Tag Archives: Churches of Thomas County GA

Midway C.M.E. Church, 1897, Thomasville

My friend, the photographer Mandy Green Yates, has found and documented numerous forgotten places in South Georgia in recent years but when she found this church, she decided to get involved with saving part of its history. At first, she was fascinated by the structure but soon realized the forlorn cemetery was even more important. While photographing the property, she met Aundre Walker, who has connections to the congregation and has been working to clean up the property and the cemetery with no outside help for at least three years. Mandy put her principles to practice and has been helping with the cleanup ever since. She created a Facebook page to schedule volunteers, as well as a GoFundMe page for donations. And apparently, the project is moving along quite successfully, with lots of volunteers and progress being made. I am amazed at what she and Mr. Walker have been able to accomplish.

The congregation was established by recently emancipated freedmen just after the Civil War and became associated with the Christian Methodist Episcopal sect in the early 1870s. Like many white churches, it got its start in a brush arbor or “hush arbor” in the parlance of African-Americans of the time. This indicated a private place for worship, away from whites who often monitored their activities. It also served the community as a school for a time.

The church itself is typical of the construction of the late-19th and early-20th centuries. The congregation officially disbanded about 15 years ago and many members joined nearby churches.

As is evident in this image, the steeple has long ago been compromised by the loss of its roof and has begun to collapse.

Though the cemetery remains the primary focus, it would be nice if the church could be saved, as well. Unfortunately, the area it is located in is undergoing rapid urbanization.

When I looked around the cemetery, I could only imagine the sadness and determination Aundre Walker felt when he decided to begin the reclamation. The grounds are quite large and looked nothing like this three years ago. It would have looked more like a forest than a graveyard.

Doing all of this work by hand has been a labor of love and a means of respecting the lives of those who would have otherwise been forgotten had he not taken on this project. I’m sure he is grateful for the new attention that Mandy Green Yates has brought to the work, though neither of these people is doing it for praise or recognition. In my opinion, they deserve it.

Most of the graves weren’t previously documented, but Mandy enlisted help from our friend Cynthia Jennings, who added the known burials to Findagrave.

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First Church of Christ, Scientist, 1918, Thomasville

This congregation was established circa 1918.

Dawson Street Residential Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Bethany Congregational Church, 1891 & 1914, Thomasville

Bethany Congregational Church was built in conjunction with the Allen Normal & Industrial Institute (1885-1933), a progressive school for black children sponsored by the American Missionary Society. The Society was the missionary department of the United Church of Christ. The school had initially been established in Quitman but the white community there burned the school to the ground scarcely six weeks after its opening. The institute moved to Thomasville after this racist episode and built a new home. Bethany was built in 1891, but only the rear section visible above. The front of the church, including the steeple, was added to meet the needs of a growing congregation in 1914.

Andrew Young served as pastor here in 1955, just after graduating from Hartford Theological Seminary in Connecticut. He went on to become a seminal figure of the Civil Rights Movement, an ambassador to the United Nations, and mayor of Atlanta.

National Register of Historic Places

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All Saints’ Episcopal Church, 1881, Thomasville

Established in 1980 on All Saints’ Day, this church initially met in the chapel of Thomas County Community College (now Thomas University). For a permanent home, the congregation acquired an abandoned Catholic church from Thomasville Landmarks. It was moved to this site on South Hansell Street in 1981 and soon thereafter restored. The first service was held here in 1982.

Jacqueline Kennedy attended services in this church at its original location on Jefferson Street while retreating in Thomasville after President Kennedy’s assassination.

Tockwotton-Love Place Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Boston Primitive Baptist Church, Circa 1907

historic-boston-primitive-baptist-church-photograph-copyright-brian-brown-vanishing-south-georgia-usa-2012

Robert D. Plymale, who has been the clerk of Boston Primitive Baptist since 1987, writes: This church held its first service November 17, 1907 with Elder Simms filling the pulpit. There were many members and church goers back then. Sunday dinner was held in the yard under the tree on a fence wire table after the morning services, which were concluded about 1 PM or so.

Boston Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Pavo United Methodist Church, 1902

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Organized as Lebanon in 1869 by Reverend Nicholas Moses Reddick, this congregation built their first church in 1871. When the town changed its name to Pavo, the church name was changed. The present building was erected in 1902 on land given by Dr. J. Frank Harris.

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Boston Presbyterian Church, 1830s*

historic boston presbyterian church thomas county ga photograph copyright brian brown vanishing south georgia usa 2010

The National Register nomination form for Boston Presbyterian notes: This is believed to be the only structure moved from the former settlement of Boston in 1861. At that time its name was changed from McIntosh Church to Bethany Presbyterian Church. For many years it was the only church building in Boston. The building is a wood-framed structure, originally three bays deep and two wide; in 1908 it was expanded toward the front (possibly enclosing an original porch or portico) and a new entry vestibule under a three-tiered centered tower was constructed. In 1910 the name was changed to Boston Presbyterian Church.

* It’s easy to see that the structure could have begun as a simple vernacular Greek Revival built before Boston relocated to its present location around the outset of the Civil War. The original section is contemporary to the church’s founding. I hope further research will be done. More evidence can be gleaned from  the evolution of the church cemetery. Dating to 1861, it became the final resting place of many from different denominations who worshiped here and eventually became the city cemetery.

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Boston Methodist Church, 1876

historic boston methodist church boston ga photograph copyright brian brown vanishing south georgia usa 2009

The congregation first built a church here in 1872. This building replaced it after a fire in 1876. Brick was added to the church in 1909 and in 1945 it was partially reconstructed after another fire.

Boston Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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