The history of Liberty Hill Primitive Baptist is somewhat vague in that it is closely tied to a much earlier church, County Line Primitive Baptist. We know that County Line Primitive Baptist was located in Pike County until Lamar County was partly formed out of it in 1920. A History of Pike County tells us the County Line church was organized between 1790 and 1800 by white settlers who moved into this part of Georgia several years prior to the Creek Treaty of Indian Springs in 1821. Thus the origins of the church, founded during the presidency of George Washington, are the oldest in Pike/Lamar County.
The original church was “first housed in a primitive log meeting house located on the spot where Liberty Primitive Baptist is now located. A new larger frame building was constructed long before the war”. The history tells us that Liberty Hill Primitive Baptist was organized in 1865 when a group of members withdrew from their association due to a dispute with the leadership. The church became known as Liberty Hill Primitive Baptist, succeeding County Line Primitive Baptist but still at the original location.
Early churches were simply Baptist until the late 1830s when there were substantial disagreements regarding basic tenants of the church. Some were becoming more progressive in that they began to support missions, Sunday School programs, musical instruments in the church etc. Others felt that the basic mission of the church was that of worship in the original way and all these other programs were distractions from the basic purpose. This schism resulted in the establishment of Primitive Baptists and others such as Missionary Baptists.
In the cemetery are many 18th century graves representing veterans from the Revolutionary War as well as the Civil War. Though no longer Primitive Baptist, the church and the cemetery are still active and still serving this little rural community, while preserving much of the original architecture and history. These little wooden 19th century structures are important aspects of early Georgia history and we salute the community for their stewardship.
Be sure to click and scroll the photos below for more Liberty Hill histoy.
The old Primitive Baptist church now has a new congregation, but she is standing proudly and still serving this rural community as she has for over 150 years.
The interior architecture of these old Primitive Baptist churches reflect the original intent of founders. No extraneous ornamental elements to detract from the worship service.
In order to maintain an attraction to todays congregation, some musical elements have been added. However the simplicity of the original structure is still untouched.
The original Primitive Baptists did not believe in musical instruments, but it is uplifting to see the church still in use and a gathering place for worship and songs.
Patrick Burk was born in 1812 in Ireland and died October 15, 1871. He was married to Martha Jane Colwell (1822-1904). In the 1870 census they had five children in their household. He was listed as a carpenter in the 1860 census. In 1850 his occupation was given as wheelwright. There are 13 people with last name Burk buried at Liberty Hill Primitive Baptist Church cemetery including Patrick Burk’s wife, Martha Jane. Her youngest brother, Henry C. Colwell/Caldwell, (1844-1864) served in the Confederate Army, Company C, 30th Georgia Infantry as a Regimental Musician. He died in service.
James H. Littlejohn was born in 1808 and died June 25, 1882. In the 1880 census he was 73 years old and living with his son, John T. Littlejohn and his family. He married his wife, Lucinda Abigail McAllister, November 29, 1827. They had 13 children. There are seven members of the Littlejohn family buried at Liberty Hill Primitive Baptist Church cemetery.
Dr. Charles F. Farmer was born July 7, 1861 and died December 1, 1886. He was just 25 years old when he died. The 1870 Pike County census shows Charles Farmer, age 8 with his parents William and Lula S. Farmer and three other children. His father, Dr. William Henry Farmer (1837-1877) and his mother Louisa Stapler Farmer (1823-1873) are also buried at Liberty Hill Primitive Baptist Church cemetery.
Green Duke was born September 29, 1790 in Kershaw County, South Carolina and died February 13, 1873. His wife was Nancy Jane McKee Duke (1795-1878).The 1870 Monroe County, Georgia census shows him as 75 years old, working as a farmer, and Nancy as 75 years old, keeping house. In the 1850 census, two of their children, Wellington and Martha were living in the household with them.
John Gardner was born in 1778 in Virginia and died in 1860. His wife, Catherine Pringle Gardner, was born in 1778 in South Carolina and died in 1857. His tombstone reads “St. Peter met him with a smile! Come in John, Katie is waiting!” John and Catherine are both shown as 72 years old in the 1850 Monroe County census and in 1860 he listed alone at age 84. They had at least six children.
Major John Wesley Bloodworth was born in 1730 in New Hanover County, North Carolina and died in 1808 in Rutledge, Morgan County, Georgia. He was married to Tamsie Axum Bloodworth (1734-1783). He served in the Revolutionary War in George Merrick’s Company, New Hanover County Militia. He came to Georgia to visit his sons who had preceded him here and died while on a visit. He was buried at Liberty Hill Primitive Baptist Church cemetery where his son, Rev. Thomas M. Bloodworth, (1773-1836) was also later buried.
Wiley Thornton was born in 1785 and died July, 1862. His wife, Elizabeth Johnson Thornton was born April 26, 1785 and died January 8, 1850. His name is on the company muster roll for the War of 1812. He was a private in Captain William H. Underwood’s company, 4th Regiment, Georgia Detached Militia. In the 1860 census he was listed as 74 years old, living in Pike County with occupation farmer.
Zilphia Elizabeth Anna Akin Spruce was born January 11, 1839 and died March 16, 1917. She married her husband, Marcus Daniel Spruce (1837-1911) in 1859. They had five children with four of them still living in 1900. He is also buried at this cemetery. He served in Company A, 53rd Georgia Regiment, CSA. He was captured on his return to Appomattox Court House April 6, 1865 and taken to Point Lookout, Maryland and kept in prison there until the first of June 1865 when he was paroled.
Liberty Hill and the old graveyard have shared this spot for over 150 years. She is the oldest church in Lamar and Pike Counties, with origins predating the Cherokee cession that created these counties.
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Does anyone know when the Primitive Baptists at Liberty Hill disbanded? who has ownership of the cemetery? I have found that people are still being buried there (at least as of 2019). So who decides who gets to be buried there?
Good questions Kenny. We don’t know the answer to any of them.