Crawfordite Meeting Houses of Southeast Georgia

Corinth Primitive Baptist Church, Charlton County

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, One 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…”

Bethlehem Primitive Baptist Church, Bachlott, Brantley County

Emmaus Primitive Baptist Church, St. George, Charlton County

Enon Primitive Baptist Church, Pierce County

High Bluff Primitive Baptist Church, Schlatterville, Brantley County

New Home Primitive Baptist Church, Pierce County

Oak Grove Primitive Baptist Church, Raybon, Brantley County

Pilgrims Rest Primitive Baptist Church, Waynesville, Brantley County

Sardis Primitive Baptist Church, Charlton County

Shiloh Primitive Baptist Church, Blackshear, Pierce County

Smyrna Primitive Baptist Church, Lulaton, Brantley County

Spring Hill Primitive Baptist Church, Brantley County

Wayfair Primitive Baptist Church, Cox, McIntosh County

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.


16 thoughts on “Crawfordite Meeting Houses of Southeast Georgia

  1. Pingback: Sardis Primitive Baptist Church |

  2. Pingback: Wayfair Primitive Baptist Church, Cox | Vanishing Coastal Georgia Photographs by Brian Brown

  3. Pingback: Bethlehem Primitive Baptist Church, Circa 1861, Brooks County | Vanishing South Georgia Photographs by Brian Brown

  4. Dana Crawford-Pulley

    Mount Zion Primitive Baptist Church, commonly referred to as North Prong, in Baker County, FL is an example of a Crawfordite church. My ancestors were among the founding members, Elder Reuben Crawford is an uncle several times removed.

    1. Hall

      I have been inside Shiloh in Blackshear and it is so calming , Elder Reuben Crawford was my G G G Grandfather , I can still remember my mother singing and rocking her babies to the Crawfordite music ,,,,

    2. Terri Carver

      Elder Thomas Rueben Crawford was my beloved “Poppy”, my grandfather. I have been working on our Crawford ancestry for several years and would appreciate any info you would be willing to share.
      Terri Carver

  5. Louise C Leonard

    I’ve been to all of these, and to church services at most. Back in the early 90s I made a photo book of these for my Mom, who was a member at Shiloh in Blackshear. There are at least two more in Florida: Nathalene near HIlliard, Florida and Bethel near Callahan, Florida. Both are no longer part of the Alabaha and I believe have been modernized.

    Nathalene was built when my Mom was a young girl on donated land. One of the church members had a dream where she received the name.

  6. Neeks

    I think I know one of these Crawfordite type primitive baptist churches. It’s called Hebron and it’s in Jasper, Fl. actually about 2 miles from the Georgia state line. It has electricity now tho-


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