Mt. Isaac Baptist
Almost Gone But Not Forgotten
Brian Brown’s Vanishing South Georgia tells us that “Before it was known as Arp, this community on the Irwin-Ben Hill County line was known as Isaac. The name was changed sometime between 1910 and 1915, and judging by the burial dates in the adjoining cemetery, I would estimate that this church dates to about 1910. Since there was already an Isaac Baptist Church, the small African-American community here named their church Mount Isaac, to distinguish it from the the white church. And though Arp is located in Irwin County, the church and cemetery are just over the county line in Ben Hill.”
Our photograper, Steve Robinson, spoke to one of the locals who backed up this meager information. We do not know if the white Isaac church still exists, but it seems that the area around the church, now known as Arp, was once called Isaac. We think the church was constructed in the early 1900’s. The Findagrave website lists ten interments but there are many more than that as well as many unmarked graves. The earliest we could find was a lady named Carrie Thomas who died in 1921 and was listed in the 1920 census as as being 67 years old and living alone. There is a large family plot for the Player family but we can find no record of them. Perhaps some more information will emerge at a later date.
Lots of people were born, died, saved, and married in this sanctuary. It was a place of refuge and joy and was the center of activity in this remote rural community. These old structures are a vital part of our southern history. Built only a few decades after emancipation by people struggling to carve out a life in a land that was in decline………….devastated by war, the boll weevil and the rise of the industrial cities that were emerging. The old church will soon disappear like so many others have over the years. The only thing left will be the remnants of the cemetery among the weeds and scrub pines. This is a pattern we have seen so often in the rural south. Whole villages just disappear with only the churches and the cemeteries left to remind us what was here. We think our mission of documenting some of these old icons of the past is important. She is almost gone but not forgotten.