Cane Creek Baptist was established immediately after the Civil War in a remote part of Lumpkin County. It is located at the end of a one mile winding road that adjoins the Chattahoochee National Forest, and it would be difficult to overstate the beauty and tranquility of the site. We know little of the history, but it was founded April 28, 1867 and has obviously been loved and well maintained for the last 150 years. Perhaps some more history will come forth and if so, we will update it as we go. We did find reference to the original Cane Creek constitution showing six original members, five from the Shed family and one Stargel.
While hard historical facts are difficult to come by, we are blessed that a couple of old photographs from the Vanishing Georgia Archives are available and they will be included in the photo lineup. The archives are rich with visuals from Georgia’s past and can be accessed here. One of the photos is a remarkable shot of the Rev. J.J. Shed (1857 – 1937) standing at the pulpit of the church just after the turn of the century. His family were founders of Cane Creek and both his father and grandfather are buried in the little cemetery beside the church. In the photograph, you will notice that Rev. Shed’s right arm is missing. He was not of Civil War age so we suspect that it was the result of a mining accident but that is speculation on our part.
We did find out from a local news article that there was no electricity service to the church until 1985. Farming was very difficult in the this area of North Georgia and most of the early settlers in this part of Lumpkin County supported themselves, in one way or another, by the gold mining industry. Over the passage of time, many people have been lured to the north Georgia mountains by the lure of gold, including Hernando de Soto who passed through in 1540 in search of it. The first official strike occurred not far from here in the late 1820’s and within a short period of time, much gold had been extracted from the North Georgia land, some of which was still owned by the Cherokee. Gold fever was a factor in the final push to take their last land within the borders of Georgia, resulting in the Indian Removal act of 1830 and the infamous “Trail of Tears”,
We do not know when the present structure was built but it likely contains many elements of the original 1866 sanctuary. We all are grateful for the outstanding stewardship of this remote North Georgia jewel and we salute the present congregation for the respect and love they have lavished upon it. Well done thou good and faithful servant.
Cane Creek Baptist church and grounds remain in remarkably good shape today. Though the present building’s history is not known, the sanctuary we are viewing above presents as the typical “rectangular box” that would be erected in the 1870’s-90’s (all natural wood walls and ceilings, wide, wooden-planked floors, tall six over six windows in simple frames). It is probable that the porch and interior vestibule we saw in the first photo were added to the old church at a later date. But this interior, though certainly modified in the 20th century (chancel, pulpit, pews, electrification, etc.) still looks much as it would have when first erected.
This detail view of the east corner gives us a chance to closely examine the horizontal, fairly narrow wood sheathing at Cane Creek in Lumpkin County. Throughout Georgia, we see this pine board usage again and again. What is interesting and a locational clue here is that the pine boards are quite knotty – unlike the clean, fine grained, heart pine boards seen in churches located in the Piedmont and Coastal Plains areas of the state. Why? This is not because the church was built on the cheap. It is because local materials were almost always used in constructing these rural churches, and heart pine did not grow in this area of Georgia. These mountains were the home of pine and cedar species which were quite knotty.
This view of the northeast corner provides another, even closer look at the knotty pine walls and wooden window frames at Cane Creek. We also are presented with a lovely scene where the piano and its accompanying basket of cheerful flowers provides evidence of the life and activity of this still robust congregation 150 years after its founding date.
Until 1985, this church functioned and flourished in a sanctuary where electricity was not available! That remarkable feat is evidence of the loyalty and dedication of its congregation well into the modern era. Hanging from the ceiling are the unostentatious, electric chandeliers placed in the church 30 years ago. On the wall we see the simple oil lamps that lit the interior in the days of old. Obviously, tradition and history are revered at Cane Creek Baptist.
This view from the pulpit into the cozy sanctuary provides factual evidence of the charm and authenticity that remains to be enjoyed and experienced within this little church in the hills. We hope regular services will continue to be held here, as they always have for generations to come.
Here lies Sarah Free, who was born in Lexington County, South Carolina in 1808 and died here in 1898. We don’t know about anything in between but Sarah and her family must have had many adventures as early pioneers in Georgia. She must have some relatives close by who have supplemented the original marker with the more current one above. Almost all of these old burial grounds contain graves that were initially marked with fieldstones or wooden markers that slowly disappear over time.
George W. Bruce was born in 1826 in Habersham County and died in June of 1907. His wife was also born in Habersham County (in 1828) and died in March of 1907…….lifelong companions who died in the same year. George served in the war as 4th Corporal, Co. D with the “Dahlonega Rangers”, surrendering in Tallahassee, Florida in May of 1865. According to a story printed in “History of Lumpkin County First Hundred Years” by Andrew Cain, Mr. and Mrs. Bruce were rumored to have some hidden gold that was buried on their property. It has never been found but one can always hope.
B. C. Bryan enlisted as a private with the Dahlonega “Blue Ridge Rangers” in December of 1862 at the age of 37. He and his wife, Barilla, had 15 children and three of them served as well…….unusual circumstances in many ways. His father was Colonel James Bryan who was a veteran of the war of 1812. There is a story from the Lumpkin Nugget posted on Findagrave that paints a loving tribute to Mr. Bryan who died in 1923 at the age of 99. To access the story and some old photos click here.
This lovely old church sits at the end of the road in the woods and hills of Lumpkin County. Indians found this to be a pleasant spot for centuries before it was settled by Georgia Pioneers in the early 19th century. It remains for all to enjoy in the 21st century… and we hope well beyond. Regular Services are held weekly at Cane Creek Baptist and you would be welcome.
The Reverend Shed is directly descended from the five, 1866 “Shed family” founding congregants of Cane Creek. We hope to someday be able to shed light on how he lost his right arm. One of our most ambitious goals at HRCGA is to collect relevant citizens history… comments, photos and the like wherever they are located… and place them within our photographic archives on each church. This adds to and enriches the viewers experience. The wonderful photo above from Vanishing Georgia has been added to our library. Reverend J.J. Shed will now stand at his pulpit for all to see… forever.
What a handsome gathering of Cane Creek congregants we have in this photo. We could spend hours just studying and appreciating their styles of dress, hats, shoes, etc. Here is another example of how the gathering and concentration of supplemental information and photos related to each of our featured churches expands and enriches our rural churches archives. Perhaps some viewer will be able to identify the congregants above for us thereby giving the photo even greater relevance.
Your tax-deductible donation to Historic Rural Churches will help keep history alive through digital and physical preservation efforts for Georgia’s rural churches, their history and the communities that support them.
Full Name *
Sign me up for the newsletter!
I have all the names in of the people in your old photo.