One of the best surviving grave houses I’ve found in Georgia is the final resting place of two pioneers of the nearly forgotten Eudora community, John Ashbury Allen (11 January 1815 – 5 October 1891), and Nancy Goodman Crawford Allen (6 September 1816 – 30 May 1882). The Allen family were involved in farming and also owned a store and ran the post office in Eudora at one time, I believe.
NOTE: The Allen Family Cemetery is private and can only be seen from the roadside.
The only information I’ve been able to locate on the history of Wesley Chapel, located in the forgotten community of Beatrice, is that it was established in 1838.
That date comes from the old South Georgia Conference-provided sign at the front of the church. The sign is of a type used by the conference in the 1930s-1940s or thereabouts.
An architectural survey dates the present structure to 1890. The stained glass windows appear to be later additions.
Perhaps as interesting as the church itself is the historic cemetery which lies adjacent to the structure. The earliest burials I noted dated to the early 1840s. The cemetery affords excellent views of the surrounding countryside and is characterized by two large enclosures made of local stone. They are great examples of early vernacular funerary architecture.
The shady respite of the Sims Plot is enclosed by a local stone fence, abundant with Resurrection Fern.
The plot of pioneer Thomas Turner House [18 April 1787-14 June 1851] & Elizabeth Young House [20 Jun 1787-5 December 1863] and family is made of local red stone and is a massive enclosure.
A gate once guarded the plot but is long gone.
The fence was well built and has survived largely intact, though this section has collapsed. It is likely descendants have made repairs over the years.
The lost community that came to be known as Church Hill was opened to white settlers by the Land Lottery of 1827. To accommodate new arrivals, Native American trading routes were improved or superseded by the creation of new roads. In 1832, Timothy Barnard’s Path, which ran from Columbus to St. Marys, became known as the St. Marys Road or the Old Salt Trail. At a point between Kinchafoonee Creek and Lanahassee Creek, where three roads crossed St. Marys Road, five churches were built in a relatively short time, including: Mt. Pisgah (Kinchafoonee) Free Will Baptist (date unknown); Shiloh Baptist (1835); Christian Union (1840); Smyrna Associate Reformed Presbyterian (1838); and Evan Chapel Methodist (1838). Records indicate a school known as Centerville Academy was formed by the Smyrna trustees in 1838, suggesting the original name for the community was Centerville. It is unclear when the moniker of Church Hill came into use, but it first appeared on maps in 1870. The Church Hill post office was operational from 1893-1903, so it is likely that the area suffered a significant population decline at the beginning of the 20th century.
Shiloh-Marion is the last remaining church of the five that gave Church Hill its name and is a great example of vernacular Greek Revival architecture, common in antebellum churches in Georgia. A sign at the church notes the founding date as 1812, the year of the first mission; further documentation gives the founding date as 1835, when eleven members joined the Bethel Baptist Association. The church structure is believed to be contemporary to the latter date.
Shiloh-Marion Baptist Church Cemetery, 1830s
The cemetery is a fascinating landmark in its own right, containing typical Victorian monuments and an unusual collection of stone markers. The stones are either stacked in elongated triangular forms or used as fencing. There has been some speculation that they are Native American in origin and to my knowledge there are no familial claims by church members. This still doesn’t get anywhere near evidence of Native American ties, but t’s worthy of investigation either way.
A sign and wooden cross mark the slave cemetery.
Unmarked concrete stones have been placed at approximate burial locations.
Stilesboro was incorporated in 1866 and retained that distinction until 1995. It was named for Savannah attorney William Henry Stiles, who served in Congress and the Georgia House of Representatives.
A high school was established here in the late 1850s and the community raised funds and completed the present structure in 1859. It was the center of the community and during the Civil War was used for sewing Confederate uniforms. Though it is likely apocryphal, a legend persists that in May 1864 Sherman spared the Academy due to an interior inscription: Deo ac Patriae [God and Country]. [I say it’s likely apocryphal because there’s a story like this for nearly every surviving antebellum building in the South].
The Stilesboro Improvement Club, a woman’s benevolent society, lobbied to save the old Academy when a new school was built nearby, and has owned the building since the school closed in 1939-1940. Formed in 1910, the club, at the suggestion of Miss Campie Hawkins, began holding an annual chrysanthemum show in 1912. The Stilesboro Chrysanthemum Show continues to be a popular event, 108 years later. It has taken place every year, except during the Great Influenza (1918) and World War II (1942).