Stanley Church of Christ

Fannin County
Org 1886
Photography by Tom Reed

Stanly Church of Christ is one of those quaint old mountain churches located in the Chattahoochee National forest in a remote part of Fannin County, close to the Toccoa River.  It was organized by the Stanley family who came from Avery County in NC sometime in the early to mid-19th century.  This church was built in 1886, according to family member Ralph Stanley, but there was a church of some sort before that. The creek that the settlement was built on was named after Elisha Stanley and his grave is the oldest in the cemetery.  Elisha and brother in law, Elv Evan Hughes were both shot as deserters by Confederate soldiers in September of 1864.  This part of Georgia was not plantation country and had few slaves. Much of North Georgia remained on the side of the Union and many like Elisha and Elv, paid a terrible price.  More on that in the cemetery photos below. 

A book written by family member, Lawrence Stanley, in 1971 tells us the church started out as a Primitive Baptist church and also served as the community schoolhouse serving up to 40 children.  Sometime in the early 1900’s it became a Church of Christ. The church Regular services ceased in 1957 but there is still an annual church reunion on the fourth Sunday in August.  According to an article in the local Blue Ridge newspaper, the reunion attracts hundreds of descendants from far and wide.

We found some good history of the Stanley family on various online sources, including The Wander Luster Blog by Shane Hampton who referred to an ongoing feud with the Tilley family who were also very prominent and located nearby.  This feud is a story for another day and we will research it further but it adds to the always interesting stories of moonshine, murder etc. that seem to emerge from many of these North Georgia mountain cemeteries.  This one even includes some witchcraft.

Another interesting story that emerged from the cemetery is that of Moses Johnson.  According to Findagrave, two brothers were returning to Fannin County, Georgia from Atlanta during the Civil War. In Fairmont, Georgia they found a black baby in the ruins of the Johnson Plantation. They brought the baby to Fannin County and he was adopted and raised by Mr. Rickels Stanley as Mose Johnson.  He was the first African American to attend school in Fannin County. His headstone in the cemetery simply says “Mose Johnson – Colored”.  More on Moses below.

Finally, there is the headstone for the arm of Buel Stanley.  That’s right…..his arm only.  The rest of Mr. Stanley is buried at the nearby Macedonia Church of Christ.  According to the headstone, Mr. Stanley, lost his arm while fishing with dynamite in the nearby Toccoa River in 1915.  The arm was amputated and buried at this spot in 1915.

The church itself is well cared for by the extensive Stanley family, and sits at the top of a knoll looking out over the beautiful Blue Ridge vistas that have been home to the Stanley clan for almost 200 years.  There are 282 recorded interments in the cemetery and well over 100 of them contain the Stanley surname…….great North Georgia history.

Be sure to click and scroll on the photos below for more of the stories and Stanley history.

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