New Bethel A. M. E. Church, Putnam County

This historic Black congregation was originally known as Bethel, but at some point became New Bethel.

As with many rural churches, a good estimation of the age of the congregation can be connected to early burials in the cemetery. The earliest I could find, members of the Bailey family, date to 1909.

Rubin Bailey, Sr. (22 April 1875-21 April 1909)

The Bailey family are well represented here and were probably among the earliest members of the congregation.

Washington Bailey (12 February 1819-13 May 1909)

The two Bailey headstones pictured are excellent examples of early vernacular memorials.

Eddie James Smith, Sr. (dates not visible)

This headstone is the work of the prolific self-taught artist Eldren Bailey. His headstones can be found from the mountains to the coast and he worked extensively with the Haugabrooks Funeral Home in Atlanta. [I don’t believe Eldren Bailey is related to the Bailey family of New Bethel; the names connection is simply coincidental].

Unidentified burial

This burial was marked by a large piece of clay pipe. Durable objects are often used to mark graves when a headstone is not an option and this practice was once common in rural cemeteries.

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