After the American Revolution, a Protestant religious movement referred to as the Second Great Awakening or the Great Revival swept across the new nation, and especially so in the South. It fueled the growth of Baptist, Methodist and Presbyterian congregations across Georgia. An outgrowth of this movement, the camp meeting ground, became a cornerstone of the movement and resulted in the establishment of many of these special meeting places across the state, many of which still exist and are going strong. Mt. Moriah is a great example of this early 19th century tradition. The camp is located in Matthews, Georgia in rural Jefferson County on a piece of land rich in history. The camp dates back to 1828, when the first camp was held under a brush arbor. The tabernacle was built in 1856 and is one of the oldest landmarks in Georgia still being used for its original purpose.
The following history is from the South Georgia Methodist Conference archives.
“During the American Revolutionary War, a British soldier named Camel fought against his son who had joined the American Army. As a result, Camel disinherited his son. The son changed his name to Pharaoh. After the war, Pharaoh began to preach the Gospel. He preached in North Carolina before coming to Georgia. Preaching first in northern Burke County, in the early 1800s he came to Jefferson County. Here he preached in a one-room schoolhouse on land owned by William Parker. In 1824, William Parker gave a thirty-acre tract of land to be used for the site of the first church building. This building was erected in 1825 by the Andersons, Arringtons, Avretts, Beckums, Daniels, Farmers, Matthews, Palmers, and Parkers.
In 1827, a campground was organized. Services were held under a brush arbor behind the church building. In 1828 a tabernacle was built. In 1829 fire destroyed the church building, tabernacle, and the tents that had been built on the campground. In the early days, the church was part of the Louisville District. A new church building was built the same year, but the tabernacle was not rebuilt until 1856. In November of 1856, fire again destroyed all the buildings. In 1857 the buildings were again re-built only to be blown down by a tornado in 1875. Members re-built the buildings again.”
Mt. Moriah carries on this tradition of service to the community that respects the history of this sacred campground founded almost 200 years ago. This stewardship means that Mt. Moriah history will be passed down to coming generations. We are all grateful for this love and respect of Georgia history. Thank you.
Be sure and click/scroll the photos below for more information about Mt. Moriah.
In this photo, we see the prosaic but still active Camp Ground Tabernacle that is located with other structures located on the Mount Mariah Church property. As you read in the photo above, this Camp has deep and historic roots and is an authentic relic of days gone by. Throughout the 19th century, simple but strong and sound structures such as this were scattered throughout the state of Georgia. Religious Camp Meetings were extremely popular at that time. Now, it still serves the role and mission of a Christian summer camp every year.
Here we stand at the chancel, look over the lectern and into the large seating area… it could support a huge crowd! We also love entering these old tabernacles and marveling at the complex architecture and visual grandiosity of its post and beam construction technique. Aside from being a visual treat, this technique produces a remarkably strong building. Its integral design insures that it can withstand strong winds, pelting rain and perhaps even the occasional tornado.
The Camp Meetings were sustained by regular, loyal family attendees who were dedicated to seeing that, when called, meetings would be well attended. Many of those often chose to buy an annual space for their “tent”. These tents quickly evolved into permanent, house-like wooden structures. Here we are looking at the front porch, with swing, at one of these permanent tents…..no place like home for a week or two religious event.
For many years now, the Moriah Camp Grounds have been dedicated to serving as a Christian Summer Camp. We think that the charming “Mini-Tabernacle” seen here is used as a covered classroom. On the other hand, though its age is not known to us, it is clearly very old and built in the 19th century. Perhaps it served as a Sunday school or the like. Who knows? We will try to track down the facts and hope to add them to this interesting story.
This photo provides us proof that most of the tents are eclectic and unique. In this picture, we see structures of many different materials, designs, styles, architecture, and certainly, size.
This is a full view of the tent we had in #3, close-up earlier. What looked like a small, rude wood shack in #3 view is now revealed as a pretty well finished commodious cottage.
This view is from beneath the roof interior of the School House “mini-tabernacle”. (photo#3). It looks into the nearby cemetery where generations of congregants lie at rest. The excellent stewardship of the Church, Camp buildings and the grounds is on display in this photo and is a tribute to all of the Mount Moriah community.
Sarah Frances “Sallie” Hunter Parker was born August 28, 1868 in Warren County, Georgia. She died February 13, 1906. Her husband was Robert Lee Parker, 1866-1939. Her parents Job R. Hunter, 1823-1884 and Mahala Covington Hunter 1841-1903 are both buried at Mount Moriah UMC. Her husband and his parents are also buried at Mount Moriah UMC. Two of her three children, Rosalie Walker 1890-1974 and Hattie Parker, 1893-1933 are buried at Mount Moriah UMC.
Marcus Luther Pennington was born May 17, 1845. He served in the 6th Georgia Reserves, Company G from May 16, 1864 to May 10, 1865. He died December 12, 1939 at the age of 94. He was a member of Mount Moriah for more than 60 years.
John Silas Roberts, Jr. was born March 18, 1918 in Jefferson County, Georgia. He enlisted in the U. S. Navy September 28, 1941. He was promoted to Ensign August 3, 1942. He was released from service December 31, 1945. His tombstone says he received the Purple Heart. His World War II draft registration shows he was 5’8” tall and weighed 160 lbs. with brown hair and brown eyes. He died July 20, 2003.
David Lewis Palmer was born March 17, 1847 in Burke County, Georgia. He enlisted in the Confederate Army as a private on November 15, 1864 at the age of seventeen. This would have been at the very end of the war when young boys and older men were getting pressed into service. Atlanta had fallen in July of 1864 and Sherman had begun his March to the Sea toward Savannah. He was paroled at Augusta, Georgia at the close of the war. In 1907 he was living in Barbour County, Alabama. He died May 10, 1915.
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Robert Lee Parker, mentioned as the husband of Sarah Frances “Sallie” Hunter Parker in the caption for her tombstone, was also a grandson of William Parker who donated the land for Mt. Moriah. Robert Lee Parker later remarried and had two more children including my late grandfather. William Parker was my 3rd great-grandfather and I often attended church at Mt. Moriah when I was a small child.
My ancestors were the people who built and first preached at Mount Moriah. The preacher’s name was actually Joshua Campbell changed to Pharaoh by petition to the North Carolina Assembly somewhere between 1791 and 1794. His father, Joshua Campbell Sr. came to America, a very young man, as an enlistee in what has become known as the Black Watch regiments (highlanders from Scotland) of the British Army and which fought in the French and Indian War. Many stayed behind when the regiment returned to England. Joshua Campbell Sr. settled in Currituck, North Carolina, and did in fact disinherit his son. In his will he left Joshua Jr. 1 schilling sterling. Joshua Jr. fought for the colonists during the war. His father, however, died in1776 but histories of these first “Black Watch” settlers has them being loyal to Great Britian during the Revolution.. Joshua took the name Pharaoh from his mother, Elizabeth’s, maiden name. He in turn had a daughter Elizabeth Pharaoh who married Alexander Avrett. My grandmother, Fannie Barbara Avrett, born in 1892, was Alexander’s granddaughter. She told me stories of the camp ground and Joshua Pharaoh when I was a child. I have subsequently researched these stories. I hope this information is useful to your historical records. I can furnish source material if needed.
This is wonderful history Patricia. Yes it will now be attached to the Mt. Moriah site where it will it will be available to anyone to see.
Hi Patricia. What a cool story! I would definitely love to see whatever source material you have. I am a descendant of Joshua Campbell Pharaoh myself and have been doing research on him. Any source material you might have would be a tremendous help!
Love the pictures and histories of the different churches.
There is a Campground you may not know about. It is the Hortense Campground located in Brantley County. It is still use. Camp meeting is held every August. It is Wesleyan Methodist.
I love a good campground. Grew up going to salem campground near Conyers. It is a beauty too!