Jasper County tax records lead us to believe Hopewell Baptist was built prior to 1850. The story of the church is, to a great extent, the story of the Blackwell family. Samuel Blackwell came to the Hopewell section of Jasper County from North Carolina in 1820. He bought a large tract of land and started a plantation about a mile south of where the church is now. In 1847, he and some other friends organized Hopewell Baptist Church. Samuel was a prominent member of the community who served as sheriff as well as serving in the state legislature. He was a deacon of Hopewell Baptist for more than 50 years and was buried at the church at the age of 95. Seven of his eight sons served in the 32nd Ga infantry during the Civil War. More of the church’s history was found in The History of Jasper County published in 1984.
Hopewell Baptist was organized in Conference on April 16, 1847. A short time previously a group of Presbyterians had organized a church in the dame community of Hopewell and, for a short time, the two denominations shared the small meeting house. At the April 16, 1847 meeting is was decided to keep the name Hopewell as the nae of the church. Records of the church show that on Sunday, April 18, 1847 Rev. Carter was joined by Rev. T.U. Wilkes and Rev. William Jarrell and after a sermon proceeded into Conference where the letters of the prospective members were examined, a constitution was adopted and William H. Preston was elected clerk. A few weeks late the church adopted a set of rules of decorum. These rules were:
1- Any male member who is absent from Conference shall give his excuse for that absence at the next meeting of Conference. His excuse shall be ruled on as acceptable or unaceptable by the Moderator, Clerk and two Deacons.
2- When conference is called to order all members shall take their seats and shall not engage in laughter, or idle talk. They shall give their full attention to the business.
3- Any member who wished to speak shall stand and address the Moderator. He will not begin to speak until he is recognized by the Moderator. He shall not be interrupted unless he depart from the subject or use unbecoming language.
4- No member shall speak on a subject more than three times unless given permission by the Moderator.
Rule number 1 would cause some discontent later when some excuses were accepted and others not. On Sunday, Oct. 31, 1847, Rev. Carter was elected permanent pastor. Also Hosiah, who was enslaved by Mr. Samuel H. Blackwell was accepted as the first black member, having been a member of another Baptist church before becoming enslaved by Mr. Blackwell.
In 1849, a conference decided to hold separate services each Sunday afternoon for the black members of the congregation. Also in 1849, Rev. Carter informed the church that his duties at Providence were such that he would be unable to serve as pastor. Rev. William Atkinson was elected and served until 1855 when he moved to Harris county. this was the beginning of a close association between Hopewell and churches in Harris County. They often exchanged lay ministers over the next 10 years.
It was during the period of Rev. Atkinson’s ministry that discontent surfaced over Rule no. 1 in the rules of decorum. Dr. Shaw who had been absent the week before, submitted as his excuse that the subject of Rev. Atkinson’s sermon has bee “Baptism.” On the previous saturday he had discussed the subject with Rev. Atkinson and found that they disagreed on certain points. Not realizing it was conference Sunday he had absented himself. His excuse was not accepted. A few months later, Dr. Shaw moved his membership to Shiloh.
In the 1850’s the church began a number of small mission churches. This activity was carried on mostly by members who were ordained as ministers by the church. The were call “lay ministers.” Some of these missions were listed as Bethel, Liberty and Kelly.
During the 1860’s the minutes often show the following “Excused from Conference to satisfy Military Commitment ,” showing that many of the men were serving in the Confederate Army.
The church is active today, holding services the third Sunday each month. It is served by the pastor of the Monticello First Baptist Church.
Sources: Church minutes; Mrs. Clara Hutto.
Hopewell has been abandoned and neglected for many years and is now in a very perilous state. Without a new roof and some foundation repair, she will not be with us much longer. We are very hopeful that some local support will emerge to at least stabilize this important part of Georgia’s rural history. Time is running out.
Be sure to click and scroll on the photos below for more information about this treasure and the hardy pioneers who built her and worshiped there for over 170 years.
Samuel Hunt Blackwell was born March 4, 1803 in Orange County, North Carolina. He came by horseback to visit friends in the Hopewell section of Jasper County around 1820 and decided to stay. His 1889 obituary appeared in the Jasper County newspaper and stated he served as Sheriff for several years and served one term in the state legislature. He served as deacon of the Hopewell Baptist Church for more than fifty years. It also stated he died at his home near Hopewell in the 95th year of his age. He married Catherine Malone in 1827 and her sister Martha Katherine Malone in 1836. He was the father of 11 children. Sons of Samuel Hunt Blackwell: James F. Blackwell (1829-1905) was in Company I, 5th Regiment of the Georgia Militia, on the roll 3 years but only served 8 months due to sickness. William Floyd Blackwell (1834-1900), Private, Company A, 32nd Georgia Regiment, wounded at Ocean Pond, Florida, February 20, 1864, shot just in left arm just below shoulder and in left foot,surrendered at Greensboro, N. C. April 26, 1865. Samuel Sherrod Blackwell (1837-1915) Private, Company A, 32nd Georgia Regiment, surrendered Greensboro, N. C. April 26, 1865. Thomas George Blackwell (1840-1902) was Lt. Company A, 32nd Georgia Regiment. Surrendered at Greensboro, N. C. April 26, 1865. John Hunt Blackwell (1843-1925) was 4th Sgt. Company A, 32nd Georgia Regiment. Wounded at Ocean Pond, Florida, February 20, 1864. Surrendered at Greensboro, N. C. April 26, 1865. Henry Franklin Blackwell (1845-1930) Private, Company A, 32nd Georgia Regiment, wounded at Ocean Pond, Florida, February 20, 1864. Surrendered at Greensboro, N. C. April 26, 1865. Robert M. Blackwell ((1846-1905) Private, Company A, 32nd Georgia Infantry Regiment. Pension application says he was not present at surrender but was in hospital for gunshot wound to right thigh. Enlisted in 1864 at age 15. Dewitt C. Blackwell, (1847-1917), enlisted July, 1864, Company I, State Line, 5th Regiment. Pension application states his lower limbs and joints were affected from measles contracted while in service.
Mary Iantoni Huff was born October 20, 1868 and died October 2, 1902. Her tombstone reads to my wife, and at the bottom In heaven there is one angel more. She was married to William Thomas Huff for 17 years and they had 8 children. She was the youngest child of William and Martha Moss. Her father, William Moss was 1st Sgt. in Company I, 44th Georgia Regiment. He was wounded in the throat at the Battle of the Wilderness on May 5, 1864 and declared permanently disabled.
Robert W. Alexander, Sr. was born March 30, 1860 and died September 23, 1915. He was married to Mattie Blackwell October 23, 1892. They had six children. The small marker to the left is for their son, Ralph W. Alexander born August 15, 1893 and died November 15, 1896.
The marker on the left is for Fred Quinn Blackwell. He was born January 4, 1912 and died March 17, 1913. He was the son of Charles Quinn Blackwell (1887- 1966) and Jessie Eula Malone Blackwell (1888-1965). The marker on the right is for Little Fred Blackwell, born January 1, 1896 and died March 26, 1897. Little Fred was the brother of Charles Quinn Blackwell. Little Fred’s parents were James Madison Blackwell (1849-1924) and Emma Josephine Lane Blackwell (1854-1941)
The marker on the ground in the foreground is for Martha “Patsy” Chaffin who was born in Amelia County, Virginia in 1786 and died in Jasper County Georgia in 1872. She was the wife of Francis Malone (1780-1842). They were married January 8, 1802 in Wilkes County, Georgia. They had 13 children. Martha was the daughter of Revolutionary War soldier Isham Chaffin (1764-1822) and his wife Elizabeth Holcomb Bird Chaffin (1761-1804).
This photograph shows three markers in the foreground. The marker on the right is for Henry Franklin Blackwell, born January 15, 1845, died February 5, 1930. H. F. Blackwell served in Company A, 32nd Regiment, CSA. He was wounded at Ocean Pond, Florida and surrendered at Greensboro, North Carolina April 26, 1865. His Confederate Pension record states he owned 105 acres of land and four cows. The bottom line on his marker reads “He died as he lived – a Christian. He married Mary Shields on December 7, 1868 in Jasper County. Her marker is the one in the center of this picture. She was born September 21, 1849 and died March 11, 1916. Her marker reads “She hath done what she could”. To the left is the marker for Samuel Howard Blackwell, born November 8, 1880 and died November 22, 1915. He was the son of H. F. and Mary Shields Blackwell. His marker reads “A faithful son and brother.”
The gravestone in the foreground is that of Louisanna Hardy Tuggle. She was married to William Robert Tuggle and she died in Hopewell at the age of 42.
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I would appreciate knowing the source of the biographical information included on those buried here. Mary Iantoni Huff is my great, great grandmother. I would love to have documentation of the information listed about her. Thank you.
I have a photo of this church and part of the cemetery. I photographed it in June 1988. I would be happy to provide you with a print of it if you would like it.
Thanks Jim. Can you send it to email@example.com as an attachment?
Samuel Hunt Blackwell was my GGG-Grandfather.
Roy Hunter< firstname.lastname@example.org
Interesting. I like this website and this church in particular as i have family buried there.
Is any responsible for the ownership of Hopewell Church? My ancestors are buried there. I would love to know if any activities are in the works to help restore the church.
Cathy, we sent you an email with the local contact.