Indian Springs Baptist

Butts County
Org 1825
Photography by Tony Cantrell

Indian Springs Chapel in Butts County was originally a log Baptist Church established in 1825, and was subsequently replaced by a frame building in 1854.  The present sanctuary is a beautiful example of late 19th century Queen Anne craftsmanship built from leftover lumber and construction material used to build the famous Wigwam Hotel in 1890.  The Wigwam was a four story frame Victorian structure, said to be one of the largest frame buildings in the world at that time.  The history of Indian Springs goes back hundreds of years.  Once home to members of the Creek Indian Nation, the area was known as far back as 1717 and was noted for the life giving elements of its sulphur spring by the Indian tribes which camped there in large numbers. 

According to architect Richard L. Thornton, ‘The Indian Springs Aquifer is a natural geological formation in Butts County, Georgia where Big Sandy Creek, almost the size of a river, shoots out of a rock formation then flows generally eastward to the Ocmulgee River.  The ridge from which the springs flow is at an elevation of about 1200 feet (366 m). That is 200 feet higher than Downtown Atlanta and results in vegetation more similar to that found in the Blue Ridge Foothills of northern Georgia.”

To put Indian Springs in historical perspective, one must contemplate what was happening in Georgia in the early 19th century. Conflict with the Creek Indian tribes was rampant due to the relentless push westward by the state and federal authorities to eliminate native Americans and acquire their land.  Treaties were negotiated that began to expand the Georgia boarders westward – river basin by river basin.  In 1790 a treaty was signed that acquired the land between The Ogeechee and Oconee Rivers.  In 1804 another treaty ceded the land between the Oconee and Ocmulgee Rivers.  In 1821, the first treaty of Indian Springs was negotiated that ceded the land between the Ocmulgee and the Flint Rivers. William McIntosh, a chief of the Lower Creeks, was one of the primary signatories to the treaty and profited by acquiring substantial land around the springs as a result. He then built the Indian Springs Hotel in 1823, which still stands across from the park entrance.  The hotel has been fully restored and is open to the public.

However the Indian Springs involvement with Chief McIntosh came to a sad end shortly after, when McIntosh and his allies signed a second treaty in 1825, signing away the remaining Creek land between the Flint River and the Chattahoochee.  From a white perspective, the final push to the Chattahoochee River on the Alabama border was now completed.  However, the Creek leadership council maintained that McIntosh did not have the authority to sign such a treaty and condemned him to death.  The sentence was swiftly enforced.  On April 29, the Upper Creek chief Menewa took 200 warriors to attack McIntosh at his plantation on the Chattahoochee River in present-day Carroll County, Georgia. They killed him and two other signatories, and set fire to the house. 

As these former Creek lands were now added to the growing state of Georgia, one of the outcomes was the establishment of land lots around the springs. Georgia’s government directed these lots directly around the springs be held in perpetuity as a public recreation area, thus making Indian Springs the oldest state owned recreation area in the country.  From these early days, the community around Indian Springs grew with the coming of railroad and the public access that brought visitors from all over the country. Resort hotels sprang up and from the mid 1800s through the early 1900s a variety of hotels, some as large as 700 rooms, graced the area. 

Indian Springs State Park is well worth a visit and we are grateful to the Butts County Historical Society for the significant effort put forth to maintain the chapel and the other structures representing over 200 years of Georgia history.  Indian Springs Chapel is still active and welcomes all visitors.  Be sure to click and scroll the photos below to learn more about Indian Springs Chapel and the early pioneers in the cemetery.


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