Organized in 1810 and constructed in 1812, this is the oldest church building in Bleckley County and it is still in use today. It was founded by Charles Walker, son of a veteran of the American Revolution, George Walker.
George is believed to have come to this section of Georgia around 1806, shortly after the land was opened up to white settlement. Two years earlier, these lands had been ceded by the Creek Indians to the Federal Government, and because of his service in the American Revolution, George was offered the chance to settle this new section of Georgia. A Federal Stage and Post Road was established that followed the original native route that connected Milledgeville (the capital of Georgia at that time) and Hartford. George and his 5 sons established plantations along a 3.5-mile stretch of this road that came to be called Long Street. Over time, the two words were combined to Longstreet.
In 1809, a Methodist Church circuit was established and circuit-riding preachers began to circulate through the area, meeting in members’ homes until churches could be built. Around 1810, membership was established at Longstreet and George’s son, Charles Walker, donated the land for the church, which was erected in 1812. He gave two acres- one to be used for a church and burial ground on the west side of the Federal Road and another acre on the opposite side to establish a school that was called Longstreet Academy.
The church building that is still in use today is the original one from 1812, with very few architectural changes, except for a window that was covered. However, the configuration of the church has been altered over time. Originally, the sanctuary had an interior divider that separated male and female members, who entered through separate front doors. The divider has been removed and the pulpit was moved to the opposite wall, changing the pews’ orientation as well. The hand-cut doors are the originals, with original hardware that was forged on one of the surrounding plantations. The pews are mostly original, as is the handcrafted pulpit that is held together with wooden pegs.
In the years after the Civil War, this community changed drastically as many of the plantations collapsed. Most of the Walker Family plantations were lost to fire or demolished over time as families moved away. In the early 1900s, a school was opened at Evergreen, and Longstreet Academy was closed for good. In 1921, the land where the school sat was sold and the proceeds were used to buy a new piano for the church. The church struggled over the years as membership dwindled, but was always able to regroup after brief periods of inactivity and has made necessary updates over the years to keep the church going. In 1955, Sunday School rooms were added, followed by restrooms in 1975, and central heat and air in 1995. Today, the church still meets regularly.
Behind the church is a cemetery that contains the burials of the Walker Family, as well as other members of Longstreet Methodist church. You can read more about the burials here in the photo gallery below.
From this pulpit, sermons have been preached and souls have been saved for over 200 years. It is very refreshing to see a sanctuary this old that has been so well maintained.
The original footprint of the church is still intact and well cared for. It is obvious that the Longstreet congregations have been very conscious of the architectural simplicity of the old 1812 church. Note the notches that once held the divider that separated males on one side – women and children on the other.
The original pulpit retains the simplicity of the church furnishings. It is handcrafted and held together with wooden pegs.
The pews are original and handcrafted of local Georgia heart pine. Sad to think that these old majestic trees that were once so plentiful are now so rare. Note the seat, backs and pew ends are made of a single board that would be simple unavailable today.
The original doors still have the hardware that would have been forged on one of the surrounding plantations. Another architectural example of days gone by.
Before settling in current-day Bleckley County, George Walker II served in the Georgia Troops during the American Revolution.
In the early 1800s, George Walker II he was granted 202 acres near Walnut Creek in present-day Bleckley County in the Georgia Land Lotteries. Four of his five sons built homes near him on the three and half mile stretch called Longstreet.
Son of George Walker, Revolutionary War Patriot, he married Elizabeth ‘Betsey’ Blackshear Bryan in 1814. In 1835, he was ordained as a Methodist Minister.
At the time of his death in 1859, he enslaved 60 people.
Obituary of Sam Walker, a man who was enslaved by George Walker and then by his son, Joel Walker. Sam was born in Africa and came to Georgia by way of Charleston. We think the story of his life is important to share.
Son of George Walker, he was born in 1798 and died in 1861. When he was 28, he married Ann Kasiah Lucas in 1827. They had 8 children, one of whom, Charles, was captured during the Civil War and died as a prisoner in 1864.
Richard Walker was born in 1832, grandson of George Walker. At age 23, he married a young woman named Henrietta Brazeal.
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Do you have any history of a church named Philadelphia Methodist Church in or near Eatonton?
Emerson Keith Ewing
No, we don’t but hopefully someone will come along who can comment to help you.