Euphrates Primitive Baptist Church is a frame church of weatherboard, built in 1873. The beautiful pews are hand hewn. The walls and the sagging ceiling are of wood. The originality of the interior is stunning. Much of it is original and in relatively good shape, but the early history is a bit blurry. We think it is the second church built on this site, as the organization date is 1830. The setting is very rural, sitting quietly at the crossroads of two dirt roads near the community of Edge Hill, which has a history typical of many rural communities that were once vibrant, but now have little left to remind us of days gone by. Edge Hill has the distinction of being the smallest incorporated city in the state of Georgia. The population in the 2010 census was listed at 24. In it’s heyday children attended a large brick school there. Now the school is covered in vines and will soon succumb to the elements. Inside one can see the evidence of kerosene lamps and the typical wood stove cover in the ceiling.
Across the road is a cemetery with cedar trees and unmarked graves. It is the final resting site of several Civil War soldiers as well as one Revolutionary War soldier, Jeremiah Wilcher. Jeremiah received several land grants for his war service and the Wilchers were one of the dominant families in this part of Georgia in the early 1800s. Of the 120 interments in the cemetery, 28 of them have the surname Wilcher. Jeremiah Wilcher, a founder of the church was born in Virginia in 1760 and died in 1830, the year the church was organized. His grave marks the first interment in the cemetery.
Edge Hill Community (formerly known as the Jule Wilcher Quarters) was named by Mrs. J.C.A. Wilcher who taught school for a long period of time. She was a native Virginian and began her teaching career in her native state. Her maiden name was Miss Sara Sallie Madison. She was a relative of the fourth United States president, James Madison. Shortly after the war between the states, she came to Rockmart, Georgia, as a teacher. While teaching there she met and married the Honorable J.C.A. Wilcher, a Representative in the Georgia Legislature. After being married, they moved to Mr. Wilcher’s home community in southern Glascock County where she continued her teaching career in a log cabin where rough boards were used for seats. While teaching here, she was given the honor of selecting a name for the community surrounding the school. She called it Edge Hill, for a small village in her native state.
Be sure to click and scroll the gallery photos below for more images and history.
This lonesome, worn, bush-covered “Edgehill City Limit” sign on the Euphrates Baptist grounds is an appropriate metaphor of its remoteness, perseverance, congregational tenacity and love. This church and its people have survived and thrived, relatively, at this site for 190 years and worshiped in this building for almost 150 years. Despite being located in the smallest, incorporated city in Georgia with a population of 24, its congregation still gathers for Sunday services and events just as it always has.
This view of the exterior reveals the simplicity of the Euphrates structure. We see a single gable, rectangular, church building with no decorative, architectural elements, six high, sashed windows with clear glass panes. The two front doors provide entryways for women and children through one side and men on the other. This simple structure reflects the “less is more” tenets of the sect.
In this photo from mid-sanctuary toward the two entry doors, we can see that the sanctuary reflects the same spartan rules as the exterior. We see a room devoid of any architectural embellishment or decorative elements, with the exception of one small picture. On the other hand, we can enjoy a view of this totally authentic sanctuary and of the era. The lovely hand-hewn pews are also period-perfect. Please note that the contrasting paint colors of the walls, white on top and reddish on the lower portion of the wall, do reflect a decorative flair reminiscent of a wainscot and could qualify as a decorative element within this very spare sanctuary.
In this charming picture we get to appreciate the welcoming and cozy feeling within the sanctuary. The large windows allow the entry of ambient light that flows through the dozen, clear-glass paned windows. The light green ceiling, white walls and reddish wainscot take on a warm glow. Of course, the principal of “less is more” is also reflected in the simplicity of the offertory table and the fact that no decorative elements(other than the period hat-rack) can be seen.
We have often drawn attention to the “authenticity” of this sanctuary and its furnishings. An example is present in this photo close up of an original, heart pine pew. Look at the great width of the pine boards, some 16” to 20”. The adze and wood plane’s primitive tool marks can clearly be seen. Shaping the boards was an arduous and time-consuming task. It is evidence and knowledge such as this that we are proud to bring before our audience when presenting and documenting these old churches. We thank the congregation at Euphrates for their efforts to insure that churches such this will remain available for the enjoyment by generations to come.
Jeremiah H. Wilshire/Wilcher was born in 1760 in Virginia and died in 1830 in Glascock County, Georgia. He was a Revolutionary War patriot. He married Jane “Jenny” May Cummings (1774-1831). They had seven or eight children. He received a land grant for 287 ½ acres in 1784 in Washington County, GA. In 1788 he received a land grant for 200 acres in Richmond County, GA. He also acquired 300 acres on Big Creek in Warren County, GA. and other lands in the area. In 1820 he lived in Jefferson County and owned 6 slaves.
Jeremiah Wilcher was born October 13, 1832 and died February 17, 1894. He was a sergeant in Company A, 48th Georgia Infantry, CSA. He was wounded at Sharpsburg, MD on September 17, 1862 and at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on July 2, 1863. He was captured at Amelia Courthouse, Virginia on April 6, 1865. He was released at Point Lookout, Maryland June 22, 1865.
Julius Caesar Augustus Wilcher was born in 1837 and died in 1912. He was the son of Jeremiah Wilcher and Ruth Braddy Wilcher. He was married 3 or 4 times. He served as 1st Sgt., Company G, 7th Battalion, Georgia Cavalary State Guards. The Georgia Property Tax Digest for 1881-87 shows he owned 2260 acres of land and employed 60 people. A notice in the newspaper says he had just eaten a potato and died of acute indigestion.
This broken stone marks the spot where John L. Wilcher’s body was laid to rest. He was born February 24, 1841 and died at age 11 on October 20, 1852. He was the son of Jeremiah Wilcher and his wife Ruth Braddy Wilcher mentioned with the next picture.
Celia Williford’s tombstone reads: In memory of Celia daughter of Perry and Eliza Ann Williford, Born November 6, 1878, Died October 18, 1896. Gone in her young years, Ere sorrow could stain, Afar from life’s cares, Its Grief and its (can’t read last line). Celia’s father Hines Perry Williford served in Company B, 2nd Battalion during the Civil War. His pension application in Monroe County was denied in 1914 because the claim was made that he owned property valued at more than $1500.
Ruth Braddy Wilcher was born in 1799 and died in 1881. She was married to Jeremiah Wilcher (1799-1860). They had eight children. His tombstone states he represented Jefferson and Glascock Counties in the Georgia Legislature. The 1850 slave schedule for Glascock County shows he owned 41 slaves.
Henry Jasper Calhoun was born October 5, 1836 and died April 29, 1893. He is shown at age 14 in the 1850, Jefferson County, GA census with his father Hancel C. Calhoun, 45; his mother Louisa Walden Calhoun, 40, and Franklin L. Calhoun, 16; Keland/Keelin Calhoun, 8; Kinchen W. Calhoun, 4. He married Grace Davis in 1866 in Glascock County. His brother, Keelin Calhoun served as 2nd Sgt., Company E, 48th Georgia Regiment. He died December 5, 1863 at a hospital in Richmond, Virginia.
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My Papa’s church! Rev. Thurman Walden
b.12/30/1929 – d.06/21/2019
I wish I could add the many photos I have of this beauty church & it’s cemetery!
Papa was decendant of Geremiah Wiltshire (documents of Jefferson Co. are as Jeremiah Wilcher one of the Founding Fathers of Jefferson Co. Ga.)
Papa never changed a thing about this church the entire time he had it. His name even remained on the outside church marker for years! Down from the church is his birthplace home. The old homeplace & farm land of Macon & Lucy Swint Walden. They are my grt-grandparents & are as well buried there in the church’s cemetery. I have so many years growing up in this church. The memories of Papa behind the pulpit preaching & singing! Memories of granddaddy Macon & grandmother Lucy always sitting at the front of the church is the big antique throne-style chairs! The many church homecomings & gatherings there!
Thanks for sharing these personal memories Rebecca. The old churches were the bedrock of the communities they served. If you have any old photos (the older the better) of the church, please scan and submit to firstname.lastname@example.org. We could possibly add one or two to the website.
My great, great, great grandmother was a member here, this church is listed in her obituary, her name was Fannie Williford and she later married Wade H. Henderson. I am trying to research and learn my family roots. Beautiful church!!
My ancestor, Daniel Hayes, was the elder of this church in the 1870s and married the widow of William Wilcher.
Do your photographers travel with new Confederate flags? Wouldn’t the close-up of the tombstone suffice to convey the history?
We do not travel with flags or get involved with political issues. We only honor the churches, tell the history and photograph what is there.
My great grandparents, John and Susan Sammons Todd are buried in the church cemetery.
Any connection to Lewis Sammons who married Nancy Hunter ? Roy Hunter < email@example.com
W.R. Hunter and his wife Mary A. Hunter are buried there. W. R. (William ) Hunter b 1821 died 1886 was son of Job Hunter
Roy Hunter , firstname.lastname@example.org
What a beauty! Please hurry with your second book. I want a copy!