From the North Georgia Conference Methodist Archives – “On January 10th, 1857, Joshua Daniel by warranty deed, granted to James D. Gaines, L. D. Cole and William H. Black as trustees of the Methodist Church and to the same persons as trustees of the Sugar Valley Lodge of the Knights of Jericho three (3) acres of land with the forfeiture clause to the effect that in the failure to maintain a church on that tract of land they would forfeit all rights and interest to same.”
The church was then located in the center of the original village of Sugar Valley. The town was burned by the Federals during the advance on Atlanta. It is located in the Southwest section of Gordon County on the old Dalton – Rome Road. “It was down this road that the Union Forces traveled on their way to Atlanta, in the war between the States. General Hood was carried by here after he was shot.”
When the building was first built, it had two stories. Church services were held on the first floor, and the Order of the Knights of Jericho, a temperance organization, had its Lodge Hall and held meetings on the upper floor. The Knights of Jericho was not directly connected to the church.
The early church minutes, as usual, have some interesting entries regarding member transgressions. For instance the 1883 minutes reference “Charges were brought against four of the Brethren for drinking and two sisters for dancing and a case made against Brother James Stansbury for playing the fiddle in a ballroom. He confessed his wrongs and said he wanted to live a better life. Two girls were charged with going to parties”
On the bright side, we find that “These folks lived by the bible, and brought up their families in the way of the Lord. It is significant to note that there has been no recorded crime, divorce or major act of violence among any member of this church, from its origin to date. Truly an example of the effectiveness of the preaching of the Gospel.”
There is a very historic cemetery at Sugar Valley, containing the remains of many of Gordon County’s original settlers. Be sure to click and scan the photos below for more Sugar Valley Methodist history.
There have been many changes and “improvements” over time that obscure much of the original architecture and elements of the past. However, the original bones are there and the active congregation has done a good job of taking care of the sanctuary and the cemetery.
The symmetry of this photo is pleasing. The prayer rail and substantial balustrades atop the raised chancel in the foreground, flanked by the matching oak tables welcome congregants for communion. The pulpit and cross in the rear with the two stained glass windows, provide more elements of symmetry.
The stained-glass windows in the sanctuary provide a source of diffused light for the chapel. This one is dedicated to someone in the Holsonback family.
We are not certain, but we believe this old pew is from the original church, and placed there to remind all of the past history. It is certainly substantial and well made.
John Columbus Baugh was born in 1807 and died in 1875. He served in Company F, 8th Battalion, CSA. The 1850 census shows 6 children in the household and his occupation was farmer. His wife was Mary Ann Walraven (1811-1881). A marker at the cemetery reads “In Memory Baugh Mtn Settlers, Jonathan 1780-1864, Mary “Polly” 1788-1855, Mary Walraven 1811-1881, Mary J 1859-1864 Buried 1 Mile South Baugh Family Cemetery”.
Robert Thompson Pittman was born November 23, 1870 and died December 7, 1912. He was a bookkeeper and died of acute appendicitis in Nashville, Tennessee. His obituary states he was brought home on Sunday to Sugar Valley Methodist Church by four friiends and buried the following Monday. His parents Rufus J. Pittman (1840-1916) and Sarah Comargo Mansell Pittman (1848-1942) are also buried at this cemetery.
This picture is an overview of a portion of Sugar Valley Metbodst Church Cemetery. This cemetery contains 18 markers showing the last name Harris. One of them is for Samuel Anthony Harris who was born in Gwinnette County December 13, 1847 and died October 16, 1929. He was the son of William S. Harris (1805-1893) and Cynthia/Syntha Bradford (1806-1880). William S. Harris was the brother of Mary Harris Bradford mentioned above and Cynthia Bradford was the sister of Mary Harris Bradford’s husband, Thomas Mc Bradford.
Mary Scruggs McNeely was born May 12, 1797 in Greenville County, South Carolina and died June 26, 1901 in Sugar Valley. She was the daughter of Richard Scruggs who was born in 1758 in Virginia. Her husband was John McNeely (1799-1860). The census from Sugar Valley in 1900 shows she had given birth to 11 children with 6 still living, both of her parents were born in Ireland and she could not read or write.
Mary Harris Bradford was born November 20, 1815 in South Carolina. She died March 23, 1890. Her husband was Thomas Mc Bradford. He died in Troup County, Georgia in 1868. This Bradford family came from Fairfield County, South Carolina. They had 7 children. Their son, Newton Asbury Bradford was a state representative from Whitfield County.
Paul L. Gwin was born was born October 22, 1893 and died July 28, 1918. He was a Corporal in Company D, 167th Infantry and was killed in action in World War I. He was the first person from Gordon County killed in action on foreign soil. The Calhoun American Legion Post is named in his honor. He was the son of John T. and Mary “Mollie” Thomas Lowe Gwin. Mollie was the granddaughter of Mary Harris Bradford listed above.
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