Ezekiel Congregational Methodist
What you see above are the sad remains of what once was one of the most striking churches in the Georgia backcounty. Located in Ware County, it was built in 1899 by Manning Thigpen and named for his son Ezekiel who died when he was twelve. Ezekiel is buried in Kettle Creek Cemetery and rests between his mother and father. Fortunately, we know this from a 1968 local newspaper article. Much of what we know about the church came from this source as well as a more recent article about the church history written in 2003. The little church was located in a very rural area in the pre World War I days – before US No. 1 – and once had a one room schoolhouse located beside it. The little church in the wildwood, along with the school, served the community that became Pebble Hill. Before the church was built, we are told that this area was popular for caravans of wagons headed for St. Marys for salt water, which they evaporated producing salt. The salt was essential for preserving freshly killed meats and cooking.
We are pretty certain that the church you see above was the sister church of the Old Ruskin Church, which is also in Ware County and is featured on our website. The only meaningful differences in the churches is that Old Ruskin has been well cared for and Ezekiel is just about gone. This is especially tragic when the article mentions that the church was renovated in the late 1960’s “for a few hundred dollars“. Then the old familiar story begins to play out. The rural area begins a long decline and the congregation along with it. The church becomes abandoned, the roof begins to let in the weather and death becomes inevitable. We might add, that if a tin roof had been added at that time, the old church would still be standing. Tin roofs have been a critical factor in the longevity of rural churches. As you see above, Ezekiel is well beyond being savable and will slowly melt away.
At HRCGA, our mission is to document these old treasures that are beyond repair and to call attention to those that can still be saved. With just a little money, maintenance and some loving care this wonderful example of rural Georgia history would still be with us. In order for that to happen, the local community has to get involved. Perhaps we can figure out ways to make sure sure these historical gems can be kept viable and passed along from generation to generation. Please scroll the photos with the arrows above and pay homage to Mr. Manning Thigpen, the master builder who created this masterpiece we hate to see lost. On an upbeat note, the series of photos ends with the wonderful shot of Old Ruskin, which was built about the same time and is located only a few miles away. It still stands proud among the Georgia pines. We want to lead the way in finding and saving these rural treasures before they become beyond repair.