Swords United Methodist Church
Named for the family who contributed substantially to the early economic success of the community, Swords, a small rural community in Morgan County, has its roots in the entrepreneurial spirit of John Buchanon (Buck) Swords. The community developed in the proximity of Blue Springs, one of Morgan County’s earliest organized settlements. Blue Springs, deriving its namesake from its healthy natural water sources, played an essential role in the successes experienced by J.B. Swords’ Swords Distillery. A rival and contemporary to Jack Daniels Distillery, this whiskey maker put Swords on the map, literally. Formally incorporated by the Georgia Legislature on August 16, 1909, Swords boasted the necessities of a small rural town. The commercial center included a general supply store, grist mill, cotton gin, and blacksmith shop. However, by the 1920s, Prohibition brought about the slow demise of Swords. This decline culminated in the 1980s with fire destroying the entire commercial core. Though no longer incorporated, Swords is recognized as a significant part of Morgan County history. Not to mention, the beautiful 1912 Swords United Methodist Church still remains, with an active congregation.
The elegant two-towered, stain glass-filled Swords United Methodist still stands as a testament to the early twentieth-century success of Swords. Much of its history can be pieced together through The Madisonian newspaper clippings from 1912 and 1913. The construction and organization of Swords United Methodist derive from the desire and need for a house of worship within the community following the establishment of a Sunday School in the Swords school house in 1910. On September 6, 1912, The Madisonian noted, “A committee is now at work getting up subscriptions, and work will soon be begun. The people want a $2,000 church, and we feel sure with so many willing ones to help, the amount will soon be on hand.” A handwritten deed recorded the transferal of a one and one-tenth acre parcel on October 28, 1912. By June 27, 1913, The Madisonian had already begun circulating, “One of the most notable events of the county will be the dedication of the new Methodist church Sunday at Swords.” Described as, “[the] Beautiful New Church in a Growing Section of Morgan County,” and constructed at the cost of $2,532.96 Swords was ready for an official dedication. According to a Madisonian article, Swords United Methodist was dedicated on Sunday, July 14, 1913.
The awe and inspiration that filled the hearts of the twenty-five members as they entered their new church is something to ponder. The beautiful wood interior, reflecting the reverential stain glass light must have been (and still is) a sight to see. On that hot July 14 Sunday, the congregation, sitting attentively in their new cast iron theatre seating pews (equipped with under-the-seat hat racks) listened to a fine forty-five-minute sermon by Dr. Dickey, President of Emory College. That afternoon, “…an abundant dinner was served on tables erected under the trees…there was plenty of basket dinners, besides fine barbecue prepared by Mr. John Buck Swords.” Throughout the years following this July dedication, Swords members shuffled into their church to hear the sermons of Rev. W.C. Floyd and Rev. W.D. Amack two Sundays every month. Although the Swords community is no longer incorporated, the church remains intact with a congregation. As for the vaguely Gothic Revival structure, no significant changes have been made, only 16 years ago did Swords United Methodist receive central air and heat! Currently, weekly services still maintain a crowd of 15-20 dedicated members.
The history of Swords and Swords United Methodist mirror the familiar stories of rural life across the state, a community in which the church was at the center of daily experiences; a place where heritage and culture still loom large.
Without the guidance of John W. Wright’s John Buchanon (Buck) Swords “A Captain of Industry and Pioneer Builder and Developer,” and A History of Swords Community Church, this compilation of Swords and Swords United Methodist history would not have been possible. Also, a special thanks to the Morgan County Landmarks Society for their continued support and assistance with this project in Morgan County.