Bethel Methodist

Coweta County
Org c 1836
Photography by Gail Des Jardin

There is some excellent church history written by Mr. William Neill in 1893. We thought we would just let Mr. Neill tell the story.

The memoirs of William Tatum Neill as told to him by Greenberry Neill. August the 12-1893

Our lot of two and one half acres was given by Guilford R. Otwell and Susan E. Otwell to L. C. Stewart, Josiah Neill, A. Thompson, Peter B. Terel and Samuel Neill as Trustees of the M. E. Church the 14th day of June 1839 and recorded in book H or K by B. H. Mitchel. Page 219 June 28, 1839. From recollections of uncle G. B. Neill, our church was organized in October 1838 by Rev. John Simmons, P. C. He was followed by Rev. Neice and Rev. Tignor. Rev. Celhorne Trussel, Rev. Wm. A. Smith and Rev. W. B. Smith came next followed by Rev. John Yarbro., Rev. Abraham Pennington, and Rev. Daniel Belsez, in 1861.

Our present House of worship was built in 1844. The first interment in our cemetery was a little child in March 1839. Josiah Neill was buried August the 8th 1839 and Josiah Stewart was buried the same year. Ely Baley was buried on the 7th day of August 1840. Brother G. B. Neill has an old Class Book which we find revised by Rev. W. H. Evans, P. C. in 1855 and again in 1857 by Rev. James Harris, P. C. The last revision being June 14, 1865. The roll of 1857 shows 89 male and 93 female members. The roll of 1864 shows 93 male and 108 female members. The oldest Minute we can find is not dated except Fourth Quarterly Meeting of Coweta circuit. R. B. Bridges, John D. Thurmond, Alston Bailey and Z. F. Turnupseed were appointed Trustees and the Church appointed Z. T. Turnupseed secretary.

Rev. John Renolds was the first man to preach at Bethel so far as I have been able to find. He preached here before the Church was organized. Rev. Stafford, Rev. Haram Camp, Rev. George E. Smith and Rev. W. N. Fambro are among the local Brethren who have labored here. W. N. Fambro’s monthly appointment continued about 16 years and he seldom missed an appointment during that time. He was our recording stewart for many years. It was G. E. Smith who received my hand when I joined the church in this House in September 1859.

How came there to be A Bethel [Church] here?

About the year 1836 Josiah Neill and wife settled in the wild woods not three hundred yards from where the Church now stands. They were Methodists from South Carolina. There was no preaching or religious service held within a reasonable distance; they invited Rev. John Renolds, a local Brother and blacksmith at Freeman’s crossroads to preach at their house. Preparing such convenience as they could for the occasion. Service was held there through the fall of 1837. In 1838 the neighbors assembled and built a brush arbor and Rev. John Bigly another local Brother came to help. It was decided to organize a Church and the first one to present himself for membership was Josiah Neill and his wife was the third. She remained in this Church until July 18, 1878, when she was removed by death. The second person was Martha Steward; she remained in this Church until her death, November 28, 1859. The Church being organized, it was decided to build a house of worship. The collection for this purpose amounted to 65 dollars and a log house was built in the year 1839. Note: This log building was used until 1844 when a much larger structure was built of hewn timber and dressed lumber. The building now in use was erected between 1895 and 1900.

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