Beaverdam Baptist

Wilkes County
Org 1836
Photography by Scott Farrar

The first records show that “The Church of Christ at Beaverdam” was constituted on March 19, 1836. As was most often the case, a small crowd of close neighbors, seven men, and seven women, wanted to start a church. The Rev. William Stokes was chosen as the first pastor. Records of this first meeting have been preserved. They show columns listing the name of each member, the date received into the church, how received, and how dismissed. These listings reflect what was a normal practice in antebellum days throughout Georgia. Men, women, white and black all belonged in the same congregation. Regular church meetings were held the second Sunday of each month, but they also met in “conference” the day before to take care of business matters.  

After the Civil War, African American members began to form separate churches but this did not take place for several years in many cases.  Immediately after the war, almost all of the churches conducted business as usual, but eventually the black members decided to form their own separate congregations.  That point for Beaverdam did not come until 1874, according to the church records. The minutes of May 16, 1874 – “Granted letters of dismission to 13 colored members for the purpose of constituting a colored Baptist Church in the vicinity.”

Actions such as this took place throughout Wilkes and all other Georgia counties. In many instances, the blacks were given the older meeting house to use while the whites built a new sanctuary nearby. An example of that practice can be found in Wilkes County where the whites at Newford moved to a new church in nearby Danburg, Danburg Baptist was erected in 1879. The blacks, staying in the old sanctuary, reorganized that year keeping the name Newhope. Though heavily remodeled, that sanctuary remains intact and in use by the congregation today.

Be sure to click and scroll the photos below for more information about Beaverdam.  The cemetery is a real treasure and there are some good stories there.