This image dates to circa 2011. The church is still standing but has been sided with metal and expanded from its original form.
This congregation was established in 1890. Inaha, like so many other places in Georgia, was once a busy crossroads with its own store and farmers coming in regularly to “trade” and swap tales. Today, it exists in name only, with the church being the last tangible link to its past. For a nice memory of the place, please read John Wayne McRae’s essay, linked above. He shares some great anecdotes about visits to his uncle and aunt Jim and Margaret Phelps Hale, who operated B. E. Smith’s store in Inaha. And for you non-locals, it’s pronounced eye-na-haw.
A couple of years ago, Vanessa Baker Waid wrote: The old country store that was referred to as being owned by the Hales was actually started by my great grandfather B.E. Smith. My grandfather Charles H. Smith was the last owner of the store and he passed away from cancer in 1968. The store was closed permanently in ’70 or ’71. The Hales did work there at one time (as did other folks) but never owned it.
Over a year ago, Melvin Newton contacted me about this church. I was amazed because it’s less than fifteen minutes from my parents’ back door and no one I knew had ever even heard of the place. Melvin wrote, in part: There is an old church in Turner County known as Live Oak Methodist Church. It is idle now as there have been no services there for several years. I was born and raised in the Live Oak Community and attended this church from as long as I can remember until I went into the Air Force in 1957. This old church is very dear to me and it’s on its last legs and in dire need of repair.
The congregation was established on 13 September 1888, and though the exterior was sided with asbestos at some point (likely the 1950s or thereabouts), the interior remains virtually original and appears to be contemporary to the date of the founding. As you can see in this view, the middle of the structure is sagging. This is so severe that the brick pillar below the third window from the left has collapsed. It means without stabilization, gravity will cause the structure to fall in on itself at some point.
A beautiful old oak tree is located at the rear of the building.
The interior is now absent its pews. I’m hoping family members of the congregation removed them and not vandals. The most striking feature remaining is the handcrafted pulpit and altar and the old piano, which I’ll share from several perspectives here.
The view below show just how badly the floor is sagging.
And here’s a view from the altar to the front door:
These old flowers, perhaps brought in from the cemetery, add color to the place.
Ultimately, I’m grateful to Melvin Newton for bringing this church to my attention. It’s a real treasure which I fear will soon be lost.
Update: Sadly, the church has collapsed as of late 2021.
Pleasant Hill Baptist Church was organized in 1876 by a missionary preacher, James R. Fields, who had several other nearby churches in his charge. At the time of its founding, Rebecca was known as Grover; the present church building dates to circa 1888. One of the more interesting rules of church decorum (essentially a set of governing by-laws): “If any member of the Church shall give a party of dance…they shall consider themselves cited to conference.”
Pleasant Hill Baptist Church Cemetery
Allen Smith (26 March 1822 – 21 May 1898)
Mary Smith (4 J uly 1827 – 6 May 1913)
Martha Ann J. Rountree (7 November 1833 – 25 October 1913)
Private J. Robert McElmurray, Company B, 8th Battallion, Georgia State Guards, CSA (1843 – 1931)
A group of members of Prospect Methodist in Chamblee moved to South Georgia in 1907 and soon thereafter established this church. The first church was built in 1908, but was destroyed by wind in 1925. The Bethel school served as the church home in the interim. The present structure was completed in 1938, under the leadership of Rev. E. J. Nottingham.
The origins of Methodism in Ashburn date to 1888, when a Mission Sunday School was formed. By 1895, five separate mission churches came together as one congregation and worshiped in a wood frame sanctuary (built circa 1891 and now in commercial use). Though the National Register of Historic Places Nomination form gives a contradictory date (1917) for the present structure’s construction, I’m using the more recently cited date of 1911, from the South Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church. Land was given by James Simon Shingler (1859-1943), Ashburn’s leading citizen of the era and a devout Methodist, who brought in dirt to build up the hill so the church could be seen throughout Ashburn. Macon architect Peter E. Dennis, of the firm Dennis & Dennis, was a close personal friend of J. S. Shingler and was responsible for the design of this church, as well as the most prominent homes in the Shingler Heights neighborhood.
Shingler Heights Historic District, National Register of Historic Places