The church you see above, Fowlstown Methodist, was built in 1887 and has been inactive since 1962 – a fate common to these old rural treasures serving small farm communities as the congregations slowly withered away. However, Fowlstown Methodist has a happy ending. She now has a second life as a wedding chapel and event menu. You can check it out HERE She is now The Church On the Farm and available for service once again on the family farm of Mr. J. B. Swicord. His father owned all the land around the church and the family lived next door to it. He grew up attending services there and recalls it used to be his job to go down and start a fire in the winter, or open the windows in summer. The church was put up for sale and Mr. Swicord bought it in 1967, not knowing what he would do with it but wanting to keep it in the family and the Fowlstown community. Recently, Mr. Swicord and his grandson decided to move the church to its present location and set up The Church on the Farm. This required some repairs and renovation but it was done very well as you will see from the gallery photos below.
The earliest record we can find tells us Fowlstown Methodist was a church built in 1855 and was located in the Greenshade community cemetery a couple of miles away. There are earlier graves in the cemetery and it is reasonable to assume that a church was there prior to 1855, likely a log structure or a simple brush arbor. We also know The Greenshade Tabernacle, a Baptist church, was located at Greenshade from 1858 to 1896. The Greenshade Methodist Episcopal Church was sold in 1887 and the congregation then split between Fowlstown and Faceville, both located nearby. The Faceville Methodist church still has an active congregation but the Fowlstown Methodist Church conducted its last service in 1962. The cemetery is still active and there you will find many of Georgia’s early pioneers.
Fowlston and Decatur County figure prominently in Georgia History. The first white people into this part of Georgia first appeared in the early 19th century as a result of the Creek Indian treaty of 1814. By the terms of the treaty, the Lower Creeks were forced to cede 23 million acres of their territory in South Georgia and Alabama. Decatur County was created by an act of the state legislature on December 8, 1823. Fowlstown is located close to the first battle of the Seminole War, which began in November of 1817. The first shots were fired at a village called Fowltown, which was then located about five miles from where the church is now. Andrew Jackson, fresh from his victory over the British at New Orleans, was sent to Fort Scott as a result and he soon invaded Spanish Florida to end the conflict. Fort Scott, located nearby on the Flint River, continued to became a major military buffer due to its proximity to Spanish Florida.
Be sure to click and scroll the photos below for more photos and history of Fowlstown Methodist.
This is a close-up view of the original, gabled vestibule at the entry of this wonderfully authentic, 150+ year old church. Within the pediment we see a wagon wheel. The 19th century congregation at Fowlstown all knew that Ezekiel’s vision of the great wheel in the sky was a symbol of God’s presence; that is why it is placed in such a prominent place at their church. To find original, very perishable ornamentation such as this at an abandoned church is remarkable.
Here we stand at the double door entry into the sanctuary at Fowlstown. As you read in the introduction history, J.B. Swicord bought the structure in 1967. The church remained inactive and unused for many years. Recently, he and his son decided to completely repair this church, moved it and then lovingly restored this relic for use as a wedding/event chapel by the owner. You can see in this photo that the family has done a wonderful job in bringing Fowlstown Methodist back to life.
Here we have a photo of the chancel showing off the wide, longleaf, heart pine floors and relatively elaborate prayer rail at the church. Note the unique pierced, scrolled balustrade. The officiant’s chair and the handsome pulpit are, if not original, certainly of the period and perfectly authentic for this old church.
This a full view of the chancel, prayer rail, pulpit area and apse. The high, clear paned windows let ambient light flow into this scene. We can see and enjoy the remarkable quality and authenticity of the Swicord’s restoration efforts. From the heart pine floors, the period chancel furnishing, the simple but well lit apse, the horizontal pine board wall sheathing and the narrow, pine ceiling boards, this photo presents us a quintessential 19th century country church.
The pews at Fowlstown appear to be original but we are not sure. In any case, they are high-end scrolled arm, solid wood and certainly authentic and of the late 19th century, a perfect choice for the Swicord’s wedding/event chapel, “The Church on the Farm”.
The restoration of Fowlstown has been a labor of love. In choosing to save this historic rural church by repurposing it as a public venue while insuring it remains remains authentic in its appearance and furnishings, the Swicords have given future generations a gift. Let’s salute their gift. Its continuing existence is now guaranteed for years to come and stand as a beacon for those who wish to see and enjoy a 19th Century, rural church.
Rev. Robert P. T. Hamilton died December 12, 1855 at the age of 63. He died of dropsy of the chest and typhoid fever. He was enlisted/drafted into military service under the Fourth Infantry Regiment Georgia as a private during the War of 1812 on September 1, 1814. He enlisted at Madison, Morgan County, Georgia for a six month term and was honorably discharged at Fort Hawkins. He was licensed as a local preacher in 1830. He married Louisa C. McGehee on January 24, 1822 in Elbert County, Georgia. They had three children. Their son, Joseph Benson Hamilton, served in the 2nd Regiment, Florida Cavalry during the Civil War and died in service on December 15, 1863.
Mrs. Louisa C. Hamilton’s maiden name was Louisa Cole McGehee. She was the daughter of Samuel McGehee and Nancy Tate McGehee. She was born March 11, 1794 and died March 3, 1856 in Decatur County, Georgia. She was from Wilkes County, Georgia. She was the wife of Rev. Robert P. T. Hamilton mentioned in the previous photo.
Wormly R. Moore was born about 1814 and died November 14, 1854. He married Elizabeth Julia King on July 17, 1842 in Leon County, Florida. Their children were Martha A., Mary E., Charles E., Sarah R. and Lurana. His occupation in 1850 is shown as laborer.
John Henry Hampton was born in Emanuel County, Georgia on August 15, 1843 and died in Decatur County, Georgia on October 10, 1916. He served in Company E, 17th Georgia Infantry, CSA during the Civil War. He was captured in July 1864 and sent to Camp Chase, Ohio but after 9 months as a prisoner of war he escaped and returned to his command. He states in his 1907 Confederate pension application that he is a carpenter and the only property he owns is a horse and buggy. He can barely support himself but says his wife is only 28 years old and can work and support herself. The 1910 census record shows he is 76 years old, married three times and cannot read or write. His wife, Emma, is 32 years old, married once and can read and write.
William Gunn was born in 1818 and died December 16, 1890. He served in Company F, 11th Florida Infantry, CSA. He was captured during the war and released from prison May 15, 1865. His release paper describes him as 5’4”, dark hair, dark complexion, and gray eyes. The 1860 census gives his occupation as wagoner and the 1870 census shows him living with his wife Theaney and two children ages 2 and 4. William was 52 and Theaney was 22. William also had a son, named William, who served in the same company. William Gunn applied for a pension in 1910 that was denied but then approved in 1912.
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I am now 81 years old and I rode by this church on a bycike when I was 7/8 years of age. My name is Ken Rice and I was going to see my grandparents Will and Anney Bowman who had a farm near Faceville . I lived in Attapulgus and my parents were Franze and Bertha Rice. He worked at the clay mines.
Thanks Ken. Good memories.