St. Marks Lutheran

Sumter County
Org 1860s
Photography by Steve Robinson

St. Marks Lutheran was organized in the late 1860s by German immigrants who moved in from South Carolina. The church was built in 1870 in the community of Botsford, located about five miles west of Plains. The little village of Botsford no longer exists but fortunately, the church has recently been acquired and restored by private owners and moved a short distance away. More about this later. The cemetery is still there of course and we are fortunate that our photographer had previously documented the old church before the move. The before and after shots are quite striking. St. Marks as been saved from an uncertain future.

There are very few Lutheran churches in rural Georgia. Most of Georgia’s early pioneers were English and Scots Irish and were predominantly Baptist and Methodist with Presbyterians running a distant third. The early settlers of Botsford were immigrants of German decent and were all from the Dutchforks area of South Carolina, located around what is now Newberry and Lexington counties. They had migrated to South Carolina as a result of the state’s efforts to lure Europeans to the back country with offers of free land in the mid 1700’s. Some descendants of these early German Lutherans are still in the area. Mt. Zion – St. Luke is a large and prosperous Lutheran congregation in Oglethorpe with direct ties to the little church of St. Marks in Botsford.

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