Alpine Presbyterian

Chattooga County
Org 1835
Photography by Gail Des Jardine

Alpine Presbyterian had its beginnings in Pleasant Grove in 1835 in a church that was called Enon. From this church, formed with fifteen members, the other Presbyterian churches in Chattooga County were later formed. Those Presbyterians in the neighborhood of Alpine worshiped in the upper room of a schoolhouse and met there once a month. Over time, the church prospered and the members resolved to build a new church and cemetery on land donated by Robert Boyles and Samuel Knox. A petition was then sent to the Presbytery of the Cherokee in March of 1853 asking for permission to form a church to be known as Alpine. The sanctuary was erected by John Henderson and Tom Allen with material donated by Samuel Knox in 1853 and few structural changes have been made since.

This peaceful place in the foothills of Georgia has seen much turmoil from the very beginning. The cemetery holds the remains of Hugh Montgomery, who was appointed by President Monroe in 1825 to be the Indian Agent to the Cherokee nation. This part of Georgia was right in the middle of the Cherokee struggle to retain what was left of their lands, and they were under tremendous pressure to sell this north west corner of Georgia. Gold had been discovered in north Georgia in 1828 and the Cherokee agent had to deal with a great many delicate situations on both sides. He served faithfully until the Indians were forcibly moved West in 1838 as a result of the Indian Removal Act under the direction of Andrew Jackson. This removal resulted in the infamous ‘Trail of Tears’.

The Trail of Tears is a name given to the ethnic cleansing and forced relocation of Native American nations from southeastern parts of the United States following the Indian Removal Act of 1830, passed by Congress at the urging of President Andrew Jackson. In 1831 the Choctaw were the first to be removed, and they became the model for all other removals. After the Choctaw, the Seminole were removed in 1832, the Creek in 1834, then the Chickasaw in 1837, and finally the Cherokee in 1838. By 1837, 46,000 Native Americans from these southeastern states had been removed from their homelands thereby opening 25 million acres for predominantly white settlement. It should be noted that upon retirement, Mr. Montgomery was given a tract of 3,000 acres of land in Chattooga county for his services, where he lived until his death in 1852.

Less than 25 years later, the Civil War brought many traumatic changes to the Alpine church and the surrounding area. Many of her sons answered the call and late in the war, during Sherman’s Georgia campaign, the sanctuary served as a Union field hospital. Earlier in the war, in September of 1863, Alpine was a prominent position for the Federal right wing just prior to the Battle of Chickamauga which was fought nearby. This from the official records – On the 8th of September, Brigadier-General George Crook, commander of the second division in Stanleys Federal cavalry Corps, reported, my command being in advance of General Stanelys expedition into Broomtown Valley, met the enemy at Alpine where a skirmish ensued; the enemy retreated toward Rome; my loss was 3 killed and 11 wounded; could not tell what damage was done to the enemy. And this later entry – General Alexander McCook opted to take his entire force back over Lookout Mountain to go up Lookout Valley and cross at Johnsons Crook in order to reach the 14th Army Corps in McLemores Cove. Before leaving, however, the Federals cleaned out the Knox plantation and neighboring farms of food, burning all they could not carry with them. The Alpine Presbyterian Church provided consolation to the people of the area during the difficult years of the war and trying time of Reconstruction that followed. Their descendants still worship in the church today.

Thus the church served its traditional role of stability and spiritual comfort during these sweeping epics of societal change. In 1982 the church was reorganized under its present leadership and is now known as Alpine Community Church. Come visit if you get the chance.

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