This historic church, originally located on Clark’s Creek, was constituted in 1788 by Elders Sanders Walker and Silas Mercer, with 11 members. It was at the meeting of the Association at Clark’s Station in 1821 that resolutions were passed which resulted in the organization, the next year at Powellton, of the Georgia Baptist Convention. In 1850, the house of worship was removed from its original site two or three miles west to its present location. That building was remodeled in 1944 under the pastorate of Rev. J.R. Kirkland. Clark’s Station Baptist was one of the first of around eight Baptist churches that sprung forth in Wilkes county before the end of the 18th Century. Following the lead of nearby Fishing Creek Baptist(founded in 1783), the first Baptist church in the county, Clark’s Station and the others that followed became the focal points within each community for hundreds of years to come.
The bell pictured above is reported to have been at the first log church on Clark’s Creek. It was later moved to this site. As one of its roles as a center of community life, Clark’s Station supported an excellent school, Ophelia Academy, adjacent to the church grounds, into the 20th century. Perhaps those school children were called to classes, as were the church members called to services, by the ringing of this old bell… now in its third century.
Clark’s Chapel was remodeled in the mid-20th century. Though the sanctuary’s exterior remains true to its 19th Century roots, the interior was transformed. As is the case with most old churches, to survive they have had to modernize. Holding on to a congregation in the 20th/21st century required indoor plumbing, heat, air conditioning and electric lighting at a minimum. Clark’s Station has done so and remains active, a vital community resource, to this day. But as you can see by the plain pews and spare decoration, it still reflects the simple values and aesthetics originally propounded by the Elders.
Clark’s Station is an example of a center steeple design. The two doors reflect an old tradition. Men are to enter one side while women and children enter through the other door. In old times, they would remain separated within the sanctuary by a center barrier between the pews. Before modern times, the large multi-paned windows would be thrown open for cooling and ventilation in warm months or tightly closed to keep in the much-appreciated warmth generated by one or more large old cast iron stoves in winter. There is a charming old burial ground nestled in the trees behind the church. There you will find examples of many types of grave markers from the earliest unadorned standing tablets to large marble and granite tombstones. You will also find the names of many generations of families who have called Wilkes County home since the Revolution.
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We’ve traced our plantation owners to have roots in this church and several are buried here as well as in the Bolton Cemetery in Vesta, Ga which was the plantation site prior to reconstruction.
I am a descendant of the Echols family (my mother’s side), many of whom are buried in the Clark’s Station church cemetery. My great great grandfather and mother, Alexander Franklin Echols and Sara Jane Poss Echols, my great grandfather and mother, Richard Perry Echols and Hassie Orr Norman Echols and my grandparents Ralph Talbert Echols and Ella Ree Carlton Echols are all there. I can remember attending church services as a child when we would visit family in Tignall.
Thanks Robert. You have deep roots in Wilkes County.