Duharts Baptist

Jefferson County
Org 1847
Photography by John Kirkland

Duharts Baptist Church is a remarkably well preserved church in Jefferson County. It is situated on a quiet country road in a setting that evokes memories of times gone by. Moss covered ancient trees adorn the grounds. Established in 1847, the original one room building has had only a few changes in the last one hundred and sixty seven years. The addition of a one room Sunday School space in 1951 was the only major addition. The church was originally known as Duharts Creek Church for the stream that flows by on one side of the property. It was constituted on Friday, July 16, 1847 with only thirteen members. On the following day, July 17, 1847 the members held a conference and decided to meet on the third Sabbath of each month. Remarkably, this survivor church, though greatly weakened from the old days, still meets regularly on the third Sabbath as well as the first.

The Reverend Jonathan Huff was the first pastor. The land was donated by the Key family and many with that name rest in the serene cemetery behind the church. One of the oldest graves there is Martha J Key, dated 1856. Recently the church donated cemetery space to babies and indigents. Though small in number and remotely located, Duharts still serves as a loving and compassionate congregation. Remarkably the church has a book that cites the history of the church from the beginning. The opening sentence in the book reads “A list of names of the members of Duharts Creek Church, Jefferson County Ga. July 16th, 1847.” The faded, brittle pages keep the history of the church alive.

The men who organized the church were all very active in the Hephzibah Association. J. H. T. Kilpatrick was not only a leader in the Association but was one of the founders of Mercer University. He was a veteran of the war of 1812. Elisha Perryman was an early Georgia Baptist Convention itinerant preacher who traveled on foot and horseback preaching the gospel, by his estimates nearly 120,000 miles. The second pastor of Duharts, William M. Verdery served as a Chaplain to the 59th Georgia Infantry during the Civil War. He was the father of 18 children, all by the same wife, an unusual feat in an era when one in eight women died during or from complications following childbirth.