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