We are fortunate that some history for the old Long Cane church has been handed down. Much of the commentary below is based on it. On March 9, 1829, nine Troup County Baptists and Presbyterians joined forces and, under the leadership of Reverend James Reeves, constituted Long Cane Baptist Church. Sometime between 1834 and 1837, this rapidly burgeoning congregation erected the white sanctuary you see here. Carving wood by hand from pine trees, they placed floorboards and pews one by one. These floorboards and pews have certainly stood the test of time. Although more than 150 years have elapsed since the time of its construction, this original building still serves as the sanctuary for Long Cane Baptist Church.
According to the history, in the very early days the building was the joint property of the Baptists and Presbyterians, who worked and worshiped together for fifty years. In 1887, the Presbyterians withdrew from the old building and erected a new one, changing the name to Loyd Presbyterian. While the sanctuary was perhaps notable for its gallery, constructed to accommodate slaves, the church itself is devoid of ornamentation. Wood burning stoves flanking each side of the sanctuary testified to the congregation’s lack of pretension and devotion to tradition. Remarkably, this unassuming structure would serve their needs for more than a hundred years without significant renovation.
According to the history, the Civil War years were difficult for everyone but especially for the congregants of Long Cane. The church had seen its share of important gatherings over the years, but none was more consequential than the meeting of the Western Association at the church on September 17, 1864. Exactly two years after the Battle of Antietam, the Confederacy still endured but with Atlanta having fallen, and the rest of Georgia rendered virtually defenseless, its prospects looked bleak. Indeed, Sherman’s soldiers had burned many churches in route to West Point and would burn many more. No one could say for certain whether Long Cane Baptist would be next. Many present at Long Cane that day were skeptical as to whether the Association would ever meet again, and they devoted themselves to prayer. The history informs us that their prayers were answered and the church was spared. After the war, in 1866, the Western Association accepted membership of the Colored Baptist Church of LaGrange, but in 1869 a separate association for African American churches was formed. This was a typical pattern as the former slaves began the struggle to come together and form their own identity.
The old church endured for almost 100 years as she was built. Finally, in 1938, church members elected to replace the roof and re-plaster the walls. In the place of a stove chimney they inserted a more modern heating device. As time passed, congregants turned their attention to strengthening the structure’s foundation and aligning it with twentieth century standards. Workers bolstered the pinewood floor with long steel rods and brick pillars. Having accounted for the foundation, congregants now turned their attention to the sagging roof, reinforcing it with two wooden posts embedded in the floor.
Today, Long Cane Baptist stands as a testament to the devotion of a loving congregation. We are grateful for this stewardship. It gives us living testimony of how this community was formed, where it came from and how it has endured….. important history that can be passed along to future generations.
As you saw in the exterior photo of Long Cane, it is still a simple, single gable, rectangular church structure typical of its 1830’s era. Many of these older churches were modernized, but this building is authentic and true to its roots. In this interior photo, we see that, even though the church has undergone some serious modifications to stabilize the structure, the sanctuary reflects its original design and era. The most significant relic of its earlier days are the chamfered columns that support the roof and ceiling. This is the simplest architectural technique for building a structure that will be able to stand the test of time, gusty storms and even tornados.
This is a view from the sanctuary pulpit left. It confirms the Baptist tenets that “less is more and “keep it simple”. We see a completely un-ostentatious chancel, a plain offertory table and a lovely wood pulpit all flanked by an attractive cased opening entrance to the apse.
Here we see the remains of a gallery originally created for slaves that were members of the church. The original entry steps were outside the structure. The interior stairs you see were a later addition. Years after the Civil War, the back of the gallery was enclosed to allow for the creation of three Sunday School rooms that are still in use today.
This photograph was taken from the gallery. It provides us an opportunity to see and enjoy the stately, columns that have supported Long Cane’s sanctuary ceiling and roof for well over a century and a half. They were purposely designed to be as thin as possible to provide all congregants an unobstructed view of the pulpit and preacher.
During the first third of the twentieth century, Long Cane sanctuary underwent many changes to insure the integrity of the entire structure as well as to bring “modern necessities” to the congregation. In addition to heating, lighting was highly desired. Here we see one of the early oil-fueled chandeliers that were converted to electricity in that period. These complex and decorative symbols of the past continue to provide light as well as a sense of history to the sanctuary today.
There are 24 interments in the cemetery with the surname Hudson. Here lies Richard M. Hudson who was born in 1841 and died in 1901 at the age of 60. Along with two younger brothers, he served in the 14th Light Artillery - first as a private and was discharged with the rank of Sergeant. His brother John died at the age of 62 and is also buried at Long Cane. The youngest brother, Asa, also served in the same unit. He applied for a Confederate pension in 1915 and the application states he was captured and spent three weeks in a hospital in Tuscumbia, AL. Asa died at the age of 93 is buried in the Loyd Presbyterian cemetery not far away.
Here lies one of the early residents of Troup County... Ebenezer Newton (1795 - 1859). The Federal Census of 1850 shows him as a “Planter” living with his wife, Ann, and their four children. His property was valued at $3,500. His will shows that he left most of his considerable earthly possessions to his wife along with six servants “to be chosen by herself”. Ann lived until the age of 90 and is also buried in the Long Cane cemetery.
There are 15 Wilkinson interments in the cemetery. Here lied Eezra Wilkinson, who died in 1846 at the age of four. He was the son of Neil and Rebecca who had seven children, only three of whom lived past the age of 20. Neil, Rebecca and the seven children are all buried in the Long Cane Cemetery.
Long Cane Baptist was formed by some of the earliest setters in this part of Georgia in the early 1800’s. She is still standing proud and serving the community she helped create here almost 200 years ago.
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