Shiloh Primitive Baptist

Pierce County
Org 1833
Photography by Randall Davis

We love the old Wiregrass Primitive churches and this is a very historic one. Shiloh Primitive Baptist Church was organized in 1833 in what was then Ware County, Georgia but is now Pierce County. At the time, the Baptist Church was struggling with the question of support for missions. This issue ultimately caused a split in the church, with those supporting missions as an arm of the church retaining the Baptist name and those who disagreed taking the Primitive Baptist name.

The Piedmont Baptist Association was the first Baptist association established in the deep south and counted as its members many of the remotely situated Baptist churches in south Georgia. For a while, it was able to maintain a somewhat neutral stance regarding missions. But, eventually, tensions within the Association caused many of the churches to fade from Piedmont as they were drawn to associations that mirrored their anti-missionary beliefs. Shiloh, though closer to Piedmont, initially petitioned to join the Ochlochnee Association but was rejected because of a constitutional defect. In 1837, after some reorganization, Shiloh joined the Suwannee River Association.

Shiloh is the oldest church is Pierce County. Established in the early 1830s, the structure has been rebuilt three times. The present building was built in 1927 but its construction personifies the old style primitive form of worship. Little has changed in the way of architectural style or construction techniques over the years. The strength of its building is testament to the determination of its builders to honor the tenets of their predecessors and the original church. It is still an active church and looks today, thanks to excellent care, much as it must have looked in the later part of the nineteenth century.

The cemetery is also the oldest in the county, dating to the 1830s. Many of the graves of the earliest settlers are there but now unmarked and lost to time. The earliest identified grave belongs to Samuel Sweat who was buried in 1849 and was the son of a Revolutionary soldier. The cemetery is also the final resting place of two Revolutionary soldiers as well as veterans of all American conflicts……including ten identified Confederate graves. James Thomas served in the South Carolina state militia. His grave is now marked by a monument placed by the Daughters of the American Revolution.

The other Revolutionary soldier is Isham Peacock ( b. 1741 d. 1852), who served in the North Carolina state militia. However, his importance in Georgia history goes much farther. He was the most beloved and influential Primitive Baptist preacher in Georgia for his time. Known as “Father Peacock”, he was instrumental in the formation of the Piedmont Association as well as the establishment of numerous Primitive Baptist Churches in south Georgia and north Florida. His grave was commemorated by the Sons of the American Revolution – click here for more information on Isham Peacock. His tenure was followed by Reuben Crawford, who led the faction that bears his name – the Crawfordites. During the twentieth century, “Crawfordite” churches became the most austere and conservative Primitive Baptists in Georgia. Elder Crawford was pastor at Shiloh Church for almost 50 years and is buried in the church cemetery.

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