Greenville Presbyterian

Meriwether County
Org 1829
Photography by Andy Sarge

The congregation of Greenville Presbyterian was organized in 1829 and the church you see here was built around 1836 in this rural location. Presbyterian churches were traditionally located in the towns and villages that were emerging in the early 1800s. When Greenville was laid out in 1828, lots were deeded for a Methodist, a Baptist, and a Presbyterian church. The Presbyterians sold their lot (lot 71) and subsequently built the Greenville Presbyterian Church just north of town on the Greenville Rocky Mount Road. It has been extremely well-maintained in its original state for over 175 years.  The simplicity of the small structure belies its rich interior and the beauty of its original furnishings. It has been on the National Register of Historic Properties since 2011.

Meriwether County was created out of Troup County land in 1827 shortly after the Cherokee cession of land in the Indian Springs treaty of 1825.  The county prospered and grew rapidly until 1850, with much of that growth in and around the county seat of Greenville.  The Greenville Presbyterian Church was organized by Rev. Edward Lanier and Rev. Jesse Stratton on Friday, March 27,1829 and eight charter members were enrolled.  The first recorded report of the church to the Presbytery was in 1837, when that body held its spring session in Decatur, Georgia.

The cemetery contains many of  Meriwether County’s early prominent citizens. Of the 115 documented interments in the cemetery, seventeen have the sur name Gaston, Including John A. Gaston, who died in 1866 and was known as “The Giant”.  He was a state legislator of some repute whose tombstone records his height as 7 ft. 6 in. and his weight as 430 pounds.  Not surprisingly, he died at the early age of 45.  The National Register history, compiled in 2001, also tells us “the cemetery, in the southwest portion of the property, contains the remains of slaves and other African Americans, two of which markers have the dates 1890 and 1898. Some of these grave sites have collapsed. There are remnants of marker stones scattered throughout the woods. A cemetery survey reported 141 stone markers in the African-American section”.  This is a very historic African American cemetery reported on the National Register document but sadly, there remains little visual evidence of it today (2019).  To read the document click here.

In 1943, the Atlanta Presbytery merged the Greenville Presbyterian Church with its city counterpart, the Stacy Presbyterian Church in downtown Greenville.  The church had been constructed in 1886, destroyed by tornado in 1893, and rebuilt that same year. The Greenville Presbyterian Church was cited as the mother church and the Stacy church her “child.” The relationship between the two churches was maintained for the next five decades until the Stacy sanctuary was sold to the Methodist  Church in 1998.

We are grateful to the loving congregations who have taken such superb care of one of Georgia’s most historic rural churches.  She is a beauty that can now be preserved for generations to come.

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