One of our missions at HRCGA is documentation of some of the old churches that are almost gone, and this one is particularly interesting. Part of the mystery lies in the disconnect with the old cemetery nearby. Though neglected for some time, its hallowed grounds contain some of the very prominent early citizens who settled this part of Marion County, including one with a very close connection to President Jimmy Carter. The village of Pineville is described many times in old, out of print publications as a thriving village that prospered because of the number of successful planters located near by. There is even a book of fiction written about Pineville – Chronicles of Pineville by William Tappan Thompson written in 1853. A History of Marion County Georgia by Nettie Powell states that the fourth church in the county was established around 1830 as a Baptist Church made of pine logs and founded by Elder Andrew Hood. It also describes Pineville as “prosperous little town…..where the planters had a good deal of leisure and culture. Pineville had one of the finest race tracks in the county and crowds frequently gathered here to witness the speed of the well trained horses”.
Today, no trace of Pineville exists except the old church and the cemetery. Pineville has been clearly documented as a community populated with well to do planters and the cemetery bears this out. However, the old church above does not seem to be compatible with this story. The architecture and construction methods do not seem to be a fit with the nature of the graveyard. We are inclined to think there may have been another church nearby that burned or came to some other sad end. But if so, who did this church belong to? It could be an old African American church, and it looks similar to several we have seen. But if this is the case, where is the cemetery associated with it? And it seems unlikely that an African American church would be located between a white church and two white cemeteries.
The cemetery is a very historic one and very neglected as well. There is a sign that says it was established in 1830, and that would be consistent with the first Baptist church mentioned in the history above. The oldest documented interment, according to Findagrave, is 1838 but cemeteries this old usually contain more than a few graves that are now unmarked. There are many 19th century interments, a few 20th century and three in the 21st. One of the graves is that of Martha Nicholson (1819 – 1869), the first wife of Nathaniel Nicholson, President Carter’s Great Grandfather. There are also more than a few CSA veterans interred here. This is good Georgia history and we are intrigued with the ‘Mystery of Pineville Baptist’. Perhaps someone out there has the answer. Stay tuned.