The following is a church history by Winston Skinner published in the Newnan Times-Herald.
“The church has its beginning with a pioneer family that had strong tensions between father and son. Joy S. Garrison wrote a history of the Garrison Meeting House, as the church was first known, in 1976. Caleb Garrison, the benefactor who built the first church and then tore it down, was “a true pioneer, living his entire life at the extreme edges of civilization,” according to Joy Garrison.
Caleb married Rachel Box in the Haw Creek District of North Carolina and later moved to Banks County and Hall County before he came to Coweta County. Subsequently, he lived in both Alabama and Arkansas. “He was in each of these locations when they were raw pioneering communities,” Joy Garrison wrote. While he was living in Banks County – around 1825 – he attempted to whip his son Michael, who ran away. “Michael outran his father, his only possessions being a claybank pony and a muzzle-loading shotgun,” Joy Garrison wrote. A few years later, Caleb set out to find Michael. Wandering through the Georgia wilderness, he followed clues from people who had seen his son. Joy Garrison wrote that Michael was “young, healthy, industrious” at that time. He had married and become “a leading citizen in Haralson community, which at this time was known as Lick Skillet.”
Michael Garrison owned considerable property and had part interest in a store. Caleb Garrison decided to sell his Banks County holdings and move to Haralson, as well. Caleb was a Methodist – two of his brothers were Methodist parsons – and he gave two acres for a church in Haralson and built a log meetinghouse. “As the area became more populous and membership in the church increased, some of the members wished to hold camp meeting at this location. The only convenient place for the campers to get water was at Caleb Garrison’s spring. Caleb refused to allow this,” according to Joy Garrison. Michael led campers to his property and let them hold camp meeting near a spring there. When Caleb Garrison made 10 gallons of whiskey, “members of the church already unhappy about the camp meeting affair ask Caleb to destroy the whiskey and make acknowledgement of his misdeed openly in church – which he refused to do,” Joy Garrison reported. Caleb Garrison was dismissed from the church. He tore the church building down and used the material to build a barn. He also refused to allow church members onto the church property.
“Again Michael was not in accord with his father. He invited the people to a location on his land.” A brush arbor was built for services. By around 1840, Caleb Garrison had headed to the next frontier. His son remained and helped build a new church building. The Methodist church building in Haralson today – built in 1890 – is on the same site at that church and as Garrison’s original meetinghouse. The church property, the adjoining cemetery and a schoolhouse were deeded to the trustees of the Methodist Episcopal Church by William Taylor in 1845. Both Union and Confederate are buried in the cemetery – many in unmarked graves identified by head and foot stones.”
As you saw in our introductory, exterior photograph, the present Haralson Church is a lovely late 19th century structure whose design is clearly typical of other Victorian rural churchs that can be seen throughout Georgia. The attractive bell tower and highly decorative steeple with balustrades and elaborate fretwork is a dead giveaway of its era. As you enter the church, its handsome sanctuary seen above provides further proof of its late 19th century architectural history. Here we see a suspended, white ceiling separated from the cream walls by an unusual dark, wide heart pine band created by narrow tongue and grove, slanted boards. Note the triangular element created above the pulpit and apse area. This unique treatment reflects some of the quirky design elements that emerged and became fashionable at this time.
Here we stand on the edge of the chancel. Before us is an array of heart pine furniture, flooring, elaborate turned balusters, handsome molded window frames, thick paneled doors and a chair rail/wainscot that is present throughout the entire sanctuary. Being able to see and experience such a high level of 19th century carpentry, fit and finish is quite a treat. Clearly this church is loved and carefully maintained by the congregation.
In this close up photo of the chancel, we see signs… the open bible, the elaborate communion table, offertory plates the organ at the ready… that Haralson Methodist is active and healthy today. The Pastor is Kathleen Elizabeth Gillian, and she oversees an active schedule of services and events. Their byword is that, “Everyone is welcome at Haralson UMC! It has a small loving congregation. We have a traditional worship service at 11:00 AM.” We think that the congregation is blessed to have such an inviting and historic place of worship and we salute their efforts to see that it is preserved and shared with others for years to come.
Here we see the chancel as it appears when prepared for a normal service. The large stained glass memorial windows that flank the pulpit and apse provide ambient light that casts a lovely glow over the scene above.
The present church was built in 1890 on the same site as the original Garrison’s meeting house. Presbyterian ministers have presided over services from this spot for over 125 years. The gallery is a lovely design element that also functions as the choir loft. The acoustics in this small sanctuary must be experienced to appreciate. Shall we gather at the river?
The sanctuary also contains a number of clear glass pane, large, six over six windows as well as the two stained glass windows in the apse. These, supplemented by the chandeliers seen above, create a worshipful atmosphere throughout the meeting house.
Glennie/Glenroy Garrison was born September 14, 1883. He was the son of Thomas F. Garrison (1853-1926) and Mary Frances Smith Garrison (1866-1924). His father is buried at Haralson UMC cemetery but no marker for his mother was found. Glennie Garrison died March 18, 1909. He was just 25 years old when he died.
Joseph Hardy Keith was born April 13, 1830 in Meriwether County, Georgia. He was appointed Postmaster at Lutherville, January 10, 1851. He enlisted in the Confederate Army on May 8, 1862 as 1st Lieutenant with Company F, 55th Georgia Infantry. His unit trained for a while then boarded a train for Atlanta where they were to be directed to some area of action. He became ill on the train and was sent home to recover but instead grew worse and died on August 1, 1862. The Captain of this company also died on August 3, 1862. Joseph Hardy Keith and his wife, Margaret W. Peavy, had five children. The last child was born six months after his death and bore his name Joseph Hardy Keith.
William Andrew Hutchinson lived a short life. He was born August 12, 1871 and died December 17, 1897. He was the son of Benjamin Hutchinson 1832-1908 and Camilla A. Kelly Hutchinson, 1839-1902. His parents are both buried at Haralson UMC cemetery. His father, Benjamin, served in Company K, 55th Georgia Regiment during the Civil War.
John F. Sentell was born February, 1829. He enlisted as a private in Company H, 44th Georgia Regiment on March 4, 1862. He was discharged on account of wounds on August 17, 1864. His wounds must have been severe because he only lived until December 6, 1866.
William Shepherd Mayo was born January 25, 1812 and died May 29, 1857. He was married to Martha Epps Sibley (1825-1880) on July 8, 1838. The 1850 Coweta County census shows them with four children, age 10, 5, 3, and 6 months. Their son, James B. Mayo, also buried at Haralson UMC cemetery, died in 1846 at the age of four years. Their son, William Asbury Mayo, born 1840, served in Company A, 41st Regiment, CSA. He died at Shellmound, Tennessee, August 14, 1862.
Elizabeth Tigner Hodnett was born November 15, 1789. She was the daughter of Philip Tignor, a Methodist preacher and veteran of the war of 1812. In 1796 he was Captain of the 5th Company, 2nd Battalion Georgia Troops. Elizabeth was married in 1809 in Clarke County, Georgia to Major John Hodnett who also served in the War of 1812. Elizabeth died November 7, 1873. She and her husband, Major John Hodnett are buried at Haralson UMC cemetery. Their son, James Monroe Hodnett, one of their ten children. served in the Civil War and did not survive the war. He is also buried near his parents.
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Excellent info, keep up the good work
I could not bring up most of the story but loved seeing pictures of this beautiful church.
What a great American story! True Grit ?????