Rosemary Primitive Baptist Church
The Rosemary Primitive Baptist Church was constituted on October 30, 1875, with six charter members, who lived in this area and wanted a church nearer to their homes. The six charter members were Allen and Mariah Jones Lanier, William and Susan Dekle Lanier, Thomas Lanier (son of Allen and Mariah), and Benjamin Olliff.
William and Susan Jones Lanier came by letter from the Lake Church, and the others came by letter from the Antioch Church.
The church was first called the Primitive Baptist Church of Christ at Rosemary Hill, and it is said to be named for the rosemary plant, which has red blooms and grows on the nearby sand hills.
The historic church has always been at its present location, which is on the eastside of the Fifteen Mile Creek and on the north side of the old Savannah and Macon road. It is 6 miles north of Metter on Highway 121, 2 miles east of 121.
The tract of land where the church stands was given by Hiram Jones on July 11, 1881, to be used by this church as long as it remains a Primitive Baptist Church.
The first meetings were held under a brush arbor built over the white sand. The surrounding area was covered by scrub oak trees, virgin pine trees, huckleberry bushes, and the rosemary plants. There was fresh water sparing nearby for the convenience of the church, and a lake on the Fifteen Mile Creek was used to baptize the new member.
The first building was built of logs. It was long and narrow with a shelter built on three sides of it. There were no floors, just the white sand that Rosemary is noted for. Benches were made of split logs that were placed on wood blocks. This building was erected in 1881 on the 5 acres of land that had been given to the church. A copy of the deed for this land has been placed in the vestibule of the church.
The building that is there now wsa erected in 1905. The builder was a German named Ringwald. He planned and supervised the construction of the church, assisted by the men of the church and the surrounding community.
On July 13, 1878, Rosemary Church agreed in conference to organize a church at Oak Grove, near the Jones Bridge for the people of color who had been attending church. Rosemary church furnished the Oak Grove Church with a bible and a hymn book. One of the first pastors of that church was Elder Scoot Ricks.
In 1965 the interior of Rosemary Church was remodeled by WJ Watson and other male members of the church and men of the Rosemary area. The windows were preplaced with frosted glass, the walls were covered with paneling, and a new ceiling was put up, which is much lower than the original ceilings.
The outside of the church had a solid block foundation put underneath it. A new roof was put on, and a new coat of paint added to its appearance.
The present pews are the original ones that were hand-made in 1905. They were made of heart pine boards about 1-1/2 inches thick and 15 inches wide. They have recently been padded and covered with gold colored babri that matches the wall=to-wall carpet on the floor.
In 1975 to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of Rosemary Church, the members of the Jones Family Reunion gave the church sufficient fund to landscape the grounds and to plant shrubbery around the base of the church.
Since the beginning of the church, two members have been ordained as ministers. One was Elder Lonnie Holloway, who served as pastor of the church from 1909 to 1911. He died at an early age. The other was Elder Hardwick Lanier, who, after his ordination in 1956, served as pastor of the church from 1958 to 1975.
The present membership of Rosemary includes three great-granddaughters of Hiram Jones; they are Willette J. Watson, Eva J. Cartee, and Pearl J. Tarver, a great-great-grandson, Homer Lewis Lanier, and a great-great-great-grandson, William Hardwick Lanier.
The present membership is 75. The church has been outstanding in the Old Line Primitive Baptist Association ever since the church was constituted.
A cemetery for the church was not used until Feb. 12, 1885, when W.E. Jones and John R. Jones dug a grave for their brother, George Marshall Jones, age 14, who died of typhoid fever. They reported the ground was frozen 12” deep. The second grave was Mary Lanier Jones, grandmother of the above three Jones men.
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