Old Anderson Primitive Baptist

Tattnall County
Org 1818
Photography by Randall Davis

Old Anderson Primitive Baptist is a good role model and an inspiration for us here at HRCGA because it is thriving in a remote part of Tattnall County with a very active congregation that holds services every Sunday. Granted there are many instances of rural decline, disrepair and ultimate destruction but Old Anderson is alive and well. The church was organized and founded by Peter Anderson, who came into Tattnall County from South Carolina at the age of nineteen we are told, sometime around 1818. Interestingly, the cemetery is very large for a rural community with over one thousand interments and 99 of them are Andersons. This is the second structure on the property, the first being a log meeting house that was built the same year as the 1847 founding. We are not sure when the present church was built but it is older than it looks. There exists a warranty deed from Charles D. Anderson to Anderson Primitive Baptist Church for 5.7 acres of land that is dated August 14, 1885. We think the present sanctuary was built shortly after that.

The beginning of Old Anderson is an interesting story. According to a Tattnall County history by Charles Edward Wildes, Peter Anderson first joined the Mt. Carmel Methodist Church in 1825. In 1831 he married Mary Lynn Anderson and settled down on a farm near where the church is located today. We are told that about two years into the marriage, he became dissatisfied and withdrew from the Methodist church, choosing to live “out in the world, a member of no church”. His mind became burdened and he had some experience with strong drink, which gave him no relief. However, in 1846 Peter came up with the idea of building a church near where the present one now stands. His reason was “so those old sisters they saw walking past their home each month going to Cedar Creek Church could have a place nearer home to hear the gospel preached”, and so he did. In the early years it was called Anderson’s Meeting House. Of the fifteen charter members, five were males and ten were females. The oldest grave in the cemetery is that of charter member William Hodges who died in 1849. Peter Anderson, who died in 1884, is also in the cemetery.

Sometime in the mid 1900’s, the church was down to four members and became inactive. We are told that one of the last elderly members wanted to have a service at the inactive church and this triggered a resurgence of Old Anderson resulting in the well kept sanctuary you see today and a very active congregation. We are grateful to them for saving this old treasure and hopefully, for generations to come.

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