Grooverville Methodist

Brooks County
Org 1856
Photography by Steve Robinson

Grooverville is a special place in rural Brooks County. It is in a peaceful setting on a tree shaded dirt road common to this lovely part of deep south Georgia. Part of what makes old Grooverville so special is that there are two very historic churches here located only a few yards apart i. e. this one and Liberty Baptist. These two churches attest to the vibrant little village that populated these two congregations when Grooverville was located on the stage road from Tallahassee to Thomasville. Both of these churches will be a work in process and a very uplifting one. For years there has been a cloud over this old village that houses these two sanctuaries. The cloud involved local disputes and contested ownership that have now been resolved, and we are grateful to report that the old Methodist church has been acquired by someone with local roots who is determined to restore her to her former glory. These images we are presenting now are those of a church that has been neglected for some time, and to that extent they are an important part of what we hope will be the documentation of the re-birth of Grooverville. Even in a neglected state, she stands proudly just as she has since 1856. The church history below is courtesy of Clayton H. Ramsey. For a tour of the Liberty Baptist Church next door click here. There is also another very historic church, Bethlehem Primitive Baptist, located just four miles away. Click here for a tour of Bethlehem.

“Grooverville Methodist Church began as a brush-arbor meeting place on the property of William H. Ramsey. In 1832, Mr. Ramsey moved with his family from Bladen County, North Carolina, to Thomas (later Brooks) County, Georgia. Without an established church in the area and anxious to worship according to Methodist practice, he began services for his family and slaves in a temporary shelter on his land. As families with Methodist convictions gradually settled in the area, they sought out others with similar religious affinities and decided a sturdier structure should be built for their times of Sabbath meeting. A log-church was built one-half mile north of Mr. Ramsey’s home, on the road that led to St. Marks, Florida. They named the church Lebanon, and while there were no regular services visited by ordained clergy, the church served as a focal point for the developing Methodist community there. The faith of the congregants sustained the fellowship until Lebanon was added to the Methodist circuit in the 1840s as a regular appointment.

Near Lebanon was a center of trade known as Station No. 18, then Key, and finally Grooverville. Grooverville’s commercial success was due in no small measure to its placement on the stage road from Tallahassee to Thomasville and Troupville. Attracted to the growing town, the members of Lebanon Church decided to move their congregation to Grooverville and were granted an acre of land by deed of gift from the owner of the property, Mr. Malachi Groover. Richard Ramsey, M.W. Linton, and W.R. Joiner were appointed Trustees of the deed in 1856. With the move, the name of the church was changed from Lebanon to Grooverville Methodist Church.

Mr. Linton, with a team of slave and free carpenters, sawed and planed the pine planks for the existing church building. Shuttered windows and a belfry, with sides of wide planks painted white, mark the modest style of the church that was designed in a manner consistent with the requirements of the Methodist Discipline. It remains in a quiet stand of pine as perhaps the oldest church building in the county, and at one time the largest church on a circuit that included Grooverville, Beulah, and Prospect. Church members stopped meeting in December of 1998, and the church fell into disrepair. In early 2017, a private individual with family ties to the area purchased the building with the expectation that the historic church will be renovated and used as a resource to rebuild community in the Grooverville district. Grooverville Methodist Church served as a linchpin of the religious and social life of Grooverville for generations. The hope is that it may yet again.”

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