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.
This view from the pulpit reveals a simple sanctuary where very little has changed since its mid-19th century beginning. Modernization has introduced electricity for lighting and heat. The bare horizontal and vertical roof and wall boards have been replaced by modern insulated tile and wall covering. The floor has been carpeted to provide insulation and protect the original floorboards. The windows remain as clear glass paned, simple, 9 over 9’s and the pews are solid wood with no ornamentation. These changes were made to accommodate modern creature comforts and help retain the present, 21st century members. It is touching that the “facilities” still remain out doors with a “two hole” privy up the hill for the ladies and a “one hole” privy for the men down the hill.
In this view we see that interior simplicity is the by-word at Duharts… plain and simple pews, unadorned pulpit woodwork, window and door frames with no unnecessary ornamentation or decoration. Other than the cross on the wall, there are no pictures, icons, wall sconces, brackets or other decoration. The notches down the center of the pews harken back to olden days when a center, dividing board separated the women and children from the men.
Duharts cemetery contains all kind of different monuments that have been popular during its 160+ year history. The photo above displays four completely different styles. To the left we see a fallen, thick, slot and tab, arched-top tablet from the mid 19th century next to a later, more elaborate marble tablet with escutcheon. Next is another mid-19th century style brick and ledger stone “false crypt”. On the right is a late 19th style memorial. This cemetery contains many of the original settlers to this area as well as their progeny.
The little cemetery that adjoins the church is a step back in time. There are 106 total interments in the cemetery representing generations of farmers in this remote part of Jefferson County.
The long shadows in the evening and the dappled light coming through the moss draped oaks are a beautiful and fitting setting for this Jefferson County jewel that has served this community for over 150 years.
Original church history can be very difficult to find and in many cases no longer exists. This is a rare example of the very first page of the minutes for the church showing the founding members who organized it in 1847 separated by sex. Notice the notations of various deaths. Ashes to ashes – dust to dust.
Our final image is that of the old mill on Duharts Creek that, according to church history, served as the Baptismal pool in earlier days. What a great rural setting for such a solemn occasion. Shall we gather at the river – the beautiful, beautiful river.
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I am a Duhart. MY Great, Great Grandfather , born 1801 in Va. Is this church associated with the Duhart Family?
Could be. The church was named for Duhart’s Creek which is nearby but the creek was certainly named for a Duhart family member.
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Researching history of
Duharts Baptist Church
See you soon ????
Elisha Perryman is my 3 great-grandfather. Would like to visit sometime.
My name is Ryan Farris and I am a current member of Duharts Baptist.
We certainly welcome everyone to come at anytime and join us for fellowship. We now gather every Sunday at 9:30 am for worship.
Feel free to give me a call. My # 478 494-4321
Thank you Ryan. Duharts is a special place.