Upper Lotts Creek Primitve Baptist is one of the oldest Primitive Baptists in Georgia. It was formed in 1832 as a result of the schism in the Baptist church that arose over the progressisve attititudes of some of the churches to the addition of Sunday Schools, Missions, Musical instruments and other changes that were not well received by some of the more traditional Baptists. The conservative faction became known as Primitive Baptists. The Primitives were suspicious of anything new and non-traditional and especially if these views were espoused by what they perceived to be those of a higher social class. Primitive Baptist congregations that formed during this antebellum period were referred to commonly as Old Line Primitive Baptists. The Upper Lott’s Creek congregation was organized in 1832 under the leadership of Absalom Parrish, who is buried in the cemetery along with many generations of Parrishes. The congregation was then known as Parrish’s Meeting House, but its original members changed the congregation’s name in 1841 when an accidental fire destroyed their first meetinghouse. The beautiful Greek Revival church you see above was constructed in 1881. There are 26 interments in the cemetery with the surname Parrish.
From the National Register History – “The antebellum schism evolved in part due to a debate among slaveholders over whether or not to proselytize among African slaves and whether or not Baptist missionaries should be sent overseas in search of new converts. Old Line Primitive Baptists believed that sending missionaries among slaves and foreigners would dilute the Baptist faith and introduce new customs and ideas that might challenge older more established practices. Most antebellum Old Line Primitive Baptist followers either did not own slaves or at most owned only a few. A majority of its members were small landholding whites and poor whites who at times found themselves to be culturally, as well as economically and politically, at odds with affluent slaveholders—many of whom were Missionary Baptists. Large slaveholders saw proselytizing among slaves as a means of achieving greater control over their chattel property, as well as a means of responding to criticism stemming from Northern evangelicals claiming that slavery was an immoral institution because slaveholders did not care about a slave’s soul. The split among Old Line Primitive Baptists and Missionary Baptists therefore represents a major divisive issue among the state’s antebellum-era white Baptists.”
“Bulloch County’s white antebellum population contained a sizeable number of large slaveholders and elite planters. Throughout the South, in areas where large plantations comprised the bulk of a county’s total arable land, white households that either did not own slaves or owned only a few, were forced to subsist on less suitable agricultural lands and often struggled to obtain cultural, economic, and political autonomy from their wealthier neighbors. During the antebellum period, the formation of a new church was roughly equivalent to the founding of a new community. When the Parrish Meeting House congregation organized and built their first church their actions were a clear sign of their desire to create a degree of social and cultural space between themselves and their wealthy neighbors who were predominately members of local Missionary Baptist churches……The property also contains the historic baptismal site used by the church from 1881 until the 1950s. Baptism was one of the most important sacraments administered by the Primitive Baptist Church. Baptism was a prerequisite for membership in the Upper Lott’s Creek Primitive Baptist Church. For nearly seven decades, the church baptized its members in the waters of Upper Lott’s Creek.”
Upper Lott’s Creek still has a vibrant congregation that has served the community now for over 180 years. Some changes and upgrades have been made over the years but the congregation has respected the heritage and tradition of this important part of Georgia history. She was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2008. Be sure to click and scroll the photos below for more information and geneology of some of Bulluch Countys oldest settlers.
This beautiful church building was completed over 130 years ago. As you can see in this exterior photo, it is an architectural jewel and remains in excellent condition. Its Greek Revival design was particularly popular in the south toward the end of the 19 Century. Upper Lotts Creek is and remains one of the finest examples of the style in Georgia. With its crisp cornice returns, single gable, handsome Doric columns and a double door entry way flanked by two tall windows with matching lintels, this church is a visual delight. The congregation gets high marks for its excellent stewardship.
This is a view of the interior from the entry door at Lotts Creek. The 20 or so handsome manufactured pews flank the central aisle beckon all who enter. The large 18 pane, clear glass windows on each side of the walls allows profuse ambient light on sunny days. The suspended truss ceiling allows for a column-free interior providing excellent sight lines for the congregation. As is the case with all Primitive Baptist sanctuaries, there are few decorative elements in sight. Less is more.
In this photo, we have continued up the aisle and now stand before the chancel, pulpit and apse. Again, in keeping with Primitive Baptist tenets, we do not see an elaborate display of furniture, silver, pictures, stained glass or other decorative elements. The proscenium casing is modest and only flowers and flags are in place.
Here we are on the chancel looking pulpit left at the choir area pews along with a number of congregational pews. Once again, we are struck by the absolute , simplicity within the sanctuary. The floor is wiped clean and the windows as well, the walls are a modest cream/white, no capews contain no pillows and no banners, painting or other decorative elements are in sight. This is the Primitive Baptist way.
In this final interior photograph, we are standing at the pulpit and looking out over the entire sanctuary. Here we can better see the entry-way with its double doors, transom and the matching vertical windows. The quiet and beautiful interior sits waiting for the next service. We congratulate the present congregation for maintaining such a vital relic of the past. And, we feel honored to have been able to document Lotts Creek and insure the photographs and history remain available for all comers during the years ahead.
Harriett D. “Hattie” Oliff Parish Hendrix was born September 25, 1850 and died October 25, 1910. She was married twice, first to William Emit Parish (1850-1881) and second to Bryant Lee Hendrix (1865 – 1951). Her husband William Emit Parish was the son of Absalom Parish mentioned below.
Absalom Parish was born October 24, 1796 and died July 28, 1875. Upper Lotts Creek Primitive Baptist Church was originally located on his land and was called Parrish Meeting House. He was married twice, first to Polly R. Williams (1807-1825) on October 8, 1820 and second to Elizabeth Green on October 1, 1829. He had ten children by his two wives. He was the son of Henry and Mary Ann Monk Parrish. In 1848, Absalom was chairman of the Democratic Party in Bulloch County.
Henry Parrish was born June 23, 1740 in Spotsylvania County, Virginia and died June 23, 1800 in Bulloch County, Georgia. In 1770 he moved to North Carolina and it was there that he enlisted as a private in the Continental Army. After the war he moved to Edgefield District, S. C. where he married Mary Ann Monk (1748-1800). He moved from there to Wilkes County and then to Bulloch County where he received a land grant. Henry and Mary raised ten children. Information about Henry Parrish from David Scott Collins
Ephraim H. Edenfield was born January 15, 1831 in Emanuel County and died October 19, 1877. He served as a 1st Lieutenant in Company H, 48th Georgia Infantry, CSA. He enlisted March 4, 1862 and resigned October 7, 1862. He was married to Louisa Jane Kimbrell who was born in 1836 and died in 1905. They had a t least 2 children, Cornelia and John Calhoun Edenfield. After a long time of suffering, Ephraim died in Bulloch County of consumption.
These two markers are for Henry Parrish born September 18, 1824, died February 10, 1901 and his wife Welthy Ann Franklin Parrish, born Janaury 7, 1834, died April 30, 1889. Henry was the son of Absalom Parish. Henry and Welthy were mrried October 12, 1848 in Chatham County. The 1870 census shows six children.
Welthly Ann Franklin Parrish was born January t, 1834 and died April 30, 1889. She was married to Henry Parrish, the son of Absalom Parrish.
Glenn Parrish was born January 29, 1857 and died at the age of 24 on December 6, 1881. The 1880 census shows him as farming, living alone, age 23. He was the son of Henry Parrish and his wife Welthy Ann Franklin Parrsih previously mentioned.
John Tillman was born in 1731 in Somerset County, Maryland and moved to Bulloch County from North Carolina about 1800 where died in 1829. He enlisted at 47 years of age as a private in Heron’s Company of the 10th North Carolina Regiment during the Revolutionary War. He was transferred to Major Hardy Murfree’s Company commanded by Col. John Patten. He represented North Carolina during the First Continental Congress and was a member of the House of Commons. He was married to Sarah Edgerton and they had eight children.
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About forty years ago I happened to be driving by the Upper Lotts Creek Primitive Baptist Church on a Sunday morning, and the congregation was outside down by the creek. I stopped and walked down to the creek and watched for about fifteen minutes while they baptized several people. A very moving experience. I still go by there on occasion, and every time it reminds me of a Sunday morning forty years ago. A beautiful church in a beautiful setting.
hmm not sure who did the history for the National Register, but Primitive Baptists who owned slaves were comparable to Missionary Baptists. They also “proselytized” their slaves as well. Many of the descendants of those slaves formed black Primitive Baptist churches all over the south, and in fact today there are more black Primitive Baptists than white. In Bulloch county alone there are at least 3 black PB churches that are still functioning as far as I know. One is Old Mt. Pisgah PB church and another is Banks Creek PB church, I have forgotten the name of the other. You can read about the black history of PB churches in Bulloch county here https://thegeorgeanne.com/18619/reflector/reflector-features/history-of-the-black-primitive-baptist-church-in-bulloch-county-2/