Ramoth Baptist Church of Christ is a very good example of a little country church that played a big role in the early history of Georgia from its formation in 1836 through the late 1800?s. It is a small structure and simple in construction but there is much to celebrate in the history of Ramoth. A lot of these old churches have been abandoned over the years and left to the ravages of time. Even worse, the history of those early pioneers who went before us is, in many cases, are lost to the ages. Not so with Ramoth, thanks to a book written by E. V. Knight in 1997 entitled The Baptist Church of Christ at Ramoth – A Short History for Years 1836-1900. We are indebted to Mr. Knight for this rare glimpse into the past, but we are also indebted to Lynn and Carling Brackey who recently restored this old church to its former glory. We are grateful for your love of history and your willingness to help save some of it.
Through Mr. Knight’s book, we learn that the clerks of Ramoth were very diligent in their work even through the difficult times of the Civil War. The minute books were kept in good order by the Ramoth clerks from the constitution in 1836 up to the early 1940?s. The first page of the minute book shows it was constituted July 16, 1836 with 13 members…..five white males, one colored male and seven white females. Six of the original 13 parishioners were named Clark and the lone black male was entered as ‘Reddick, a colored man‘.
Life was hard on the frontier and the church played a major role in keeping a sense of civility among these early pioneers. The original charter states that members of the church could be excommunicated for a variety of reasons including ‘drunkness, gambling, cursing, fighting and horse racing‘. Also failure to attend the monthly conference without a valid excuse was a serious transgression. Later we find that dancing became a big problem for the young, white ladies especially during the late 1800?s.
In 1837 a committee was formed to ‘draft a decorum for the government of the church‘. A committee of two was nominated for this purpose and one of the drafters was named Disbu S. Webb. The significance of this event was due to the fact that Brother Webb was also the first member to be excommunicated in 1838 after being charged with ‘drunkness, fighting, cursing, and other disorderly conduct‘. However, in 1842 Brother Webb ‘came forward and manifest pentance and confesses his sin and desires restoration‘. He was duly restored but alas, apparently continued his sinful ways and was excommunicated again in 1843. No further record.
Another notable entry in July of 1861 states that ‘Our beloved pastor A.M. Marshall has gone to the war and we are left without a supply for an indefinite time‘. There were at least a dozen church members who served in the war, six of whom were sons of Deacon Allen Lawrence. Three of the Lawrence boys were killed in the war, one was wounded but lived, and another was saved when a minie ball struck him in the left side but was stopped by a Bible. There is even a picture of the Bible in Mr. Knight’s book. A grateful Mr. Lawrence returned from the war and became a Baptist minister.
The story of Ramoth is one of near-death and resurrection. The death of King Cotton, the decline of subsistence farming and the lasting, disastrous impact of the Depression shrank the Ramoth congregation. It was used for a while as a schoolhouse and, occasionally, a church. Finally, the church was abandoned and by 2000 was a tattered and broken relic. It was nearing a final collapse like so many of its counterparts throughout the area. Then things changed. Lynn Brackey and her brother, Carling Brackey, had grown up in the area and Ramoth was a very special place for them… full of memories. They had title to the church and decided to single-handedly arrest Ramoth’s decline. By 2013 their complete restoration was done and their task completed. Although the lovely, white building is not in use today, it can be made available for special events. This is the kind of story we hope will inspire others to act to save these historic treasures. We owe a sincere, thank you, to Carling and Lynn.
As always, good old Georgia Longleaf Pine (pinus palustris) is the building material of choice.
This church was almost gone before restoration. It will now continue to give all of us spiritual comfort as it has for 175 years.
These old churches were built when bricks were not an available option. And besides, field stone is free.
It is always difficult to pinpoint the exact age of construction as most of the churches go through an evolution of upgrades. But anytime you see these floor supports made of half sawed timbers, it is probably original. Some of these still have bark on them. Another tribute to Georgia Longleaf pine.
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I love these old churches and the wonderful history you uncover and give us. Thank you for this great work.
Thanks Jo. We appreciate the support.