Macedonia Primitive Baptist is on the edge of the little village of Sasser in Terrell County. It was founded in May of 1848 in Lee County eight miles away on what was then the ‘William King place’, later known as Cook Plantation and presently known as Colonial Farms. The original congregation consisted of four women and two men. The church remained in this location for twenty years or so before moving to Terrell County in 1871, some three miles from Sasser on land donated by the McLendon family. The land was for the church and also for a cemetery, known today as Macedonia Cemetery. In 1916, the church moved to its present location at the edge of Sasser, on land donated by A. E. Johnston. According to the records, the church was built at a cost of $4,775.90.
Macedonia is located in a peaceful rural location, surrounded by lush corn fields. Its church history, as is typical, mentions very little or nothing about the Civil War. The old Macedonia Cemetery has no confederate headstones or flags to indicate the war even touched this part of Georgia. Then we ran across some history regarding the Marshall family from Memoirs of Georgia, Vol. II published by The Southern Historical Association of Atlanta, Ga. published in 1895. Mathew Marshall is buried in the Macedonia Cemetery and he has a prominent headstone that is stunning in its simplicity and beauty, as you will see when you scroll the photos. However, there is no mention of his war service on the headstone or on the Findagrave record, although there is a fine photo of Mr. Marshall that you can see here. We will let the 1895 history tell the story of the Marshall family from this point. The italics are ours and deal with the Civil War service of this family of Terrell County farmers.
“MATTHEW MARSHALL, planter, Sasser, Terrell Co., Ga., son of Matthew and Margaret (King) Marshall, was born in Houston county, Ga. in 1834. Mr. Marshall’s father was born in Ohio, and when a young man migrated to North Carolina and settled in Rockingham county, where not long afterward he married, came to Georgia, and settled in Jones county. Soon afterward he moved to Houston county, and after farming a few years on rented land settled on an unimproved place, where he died, about 1840, aged about sixty years. He was a consistent member of the Baptist church. In 1852 his widow moved with her family to Lee county, Ga., and settled a place on which she lived until after the war, when she came to Sasser and made her home with the subject of this sketch until her death, which occurred in 1873.
To them [Mathew and Margaret] eleven children were born, all growing to maturity, and four of who still survive: James N., moved to Yazoo county, Miss., entered the Confederate service, lost an eye in the war, was a planter afterward, died in 1887; Emily, deceased wife of R.E. Story, Houston county; Rhoda, Mrs. William Moreland, Terrell county; Levi enlisted in Company H, Thirteenth Georgia regiment, and died of sickness at Staunton, Va., in 1863; William moved to Yazoo county, Miss., enlisted in the Confederate service, and died in Holmes county, Miss., about 1864; Polly, deceased wife of Henry King, Lee county; Matthew, the subject of this sketch; Thomas J., a member of the Eleventh Georgia regiment, died in Richmond, leaving a family; Sarah J., died in 1853, unmarried; Rebecca, Mrs. A.J. McClendon, Terrell county; Margaret, married Jehu Davis, who was killed during the war; and she is now Mrs. W.S. Bowen, Terrell county,
Mr. Marshall was raised principally in Houston county, where he received a fair common school education. When eighteen years old he accompanied his mother to Lee county, and assisted on the farm until 1861, when hen enlisted in Company H, Capt. Spearman, Thirteenth Georgia regiment, and left Dawson July 5, 1861, for the army. He participated in the seven days’ fight around Richmond, and the battles at Gettysburg and Fredericksburg, and was captured in the battle in which Stonewall Jackson was killed; was taken to and detained ten days in Washington city, then sent to Fort Delaware. After twenty days’ imprisonment he was exchanged and immediately returned to Jackson’s division, then under the command of Gen. Early. He was a participant in the fight on the Susquehanna when the bridge at Wrightsville was burned; was at Gettysburg in the hottest of the fight; then in the Shenandoah valley, where there were engagements of more or less importance almost every day-receiving a severe flesh wound by being shot through the left thigh at Strasburg-and was at Petersburg when that city was evacuated. He was again taken prisoner there, and sent to Point Lookout, where he was held until after the surrender. He experienced many hardships, and suffered many privations while in the service, but endured it all as the faithful patriotic soldier that he was should. In the battle at Gettysburg he had his cartridge box on one side, his canteen on the other, and both were several times shot through with minie balls; and at other battles his clothing was many times perforated. After the surrender, and his release from Point Lookout, he returned to his mother’s plantation in Lee county. In 1881 he settled on his present place about half a mile from Sasser, where he has about 700 acres under splendid cultivation, and a delightful home, where he is enjoying life surrounded by hosts of warm friends. He is one of the best, and one of the leading farmers in Terrell county. Himself and wife are exemplary members of Primitive Baptist church, of which he has been a deacon for twenty years.
We love to tell the stories of the early settlers and this one deserves to be told. It is not available to the casual eye and we are pleased to pass it on.
This view of the Macedonia sanctuary presents an interior that has been refurbished and modified several times in its 100 year history. Even at that, its original design features and structural decorative elements remain in view. The eye catching ceiling treatment is captured in the photograph. We see a traditional trussed rafter ceiling structure but the walls are gently curved at the top and merge gently into the narrow ceiling boards. This simple decorative wall treatment is very pleasing to the eye and creates a sense of uplift. The sense of a soaring, welcoming space is enhanced by the fact that the ceiling, window frames, doors and walls (with the exception of those in the apse) are all painted white.
Here we have a close up of the raised chancel with its pulpit and apse. On the back wall is an applied arch embracing a decorative curtain which is flanked by two decorative chairs for the clergy. An interesting feature, it is a mirror image of the arched window that separates the two Norman-like towers at the front of the church. The two doors connect to an annex addition at the rear of the church. The center area hosts the communion table while an organ on the left and piano on the right stand ready for use at every service and event. None of the furnishings are original, but the setting still evokes an atmosphere of early days in this church.
Here is a view from the pulpit which reveals the “twin arch” at the front of the church. We also see the separate entry doors which lead in from the two vestibules at the bottom of the bell tower and smaller tower. The simplicity of this interior is accentuated in this photograph. Plain, knotty pine pews sit on shiny heart pine floors. Window and door frames are as simple as can be. With the exception of the modern chandeliers, there is not a decorative item in sight. The simplicity and unostentatiousness sought by these Baptists is certainly on display here.
This black and white photo evokes the reverential atmosphere so present within the Macedonia Baptist sanctuary. Amen.
Here lies Elder James J. Davis who served Macedonia Primitive Baptist for many years. It is fitting that Elder Davis’ tomb stone would be the simple tablet we see here. As a man of the cloth who “Served Our Church”, he would not have wanted a large monument similar to the one in background right. Or one even more splendid and grand such as the one you will next see that decorates the grave of Matthew Marshal. Mr. Marshall was business man and farmer who supported the church monetarily as a layman, not a preacher. The simple, pointed carved tablet memorializing Elder Davis depicts an open bible inscribed “Thy Will Be Done”; so fitting for this man.
Here lies Mathew Marshall (1834 – 1899). Mr. Marshall’s story is quite remarkable, from a military point of view. His service in the Confederacy and that of his family is documented on the opening photograph. You would never know it from this peaceful resting place in rural Georgia, since there is no mention of it at the grave site. The military side of it is certainly a good story but we can’t help but wonder a bit about the rest of it. This headstone is one of the finest you will ever see in the Georgia backcountry. It is striking and it must have been very expensive for the times. According to the family history, Mr. Marshall was just a prosperous farmer who served his community well. There is more to this story and perhaps it will surface some day. Meanwhile to get a good look at Mr. Marshall click here.
This haunting photo provides a view that presents the church looking just like the Norman structures it was designed after. This was a style in vogue at the beginning of the 20th century when this present building was constructed. Macedonia Baptist has now been in existence for over 160 years. This present structure just celebrated its 100th anniversary and we salute the loving stewardship of the congregation. The old church nestled in the trees and cornfields of Terrell County continues to serve and long may she reign.
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