Field’s Chapel, is to a great extent, the story of Jeremiah Field and the Field family. It is a story that takes place at a seminal point in Georgia history involving vast amounts of cheap land, conflict with the Cherokee Nation, the discovery of gold and ultimately, the sad removal of the Cherokees from this land on the infamous ‘Trail of Tears’. The white encroachment on the land began as early as 1800, possibly earlier. The old Federal Highway, completed in 1805, ran in the northeast part of the county and provided access for land hungry settlers. At first there was a trickle of settlers but after gold was discovered, the trickle became a flood.
Prior to the formation of the county and the discovery of gold, the conflict with the Cherokee began to escalate, exacerbated by the fact that the Cherokees had sided with England in the Revolutionary War. This did not sit well with these backcountry pioneers who had been strong revolutionaries with little taste for Loyalist sympathizers. Soon after the formation of the county, the land was dotted with gold mines and encampments of miners.
According to one church history, Field’s chapel was organized and built by Jeremiah Field sometime around 1820. However, there is a Field Geneology document that suggests he may have moved into Cherokee County at a later date. Regardless of the date, Jeremiah Field was one of the earliest settlers in Cherokee County and was quite an entrepreneur who owned a grist mill, a general store and thousands of acres engaged in agriculture. According to the 1840 Federal census, Jeremiah owned 39 slaves and according to the 1850 census, the value of his property was given as $50,000….making him the richest man in the county. This original church stood for many years and was in use until the present church was built by Charles Steele in 1898. The church was dedicated on June of 1899 by the Reverend Sam Jones and ‘it was said that there were three thousand people present to witness the dedication in spite of the rainy weather’.
A few words about the Reverend Sam Jones would be in order here, as 3,000 people standing in the rain for a rural church dedication sounds like an exaggeration. However, Sam Jones had that kind of power, and he was regarded as the South’s most famous preacher in the late 19th century. He preached far and wide all over the country and once preached to over a quarter of a million people over several weeks in Chicago. His ‘Quit your meanness’ message was delivered in a homespun theatrical style that resonated with the common man as he railed against the evils of ‘theater, dime novels, playing cards, baseball, and dances’. However, his biggest campaign was against alcohol…… ‘I will fight the liquor traffic as long as I have fists, kick it as long as I have a foot, bite it as long as I have a tooth, and then gum’em till I die’. For more information about Sam Jones click here.
It was a great send off and the little church prospered until 1927 and 1928, when the church was threatened by the building of the Allatoona reservoir and many people were forced to sell their land. Membership had declined until there were only 15 or 16 left due to the fact that so many people had been relocated and others simply cut off from access to the church. The little church has now fully rebounded and has an active congregation of over 140 members. Services are held every Sunday at 8:40 and 11:00 am and visitors are welcome. The sanctuary is also available for special events.
When one enters the doors of Field's Chapel Meeting House, they are greeted by an atmosphere of vitality and life that exists within. The interior is brimming with the light from high, nine over nine windows windows on each wall and that floods in through the windows of the apse as well. Yes, this is a very old church, and will soon be celebrating the 200th year since its founding. But unlike many others we have seen, Field's Chapel remains very active and relevant within its community. Built in 1898, the sanctuary remains a kind of time capsule from the late 19th Century. Decorative elements are minimal.......vaulted ceiling, horizontal ceiling and wall boards, vertical wainscot boards and period pews. Field's Chapel is obviously a beloved church, well maintained and preserved by the members.
The multicolored panes in the large windows provide colorful lighting accents within the Chapel. The original 19th century pews of a unique design sit sturdily upond the heart pine floors where they were placed over a hundred years ago. These pews were quite different from the austere and hard flat plank ones that had been in the first church. We guess that the congregation decided to use these "contemporary"...and much more decorative...pews in 1898 as a sign of the prosperity they were experiencing and expecting more of in the new, 20th century just around the corner. Or maybe they just wanted a little more comfort.
One of the reasons that this 100+ year old meeting house remains in operation and acceptable for use by today's modern congregation might stem from its relatively recent construction date. When it was consecrated in 1899, the modern era was just around the corner. Interior bathrooms and gas or electric light was becoming common. The congregation was able to add the new-fangled conveniences economically through the years continuing to create a comfortable environment within its original walls well into the 21st Century.
The largest number of interments in the cemetery are that of the Gramling family who have 22 graves in the cemetery. The oldest of these, in the foreground, is Marthia Gramling, who died in 1895 at the age of 16. In the background is the family burial ground for the Field family who have 17 graves, including that of founder Jeremiah Field and his wife Anna, both of whom died in 1857.
The grave stone to the right, sitting on its granite base, is of the rounded, modified style. The styles of grave markers and stone decoration/inscription have continually changed from the Revolutionary War to today. The categories such as tablet, box tomb, pedestal, obelisk, pillow, cradle, etc. are many and varied. Knowing more about those styles will help the observer make accurate generalizations about the date of a marker. Stones like this one could not be 18th or 20th century, but they were common during the mid 19th century. This is a particularly fine, elaborately decorated and inscribed gravestone. It was not ordered from a Sears or Montgomery Ward catalog. This was an expensive memorial to someone well loved and much missed.
What a beautiful image of this historic old rural burial ground begun in the time of the gold rush and the Cherokee Indian removal. It is a sweet reminder of where we came from and how we got here. There are 188 total interments in the cemetery. For a complete documentation of Field's Chapel interments click here.
The little sanctuary has evolved over the years but Field's Chapel has faithfully served its community for almost 200 years. This is Field's Chapel today. Waiting to greet its congregation as it has done so for many decades.
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Is there a possibility of finding out if my husband’s grandparents were married there in 1905? Charley White and Belle Dobson.
We do not have access to that kind of information I’m afraid.