Category Archives: Vilulah GA

General Store, 1894, Vilulah

In a community as small as Vilulah, the church and general store were the center of life. This is a remarkably well-preserved early example of the shotgun-style store building, common throughout Georgia well into the 20th century.

It’s located adjacent to the Vilulah Cemetery.


Vilulah Cemetery, Randolph County

The Vilulah Cemetery has a nice selection of Victorian monuments. I’m sharing a few random examples.

James N. Bigbie (17 October 1826-25 June 1905)

James Bigbie was one of the founders of Vilulah, and served on the committee which chose the community’s unusual name. He lost an arm during service in the Mexican-American War.

J. E. Bigbie (4 February 1852-31 January 1891)

J. E. was the son of James N. and Louisa Jane Grant Bigbie. This stone was broken at one point and repaired with different material. The open hymnal is a variation on the more commonly seen open or closed Bible.

Ara Adna J. McClendon Bigbie (5 August 1860-27 November 1889)

The weeping willow is a well-loved Victorian cemetery icon, usually signifying sorrow and sadness.

Lilla Bigbie (9 December 1886-9 December 1886)

A lamb symbolizes the purity and innocence of youth and is pervasive in Victorian cemeteries, as infant and childhood deaths were quite common.

Elsie Lee Dawson (2 April 1891-15 April 1891)

The dove is among the most enduring Victorian cemetery symbols, and is said to be carrying the soul of the departed to Heaven when flying. In this case, it marks the passing of the infant daughter of J. J. and M. L. Dawson.

Frances S. Fuller (6 May 1807-19 March 1901)

I’ve not been able to identify this symbol. Dan Fogelson suggests…it might be peacock feathers…used to symbolize the resurrection and eternal life (male peacock grows new and more beautiful feathers year after year).

Mrs. E. R. S. Gilmer (7 August 1816-21 July 1916)

Mrs. Gilmer died just a few weeks before her 100th birthday. I’ve been unable to locate a first name for her but she was undoubtedly a beloved member of the Vilulah community.

Robert Edward Lee Ingram (birth and death dates unknown)

I believe this grave marking to be a memorial for the infant son of Robert Edward Lee Ingram (19 October 1865-22 September 1891), whose more formal headstone is located adjacent to this plot. The field stones were likely gathered nearby. The elder Ingram himself died at the age of 25, so I would guess this child was born and died sometime between 1885-1890.

Vilulah Church, Randolph County

Vilulah Baptist Church was organized in a brush arbor in 1867, with seventeen original members. The name Vilulia, from a hymn in the old Sacred Harp Song Book, was chosen for the congregation. It was changed to Vilulah later. The first permanent church, a log structure, was built on land given by “Uncle Bobby” Knowles. It was later replaced by a wooden frame structure. I believe this may actually be the third church home of Vilulah.

Early members of the congregation included James N. Bigbie, who lost an arm while serving with the U.S. Army in the Mexican-American War, and William Forsythe Davis, a Confederate Army captain. Other founding members were: Albert Bailey, Jarrett Ragan, Abner Belcher, Judge Irvine Saunders, Baal Smith, Dr. Thomas Bigbie, A.S.A. McLendon, Alexander Morgan, Andrew Blackburn, and Benjamin Joiner.