Blooming Grove Methodist is located in a very rural setting in West Georgia between Tallapoosa and Cedartown. We find many of these haunting old structures in rural Georgia that are slowly falling apart, and we think it is important to document what we can while we still can. She won’t be with us much longer but she was once a proud church in the center of this rural community that she has served faithfully for over 150 years. She is Almost Gone But Not Forgotten.
We know from a local history that it was organized in 1856 in a log building that also served as a school house. J. W. Trawick was the first pastor. The history from the North Georgia Methodist archives also tells us “At one time there were twenty or more springs of different minerals here, and is said to be the assembly grounds of the Cherokee Indians back in the days before the Trail of Tears. Just across the mountains from Blooming Grove ….is Tallapoosa, Georgia, where Captain Tumlin organized a Company of Georgia Mountain Volunteers in which Sargent Duncan H Tally the grandfather of Oscar B. Tally, who is recording these remembrances and hold Grandfather’s discharge papers on their return from this treck westward of the Indians from this section. We have here also one of the old cemetaries of the County. In which our negro slaves were also buried.”
The history then gives a long list of some of the settlers of this section as well as a listing of the early pastors and ends with “Thus Blooming Grove continues to work for social and civic righteousness having graced the homes of the leaders of the present and past…..to go forth and bless the world around us, while our farmers and merchants provide our food across the channels of service. like the great Master, who came not to be ministered unto, but to minister”. We are grateful to Melvin Woodruff for bringing this old jewel to our attention.
Be sure to click and scan the photos below for more information about the church and the early settlers who lived here.
In the preceding photo, we saw that Blooming Grove Church Building is a typical example of the rural church designs popular in its era, the Mid 19th century. We saw a single gable, rectangular, wood framed structure. In this closeup, we can make out a diminishing sign tucked beneath the front gable. It proudly proclaims, “Blooming Grove, United Methodist CHURCH”. Like the sign, the abandoned church and its congregation are all fading away. We want to photo document these relics now so, though the building will disappear, the church will remain for future generations to see and know.
Churches of this era were most often sited with the pulpit and apse area facing east (toward the rising sun). Given that the apse is clearly seen on the right side of the photo above, we are now viewing the south wall on the south side of the church. To the left is the entry way facing west and opposite the south wall is the north wall. We are told that this “points of the compass” placement is the case at Blooming Grove. We can also see that this south side of the church is in remarkably good shape, the tin roof is still apparently holding off the ravages of wind and weather and the old paint still white. From this distance, the old church looks to be in fair shape.
This photo is taken from the midsection of the sanctuary and gives us a clear view of the chancel, pulpit area and apse. Once again, we were surprised to find that the interior at Blooming Grove was in pretty fair shape. Though the darkened areas in the ceiling come from leaks, there is no evidence of serious roof problems at this point. The fact that the old stove flu near the south wall appears to be sealed and the floor beneath it looks sound is very positive. Often, these old flus rot out and funnel in rain water which accelerates the floor damage.
Now we are looking from the sanctuary midsection toward the double door entry and the west windows. As we can see, once again the ceiling and west facing wall boards appear to be in decent condition. On the other hand, the north wall ceiling to a small extent is suffering from rain water leaks. The north facing wall boards reflect serious leakage as well. Remember when viewing the south side exterior and pointed out its remarkable condition? That is because the weather in this county comes primarily from the North and North west, not the south. Here we see a north facing wall that is severely damaged because of that weathering while much of the other boards are not as affected. This north wall damage is sure to grow and endanger the entire structure.
Here we are viewing the north wall from the chancel area. We are better able to see the water damage that is coming from leaking roof areas, exterior rain water penetration of the outside sheathing and failing windows and frames which invite continued and increased water invasion. We also can now see that the east wall and apse area have lost sheathing and, in some places, completely exposed to the outside. This old church is now on a downward slide that leads to inevitable collapse. At least we have recorded and photo documented, much of the structure and history so that when Blooming Grove is gone, she will not be forgotten.
Here is a photo found in the archives taken in 1951. Hard to believe that this was almost 70 years ago.
Josiah Burns Caldwell was born in Abbeville, South Carolina on June 18, 1830 and died November 13, 1896. He was married to Joana Miller Carter on March 20, 1855 in Carroll County, Georgia. They had five children and two of them, Thomas L. Caldwell and Robert A. Caldwell, are also buried at Blooming Grove Methodist Cemetery.
Mary E. Madden Dingler was born in Spalding County on April 20, 1840 and died February 15, 1922. She married William Dingler July 21, 1856 in Spalding County. This was a second marriage for William Dingler and he was much older than Mary. He was born 1814 or 1815. They had a large number of children.
William D. “Dock” Hackney was born March 16, 1833 and died November 26, 1891. His spouse, Louisa V. Hackney (1831-1898) is also buried at Blooming Grove Cemetery. He was a farmer and they had a big family. He enlisted in Company D, 21st Georgia Infantry on March 1, 1862. He was captured near Petersburg, Virginia on March 25, 1865 and released on June 28, 1865. The following comment attached to his records at ancestry describe the area where he lived: “At the turn of the century there was a two story hotel, post office & general store, many private homes and family farms.”
David Abner Hicks was born in Georgia on August 14, 1824 and died July 4, 1874. He married Martha Ann Lay on November 1, 1849. She is also buried at Blooming Grove Cemetery. The 1860 census shows him living in Heard County but by 1870 he is shown as living in Polk County. His occupation was farmer.
This marker is for John Thomas McKibben, born in Polk County December 18, 1845, died February 10, 1927 and his wife Leona Jane Short McKibben, born December 1, 1850, died November 14, 1900. His death certificate shows he died of Apoplexy and that his father was born in Ireland and his mother was born in Kentucky. The 1900 census shows Leona was the mother of nine children and at that time six were still living.
William N. Pritchett was born June 18, 1825 and died October 15, 1915. His wife was Millie L. Chapman Pritchett (1832-1916). The 1910 census record shows they had been married 61 years. She is shown as having given birth to 8 children with 6 still living. He was a farmer and owned his own farm clear and free. His father was born in Georgia and his mother was born in North Carolina.
Almost Gone But Not Forgotten
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