Beulah Baptist Church in Beulah, Ga is truly a rural gem. It is on a dirt road in a small clearing surrounded by pine trees and old cotton fields. This is the third structure on the site, built in the 1880’s and sitting on stone pillars….it has the original wood siding. It is still an active church meeting on the first Sunday of each month. The small sanctuary is simple, with a few improvements that have been made over the the years, such as space heaters and hand held fans, but the basic bones of 1890 structure are in place.
Beulah was typical of the small, box structures that dotted the Georgia countryside in the late 19th century, but we have little of the early history. However, on the wall is a framed likeness of one of the earliest ministers of Beulah, Benjamin Roberts, who was a well known minister in the mid-1800’s. He was born in North Carolina in 1794 and died in Hancock County in 1876 at the family home not far way. He married Abigail McAllister in 1815 and the 1850 census shows they had eight children. Rev. Roberts was one of the founders of the Washington Baptist Association in 1838 and was an active participant until his death in 1876. He was a revered member of the community. We did find that in 1852, he was the pastor at Beulah Baptist and there were were 104 members at that time.
The old church that sits on a dirt road, deep in rural Georgia has quietly served the Beulah community for over 150 years. She is still active and we salute the stewardship of the Beulah congregation for taking such good care of this part of Georgia’s rural history. Be sure to click and scroll on the photos below for more Beulah history.
This is a closer photo than the first shot you just saw of the exterior view of Beulah Baptist. It is a standard, single gable structure with matching porch. The cornice returns are particularly attractive. It is hard to believe that we are looking at the original exterior clapboard walls, Cornice returns, windows and door frames, now over 140 years old. Primary building materials for this were longleaf pine logs, probably felled and sawed on site. That heart pine lumber was hard, fine grained, highly resistant to water and weather. The Beulah congregation kept the building painted, the roof water-tight and the foundation steady and solid throughout its history. Their stewardship insured the structure would last into the 21st Century.
This is a very close shot of the south west corner foundation pier, beams and pine siding. You can see that a single large stone has been used as support. You can also see that this stone and all the others at Beulah are not mortared or cemented in place. Gravity holds the stones in place. The smaller stones you see were primarily placed so as to stop animals and other critters from entering the underside of the church.
In this view, we have entered the sanctuary at Beulah and have a view of the original(1880’s) pews, the chancel, offertory, pulpit, furniture and choir area. Though quite modest, this charming layout is effective and touching.
On the west sanctuary wall, there is a wall of fame gallery with pictures of significant church leaders from the past to present. The photo above is of Benjamin Roberts, The Sandersville Herald says Rev. Benjamin Roberts, perhaps the oldest minister of the Washington Baptist Association, died at his home, twelve miles from Milledgeville, on the 22d of April. He was elected clerk of the Washington Association when it was first organized and held the position almost uninterruptedly up to the time of his death - forty odd years. A more devoted, earnest and exemplary Christian minister perhaps never lived. Having far exceeded the allotted time for man to live, he had for some years been patiently waiting for the summons, "come up higher.: He was greatly and universally beloved by his brethren and by all the people wherever he was known. All feel that one saint more is forever at rest.
In this photo, we can almost see the entire interior of the sanctuary at Beulah Baptist. The earlier mentioned wall of fame is visible on the west wall and includes 12 members. You can make out the picture of Benjamin Roberts we saw in the preceding interior view… he is in the top row, second from the left. The all white interior of the sanctuary is warmly lit by the ambient light that streams through the large 6 over 6, clear glass paned, sashed windows throughout Beulah sanctuary.
Here we see another example of the simple but effective way field stone footings are used to provide foundation supports all around the building perimeter. This stone sits at the east end of the one we saw in earlier view #2. The entire beam from south to east remains dead level as it enters its 150th year of support. We congratulate the present congregation for how it has insured that this old and historic church is still standing, remains active and will be available for others to visit and enjoy for the coming decades.
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Rev. James Benjamin Roberts was my third great grandfather. I joined Beulah Baptist Church as a young child. Love going back there for reunion. It is a beautiful little church. Thank you for these pictures. Pamela Dunn Verbel