Odessadale Methodist is another one of those Georgia jewels hidden away in the rural back country between LaGrange and Greenville in Meriwether County. You can get a birds eye peek at the church here. The beauty of these old sanctuaries never ceases to amaze us and we love to uncover the stories that go with them. Georgia is indeed blessed with these treasures and we encourage you to get out on the backroads and make your own discoveries. The little farming community of Odessadale has been around for almost 200 years even though the town was not incorporated until 1905. Wikipedia tells us that Odessadale has also been known by the names of Odessa and Xerxes at one time or another. Xerxes was the name of the plantation of a prominent Odessadale Citizen, Colonel Henry Richard Harris. He was a member of the original congregation and his wife, Kate Virginia Moses Harris, was a devoted worker and the first Sunday School Superintendent of Odessadale Methodist Church.
Odessadale Methodist was organized in the late 1800’s in a schoolhouse by members of the Methodist church in Mountville, a short distance away but still a significant ride on Sunday in a horse and buggy. The land was donated by Miss Odessa Thompson, a prominent member of the Odessa Baptist church, and the lady the town was named for. She gave 1 1/2 acres to be used for a school and a church. The little graveyard beside the church is the final resting place for a number of prominent early citizens of the Odessadale community, including many descendants of the Harman family – and this is where the story gets very interesting. Of the 113 interments in the graveyard, twenty five of them carry the surname Harman.
Fortunately one of the Harman family, Gaines Harman, is still carrying on the tradition, and was the source of so much knowledge about this lovely little church. It turns out the structure was designed and built by members of the congregation who were led by his great grandfather, Cornelius Harman. There is no question that Cornelius was quite an accomplished carpenter as you will see when you enter the church. But before we take a look at the wonderful artistry of the interior, please take a moment to appreciate the majesty of the architecture in the above photo. Some of these old sanctuaries are really worth a close look and Odessadale Methodist is one of them. The unique entryway, the offset bell tower and the interior craftsmanship are indicative of just how skilled some of these farmers were.
We encourage viewers to take a close look at this little jewel in Meriwether County. We are grateful to Gaines Harman and the current members for their stewardship of this important piece of rural Georgia history. She is still going strong and will serve to tell the coming generations where we came from and how we got here.
Click on the gallery photos below and scroll for more information.
These wooden, four panel doors have swung open for the Odessadale Methodist congregation for over 120 years now. The worn flooring you see here is testament to how many loyal members and visitors have crossed the threshold. According to current members, the church founding date was as an MEC in 1828. Services began that year in a brush arbor and later a log cabin under several other names. The area prospered and in 1887, now worshiping in a school house, the Odessadale congregation decided to build the lovely, late Victorian church you see today. We are told that construction and design of the building as well as furnishings, much of which is still in use, was completed by congregation members themselves. Lead by an accomplished carpenter, Cornelius Harman, along with others from the Harman family, the Odessadale congregation and neighbors all participated in the effort. Many of those early settlers and their descendents rest in peace in the cemetery. Many others are still alive today and attend the weekly services.
Recently, this lovely sanctuary was endangered. In 2016, the original foundation piers began to disintegrate and the side walls were in danger of collapsing. The determined congregation choose to do all it could to save their church for future generations. The project would be difficult and expensive. Gaines Harman and other parishioners pitched in with the funds needed to hire a contractor to repair the damage. The foundation piers were repaired and the failing walls were stabilized using steel cabling to pull them upright and straight. Evidence of that “save” will be seen in this photo if you look up and forward on the walls and discover some of the cabling at work.
This photo of the chancel/pulpit area gives us a chance to get a close-up view and the opportunity to appreciate and enjoy the high quality, fit and finish within its original 1897 sanctuary as well as restoration and maintenance work throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. The horizontal wall boards you see literally cast a warm glow and help create a worshipful atmosphere within the sanctuary. These interior walls were originally covered by wallpaper. In the 1940’s, it was decided to remove the wallpaper. The original heart pine boards were revealed at that time and the decision was made to refinish and save these relics from the old days. Regarding the chancel area you see, we are told that Cornelius Harman and several of the original members hand made the prayer rail, the balustrade with classic turned balusters and kneeling pad…along with the pews. From the beginning, the congregation has shown a continuing desire to practice hand’s-on stewardship of their beloved church.
This charming stained glass window is dedicated to the memory of Johnnie Glanton, a young girl who died in 1896 at 6 years old. It was decided at that time to dedicate a window in her name at the “new” church the congregation was planning at that time.
Here we see a children’s corner that sits to the left side of the church next to the chancel and close to the pulpit. The area is an Odessadale tradition where the children can gather in their own chairs around the large chair close to the front and speak with an adult , pastor or special guest. The children’s bentwood, oak chairs were originally used in the school house.
In this photo, the rich history of Odessadale Methodist is laid out before us. It presents as a small but cozy house of worship . The Children’s corner is seen up front to the left of the chancel. The recent restoration within the sanctuary is apparent given the lovely, stabilized walls and general state of good repair despite a roof leak or two. The hand made, original pews are handsome and still sit upon the original floor boards. We are looking at a century plus sanctuary that is absolutely lovely and inviting. The fact that the entire site was endangered three years ago is incomprehensible.
In this view from the pulpit we see four windows and look out upon a small church interior with a central row of pews flanked by two side aisles with smaller pews…. just like it was when first built. The chancel is decorated with live plants, the sanctuary well lit and all is ready for the next service. Regular services are held and attendance, though small is steady and enthusiastic.. Thanks to a dedicated congregation, the church is alive and well. The beautiful stained glass window on the left is dedicated to the parents of Gaines Harman.
In the apse, we find an antique, visiting/auxiliary preachers chair with bible stand at its side. The elaborate, quintessentialy Victorian chair is a reminder of the church’s early days and history.
Luther Cornelius Harman, Jr. was born and died April 10, 1910. He was the son of Luther Cornelius Harman, 1882-1939 and Pearl Leathy Sears Harman, 1888-1969. Both of the parents are buried at Odessadale Methodist Cemetery. There are at least 25 graves at the Odessadale Methodist Cemetery showing the last name Harman. Among the oldest are Abbie Harman, born 1845 and Merriman Harman, born 1841, daughter and son of Calvin Harman who is buried in the Harman Cemetery in Meriwether County. Also, buried at Odessadale Methodist is David William Harman, born 1849, son of Luther Merriman Harman buried at Harman Cemetery.
Harrison Barnes was born January 27, 1842. According to the 1910 census, Harrison R. Barnes was married three times. He married his first wife, Susan A. Redding on December 3, 1868 in Meriwether County. He married second, Esmarilda “Pinkie” Strozier on January 12, 1888. He is buried next to his third wife Ida Musadora Partridge Barnes whom he married about 1901. She was born January 27, 1860. Harrison Barnes died February 3, 1912 and Ida Musadora Barnes died December 24, 1913.
Cincinnatus Camillus “Nat” Marchman was born August 23, 1835 in Troup County, Georgia. His son, Charles Pinckney Marchman was a Methodist preacher and served many churches in Georgia. Nat Marchman’s obituary appears in the Lagrange Reporter, May 20, 1910. It states he was 75 years old, his funeral was conducted in the Methodist church at Odessadale by his pastor, Rev. Mr. Rowe and he had spent the greater part of his life in that neighborhood.
A stained glass window in memory of Johnnie Glanton was placed in the Odessadale Methodist Church as the church was being built. She died during the construction of the church when she was just five years old. The window reads “In memory of Johnnie Glanton; born December 29, 1890; died September 25, 1896; Budded on earth to bloom in heaven.” Johnnie Glanton was the daughter of James Anderson Glanton and his wife Lilla Hardaway Glanton. Her father’s obituary in the Lagrange Reporter, October 1, 1909 states he was a consistent and devout member of the Odessadale Methodist Church. It also says he was the first mayor of Odessadale. Both of Johnnie’s parents are buried at Odessadale Methodist Church.
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Brings back so many memories when I saw the old Cokesbury hymnals on the back of the peeps!
I am interested in purchasing a used copy of you book
I travel up and down the coastal region of GA and am intrigued about the history and current maintenance of these community gathering locations and would love to photograph them myself
You can easily purchase a used copy on Amazon.com. Good luck and thanks for your interest.
This one’s a beauty. When is the next book coming out? I want one.
Mary Martin bowen, decatur
Thanks Mary. Unfortunately we are not planning another book at this time. Just takes too much time and too much effort that conflicts with other things that need to get done. Hope you are doing well and thanks for the comment.
Very nice. Great pics.
Thanks Claude. We want to make sure we got it right. Love to see the Harman family still so deeply involved.