Collinsworth Methodist Church and graveyard are a wonderful trip back into the past. To understand the early history of the church, located in Talbot County, we have to go back to the early 19th century and the history of the conflicts with the Creek Indian Nation. This part of Georgia was the scene of much turmoil between the Creek Nation and the state of Georgia, which was determined to acquire all of the Creek territories from the Ocmulgee River to the Chattahoochee River on the Alabama border. The last conflict with the Creeks began in 1836 when U.S. troops, assisted by Georgia and Alabama militia and led by General Winfield Scott, forcibly rounded up Creeks and sent them to Indian Territory on the infamous Trail of Tears.
Talbot County was formed in 1827 and during this period of unrest, a small group of Methodists formed a society at the home of George Menefee, called Menefee’s Meeting House. Organized in 1828, it was one of the first churches in this community, which was first called Ypsilanti and then known as Redbone.
After meeting at the Menefee Home for a few years, the congregation needed a more convenient location and in 1834, members built a frame church house, two miles east of the current site. They renamed the new church Collinsworth, after the famed Methodist minister, John Collinsworth. Some of the earliest worshippers were: George Menefee, Richard Menefee, William S. Robins, Sarah Robins, James Callier, and his wife. Urbane Leonard Callier, Roderick Leonard, and Ephraim Mabry and wife. Three acres of land was deeded from Robert M. Smith to the trustees of the church and later, member Urbane C. Tigner granted the trustees another 1.5 acres for a burial ground.
As the years went on, the congregation again needed an updated building to worship, so in 1859, the present church up on the hill was built and dedicated by Bishop Lovick A. Pierce on August 20th of that year. It is thought that member, Urbane Tigner built the church that seats as many as 200 congregants. Its 3 ionic columns represent the holy trinity and it has separate entrances for males and females. A small school building just opposite the church building, called Collinsworth Academy operated during this time, teaching students grades one through high school.
We found an interesting story about the purchase of the first church organ in 1892, thanks to members Mrs. Charles D. Matthews and Miss Pearl S. Watts. Members recalled what a great day in the history of the church it was when the wagon arrived with the organ for installation. Today, a second organ, purchased in 1916, still adorns the sanctuary.
Over the years, the church circuits shifted from the Talbot Circuit to the Centreville Circuit, and then on to the Woodland Circuit. As membership dwindled, congregations in this section began to unite and in 1965, Collinsworth Methodist consolidated with nearby Corinth Church (founded c. 1828) to form on church on the Talbotton Charge. Make sure you read about the history of Corinth Methodist as well HERE.
The Greek Revival style chapel, built in 1859, features 3 columns, representing te Holy Trinity. It was also designed with 2 front entrances, one for men and one for women.
The side view of Collinsworth shows off the original windows, as well as the stacked stone foundation that served many purposes in the old days. The elevation off the of the ground would help protect the wood from water rot and bugs. This elevation would also allow air circulation underneath the building, creating a natural cooling system in the days before air conditioning.
Looking from the pulpit into the seating area, you can see how this simple building has changed very little over time.
The tall windows bring in beautiful light and create a lovely atmosphere inside the sanctuary.
The original organ for this church was purchased in 1892 and was brough in on horse wagon. The organ photographed here replaced the earlier one in 1916.
Photo of Collinsworth Church c. 1950s.
Frances Dudley Brown Callier was born April 5, 1805 in Greene County, Georgia and died September 10, 1838. Both of her parents were born in Virginia. She married James Duke Callier (1796-1870) on June 14, 1820 in Greene County. They had six children. Their son, William T. Callier (1824-1893) was a sergeant in Company I, 2nd Georgia Infantry, CSA.
Elizabeth Leonard Walker was born in 1775 in Prince George County, Virginia and died December 25, 1851. She married John Walker (1765-1855) on March 13, 1823 in Greene County, Georgia. He was her third husband. The 1850 Talbot County census shows John Walker, age 85; Elizabeth Walker, age 72 and Sarah Leonard, age 50.
Roderick Leonard was born April 10, 1786 in Petersburg, Virginia and died January 15, 1842. He married Letitia King (1791-1856) on July 29, 1808 in Morgan County, Georgia. In 1827, he along with others signed a document published in the papers favoring General Jackson as the next president. In 1826 he represented Morgan County at a Bible Convention held in Milledgeville. In 1840 he owned 37 slaves. A notice in the Southern Recorder, Milledgeville, January 25, 1842 stated “Died at his residence in Talbot County, on the 15th inst., Roderick Leonard, Esq. in the 56th year of his age. The subject of this brief notice was a man of strong mind, correct principles, and warm, affectionate heart…”
Mrs. Elizabeth Cox was born January 14, 1780 and died April 4, 1862. In the 1860 Talbot County census she was listed as 80 years of age living in the household with the John P. Leonard family. In her will recorded May 6, 1862 she named her grandson John Leonard as her executor. In her will she also mentioned a son, Robert Cox, deceased, as well as a daughter and two granddaughters.
Ann Virginia Freeman Fuller was born May 14, 1827 in Wilkes County, Georgia and died January 5, 1871. She married Henry Lafayette Fuller (1826-1900) in 1848. The 1870 Talbot County census shows Henry, 46; Ann, 44 and six children. Ann was the daughter of Thomas Freeman (1788-1865) and Eloisa Elizabeth Fouche Freeman (1801-1885).
William Henry Noell was born August 23, 1844 and died May 27, 1863. In the 1860 census he was listed as the 15 year old son of James W. and Sarah McCoy Noell. William Henry Noell enlisted as a private in Company B, 32nd Georgia Infantry, CSA on September 30, 1862. There was no further record of his military service.
John Porter Leonard was born September 23, 1834 and died March 18, 1912. His wife, Sarah Dixon Leonard, was born June 3, 1837 and died June 2, 1906. They were married in 1857. The 1880 census shows John, age 45; Sallie, age 40 and 5 children. In 1910 he is listed as a widower, age 75, with occupation farmer.
Matthew Cook was born in Buncombe County, North Carolina in 1819 and died June 2, 1899. He married Eliza King Cook (1825-1892) on June 6, 1859. The 1880 Talbot County census shows Matthew, age 60; Eliza, age 55 and six children.
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