Shiloh Methodist is the second oldest church in Tattnall County, the oldest being Mt. Carmel, a meeting house of peeled pine logs eighteen feet by twenty feet erected in 1808. While the exact organization date of Shiloh is uncertain, according to a local county history, it occurred either in 1810 or 1812. The church was organized by William Eason, a farmer and South Carolina expatriate. They erected a peeled log chapel, twenty feet by thirty feet that became Shiloh Meeting House. It was located at the site of Old Shiloh Cemetery about a mile away from the present structure.
In 1858, it was decided to move the meeting house to a site where a spring fed into Thomas Creek, and a two-door frame meeting house was erected less than a mile from Old Shiloh Cemetery. In 1899 the current structure was erected next to the two-door structure. However, old Shiloh Cemetery continued to be used by the community as the earliest grave at the new church site is dated 1890. According to local history, well into the twentieth century, families preferred that first cemetery. Burials include area pioneers, Methodist ministers, Confederate veterans, local and state elected officials, and numerous other whites and blacks – both slave and free. The last burial occurred in 1942. The church has been inactive for some time, but it still used for reunions and special events.
As usual, in cemeteries this old, the number of unmarked graves is substantial and will never be known. Many of the intricately carved as well as the crudely carved wooden grave markers remembered by older Shiloh residents have disappeared through natural decay and neglect. Thus the exact resting places of many of the original pioneers of the community have been lost forever. Fortunately many of public-spirited Shiloh residents in the community have labored to maintain the old cemetery for later generations.
Though regular services have been discontinued, the interior of the sanctuary remains immaculate, authentic and quite suitable for the many uses desired by the public. The chancel is raised with a sturdy wooden, inset balustrade and (now) carpeted kneeling area. Behind the balustrade is another raised platform upon which a handsome, wooden pulpit sits. Behind the pulpit is a modified, setback apse defined by a high, large and unique, angular arch along with a lower, cased opening in which sit two ceremonial chairs. The painted herringbone walls provide a simple but effective decorative element for the space.
Here we see the old upright piano against the front wall. The wear and tear along the right side of its bench is evidence of over one hundred plus years of a pianist sliding onto and off of that bench during thousands of services. We also get a close-up view of the herringbone paneling above and below the picture railing and above the wainscoting of the front, sanctuary wall. Clearly, the windows at Shiloh are all replacements… modern but effective.
This view from the pulpit reveals other architectural elements that are peculiar to Shiloh. Of note are the lovely coved walls which curve to join the ceiling and create a soaring feeling within the light and airy sanctuary. And, look at the vestibule at the entrance. It is, similar to the chancel and apse area, defined by walls and shapes which in three dimensions form the outline of what appears to be a church! And, with all the interior ceiling and wall surfaces painted white, the whole space gleams. This is a wonderful site for any gathering.
Here lies Jacob Easterling who answered the call early in 1862 and served with the 5th Georgia Cavalry. His parents were James O’neil Easterling and Dicy Simmons Easterling. Both of them are buried in the Beard’s Creek cemetery not too far away. The last burial at Old Shiloh took place in the 1940’s and slowly the oak forest began taking over the cemetery. In 1994 some descendants of the original settlers began a massive clean up effort and much repair work had to be done, such as the headstone for Jacob Easterling you see here in the foreground. This effort has made the cemetery a place to be visited and enjoyed by the local residents and visitors for years to come. Thank you for your efforts.
There are five CSA veterans’ graves with the name Tootle, all brothers. Columbus Tootle (1832 -1910), 2nd Lieut., 47th Georgia Infantry – Simeon Tootle (1844-1862), Pvt., 47th Ga Inf., wounded June 10, 1862 at James Island, SC., died on June 14 – Enoch Tootle (1841-1864), Pvt. 47th Ga Inf., Died at home – Capel Tootle (1838-1862), Sgt. 47th Ga Inf., Died of disease at home – Jeremiah Tootle (1830 – 1900), 2nd. Lieut., 47th Ga Inf.. All five brothers served with the 47th Georgia, the Tattnall Invincibles. Columbus and Jeremiah survived the war and lived relatively long lives. Enoch and Capel both died in 1864 at home of some unspecified illness. Simeon was the only one to die in combat, and we speculate the reason is he was a color bearer at the Battle of James Island. The mortality rate of color bearers was extremely high. Enoch and Capel “died at home” in October and November of 1864. Neither was married so home would have been their childhood home. Their mother was Sarah Mattox Tootle who, according the records also died in 1864 but the month is not specified. Their father, William, had died in 1959. These were hard times all across Georgia and our nation. Fortunately, the Tootles had a large support group in the extended family. Of the 162 interments in the Old Shiloh graveyard, 56 of them were from the family Tootle.
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