There is some disagreement in the records we can find about the founding of Concord Primitive Baptist. One record states the church was founded in 1815 when two acres of land were transferred to the church by George Morris. Another record states the church was founded in October of 1808. We believe the earlier record is correct in that we have partial minutes of the church which begin in 1812. Either way, this historic treasure has been located here for over 200 years.
The record of early minutes of these churches is always very interesting. Among the mundane and repetitive reporting (complete with lots of mispelled words) are wonderful entries which give inight into the daily lives of these early Georgia pioneers. For instance, a partial listing of what we have on record would state the following:
April 3, 1813: “A Charg Layed agains Brother Micajah Sansum, by Brother Lacey for a Cusin him with Liing & etc. The Church has appointed a Committee, wit Solomon Groce, August 6, 1814: “A Charge Brought In By Brother Luke Williams from a report against Brother Bartlet Eaves for getting Drunk and misbehaving”John Brown, Luke Williams, James Reaves, & Zacheriah Falkner and fore they to Report to the next Conference. February 1, 1817: Excommunicated Brother John Carter. July 23, 1819: “Received by Experience Sister Charlotty Faulkner.””The charge by Brother Raid against Brother Williams settled between them selves.” “Excommunicated Nathan Williams For Raising an accoumpt and swaring to the same against William Ferril which we believe to be Rong”
October 21, 1820: “A charge brought in by brother Lowry against brother Williams for making use of unchristian language to his wife and for his contradicting her and saying she had not discharged her duty as a wife and likewise for charging brother Lowry for saying that brother Williams had told a palpable lye. And for saying brother Lowry had told a Lye and he could prove it., the above charges laid over to the next Conference.” March 24, 1821: “Brother Absolom Achols came forward with an acknowledgment for drinking to much Spirits. the brethren feel to forgive him.” June 22, 1821: “Excommunicated Absalom Echols for the sin of drunkenesss”
January 26, 1823: James L. Burks appointed clerk of the church. “A charge brought in by report against Sister Katharine Williams for her being in a pregnant State and agree to send Sister Northcut and Sister Brown to gets Her to attend our next conference to answer to Said charge.” January 24, 1824: “Catharine Williams came forward with an acknowledgment for the transgression to which She was Excommunicated.”
Brother Malone charged with drunkenness.
March 26, 1824: “Took up the case of Catharine Williams and feel to forgive her.”
“Excommunicated Brother John Malone for the Sin of drunkenness and refusing to hear the church.”
Life in the Georgia backwoods was a hard one and these were tough people. The thing that strikes us about these old minutes is the unmistakable roll of the church in these early times. The church was community center, dating service, court house with judge and jury, and everything else that a community had to have to function as a civilized society. The ultimate punishment was excommunication after a peer review of the transgression. As you can see from the above, Sister Williams was brought back into the fold and forgiven while Brother Malone was turned out into the spiritual wilderness. The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.
This church, founded in 1808, sits deserted and quiet today in a remote section of Jasper County. To put things in perspective date wise, this land belonged to the Indians until the Creek Cessions of 1805, at which time it was then declared to be Baldwin County. Just two years later, a portion of Baldwin was designated by the Georgia legislature as the new county of Jasper. Families flooded in to Jasper County to gain ownership of land in the area. At that moment, Jasper was on the western border of Georgia, the “wild west”. Shortly after Concord Primitive Baptist was established in 1808, Jasper moved from wilderness to settler territory and then to villages and towns. Concord was on a well travelled route and grew and prospered throughout that period. However, by the early 20th century, this area was abandoned by the one, two, three, four punch of soil erosion/depletion, the boll weevil, the Depression and the peach tree blight. By the 1960’s, portions of Jasper went down for the count, its people moved out and on. Today it sits alone again.
We love these old burying grounds in abandoned church yards. Who cuts the grass? Where are the relatives and friends who knew and loved these people? No telling how many unmarked graves lie here before enough prosperity had been created to pay for proper gravestones. So many lost histories and lost stories. There are 34 documented graves with the McDowell clan being the largest number of interments.
It doesn’t get much simpler in terms of construction, but the quiet dignity of this place is palpable. And after reading some of the minutes, the place comes alive with the elders of the community trying to govern a rowdy group of pioneers far from any vestiges of what we think of as civilization. Not an easy life. How has this old meeting house survived? Who is keeping out the rain and maintaining it? Its electricity has been disconnected but the simple pews remain in place and the leaves and grass controlled. Whoever is responsible, thanks for keeping the historic monument alive for the future generations to know and marvel at.
Who would think that rag-tag foundations of random stacked stone would hold up a big building like Concord for two centuries! We love these early construction techniques. Just make do with what you have. And what they had were rocks and wood.
We wanted to share the foundation and construction story that reveals itself when we crawl under one of these old churches . That’s the place where this photo was taken. Anytime you see these sort of floor joists, it indicates very early construction. Round on the bottom, flat, hand-planed on the top…these still have the 200+ year old bark in place. Concord Baptist may be one of the oldest standing churches in the state.
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Thank you for this! The photos and history are wonderful. Can someone tell me if a woman named Amy (Pace) Strickland is buried in the cemetery here? There is some confusion where she and her husband, Solomon Strickland, are buried. I believe their son Solomon, Jr. is buried here and that his father’s stone was mistakenly placed on top of the son’s grave. But I would love to know if there is something in the record that states when they became members of this church & whether they are actually buried here. Thank you for any assistance you can give. Jean
You might check with Findagrave for that information.
My Maternal great grandmother was a member of Concord Primative Baptist Church. My Maternal Grndmoter Betha Lane (Polk) was a member of Bethel Baptist Church. Both in Jasper County.