Union Chapel Methodist

Putnam County
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Org 1855
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Photography by Scott Farrar

On April 24, 1855, Irby Hudson Scott deeded to the trustees of a new newly organized and consolidated Methodist Episcopal group, three and three-quarter acres of land in the Tompkins district in Putnam County, Georgia for the purpose of a church building. Irby Scott was a very successful Putnam County planter who was also the father of Irby Goodwin Scott and Nicholas Ewing Scott, both of whom served with the Putnam Light Infantry during the terrible conflict of the Civil War. Young Irby was a prolific writer and observer of the conflict and his wartime correspondence (mostly to his father) has been published as Lee and Jackson’s Bloody Twelfth: The Letters of Irby Goodwin Scott, First Lieutenant, Company G, Putnam Light Infantry, Twelfth Georgia Volunteer Infantry, Edited by Johnny Perry Pearson.

Irby survived the war and died in 1925, but his brother did not. Nicholas Scott was killed in action at Spotsylvania Courthouse on May 10, 1864. According to the records, ‘His body was carried in his blanket, on May 11, about 200 yards to the rear of the works, and buried in a fence corner near the McCoul house‘. This was, unfortunately, not an uncommon story in the South where all military units were organized by counties and thus, filled with brothers, cousins, and neighbors.

But life goes on and the story of Union Chapel is a comforting one. There were two smaller churches in the community named Bethel and Rock Chapel. They decided to unite into a larger congregation and build a church on the land donated for that purpose by Mr. Scott, who was the first member listed on the membership roll of 1856. That building is still in excellent condition and is the one you see above. The church was built from Georgia long leaf heart pine and the sills and framework were hand-hewn and pinned. According to a history in the NGA Methodist archives, “No one living knows where the lumber was sawed.  It is all the very best pine lumber, nowhere to be found today”.

Over the years, improvements have been made but she stands much as she did in 1855. In 1913, the board of trustees voted to build a new school at Union Chapel, and the school opened in November of that year. It then operated until county school consolidation forced its closure on May 25, 1946. It has since been used as Sunday School space by the church. Union Chapel has served as a source of community and spiritual comfort for generations.

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