Situated in a remote part of Floyd County and now surrounded by the Berry College Wildlife Management Area, Mountain Springs Methodist Church built its first permanent structure around 1875 across the road from its current church building. This log cabin building served the community as both a church and a school before it became a stable on a local farmer’s property. Today the Mountain Springs rural community no longer exists. The church and cemetery are all that remain from its beginnings in the nineteenth century.
The present building at Mountain Springs is the old Shiloh Church building which was originally on the old Summerville Road. Little is known about the old Shiloh Church except for a few brief references in the Rome newspapers. One mention of Shiloh was on September 14, 1875 when the paper reported “Dr. W. H. Felton, on his way to the camp meeting in Chattooga County, will preach at Shiloh Church, five miles from Rome on the Summerville Road on Thursday night next.” Sometime after this date the Shiloh Church was moved about 3 miles to its present location at the end of the old CCC road.
The 2 acre property for the Mountain Springs cemetery was deeded to the church trustees by John L. Cook on September 23, 1889. This deed makes reference to the property “commencing at a stob near where the church now stands” which indicates Shiloh had probably been moved prior to this date. Also a deed from Moses R. Wright on October 17, 1890 conveyed land to Mountain Springs Church trustees for a grave yard and church purposes.
A sad story from the grave yard concerned the death of John M. “Biss” Stewart. The Rome Tribune Herald reported the story of a crowd drinking beer from 3 kegs on the bank of the Coosa River. A fight between two men ensued. Stewart, an onlooker, attempted to help his friend involved in the fight when he was struck from behind with a heavy stick or bottle. After the blow to his head he was able to walk to the stable where he had left his wagon team but died before he could get home. Stewart left a wife and five little children.
Mountain Springs community declined as residents moved away and their property was purchased by Berry College. Almost a century and a half have passed since the first religious service at Mountain Springs Methodist Church. About 1952 the church was dropped from the Methodist Conference as being active. In 1984 the church became an independent church.
There is no longer the sound of a two-horse wagon or the arrival by horseback of early members or the sight of houses or gardens nearby but this remote sight is still cared for and loved by descendants of early members of this church.
This photo is from 1921. We love to come across these congregational photos standing in front of the church in all of their period finery. Most of these would have lived close to the church, but almost all remnants of the old farms and dwellings are gone now. It is remarkable that descendants of these and others still maintain the original church.
By the time that the church was removed from active status, in the late 1950’s, modest changes and additions to the church building had been accomplished. This photo from that era shows us that a front porch had been added and the foundation enclosed. Remarkably, the old building was not vandalized during those lean years.
As we just saw in the recent exterior, color photo, Mountain Springs has always been a classic single gable, wood frame rectangular building with clapboard siding and decorative cornice returns…”A real plain Jane”. Above is an early, black and white photo, we think from the mid 20th century, that is proof of its roots and rural authenticity.
The church’s sanctuary is typical of other such rural churches throughout the state as times changed moving into the 20th century. In this rectangular space we see a flat ceiling sheathed with vertical, narrow boards, a heart pine floor, wide wooden horizontal walls and a long roof support that also serves as an electrical channel. The crimson pew coverings and rugs bring a festive atmosphere into the entire interior.
It may be somewhat primitive, but the design and decoration of this apse provides a certain, charming ambience to the entire chancel area. We salute the creativity of the church members who produced this sacred nook with its large windows that allow ambient light to stream into the Chancel.
We understand that these pews are original to the church. This slatted design was popular in churches, theatres, train stations and the like in the late 19th century. This view also allows us to see the lovely wainscoting that is in place throughout the sanctuary.
Here we have a view of almost the entire interior of Mountain Springs. Other than the two windows in the apse, we see that there are four large windows in the sanctuary area. The room is immaculate and orderly. What we see and admire most is, despite the decimation of the congregation over the past 60 or so year, the congregation has chosen to continue its history of excellent stewardship at this old church. With congregations such as this one, these historic and beloved relics will be able to remain in place for decades to come.
As recent we recently read in an old newspaper article, “sometime during 1955, interested congregants decided that services would be held on the fifth Sunday of a month with Homecoming on the third Sunday of June. There was dinner on the ground and afternoon singing after services.” This photo is presented as evidence and proof that the church is still active and serving its mission. Note the “useful clutter” of hymnals, fans and flags that will be part of this year’s events.
Nelson Raleigh Peddycoart was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on July 9, 1857 and died July 7, 1925. His second wife, Martha M. Peddycoart was born January 15, 1869 and died September 7, 1940. He was a brick mason. He died of heart disease.
John Milton “Biss” Stewart was born July 18, 1876 and died September 13, 1913. On January 5, 1902 he married Daisy Ayers (1876-1954). He was a farmer and lived near Mountain Springs Church. John Stewart died from blows to the head when he attempted to help a friend who was involved in a fight. John Stewart left a wife and six children age 4 months to 12 years when he was killed.
Marion Francis “Frank” Davis was born in 1834 and died in 1900. He was married April 18, 1858 to Theresa Spraggins. He served in Company A, 32nd Regiment, Tennessee Infantry, CSA. He was described as having fair complexion, light hair, blue eyes and 6 feet tall. In the same company was Newton J. Davis. Frank Davis was wounded September 19, 1853 at the Battle of Chickamauga. His leg was then amputated. He later applied for an artificial leg. Newton Davis was wounded and hospitalized October 20, 1863 and died October 28, 1863. Both Frank and Newton were sergeants. One record stated Frank lost his leg and his brother at Chickamauga.
“Grandpa” John T. Riley was born January 17, 1821 in Virginia and died March 2, 1892. His wife, “Grandma” Elizabeth Crawford, was born January 10, 1821 and died May 28, 1889. They were married April 15, 1841. The Rome History book states they were the first couple married in the newly incorporated town of Rome. He served as 2nd Lt. in Company A, Floyd Legion, CSA. He worked as a printer. In July 1862 their son James Riley, age 12 or 13, drowned in the Oostanaula River. The Rome Weekly Courier on August 2, 1867 carried a notice that a lot on the corner of Lincoln and Green Streets in Rome, the house known as the old Baptist Church now converted into a dwelling house, would be sold to satisfy a fi fa against D. H. Mason in favor of John T. Riley.
George Roland Presley was born in North Carolina on May 12, 1859 and died June 14, 1915. His first wife, Sallie Ann Vaughn Presley was born August 25, 1862 and died January 8, 1908. In 1900, eleven children had been born to this couple with seven still living. George’s Mother, Marilda C. Stephens Presley (1828-1901) is also buried at Mountain Springs. Proof that the community of Freemantown started by former slave Thomas Freeman on what is now Berry College property existed is a report by Henry Grady Terrell who married George and Sallie’s daughter, Luna. He states in a narrative he recorded that he drove to Mountain Springs Methodist Church at the foot of Lavendar Mountain just off old Bryant Gap Road to the home of George and Sallie Vaughn Presley. “From there took Luna Presley … and at midafternoon we drove to Freeman Town, then to Redmond Gap Road … and toward Rome to Rev. William Cooper’s home … and united in Holy Matrimony.”
Nancy Matilda Trapp Beard was born in 1837 and died July 7, 1911. She married John Nathaniel Beard on March 16, 1862. Her obituary says she was living on Avenue D in Rome at the time of her death and she was survived by five children. Two of her children are buried at Mountain Spring Church cemetery.
This marker reads “This stone placed here in remembrance of Jno L Cook who on the 23 day of Sept 1889 deeded these two acres of land to the trustees of Mountain Spring M E Church in fee simple for church and burial purposes”. The church was already standing at the time this deed was written. The deed description of the property begins “commencing at a stob near where the church house now stands”. The deed states the 2 acres is for a graveyard and church purposes. John Leander Cook was born October 4, 1821 in York County, SC and died February 18, 1912. His wife was Francis Lawing Cook (1828-1888). He and his wife and 3 of their sons are buried at Mountain Spring. In census records his occupation was given as wood turner, cabinet maker, wood worker, and carpenter. His Confederate pension application shows he served in the Georgia Militia, Company A, 8th Regiment, Georgia Reserves.
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As a Berry Alumni 1974 we all know this church well. As the story goes it was haunted and you could see and hear the ghosts roaming the property. We would all pile in the cars on the weekends and go up the old CCC road to sit quietly and wait for the spirits to present themselves. Of course we never saw or heard anything but …. the good old days of entertainment!
Hi! How were you able to access the building? I was under the impression the CCC road was not open to the public. I’d love to visit if I were able to actually get there! Thank you.