Possum Trot Church

Floyd County
Org 1850
Photography by Michael Sussman

The exact date of the organization or the construction of Possum Trot Church is not known but it is believed to date from 1850. It was originally the meeting place for the Pleasant Valley Church before being abandoned in the late 1800’s. However, in 1900 the church was “re-purposed” as a Sunday School for the local Possum Trot community by Martha Berry, the daughter of a wealthy Floyd County planter. Martha devoted her life to education in her northwest Georgia community and she founded several schools that were established to provide poor children in the north Georgia mountains with the opportunity to earn an education. In 1902 she founded, in Rome, the school that would become Berry College.

Martha McChesney Berry was born on October 7, 1865, in Alabama, to Frances Margaret Rhea and Thomas Berry. Her Scots-Irish ancestors came to the British colonies in North America in the first half of the eighteenth century. Her father was a lieutenant in the Mexican War (1846-48), a Forty-niner in the California gold rush, and a captain for the Confederacy in the Civil War (1861-65). Her mother was a daughter of an Alabama planter. The family moved when she was still a baby to Rome, where she lived for the remainder of her life.

At the turn of the century, the rural people in this part of northwest Georgia had very limited access to traditional education or to what we know today as Sunday School. Martha was determined to help fill this educational void in her part of the world and she became known as the “The Sunday Lady of Possum Trot” as a result of her work at the Possum Trot Sunday school. It had a modest beginning but by 1902, whole families filled the small church. Because there were not enough Bibles for all of the students to use, verses were painted on the chapel walls. In the early 30’s schoolrooms were added at the church location and formal grammar school education was also taught. During World War II and for a short period following it, from 1942-1948, the Possum Trot school was closed. It reopened in 1948 but was closed again in 1954. Fortunately, over the years the students at Berry College have worked on restoring the old complex and, with the assistance of the College and alumni volunteers the preservation of Possum Trot church and the school buildings is now secure for the coming generations.

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