Meansville is a small rural crossroads town located south of Zebulon, in Pike County. The little community was named after John Means, one of the early Pike County settlers. The church you see here was built in 1885 when a group of congregants from a church in Piedmont purchased the land from John Means Jr. for the sum of $20. She served the congregation well and the congregation prospered, but she was abandoned in the 1930’s when the New Meansville Baptist Church was established in the town, a short distance away. She stood empty for several years until converted to a private residence in the 1940’s. The old church is in the final stage of her life now, and will soon be Almost Gone But Not Forgotten.
The building you see here shows the conversion from church to residence, but you can clearly see the original 1885 structure reflecting the classic box construction style of a late 19th century rural church. There are many of them across the state. She won’t be standing too much longer, since the roof is beginning to get compromised and total collapse will soon follow.
The old church cemetery is across the highway, surrounded by beautiful farmland. There are just over 100 interments in the cemetery with graves dating back to the 1890s as well as a few fairly recent ones. There are also many CSA veterans buried there to remind us of the terrible disaster of the Civil War that swept through this part of Georgia 150 years ago. We also have to keep in mind that these are the final resting places of those that survived the conflict. There were many others that did not and were buried where they fell. These old rural cemeteries are full of them and almost all had the rank of Private – another reminder that the conflict was a rich man’s war and a poor man’s fight. After the war, the survivors returned to their church homes and returned to farming.
To learn more about the stories of some of them, be sure to click and scroll on the gallery photos below.
1. It looks like the screen porch was added when the church was converted to a residence. But we have seen many of these late 19th century churches with box construction that looked like this. It appears that there are two front entrances that would indicate a two-aisle sanctuary and separate seating for men on one side, and ladies and children on the other.
It looks like the original church had four large windows and this would have been typical for the period. You can vaguely see the outline in this photo. The double windows would have been added during the time of the conversion.
Another shot that shows the decorative cornice work on the roof eaves as well as the outline of the original windows.
Notice the traditional apse that protrudes from the rear of the church. We are not sure how this space was used within the residence but it is a very traditional feature in a box church from this time period.
This photo, shot through the window, shows the drop ceiling that was added and various walls that we constructed to make the open sanctuary a dwelling with separate room. The same with the wall to wall carpeting.
Here we see what is left of the conversion of the large original windows to standard double windows. Time and weather will soon take down the structure.
Here is a close up of the original doors mentioned that would lead into the sanctuary and provide separate entrances for men and the women and children.
Aaron H. Harper was born November 30, 1833 and died September 15, 1900. Fannie L. Harper was born February 4, 1837 and died March 21, 1912. They were married October 16, 1856 in Pike County, Georgia. They had 7 children with 4 still living in 1900. He served as a Private in the 551 Georgia Militia, 22 Senatorial District, CSA. The 1864 census for reorganizing the Georgia Militia shows him exempt because of swelling. The Barnesville Gazette mentioned in February 1894 that Aaron Harper, an old veteran, whose Post Office is now at Vega, beyond Meansville was supporting a political candidate.
James W. T. Brooks was born March 15, 1847 and died May 17, 1911. He served in Company G, 1st (Fannin’s) GA Reserves, Infantry, CSA. He enlisted July 16, 1864 at Andersonville. At the end of the war he was on sick furlough with the measles. He applied for a pension in 1911. He owned 100 acres of mountain land in Upson County worth $400. His wife, whose name is also shown on this marker, was Louisa “Lulu” E. Harper Brooks born September 27, 1855 and died August 9, 1941. They had four children.
James Lester Aldridge was born May 17, 1847 in Citrus County, Florida and died August 11, 1911. His father was born in Indiana and his mother was born in Georgia. He was married to Marietta A. Means (1850-1932) on November 16, 1870. They had 10 children and 9 were still living in 1900.
Richard W. McGinty was born July 2, 1838 and died June 24, 1918. He married Emily M. Clements (1838-1918) on March 1, 1866.They had six children. He served as 1st Sgt., Company A, 14th Georgia Infantry, CSA. He surrendered at Appomattox, Virginia on April 9, 1865. His obituary in the Barnesville News Gazette stated “About ten days ago he was taken seriously ill”. Also, “The funeral and burial occurred Tuesday at Meansville, in the Baptist Church, where his membership was, the services being conducted by Rev. Lemuel Hooten.
Thomas Zachry Jones was born June 3, 1847 and died July 24, 1913. He was married to Malinda Sophronia McKinley and they had 8 children. He enlisted June 15, 1864 as a private in Company, G, 27th Georgia Infantry, CSA. He surrendered at Grensboro, N. C. April 26, 1865. In his will he requested that his mules, horses, cows, hogs, wagons, buggys, farming implements and land be sold. He left a shot gun, Winchester Rifle, pistol, watch, organ, and pruning knife purchased by his father about 1850 to various children.
Vines Hicks Collier was born May 20, 1841 and died September 6, 1917. Eugenia Means Collier was born March 30, 1847 and died October 23, 1913. They were married February 4, 1866. They had seven children with six still living in 1910. He was a sergeant in Company C, 37th Georgia Infantry, CSA. Near the Battle of Atlanta he was struck in the right temple by a fragment and disabled for 30 days. During very severe weather in Tennessee he contracted a cold that turned into pneumonia. He never fully recovered from the pneumonia and developed tuberculosis. In 1909 he was awarded the Confederate Cross of Honor.
Samuel Jones Whatley was born June 22, 1831 in Wilkes County and died November 24, 1911. He married Isabel Jane Harp (1841-1910) in 1857. The 1900 census shows they had 13 children with 10 still living in 1900. He was a private in Company H, 32nd Georgia Infantry, CSA. He was admitted to Ocmulgee Hospital at Macon with rheumatism on December 1, 1864. He was at home on furlough at the close of the war. The 1860 slave schedule shows he owned 5 slaves.
Almost Gone But Not Forgotten
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Rev. Clifford Walker was a pastor at Meansville Baptist Church from 1932-35 before God called him to preach at First Baptist Church Chipley, Florida from February 1938 until May 1943.
Appreciate the nod to the history of our congregation and our original meeting place from Tony and all of you at HRCofG. Our congregation has actually been in our present location since 1921. We had a temporary building at that time that looked much like a barn and was called a “tabernacle” with sawdust floors. Our beautiful (also historic) present building was built from all donated time and materials in the height of the Depression. It was finished in 1935. I’ve seen many expressions of concern that this building was not preserved, but it was purchased to be a private residence (not abandoned) 100 years ago and has been out of our hands since. I love history like anyone else ( I am in a Historical Theology doctoral program and my favorites are the Reformation, Puritan, and Modern Missions movement eras), but the reality is: buildings will crumble, but the Kingdom of God will last forever. I hope you know Jesus, the builder of the Church and are one of the living stones that he is building together. Thankfully, we are still on task with the same identity and mission as the original congregation in 1885: “On August 18, 1885, a small group of Christians, being called of God out of nature’s darkness into the marvelous light of His blessed Word, having been regenerated and given to the Lord; baptized by immersion upon a profession of faith in Christ Jesus; believing it to be the duty of Christians to let their light shine before men, organized the Meansville Baptist Church.” There’s more on our congregation here: https://www.meansvillebaptistchurch.com/
Its a shame to lose a fine old church. With the church gone the cemetery will be forgotten too.