In 1820, several members of Liberty Church in Wilkes County petitioned to form a new church: South Liberty. The reasons according to the Liberty members were “distance, bad roads, and high water in winter.” Thus began South Liberty Presbyterian church – the congregation constructed a log church in 1828 about four miles east of Sharon. In 1855, the log cabin was replaced by a framed building. The 1855 structure was moved to Sharon in 1877.
Dr. Carlyle P. Beman, born in New York on May 5, 1797, was the first minister. Beman was a famous instructor who retired from the Mt. Zion academy in 1858 after handing over the academy to future Georgia governor William J. Northen. According to Northen, in his book “Men of Mark in Georgia: a complete and elaborate history”, Vol.2 (1875): “Dr. Beman made no distinction among his pupils as to discipline. No bad conduct ever escaped his notice, nor did the perpetration of evil deeds ever escape punishment. His methods put into practice for this day would be considered severe, but it cannot be denied that he made many good citizens of very bad boys and brought under subjection scores and hundreds of boys who were beyond control in teir homes and such as had become disturbing elements in the communities from which they came.”
Insights such as these help us understand the type of men that went into the clergy during these times. Characteristics of the Baptists, Methodists, and Presbyterians seem to be similar during the 1800’s. These devout and strict leaders of the community did their best to reign in sin and bad behavior – many times in both the classroom and the church.
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I would love to find a copy of the “History of South Liberty Presbyterian Church, Sharon, Georgia” by T. G. Macfie. My great grandfather, Nathan Gilbert (1808-1875) lived in Taliaferro County and was a student of Dr. Beman, who was the first minister of South Liberty Presbyterian Church. I am hoping that the church might sell copies of the book as a fund raiser.