New Harmony Methodist

Hart County
Org 1890 (est)
Photography by Andy Sarge

New Harmony Methodist is an absolute jewel of a rural Georgia church that has somehow survived, but we know very little about it. It is located in a remote part of Hart County that is not far from the shores of Lake Hartwell.  It is significant in its architecture and interior furnishings, which are almost a time warp for a mid to late 19th century rural Georgia church. It has been well cared for as you will see, but the history of it seems to be a mystery and we have not been able to find much.  Unfortunately this is an all too common occurrence with these old churches, and we lose more of it with each passing generation.

The cemetery at New Harmony is particularly interesting, as the oldest graves are actually re-interments from another church which was inundated by the creation of Lake Hartwell dam, concluded in 1963. Mt. Zion Methodist was organized in 1820 in what was then Franklin County. Franklin County, created out of Cherokee land ceded in 1783, was the first county in Georgia established after the Revolutionary War. It was one of the first land cessations that ultimately created the state of Georgia as we know it. Mt. Zion was one of the oldest churches in the state, and its cemetery contained many prominent early Georgia settlers.  There were 254 graves in the Mount Zion Cemetery that had to be re-interred, and some of them are now in the Mount Harmony cemetery.

One of these is the Reverend Henry Tyler, the son of Reuben Tyler, one of Georgia’s earliest settlers who donated the original land for the Mt. Zion church and cemetery in 1820.  Other prominent Revolutionary War veterans are Angus McCurry who was re-interred along with David Carter, the patriarch of a distinguished East Georgia family. Mr. Carter was captured at the Battle of Camden, where the patriots were soundly defeated by Lord Cornwallis.  He was then imprisoned in a British warship in Charleston Harbor for many months.

These old churches and the hardy pioneers who organized them are such a big part of our history, and yet so much of it is remote and obscure…just like the little church here in the woods.  We honor these structures. They are the true reminders of who we are and where we came from.