The land that became Baldwin County was held for many years by the Creek Indians until a treaty in 1803. In 1807, the land was further divided and Jasper County, originally called Randolph, was formed.
In those early years, the first white settlers to arrive here were subsistence farmers who grew corn and raised livestock and cattle. But all of that would change with the Land Lotteries which brought rapid growth to rural Jasper County. When it was discovered that cotton grew favorably here, plantation owners came from the Carolinas to establish large farming operations here based on enslaved labor.
As the rural population of the county grew, a small town began to form on a flat hilltop near a deep spring in the center of the county, named Monticello after President Thomas Jefferson’s estate in Virignia. In 1807, lots in the town were platted and in 1808, it was named the seat of Jasper County.
Cotton warehouses, farm stores, and grist mills sprang up in Monticello and in 1809, a lot was sold to the Methodist Congregation for $5 to start the first church in town. And while burials in the graveyard here date to 1815, the congregation met in church members’ homes until they were finally able to build a structure on the lot in 1828. The simple frame structure, which could seat 150 people, was lost to a tornado in the 1890s.
In 1895, this Carpenter Gothic style building was erected on the site to replace the previous one for a cost of $3,500, along with an adjacent parsonage. Eclectic features include arched windows on the facade, a belltower with an octagonal turret, and beautiful stained glass.
The ornate details of the building reflect the relative affluence of this community as it emerged from the Post-War Era. The railroads had arrived in Monticello in the 1880s, providing farmers access to larger markets, and thanks to the continued demand for cotton in Europe, farmers and townspeople experienced prosperity here until the 1920s when Boll Weevil decimated cotton crops.
In 1927, a Sunday School Room was added (the wing on the right side of the building facade) and in 1935, improvements were added to the sanctuary, including memorial windows, a pipe organ, a chandelier, and chimes. The building would continue to serve its congregation until 1955 when it was decided that the sanctuary was no longer suitable. In 1957, a new site was purchased by the church and in 1960, the older building was sold to be used as a funeral home. Portions of its stained glass were removed and installed at the new Methodist Church.
Since then, the structure has served as a non-denominational church and as a county library until the early 2000s when it was purchased to be turned into an event space. Unfortunately, those plans never came to be and the building sat empty for many years, suffering from vandalism, weather damage, and neglect. In 2020, it was named a Place in Peril on the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation list, bringing much-needed attention to the endangered structure. In 2021, a private buyer stepped up to purchase the building. We look forward to seeing what the future has in store for this special building!
The cemetery, on a separate but adjoining parcel, is still maintained by the Methodist Church. With more than 170 burials, it includes many of the founding families of Monticello and Jasper County. One of whom is Thomas Grant, a Revolutionary War soldier of considerable wealth who was a church benefactor. Also, a hero of the War of 1812, General William Lee. For more stories from the graveyard, please scroll through the gallery of images below.
Monticello Methodist Church before 1920s. Photo courtesy of Benny Hawthorne; Monticello First Methodist Church.
The design features several arched windows with fantastic stained glass. While some of the glass was removed in the 1960s, portions of the facade still have the original windows.
The Carpenter Gothic construction of the church includes this octagonal turret with eclectic details. Aerial shot of the church courtesy of Images by MotorSportMedia | Halston Pitman & Nick Woolever
View of the cemetery, which is thought to have more than 170 burials.
Anthony Dyer was born August 18, 1765 in Rhode Island. His marker at Monticello Methodist Church says he died September 9, 1855 but he also has a cenotaph in Swan Point Cemetery, Providence, RI which gives his date of death as September 9, 1853. He was married first to Chloe Bucklin Dyer who died in 1797 and is buried at Swan Point Cemetery. He married second Sarah Tuley Dyer (1778-1831) and she is buried at Monticello Methodist Church Cemetery. His occupation was farmer. Findagrave website says he was a direct descendent of Mary Barrett Dyer “who was the only Quaker female to be hanged for ‘crimes’ against the Anglican Church in Boston. She was hanged in 1660”.
James A. Turner was born in 1825 and died in 1887. He fought for the Confederate States of America as a Private in Company A, 5th Regiment Reserve.
Here lies Dr. Edward Broddus, born c. 1801 and died at the World's Fair in London on June 5, 1851. He was a trustee of the Monticello Female Institute.
Here lies Col. Nathan Warner, Esq. born April 4 1796 in Litchfield Connecticut and died April 2 1828 in Monticello Georgia. Nathan was an attorney who died unexpectedly during his prime years. He was so well regarded that fellow members of the Monticello Bar Association adopted to wear a sleeve on their left arms in memoriam to Warner for 40 days after his death.
Dr. Goodwin Myrick Clements was born November 6, 1830 and died October 28, 1898. He enlisted as a private in Company F, 41st Georgia Infantry, CSA on March 4, 1862. He was discharged November 16, 1862 at Tullahoma, Tennessee. He was married to Rebecca E. Puerifoy (1843-1901). They had two daughters. His brief obituary in the Sandersville Herald, November 3, 1898 contains this quote “He was prominent in church affairs and was for forty years a Sunday School teacher.”
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