The year was 1825 when members of the Creek Indian tribe were forcibly moved across the Ocmulgee River, opening this section of Georgia up to white settlers. The communities that would emerge on opposite sides of the river would thrive quietly for the next century until a movie catapulted the small community to fame with this quaint little chapel featured in the film.
But it was the river and the power it offered to mill operators that originally put this place on the map. As early as 1839, a gristmill was operating on the west bank of the river and soon after, more businesses and houses would be built too. In the years before the Civil War, the gristmill here was one of the most productive in the nation, grinding corn and wheat. After the war, the mill was acquired by Nathaniel Glover and the community was named Glover’s Mill. On the west side of the river, were two early communities called Brownsville and Iceberg that were connected to the west bank via Glover’s Ferry.
In 1882, the Eastern Tennessee, Virginia, and Georgia Railroad laid tracks through the community, helping to connect the grist mill and cotton farmers with larger markets. Eventually, the post offices for Iceberg, Brownsville, and Glover’s Mill were combined and the community became known as East and West Juliette. According to local legend, the new name was selected in honor of Juliette McCracken, the daughter of the railroad engineer who surveyed and laid the railroad tracks through town.
As a thriving community emerged, they decided they wanted to have their own church so that they no longer needed to take the full-day trip to Ebenezer or Salem Methodist to worship. In 1885, they began searching for an ideal parcel and one acre was donated by Mr. D. S. Redding for the first church in Juliette. The charter members were Mr. and Mrs. Redding, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Mr. and Mrs. Williams, Mrs. Driskell, Ms. Greer, Mr. Mays, and Mr. McGee.
Over the years, the congregations’ numbers have fluctuated, but the church has persevered. In their church history, they say: “While our active membership is small, our hearts are large, our friends are many, and our goals are set.” The building is still in use today, although it has been adapted over time to meet the needs of a modern congregation. In 1938, the group banded together to raise money to bring electricity to the church. In 1983, central heating and air were added, followed by a steeple upgrade that was added in 1986.
It was in 1991 when Hollywood came calling to Juliette. Producers realized the charm of the sleepy southern town and selected it as the location for the film, Fried Green Tomatoes. The movie was filmed at various locations in Juliette, including the “Whistlestop Cafe” (formerly Williams’ Grocery) and at Juliette Methodist Church, earning it the moniker: “The Church in the Movie.” Since then, a fellowship hall and pavilion were added by the congregation which is still going strong 130+ years later.
The cemetery that surrounds the church had its start as the Chambless Family burial plot that predates the church (first burial c. 1879). On the left side of the church surrounded by a gate, you will find relocated burials that were moved to this site when Georgia Power & Light was constructing a coal-fired plant in 1982.
As you enter the sanctuary, you can feel the brightness created by the large windows that reflects off of the white walls and pews.
Looking from the pulpit to the entrance of the church, this pastors view hasn't changed much in 130+ years.
These pews were added in 1990 when the church was featured in the film, Fried Green Tomatoes.
View of the pulpit and alter rail.
View of the offering plate and pulpit.
The first burial here, from 1879, predates the church. It was originally called the Chambless Burial Plot. On the opposite side of the church are the relocated burials from interrments that needed to be moved when Georgia Power & Light built a coal-fired plant nearby.
John Henry Williamson was born December 19, 1848 and died May 15, 1920. He was the son of William Jasper Williamson (1822-1905) and Elizabeth Patterson Williamson (1825-1892). He married Sarah Virginia “Sallie” Middlebrooks on January 7, 1872. The 1910 census shows they had 9 children with 7 still living at that time. His occupation was given as salesman in a retail store.
Samuel Haggard McGee was born July 19, 1843 in Bedford County, Tennessee and died January 27, 1930 in Lee County, Alabama. Findagrave website shows Samuel and his wife, Sarah Matilda “Tillie” Ventress McGee (1845-1901) are both buried at Juliette Methodist Church Cemetery. The 1900 Monroe County census shows they had 8 children, with 6 still living in 1900. Samuel served in Company K, 41st Tennessee Infantry, CSA where he held the rank of Corporal.
Hillery B. Brooks was born December 22, 1844 and died November 1, 1914. He married Mary Frances “Fannie” Standard (1846-1910) on January 1, 1864. They are both buried at Juliette Methodist Church Cemetery. They had 7 children with 6 still living in 1900. He served in Company B, 30th Georgia Infantry, CSA. He was wounded in the left elbow and right temple causing loss of sight. His wounds occurred at Atlanta July 22, 1864.
John W. “Jack” Greer was born in 1830 and died April 1, 1908. He married Susan Wright (1828-1890) January 12, 1854 in Bibb County, Georgia. Jack and Susan are both buried at the Juliette Methodist Church Cemetery. His obituary appeared in the Monroe Advertiser on April 10, 1908. It states “Mr. Jack Greer, one of the oldest and most highly esteemed citizens of Monroe County died at the home of his son-in-law, Mr. T. J. Driskell, near this city last Wednesday afternoon”.
Sarah Little Tribble was born in 1841 died in 1921. She married Henry Jackson Tribble (1835-1911) on March 3, 1859. The 1910 Monroe County census shows they had 11 children with 8 still living at that time. Her husband served as a private in Company A, 32nd Georgia Infantry, CSA. He served from March 5, 1862 to the end of the war. He received a Confederate pension late in life and she received a widow’s pension after his death. He is also buried at Juliette Methodist Church Cemetery.
Capt Daniel Searcy Redding was born July 5, 1832 and died April 25, 1905. He served in Company D, 45th Georgia Regiment, CSA. He was captured at Petersburg, Virginia April 2, 1865 and released at Johnson’s Island, Ohio June 19, 1865. The 1860 Monroe County census shows him as age 26, living in the household with his father, Thomas Redding, age 66. Thomas Redding is shown in the 1860 slave schedule as owning 34 slaves.
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Great church. I worshipped there in 1990 and was there to see all the movie staging. I was there to preach a revival at New Hope church in Jasper County and enjoyed time with Glenn McMichael