The original Paran Baptist church was organized in 1823 and was located about 2 ½ miles away. It is located in Monroe County, named for the fifth president of the United States. Creek Indians held this land until 1821, when they were impelled to surrender it in a treaty signed at Indian Springs. Portions of Monroe County later went to the formation of Bibb, Butts, Lamar, and Pike Counties. The congregation of Paran is one of the oldest in the county. The church you see above was built in 1907, and has been well maintained over the years.
A Flint River Baptist Association history from 1880 tells us that Paran Baptist was organized October 11, 1823 with 12 members in Monroe County. Three years after constituting the church on November 29, 1826, Charles A. Heard sold 2 1/2 acres for $6 to John Morris and George Hobbs, Deacons and their successors, for the purpose of building a meeting house. It also included the right to the spring attached to the property. Also on May of 1867, “G. W. Edwards to Leonard C. Tomlinson and John R. Jones trustees of the Baptist Church at Paran for $5, 2 1/2 acres on which the present house of said church now stands and bounds to be laid off in the form of a square 140 yards x 86 3/7 yards.”
The 1880 history further tells us that “We have one sister Hobs who has been a member 52 years, and another, Sister Westbrooks 43 years. This church has been blessed with many glorious revivals of religion, but has not been free from trouble, has had its days of adversity and prosperity…….Five years ago there was but 58 members , and most of them females….but the church has been blessed during the last 2 years with a number of young men. The church now numbers 104 members and are at peace with each other.”
We find it interesting that the history states the members were mostly female at that point. We have to remember that the Civil War, ending in 1865, resulted in a demographic disaster for the South. Total deaths were 618,000 according to an article in Harvard Magazine. “This equates to 2% of the American population and is comparable to 5 million perishing today. 8% of all white males aged 13 to 43 died in the war……6% in the North and an unbelievable 18% in the South”. This created a huge imbalance in the ratio of males and females.
Paran is fortunate to have a loving and very active congregation and we are all indebted to them for such good stewardship. There is a large cemetery attached with many 19th century interments. Be sure to click and scan the gallery photos below for more Paran History and Tales From the Crypt.
Paran Baptist has a large cemetery. There are 454 recorded interments in the cemetery and many of them are 19th century burials. The oldest grave is that of Nancy Denzler Grant Smith, born in 1820 and died in 1851 at the age of 31.
There have obviously been many improvements over the years but the basic bones of the 1904 sanctuary are intact.
If you look closely, you can see that the walls are original. The stained glass windows allow a warm glow of light as the church is getting ready for the holiday season.
The handsome chandeliers hang from the original vaulted ceiling and reflect the love and maintence of this historical old structure.
The beautiful stained glass windows compliment the ambiance of the sanctuary.
The double door center entrance to the sanctuary welcomes all, just as it has for almost 120 years.
Enoch Underwood was born November 12, 1782 and died September 1, 1868. He served in the War of 1812. He married Mrs. Elizabeth Buckner on July 23, 1815 in Baldwin County, Georgia. They had probably both been married before this marriage. The 1850 census shows his occupation as teacher.
Enoch Lafayette Tollerson, Sr. was born October 13, 1826 and died March 2, 1863. He married Louisa Tingle (1825-1909) March 5, 1851. In the 1850, Monroe County census he is shown as 24 years old living in the household with his father, Jesse Tollerson/Tollison, mother, Malinda, and six siblings. Enoch served in Company H, 32nd Georgia Infantry, CSA. He died of disease during the war. His father, Jesse, was a charter member of Paran Baptist Church.
Joseph E. Grant was born August 26, 1792 and died July 5, 1869. He served in the GA Mil War of 1812. His wife, Martha Burkhalter Grant, was born July 5, 1798 and died October 9, 1889. They were married November 5, 1818 in Putnam County. He died of lung disease.
John Cornelius Anderson was born February 14, 1791 and died April 24, 1869. His wife, Nancy Maddox Anderson, was born March 15, 1804 and died June 11, 1885. They were married March 1, 1821. He was born in Virginia and served in the War of 1812. They had six children.
McCarroll Thomas Tingle was born November 9, 1833 and died June 25, 1891.He was married to Mary Ann Castleberry (1838-1908). He served in Company H, 32nd Georgia Infantry, CSA. He was wounded in his left leg below the knee, February 20, 1864, at Ocean Pond, Florida. Afterwards he had to have the aid of a stick or crutch to get about.
The cemetery marker for James Stokes contains the following information: James “Jim” Stokes, CSA Monroe Infantry State Guards, Member UVC Camp Quitman 1122, wife Eliz Cherry Edwards; James son of Frederick Robinson Stokes, War of 1812, 2nd Reg SC Mil, buried at Old Ebenezer Methodist Church, Wife Nancy McKay; Frederick son of Joel Stokes, Revolutionary War, Corporal Wilson’s Co. NC Militia, Buried at Sumter Co. SC, wife Abigail Robinson.
Charles Medlock Sutton was born October 2, 1803 in Edgefield County, SC and died April 10, 1897. Both of his parents were born in Virginia. He married Mary A. Rowe Almond (1818-1892) on November 12, 1876. She is not believed to be his first wife.
Thomas Paul Freeman was born January 16, 1815 in Gates, North Carolina and died December 24, 1887. His wife, Mary Elizabeth “Lizzie” Walker Freeman, was born June 21, 1832 and died July 16, 1910. They were married April 24, 1851 in Putnam County. The 1880 Monroe County, Georgia census shows T. P. Freeman, 65; Elizabeth, 46; with 2 daughters and 5 sons ranging in age from 9 to 23.
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