According to the centennial church history, the founding of Dickey Presbyterian was on March 3, 1849. The name of the original church, located one mile south of the present structure, was the Pachitla Presbyterian Church – then located in Baker County. From the Centennial history – Meetings were held in a frame building located on the west side of the old cemetery on the Morgan-Arlington road. This Church was lighted by candles placed in wooden holders and hung on the walls. This original Church building was sold and the money was used toward construction of the new Church building in 1871. The heavy timbers for the foundation and underpinning were hauled from near Salem Baptist Church by a yoke of twelve oxen. The other lumber was bought and hauled from Boynton and Cordray over near what is now Cordray’s Mill. The windows, window sash, and the outside blinds were purchased from Miller-Brown Company of Ft. Valley, Georgia, and shipped by way of the South-Western Railroad Company.’The new Church building was completed in the Fall of 1871. The first sermon preached in it was by Rev. Luther H. Wilson in December, 1871. The building was dedicated by Rev. James E. Wilson,father of the minister and a retired missionary from India.
In 1872. a request was presented to the Presbytery in Ft. Gaines to change the name of the church to The Whitney Presbyterian Church and in 1913, the name was again changed to The Dickey Presbyterian Church in honor of Mr. Thomas Edward Dickey, who had donated the land in 1871 for the present church, cemetery and a boarding school. Dickey Presbyterian has stood in this quaint spot in rural Calhoun County for almost 150 years on land that is still in the same family. The quiet dignity of the sanctuary is perfect for this lovely setting. Inside a real treat awaits all who enter. The sanctuary is a step back in time and the quality of the construction and the furnishings is reflective of some real rural craftsmanship. Other than the basic additions of electricity in the 1940’s the structure is original, as is the beautiful and restful color palette of the interior. The old church bell still rings across the countryside.
Cathy and Jaa Arnold are descendents of Mr. Dickey and now own the farm that surrounds the old church. Mr. Arnold’s father was a Sunday School teacher at the church for over forty years but the church became inactive in 1998 when the congregation got too small to sustain it. The roots of the Whitney/Dickey families buried in the cemetery run deep . We are grateful for the family stewardship of Dickey Presbyterian and for their remarkable devotion to the preservation of this rural Georgia treasure.
The last regular service held in this sanctuary occurred in 1998, seventeen years ago. Despite that, the interior appears to be prepared and ready today to host its old congregation. How can that be? The answer is that the family and friends of the church's founders in 1849 have chosen to devote much of their time and resources to insure the old meeting house does not die. They should be recognized and saluted for saving this monument for posterity.
This sanctuary is a wonderful and authentic example of a 19th century church… the interior has remain unchanged and reflects the tastes, styles and fashions in the late 19th century. The two entryways for men and women as well as the railing dividing the central pews into the men's section and women and children's sections remind us of some of the now quaint points-of-view held by these rural folks.
The simplicity and quiet elegance reflected within this sanctuary through earlier photos seems to contrast with the very fine, classical woodwork found at the chancel, pulpit and triple arched framing around the apse. Even the window frames are decorated, classically correct and well finished unlike many of the earlier rural churches we have featured. This advance can be attributed to the coming of the railroads and relatively prosperous times in this part of Georgia. The fine woodwork and framing was "store-bought" and shipped from Ft. Vally on the South-Western RR that passed through town. The 20th century was now knocking at the door of these rural villages.
If the fancy woodwork and trim just noted provide sharp contrast to the overall plain and simple elements within the sanctuary, the hard, unadorned wooden pews seen above bring us back to earth. Yes, we are in a significant and authentic rural Georgia meeting house!
There are 82 documented interments in the cemetery. Eighteen of these interments are those of the Jenkins family. As you can see from the above monument to Ben Hill Jenkins Jr.. He was a prosperous medical doctor and, obviously, a satisfied stockholder of the Coca Cola Company. His grandfather was William Leroy Jenkins who is also buried in the family plot. William served in Company E of the 32nd Ga Inf. He enlisted as a private in Savannah on May 7, 1862 and emerged with the rank of Lt. in July of 1864. William was wounded twice in 1864 and was paroled at the end of the war at Greensboro, North Carolina. The Jenkins roots run deep in Calhoun County.
Here lies Thomas Edward Plowden, the great grandfather of the present owner and the grandson of founder T.E. Dickey. Mr. Plowden was a Confederate veteran who served in the 12th Georgia Infantry and was with Robert E. Lee at the surrender at Appomattox.
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