A Monroe County history book tells us that Salem Methodist Church, in a remote part of Monroe County, was organized in 1826 on two acres of land bought from Hobson Morgan for ten dollars. The trustees were Gideon Johnston, Thomas Glower, Thomas Melton, William Sharp and Enoch Wallace. The history states the church had its beginning as a mission, and that the first meeting house was built of logs and replaced in 1860. The present structure was built around 1909. The church is no longer active but it is well maintained by descendants of some of the older members, and there is an annual homecoming in May.
The cemetery is older than the organized church so the roots of Salem probbly predate the 1826 congregation. The oldest recorded interment in the cemetery is that of John Reuben Morgan, who was born in Virginia in 1784 and died in 1812. There are probably many other early interments since many of these early 19th century church yards contain more unmarked graves than those with headstones. There are veterans of the Revolutionary War, War of 1812 and the Civil War resting in the graveyard. We take special notice of Anderson Redding, born in 1765. Anderson was a Revolutionary War soldier who was present at the surrender of Lord Cornwallis after the battle of Yorktown.
Remember to click and scroll the gallery photos below for more Salem history.
Even though the shutters are closed and the light is dim, we can see this beautiful example of a rural, backcountry church that served a hardworking but not very prosperous farming community. We are struck by the sheer simplicity of ornamentation and decoration.
These old heart pine floors have seen many souls coming forward for salvation and communion. No carpets but a nice coat of protective paint.
We imagine the acoustics of this small sanctuary were inspirational as the congregants were instructed to turn to the appropriate page in the Methodist Hymnal. The sounds would reverberate through the Georgia Pines as the members took comfort in the old traditional hymns.
These old pews are obviously hand crafted from local materials. Not built for comfort but built to last nonetheless.
In the old days, it would not be uncommon for men to sit on one side of the church and women and children on the other.
From this pulpit many souls were saved, hymns sung, marriages performed and solemn eulogies delivered. Spiritual comfort was important in these remote farm communities where life could be hard.
Mary Smith Morgan wife of James Bilbo Morgan (1794-1844) was born October 15, 1794 and died January 28, 1859. A notice in the Georgia Messenger, September, 1844 was for an Executor’s sale to sell 353 ¼ acres of land, property of James B. Morgan. Mary S. Morgan was listed as one of the executors
Rev. Myles Greene, Sr. was born June 6, 1767 in Virginia and died January 31, 1853. His tombstone says “Preached the gospel of Christ faithfully and usefully 65 years”. His portrait hangs in the Methodist Museum, St. Simons Island, Georgia. When Col. George G. Nowlan, Senator from Effingham County, died, his services were conducted by Rev. Myles Greene, Sr. with the members of the Legislature in attendance as a body.
Pvt. Anderson Redding was born in 1765 in Virginia and died February 9, 1843. He was a Revoluyionary War soldier and served as a private of the Virginia Line. He was at the surrender at Yorktown. His wife, Delilah Parham Redding (1773-1835) is also buried at Salem. They had six children. An ad in the paper in 1843 when his land was sold described his property: The plantation was eight miles from Forsyth on the road leading to Clinton by way of Dame’s Ferry. The tract contained about 1350 acres with a good two story dwelling.
Thomas Tyler was born in 1782 in South Carolina. Sarah Shy Tyler was born August 9, 1787 and died September 15, 1860. Thomas and Sarah were married in 1807 in Hancock County. They had seven children. Thomas served as a private in the war of 1812, 2nd Regiment, Georgia Militia. The Tylers moved to Monroe County in 1833 and bought a piece of land from Rev. Myles Greene. Thomas and Sarah were originally buried in unmarked graves in Bibb County.
Rebecca L. Chambless was born September 23, 1826 and died January 7, 1849. She was the wife of William A. Chambless. She was the daughter of Gideon G. Johnston and Mary Malone Redding Johnston. Rebecca’s husband, Wlliam A. Chambless (1820-1891) married again after she died. He is buried in Polk County, Georgia. They had a son, William Loyd Chambless (1848-1912). He is buried in Montgomery, Alabama.
Sgt. James M. Thrash was born October 10, 1839 and died December 2, 1899. He served in Company A 14th Georgia Infantry CSA. His pension application states he received a gunshot wound on the left side of his head at the battle of Seven Pines on April 30, 1862 and he received a gunshot wound in his left hand at the Battle of Chancellorsville on May 3, 1863. Both of these wounds continued to give him trouble throughout his life. His head wound continued to cause pain and dizziness.
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I have always loved this old house of our Lord , we lived off of Taylor rd just above the church for many years .We have good friends resting in peace in that cemetery . What grand history it’s shared , awesome job preserving it for future generations .