Pleasant Grove Baptist

Stewart County
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Org 1852
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Photography by Wolfgang Enneker

Pleasant Grove Baptist is a classic 19th century rural church located in a very remote location in Stewart County.  The community was once known as Julia, but is now known as Union.  Local sources tell us they think the name Julia was for one of the original founder’s daughters.  Even though the location is remote today and sparsely populated, things were very different when the church was founded in 1851.  In the 1850 Federal Census, Stewart County was the tenth most populous county in Georgia.  Cotton was king and Stewart County was one of Georgia’s top three cotton producers (more than 7.6 million pounds in 1850).

Stewart County was formed in 1830, shortly after the 2nd Treaty of Indian Springs which ceded Creek lands between the Flint River and the Chattahoochee.  However, hostilities were frequent as the Creeks resisted being pushed across the river into Alabama.   Stewart County settlers called on Governor William Schley for protection.  He sent state militia volunteers to build three forts, Ingersoll, Jones, and McCreary. On May 15, 1836, the river settlement of Roanoke was burned by a reported 300 Indians. On June 9 the Battle of Shepherd’s Plantation marked an end to skirmishes in the county and, essentially, in the state.

The church and the adjoining cemetery have been well maintained. Many of Stewart County’s early settlers are buried here, such as Bryant W. Steely who was an elder of the church when it was established in 1852 and served as its pastor until his death in 1858.  There are 176 recorded interments in the cemetery, the most recent dated 2020.

A 1902 obituary in the Lumpkin Independent tells us there was once a church-sponsored school at this location, described as a “little log house”  that was attended by the deceased in 1878.  Another article from the Lumpkin Independent, dated Oct. 1896, tells us the “The Baptist Association was held at Pleasant Grove last week.  Immense crowds were there each day and everything passed off very pleasantly…..tables were laden with an abundance of good things and no one was neglected….The people of Pleasant Grove deserve great praise for their zeal and energy….May they always prosper and their history of good deeds continue”.  We do not know when the present church was built, but we estimate sometime in the late 1880s.

Pleasant Grove is indeed a jewel, a step back into the 19th century.  We are grateful for the stewardship that can be passed on to subsequent generations.  Be sure to click and scroll the photos below to learn more about this rural treasure.

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