There are three unique churches, all on the National Register, in the small village of Canon, located on the western edge of Franklin County. The photo you see above is that of Canon Universalist, founded by John M. Bowers in 1885 and still an active church today. John was also well known as the editor and publisher of the Universalist Herald, which he purchased in 1896 and moved from Notasulga, Alabama to Canon. The Universalist Herald was published in Canon until 1991. The other two churches are Canon Baptist, organized in 1895 and Canon Methodist, organized in 1905. You can get a quick glimpse of the Baptist and Methodist churches in the gallery photos below. All were placed on the National Register in 1985.
Canon, located on the western edge of Franklin County is a picturesque little farm village located three miles from Bowersville, in Hart County. It was called West Bowersville when laid out in 1875 but, when the town was incorporated in 1902, the name was changed to Canon to avoid confusion with Bowersville. Franklin County, created in 1784, was the first county established in Georgia after the Revolutionary War. It was inhabited by the Lower Cherokee Indians until they ceded the land in the treaty of 1783. This part of Georgia was settled by the descendants of Job Bowers, who was born in Virginia in 1755 and settled in Georgia around the time of the Revolution. He served in the war and while home on furlough in 1779, he was dragged from his home by a group of Loyalists and murdered. His wife, Charity, was subsequently given substantial land in gratitude for Job’s service. The Bowers family roots run deep in this part of Georgia.and many of Job’s descendants are still here and very active in the community.
It is very unusual to have three historic churches in one small (population is just over 800) rural village. The other two, Canon Baptist and Methodist, are visible in the gallery photos below. We are grateful that these treasures have been saved and two of them, the Universalist and the Methodist, have active congregations today. The Baptist church is also still active but the congregation worships in a newer and larger facility. Be sure to click and scroll the photos below for more history and information.
Here is an exterior shot of Canon Baptist Church. It is the oldest of the three, turn-of-the-Century structures which collectively make up the Historic Structures of Canon Historic District. Its steeple, like those of the other two churches, is quite attractive and, in the case at Canon Baptist with its multi-gabled, Victorian bell tower, is architecturally unique.
This is a view of the interior of the sanctuary at Canon Universalist. It is quite sparse, in keeping with Universalist tenents. The interior wall finishes are board and batten and the ceiling finish is of rectangular tile. Both are painted in the light color displayed above. Each of the gothic window frames are a contrasting light brown. The slatted pews are all made of wood and relatively modern in their design. The sanctuary has few decorative elements, but all eyes have to be drawn to the colorful stained glass window.
Here is a photo that highlights the cozy and cheerful atmosphere within the sanctuary. The all cream white room becomes inviting and warm thanks to the great deal of ambient light that filters in through the clear glass gothic windows.
There are not many stained glass windows at Canon but those that are in place are particularly colorful and intricate. This one is a dedicated memorial window placed by a loving family.
Here we see the sunlight filtering in through the clear paned gothic windows. We also see that most of these windows are placed in memory congregants and their families. This lovely scene is certainly inviting and begs us to join in.
The close-up view of the Congregationalist bell tower and front entry allows us to see the well preserved clapboard siding that covers the church walls. The entry door transom and steeple vent’s wood framing is also in excellent condition for a 120 year old structure. That is a sign of the high level of stewardship by the congregation. With continuing care of this quality, the old church should be able to continue its survival into the decades to come.
Job Bowers was born in 1755 in Virginia of Welsh Ancestry. He served in the local militia during the Revolutionary War. He died in 1779 in Wilkes County in what is now Hart County, Georgia. In October, 1779 he was given a furlough to go home and check on his wife, Charity, who was due to give birth. His first night at home he was taken from his home by Tories and murdered. He was 24 years old. For his service during the Revolutionary War, his widow, Charity, was given two land grants. Job Bowers’ son, William Bowers was born in 1779.
On this marker we see Job Bowers, born August 31, 1803; died June 25, 1888 and wife Elizabeth born July 22, 1805; died October 13, 1856. This Job Bowers was the son of William Bowers (born in 1779 when his father was killed by Tories) and Mary “Polly” Cox Bowers. Elizabeth Bowers shown on this marker was the first wife of Job Bowers and in his will he requested to be buried next to her. They are both buried at the Bowers Memorial Park Cemetery, Franklin County, Georgia. Job Bowers served as postmaster for Bowersville for over forty years. He and his wife Elizabeth had five sons who served in the Confederate Army. Two of them were killed in the war. Noah W. Bowers died 1862 at Manassas Junction and Parris W. Bowers died near Richmond in 1863.
Shown here are the names Mary Caroline Duncan Bowers born November 10, 1860, died March 21, 1912 and Rev. John M. Bowers, born October 25, 1851, died September 9, 1911. Rev. Bowers was the son of Job Bowers 1803-1888 and his wife Elizabeth Ballenger Bowers 1805-1856. John Merritt Bowers was killed in an automobile accident on his farm. He was driving a runabout and where the banks of the road were very steep it completely turned over and he was crushed beneath it. He was the director and owner of the Universalist Herald, a religious weekly publication. He had also been a well-known and active Universalist preacher.
William Bowers, shown on this marker, is apparently the same as Job Bowers. Some ancestry records show his name as William Jacob Job Bowers. There are revolutionary records that just say Jacob Bowers so it is hard to avoid confusion about the correct name for the person described here described as Job Bowers.
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Thank you for letting us see this beautiful church and learn this story.