Lincolnton Presbyterian is said to have been built in 1823 as a “Union Meeting House”, sharing the sanctuary with Baptists, Methodists and Presbyterians. Shared meeting houses were not uncommon in rural Georgia where resources were scarce and multiple faiths were present. The Baptists met here until 1876, and the Methodists used the church until 1915. From that date the church has been Lincolnton Presbyterian. The cemetery originally was associated just with the church but later became the town cemetery. The church has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1982.
In 1821, a resolution was passed by the State Senate stating that the existing academy in the County of Lincoln and the Village of Lincolnton should be the official public academy. Rem Remson, Peter Lamar, Lewis Stovall, Stephen Stovall and William C. Stokes were appointed Commissioners. On March 3, 1823 Peter Lamar made a deed whereby he conveyed a parcel of land “on Raysville road to the south of the village of Lincolnton, containing by estimation three acres” to the commissioners and their successors of the Lincolnton Academy “for the use of publick and private schools, houses of publick worship, or any other publick uses that the commissioners, or their successors in office may apply it to.” The deed also stipulates that the land is given “with the privilege of passing the nearest and most convenient way to the spring” which was apparently near the property.
Immediately following the transfer of this gift, the church was erected. The wooden structure originally measured 30 x 50 feet. It was later lengthened by an additional 10 feet. It was the first and only house of worship in the town of Lincolnton for many years. Over time, the Baptists and Methodists erected their own churches and passed resolutions expressing their desire that the members of the Presbyterian congregation serve as the owners of Union Church. The church has been well cared for and we are grateful to the congregants for their stewardship.
Peter Lamar, was known as the “King of Lincoln” and is considered to be the founder of Lincolnton because he donated land for the first courthouse, jail, church and school in Lincolnton. He also became a prominent figure in public life and politics. He served in the Georgia House of Representatives from 1811 to 1812, fought in the War of 1812 and rose to the rank of Colonel. After the war he served as Clerk of Superior Court, State Senator and after Lincolnton was incorporated he was one of its first commissioners. The Lamar family played a huge roll in Georgia history for decades. Joseph R. Lamar, a distant cousin, lived in Augusta (next to President Woodrow Wilson’s boyhood home), was a close friend to the young Woodrow Wilson, served in the Georgia House of Representatives and was appointed as a Justice of the United States Supreme Court.
As you can perceive in the earlier exterior photo, if you strip aside the multiple added features (a Striking Bell Tower, Gothic Windows, Elaborate Porch, Columns, etc), this old Union Church building dating from 1823, was originally a typical, single gable “Union Meeting House” designed with no frills for “multi denominational” use. As is its exterior, its interior is remarkably well preserved also as you can see by the photo above. The original rectangular interior remains in place with no architectural decorative elements, and, despite the “modern touches”, it presents as an authentic, early 19th Century rural church sanctuary.
Here, at the chancel, we see a number of the modern improvements at Lincoln Presbyterian that are comfortably placed amid several, remaining 19th century architectural elements. The massive Victorian-style, early 20th century pulpit is flanked by Victorian, upholstered, high-backed 20th century chairs. A modern piano and organ rest upon old, knotty, heart pine floor boards from the old days. The original wide, heart pine horizontal wall boards remain in place as well. This mixing of old and new is evidence of how much the congregation cherishes its history and how it strives to also meet the needs of a modern congregation.
The majesty of this artfully carved pulpit created by master carvers and wood workers can be appreciated in this close-up. Here again we see the comfortable mingling of the old and the new at Lincolnton Presbyterian. Gleaming old heart pine floors and lovely wide heart pine wall boards mix well and complement the newer stained glass high windows and the colorful large gothic window that lights up the chancel.
In this close up we see that the old pews were made of pine and feature shield escutcheons at each end beneath attractive, curved arm rests. These old pews and the heart pine floors were recently refinished and restored. This reflects again the congregation’s desire for the sanctuary to remain as authentic and attractive as possible today and in the years to come.
This photo reflects the cozy and welcoming nature of this almost 200 year old sanctuary. Comfortably seating over a hundred, and bathed in the ambient light from eleven large stained glass windows, it presents as an inviting house of worship. We also see another accommodation of the needs of a modern congregation. Notice that a back wall has been constructed and an interior entry door installed. This carved out a small amount of former vestibule space which is now used to provide a covered entry and a small indoor bathroom, features that are much appreciated by all.
Here lie Joe G. Powel and his son, Joe Grey Powell. Joe G. Powell (1883 – 1936) served on the USS Hartford in WW1. His headstone application of 1937 shows an enlistment date of September 6, 1917 and a discharge date of July 25, 1919. In the same naval tradition of service his son Joe Gray Powell served as a Seaman 2nd Class on the USS Thaddeus Parker. The Thaddeus Parker was a destroyer escort serving in the South Pacific during WW II. She was at Okinawa when hostilities with Japan ceased. She was a unit of the southern Japan Occupation Forces from 14 September 1945 to 2 January 1946 when she began her return voyage to the United States.
Jesse M. Cartledge was born in either 1899 or 1901. There are conflicting records on this. The Federal Census of 1910 shows him living with father William and mother Lula and eight siblings. An army statement of service card then shows he enlisted in “ Co D 1 Inf Ga NG at Savannah Ga May 9/17”. It then shows he was “Hon. Disch on Aug. 1, 1917 because of “Misrepresentation of age”. However, in 1918, a WW1 draft registration was filled out in Boston listing his occupation as “mariner”. Then the 1920 Federal Census shows him again living at home with his mother and father, whose occupation was listed as clerk of court. Apparently, the military headstone was due to his brief NG service from May to August. It appears Jesse was too young and he was trying to get in the service any way he could. But by 1920 he is living back at home with his parents at the age of 19. His 1923 death certificate shows him to be single with an occupation as a surveyor and subsequently “a soldier” and “following this, an invalid”. The cause of death was listed a Paralysis. We do not know what happened to make him an invalid who died of paralysis at such a young age. Another sad ‘Tale From the Crypt’.
Here lies Dr. John L. Wilkes (1818 – 1861), born in South Carolina and graduated from the Medical College of South Carolina in 1845. He married Mary Jane Dorsey in Lincolnton in 1850 and when the war broke out, he was mustered into the 22nd Ga Infantry in September, 1861 as a surgeon with the rank of 1stLieut. Co. G, 22nd Infantry. He was 42 and left Mary Jane with four children at home as he joined the Army of Northern Virginia . In July of 1862, he submitted his resignation to Adjutant and Inspector General S. Cooper with the explanation that he was unable to discharge his duties as a result of chronic bronchitis and dysentery. He returned to Lincolnton to practice medicine and farming. He had three more children and died in 1882 at the age of 62.
This 1980’s photo shows how the congregation has succeeded in faithfully preserving this historic meeting house. It looks today just as it did then and for many years before it was taken. Unlike many too many of the historic rural churches we try to present, Lincolnton Presbyterian is in the hands of a congregation that is devoted to insuring its continued existence for decades to come. We thank them for seeing that this church was placed on the National Register and for providing outstanding stewardship to insure generations to come can visit and appreciate this old church.
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My GGG Grandfather, Robert Alexander Fleming, was purportedly one of the founders of this church. It is beautiful and I hope to visit it one day. However, he is not buried here, but rather in the Magnolia Cemetery.
Beautiful church inside and out. You are to be commended for taking such good care of it.
Lincolnton Presbyterian is the most beautiful church shown on Historic Rural Churches of Georgia. Thank you for sharing.
Martha Smith Solomon