The style and architecture of rural churches takes many forms. One of the most significant reasons is the economic circumstance of the community it serves, and another is the denomination and the underlying tenants of that faith. The simple structure you see here is not elaborate in any way, partly due to its origin at the end of the 19th century in a part of rural Georgia that was struggling to survive in a difficult agrarian environment, and partly due to the fact that it is a Primitive Baptist Church. Primitive Baptist churches are almost all very plain……no steeples, no ornamentation and no pianos or organs.
Concord Primitive Baptist has been serving this little farm community for over 125 years at this location in the little sanctuary you see here. It is located in a remote, rural location in Cook County. The closest city of any size is Moultrie, over thirty miles west. There have been some cosmetic changes on both the exterior and interior but the building is original. As Primitive Baptists, the ritual of footwashing is often observed, and we are informed that the congregation has a foot washing service each year in September. Primitive Baptists also value traditional music, and this congregation has sung from the same hymnals since the church originated in the late 19th century. Worth noting however, is the singing is all acapella…. no musical accompaniment. The church was built by Charles W. Stallings who passed away in 1904 and is buried in the little graveyard.
At Historic Rural Churches we do not discriminate by race or denomination. Our criteria has been stated many times. We feature churches that are over 100 years old, located in a rural area, with at least some of the historical architecture still reflected in the structure and interior. While associated graveyards are not a prerequisite, we value them because they contain stories of the hardy souls who helped build this country. To that end we try to feature a few “Tales From the Crypt” that inform us about the context of life at that point in history and give us some insight into the noble and hardworking people associated with the headstones. We salute these congregations that still serve their communities and are in touch with their roots and those that have gone before them. Thanks to Judy and Charlie Meadows for the above history.
Be sure to click and scroll the gallery photos below for more information about the church and some of the interments in the graveyard.
This simple and worn sign is traditional and quite plain. It is a hand- made notice declaring that this is a Primitive Baptist Church and regular services are still held. No mention of a pastor or other non-necessary notices.
We are looking here at the front entry of this building. It has been modified inside and out during its 125 plus year history but the structure is original. It is a rectangular, single gable design with absolutely no exterior decorative elements. The tile siding was probably added mid-20th century to cover the original wood siding. Three small 20th century windows flank the off-center front door which is covered by a primitive, shed awning. Bent steel pipes provide handrails. The 20th century, electric service box can be seen to the left. This kind of spartan presentation is common for a Primitive Baptist building.
This is an interior view from the rear of the sanctuary toward the chancel and pulpit area. Whereas the exterior at Concord is very plain, the interior is much more modern and comfortable looking. Many Primitive Baptist interiors are stark with bare wooden floors and walls. Here we see carpeting, manufactured pews, a suspended truss ceiling covered by ceiling tile. Though still plain, this sanctuary is quite inviting compared to other such churches.
Here we see a relatively lavish communion table and bench that sits in front of the chancel. The attractive pulpit sits at the front of the chancel which is bounded by a simple but quite attractive balustrade. Another bench sits at the rear. Please note that the entire area is quite clean and an attractive floral display sit at pulpit left.
Here we see a hymnal resting on one of the benches right and left of the chancel. As mentioned earlier, congregational singing is a major part of the Primitive Baptist service. But in keeping with the tenets of the church, all songs are sung without any accompaniment, acapella. We are told the hymnals are original from the beginning of the church in 1894.
Here we see the open hymnal. It is worn and stained but still in use in this historic sanctuary. These hymnals are well over 100 years old but still relevant to the Primitive Baptist faith.
This uncomfortable looking, hard seated chair is a relic of past times. It is original to the church and sits in a place of honor in front of the chancel and pulpit as a reminder of the historic nature and venerability of this old church.
Alberta Fletcher was born February 8, 1915 and died July 10, 1935. She died at age 20 and apparently never married. She was the daughter of Vasco Victor Fletcher (1882-1968) and Berta Stallings Fletcher (1884-1962). Both of Alberta’s parents are also buried at the Concord Primitive Baptist Church cemetery. Vasco Fletcher’s World War I draft registration states “left eye is out”.
This tombstone reads Olief son of J. B. and L. V. Giddens, born August 1, 1900, died August 22, 1901. Olief’s father was Jimpsey Bartholomew Giddens born January 28, 1870 and died July 16, 1927. His mother was Lottie V. Cone Giddens born September 5, 1882 and died May 19, 1915. Olief had five brothers and one sister who all lived to adulthood.
Frank S. Adams was born July 8, 1904 and died July 12, 1907 at three years of age. His tombstone contains the quote “Alas the fairest fade early”. This marker is the only one at the Concord Primitive Baptist Church cemetery with the last name Adams. The parents or other family members of this child are not known. There are several infant graves around this time period in 1907. The most likely reason is some sort of pandemic that periodically swept through rural Georgia.
Frances D. May Mathis was born February 26, 1869 and died August 9, 1895. She was the first wife of Alonza David Mathis (1867-1941). They had three children: Billie, Sallie and Bessie. Her husband, Alonza May and all three of his wives are buried at the Concord Primitive Baptist Church cemetery. His second wife, Mattie, was a sister of Frances. Her parents Baten May (1832-1906) and Angelina Green May (1840-1922) are also buried at the Concord Primitive Baptist Church cemetery. Her father, Baten May, served in Company E, 54th GA Infantry, CSA.
Rev. Charles W. Stallings (April 15, 1861-November 14, 1905) and his wife, Dora Howell Stallings (October 16, 1860-December 15, 1950) are both buried in the Concord Primitive Baptist Church cemetery. Rev. Stallings united with the Methodist Church at the age of 18 and remained a member for six years. He joined the Primitive Baptist at Cat Creek Church in Lowndes County in 1886. He was baptized by his father, Elder T. W. Stallings. He was ordained in 1891 and faithfully served the churches under his care. Because of health issues he had to be carried in an invalid chair the last seven years of his life and sat down while preaching.
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My Grand Parents went to this church Henry Thaddeus & Viola Pierce Hughes
Thanks for sharing this Zel.
I am Gail Hughes with the Cook County Historical Society. Just wanted you to know about the Salem Primitive Baptist Church in the city of Adel. it is near a Lime Sink.
We want to buy the book.
Thanks for the tip Gail. The link to buy the book on Amazon is here https://www.amazon.com/Historic-Rural-Churches-Georgia-Sonny/dp/0820349356