Rush Chapel Methodist

Floyd County
Org 1838
Photography by Sam Ratcliffe

The origin of Rush Chapel goes back to the very early days of Floyd County. Five families with the names Aycock, Davenport, Lister, Rush and Watters were among those who settled the area in the 1830’s and discovered that they were all Methodists. The church, first known as Rush Chapel Methodist Episcopal, soon followed in 1838. The Watters and Rush homes still stand today as family dwellings.  John Rush came to Floyd County around the same time as Watters in 1838.  Joseph Watters is believed to have come to Floyd County around 1833 when the area was first opened up for settlement. He was thought to be one of the first Georgians involved with the removal of the Cherokees in 1838. His home was believed to be built around 1840, and he named it “The Hermitage” out of his admiration of Andrew Jackson.

An acre of land for the first church was bought from Col. Issac Fetten in 1838. A log church was built called Rush Chapel.  During the mid-1800’s there were two structures near each other—a church and an “academy”.  The academy building burned in 1861 and was not rebuilt.  The log church was replaced by a frame structure in 1845, and an addition was made to the church in 1861. At that time the pulpit was at the front of the church, and the congregation sat facing the doors. Women sat on one side, men on the other, and there was a section for African American worshipers, as well.  A new structure was built in 1910.

Floyd County, formerly home to many of the state’s Cherokee Indians, was established in December of 1832, two years after the Georgia legislature passed a law extending its jurisdiction over the Cherokee territory in that part of the state. The Cherokee land was initially divided into ten large counties. Floyd, the eighty-eighth county in Georgia, was named for General John Floyd, statesman and Indian fighter. Two years after Floyd County’s inception, the county seat was moved from Livingston to a fertile area of land where the Etowah and Oostanaula rivers meet to form the Coosa River, the site of Rome today. 

This was the ancestral home of the Cherokee but the Indian Removal Act of 1838 sealed their fate, resulting in the forced removal of the last of the Cherokees to western lands in Oklahoma.  The well known Trail of Tears is a sad aspect of Georgia history.  In 1838 and 1839 U.S. troops, prompted by the state of Georgia, expelled the Cherokee Indians from their ancestral homeland and removed them to the Indian Territory in what is now Oklahoma. The removal of the Cherokees was a product of the demand for arable land during the rampant growth of cotton agriculture in the Southeast, the discovery of gold on Cherokee land, and the racial prejudice that many white southerners harbored toward American Indians.

Today, Rush Chapel is still thriving and we salute the congregations over the years for being such good stewards of the church and its history for over 180 years.  Be sure to click and scroll on the gallery photos below for more history and photos.

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