The beautiful church you see above, the oldest in Bartow County, has been improved over the years but was actually built in 1843. The church was sited on “The Tennessee Road”, built through the Cherokee Nation in 1829 to provide a market road from the Tennessee River to Augusta, the nearest port city. In addition to the church and campground there is a substantial cemetery with the oldest recorded interment, according to Findagrave, being that of Ann Atherton who died in 1831. Much of the history contained in this commentary came from a History of the Pine Log Methodist Church ca 1834-1981, as well as research recorded for the National Register in 1988. The land for the church and cemetery, said to contain a Cherokee burial ground, was donated by early settler Lindsey Johnson, who came from Elbert County to prospect for copper in 1830. The roots of the Campground go back to the earliest days as well, with annual campground meetings being held on the grounds beginning in the 1840s. The present tabernacle was built in 1888 and has survived virtually intact.
Bartow County was originally named Cass County in honor of Gen Lewis Cass of Michigan, who was Secretary of War in the Jackson cabinet and very instrumental in the removal of Native Americans from the area. However, he fell from favor in the south at the beginning of the Civil War, and the county was renamed Bartow for Gen. Francis Bartow, who was among the first to fall at the Battle of Manassas in 1861. The early years of Bartow County were tumultuous as Georgia forcefully acquired the Cherokee lands, culminating in their forced removal on the Trail of Tears in 1838.
The county was settled by parceling out Cherokee land in a lottery that awarded land in either 40 or 160 acre increments, the smaller being classified as those potentially containing gold. The new settlers bought land lots from the fortunate lottery drawers and began to settle the area. Many of the organizational members of Pine Log Methodist Church who were in the area by 1840 were farmers, and many owned slaves. The census of 1840 tells us that church members owned 170 slaves.
The Civil War years were particularly difficult for the Pine Log and Cassville areas due to the fighting preceding the Battle of Atlanta. Rogue elements of both sides roamed the area while most of the younger males were serving in the various theaters of conflict. Property destruction and the deaths of one-third of the county’s soldiers during the war caused financial and social calamity for many. There are a few CSA vets in the cemetery, but we have to remind ourselves that these were the ones who survived and returned from the war. That is usually an unknown number, but the Pine Log history tells us in detail that at least twenty church members fought in the war and never returned.
The Pine Log history is long and proud and we are so fortunate that the local congregants have been such good stewards of it. She is still serving the community after 180 years. Be sure to click and scroll he photos below for more information about Pine Long and the earliest settlers of Bartow County.
In this photo, we see a frontal exterior view of the present church and ta gabled roof with the portico that was added in 1932. The original entry door can be seen tucked beneath the porch and it is still flanked by two large entryway windows as it was in the beginning. We also see that four similar windows are placed along the north wall and matched by four more along the south wall as they were in the original building. All of these large, clear glass windows allow much ambient light to flow into the sanctuary.
Here we are looking at a black and white photo of Old Pine Log Methodist Church that was taken in the very early 20th century. We are seldom lucky enough to find such a documented treasure such as this one, now well over 100 years old. As you see, the original church was a simple rectangular, wood framed, hip roofed structure with doors on the left and right. In the photos that follow, we will see how the building was modified over the years. But, we will also show that this old church remains today, in the 21st century, an authentic relic of the past that is still in use and loved by its active congregation.
We have now walked beneath the portico into the sanctuary. The interior consists of a small entrance vestibule with a large sanctuary. We were struck by how large and airy the interior was. The suspended ceiling lifts the side walls and creates a cathedral-like atmosphere within. The sanctuary remains well taken care of and, as you can see, is remarkably clean and inviting given that it has been in use since 1842. We see that the sanctuary retains its original walls but has a modern ceiling and added pine paneling. So, we see both the “authentic old” and the new within its walls.
Now we have stepped forward and the photo you see is of the entire chancel area. We first see the lovely balustrade and its finely turned balusters. Otherwise, the Sanctuary and chancel is remarkably plain and with no ostentation, no flags, pictures or other eye catchers. Other than the large cross, there are no architectural or other decorative elements at Pine Log. In this close-up view, what we do see is that the original wall boards remain in place. Less is more is a Methodist tenet on view here. We do hate to see the bourgeoning roof leak at the left ceiling, note the water stains
In this photo of the chancel, we get to see the lovely old balustrade close up. We are not sure of its age but know that it is a work of art as is the curving bench.
This is a view from the pulpit to the entryway doors giving us a chance to have a view of the entire Sanctuary. The large, 9x9 sashed windows we mentioned earlier are in view here framed into the original wooden walls. We also note that, along with the pews, the knotty pine back wall was installed during the 1932 restoration.
This is a photo of the striking Tabernacle that rests on the Pine Log Methodist grounds a few hundred yards behind the historic church building. Built in 1888, it still remains active. Its presence has been and remains a major reason for the continuing success and activity of the old church. This Tabernacle is primarily used during the annual camp meeting. It is designed for functional purposes to serve as a meeting hall and, as well, to accommodate the summer heat, hence its open sides.
This is an interior view of the Tabernacle. We marvel at the beautiful geometric design created by the multiple beams and struts that captures the eye while supporting the roof in all sorts of heavy weather. This currant wood frame building remains much the same as it was built in 1888 with the exception of some modernization such as a concrete floor, electric lights and more comfortable pews. Its dual- pitched hipped roof is designed with three open sides to allow for ventilation during the summer meetings. The only furnishings are simple, wooden, white pews and a small meeting bell you can see mounted on one of the exposed rafters.
We have generously used National Register Application text for the “Tents” captions below. The houses or “Tents” as they are called, though replaced several times… most recently in 1928-1939… still contribute to the original two-sided design of the campground. As you can see, all are very rustic but most contain modern conveniences such as electric lights, stoves, running water and screened windows and doors. Tents are unpainted, one-story wood frame structures with porches and front gable roofs. Interiors are also unpainted, sawed pine boards with sawdust floors and open ceiling rafters. Interior space is divided for sleeping quarters and a small section is used for a kitchen. At recent annual camp meetings, ALL of these houses are occupied!
Levi Pierce was born in 1810 in South Carolina and died in 1886. Matilda Upshaw Pierce was born in 1815 and died in 1890. They were married December 8, 1836 in Bartow County. They had seven children. Census records show his occupation as millwright. His obituary in the Cartersville Courant, April 22, 1886, states he was an excellent mason, 500 people were present at his burial, and he died from cancer.
Joseph Lowery Dysart was born in North Carolina on November 13, 1817 and died April 9, 1883. He married Sarah Elizabeth Upshaw (1818-1901) September 27, 1839 in Bartow County, Georgia. The old Vaughan Graveyard, with a marker going back to 1816 was located near his place. A notice in the Columbus newspaper, September 8, 1882, reported that Mr. Joseph L. Lowery of Pine Log as legatee was likely to inherit several million dollars from an estate in Ireland. No information was found as to what happened to this inheritance or whether he received it.
Thomas Benjamin Maxwell was born July 11, 1838 and died December 26, 1904. His wife, Phoebe Susan Barton (1845-1929) is also buried in this cemetery. The 1900 census shows she had given birth to eight children with seven still living in 1900. This same census shows he was a farmer, owned his own farm free of mortgage, was able to read and write and was born in Georgia.
Johnson Adams was born in Sevier County, Tennessee on October 5, 1825 and died April 6, 1885. In the 1870 census he and his wife Emeline had seven children and were living in Fannin County, Georgia. In the 1900 census, she had given birth to 10 children with 8 still living. Emeline Adams, born in North Carolina, (1830-1911) is also buried at this Pine Log cemetery. According to the 1864 census he was exempt from service in the Confederate Army because of his occupation as blacksmith.
James Dysart was born in 1726 Northern Ireland and came to America in 1744. He died February 1, 1781. His son, William Dysart, was born in 1751 in Pennsylvania and died February 1, 1781. They were both killed in the Battle of Cowans Ford, in North Carolina during the Revolutionary War. This cemetery marker is a cenotaph. According to the findagrave website, “the men who were killed in that battle were buried at night, in a mass grave at the Hopewell Presbyterian Church, in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.” James and William each left five children
Aulsey Ayers Vincent was born March 7, 1811 in Madison County, Georgia and died September 15, 1898. His Mother Susan Vincent (1792-1877) is also buried in this cemetery. In 1835 his mother was a widow and moved with her children to Cass County, now Bartow County. He served for six years as a county commissioner. He was a Mason for more than thirty years. He was survived by twelve children.
There are two markers here. Nancy Frances “Fannie” Bufford Amos is on the left. She was born May 2, 1827 in South Carolina and died March 11, 1899. The 1880 census shows her as widow, living in Bartow County with four of her children. Her husband, shown on the right, was John Rufus Amos who was born July 4, 1828 in South Carolina and died May 16, 1863. He served with Company B, 40th Georgia Infantry, CSA and was shot dead on the field at Baker’s Creek, Mississippi. His marker is a cenotaph. His marker was placed here November 23, 1991 with a number of his grandchildren present.
Robert Henry Pharr was born March 12, 1897 and died September 23, 1918. He was the son of William Thomas Pharr (1865-1954) and Amanda A. Bruce Pharr (1871-1947). Both of his parents are buried in this cemetery. Robert Henry Pharr entered service in the Navy September 10, 1918, attached to Company 555, 14th regiment at Great Lakes, Illinois. He became sick and died thirteen days after entering service. His cause of death was listed as influenza.
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Thank you for featuring this beautiful, historic church. The marker to the right of the front steps bears this inscription: On this site August 31, 1886 Rev. J. N. Sullivan prayed this prayer: “Lord, if it takes it to move the hearts of these people, shake the grounds on which this old building stands.” Before the conclusion of Rev. Sullivan’s prayer the grounds were violently shaken by a sudden earthquake. “The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” James 5:16. This monument to prayer was dedicated on Sunday, 26 August 1951 at which time many members of the James N. Sullivan family attended and nine eyewitnesses gave short testimonials about the 1886 earthquake. This minister was my husband’s 2nd great-grandfather.
Thanks for sharing this story Rebecca.
Another beautiful monument to faith. Do you know about Salem Campground in Newton county? Methodist. Tabernacle. Tents. A spring. Kitty’s Cottage. History. Look it up.
Mary Bowen. Decatur Ga