Bethel Primitive Baptist

Early County
Org 1890s
Photography by NA

Bethel Primitive Baptist has been inactive for decades but is still fundamentally sound. It is an unusual structure for a Primitive Baptist church in that it has a hipped roof but we are not sure if this was the original architecture. We love the signage on the front that states the church was “const. Sept. 28, 1887”. We are not sure how old the sign is but it has been there for some time. The sign refers to the date the church was constituted, not constructed.

According to a local history, the church was organized in 1887 in the residence of William McLendon, and originally housed in a log structure. The structure above was built by Mr. Brown Mosely in the 1890’s. A tornado did extensive damage to the church in 1925 but the church was repaired using, in part, ‘timbers from the second structure’. The field stone footings attest to the fact that the church site on the original footprint dating to the 1890’s, but the roof was probably replaced after the tornado damage and the shingles added as well.

The history states that the large cemetery nearby had many graves with wooden markers and some with wooden grave houses. No trace of these are found today. As is typical of many rural cemeteries, there are many unmarked graves that will remain uncharted and unknown. “According to McLendon family history, S. A. McLendon was the first person to be buried in this cemetery. His grave was covered with a wooden house for many years but no evidence remains today.”

The old church is in a beautiful setting and is in surprisingly good condition as you will see from the interior photos. The structure could be preserved easily enough. The the key to any long term plan to preserve the sanctuary and the history it represents will be finding a local community dedicated to the effort that is able to re-purpose and use the facility. Hopefully, the old church will continue to receive some basic maintenance and will be with us for a good many more years.