We have records of Methodist preachers in this territory as early as 1788, predating the founding of Warren County by five years. Back then, preaching services by circuit-riding preachers were held in open fields, private homes, or underbrush arbors. By 1797, the first Methodist church building in this territory was built but the records aren’t clear about where it was located. That same year, the current site of Warrenton was designated as the county seat of Warren and the Stagecoach Road between Augusta and Milledgeville, was rerouted to pass through Warrenton.
Warren County experienced fairly rapid settlement and growth around this time. In 1800, the population stood at 8,329 and included 6,252 white residence, 2,058 enslaved persons, and 19 free persons of color. Many of these early settlers and enslaved persons were located east of Warrenton, especially in the vicinity of Wrightsboro. By 1809, the first courthouse had been built and the town was incorporated shortly after. And while Warrenton was a center of county trade and local governmental activities, its commercial area grew slowly during the first several decades of the town’s history.
This would shift in 1835 when the Georgia railroad developed a line from Augusta that reached Warren County bringing great economic benefit and convenience for Warren County Farmers and residence and in turn, further prosperity of the County Seat. It was around this time, in 1836, that the First Methodist Church building in Warrenton was built, at that time called Methodist Episcopal Church South. It was a frame structure that included a separate seating gallery for enslaved congregants. On the other side of the original church was a building known as Warrenton Station where the mule-drawn carts would leave for Camak where the nearest train line was.
As was typical in small-town Georgia, nearly everyone in Warrenton was affected by the Civil War but due to it being the governmental seat of Warren County and a well-established commercial center, it was able to recover relatively quickly. And one of its reasons for the economic prosperity in Warrenton after the war came in 1868 when railroad officials decided to run a branch line to Milledgeville and Macon. While mapping out the new line, the railroad discovered that the Methodist Church was standing exactly on the proposed route for the new tracks. So, they made an offer for $5 to purchase the site of the original Warrenton Station building and the original church was torn down, with the clause that the Methodist graveyard would remain intact at its original site.
The railroad, now called the Macon and Augusta Railroad, completed branches from Warrenton to Milledgeville in 1868 and to Macon in 1871. In 1881, a brick depot was constructed in Warrenton.
In 1886, the second Methodist Church building in Warrenton was erected on the new site. Like its predecessor, it was also a frame building, painted white with green shutters. It could seat 500 people and stood in an oak grove that was the scene of many happy occasions. But like many wooden structures of its time, it met a sad fate on the night of January 4th, 1904 when it burned to the ground.
Undeterred, its Pastor, J.T. Robbins, and a group of laymen began immediately working to make plans for a new building. And it seems they had grand visions for this new sanctuary as they enlisted the great Georgia courthouse architect, J.W. Golucke for the design. Overseen by J.W. McMillan & Sons, construction began in 1905 on the impressive structure that you see pictured here today . The stained glass windows that illuminate the church were purchased in St. Louis, Missouri, where they were framed, and then carted by wagon to the church. The building was completed in 1906 and its cornerstone was laid by Bishop Warren Candler. It was dedicated on October 7th of that same year.
According to church records, it seems that the ensuing decades were prosperous for Warrenton Methodist Church as their congregation grew. In 1933, additions were made to accommodate more Sunday school services but by 1949, they had outgrown those additions and replaced them with an annex. We are glad to report that today, a congregation continues to thrive here with a history that reaches back to the earliest day of the Georgia territory and includes visits from prominent clergymen, like Bishop, Francis Asbury, who preached here twice.
As you saw in the striking exterior photo of the Church, Warrenton Methodist, is a large and elaborate Romanesque structure whose gabled entry is flanked by two towers. On the left was the bell tower. On the right was a smaller tower. Both have similar facades with three matching Romanesque, stained glass windows sitting above a pair of smaller, rectangular, stained glass windows. This photo is a close up of the smaller tower. It allows us to get closer so that we can more easily appreciate the grandeur of this historic land mark and architectural treasure.
Here we have an interior photo of the sanctuary taken from the back wall gallery. The interior of the church is as grand as its exterior. A clean and undecorated, white vault rises from the floor to the ceiling framing the beautiful chancel, pulpit, communion table and apse area.
In this photo, we have stepped down from the gallery, walked toward the chancel and stopped midway. Each side of the aisle is populated by original pews whose painted, white ends are capped by elaborate scrolled arms and wooden caps
We are told that this glorious stained glass grouping was purchased and framed in St Louis during the construction period of the present sanctuary. Clearly, the congregation at that point was quite prosperous to have been able to afford such a grand, stained glass statement. Warrenton by that time, 1906, had become a significant Rail Road crossing and commercial hub.
This is a close up of the chancel and apse area. We are told that the chairs are authentic and of the era of the late 1800’s.
These relics of the past were spread out on a table in the sanctuary, proof of the past and nature of Warrenton Methodist.
This is a view from the pulpit of the sanctuary. We see the original double entry doors that are flanked by pairs of rectangular stained glass windows. Above that we see another grand circular Rose Window. Warrenton is lucky to be the home of such a magnificent, historic structure. And the congregation of this church should be applauded for insuring that it remains and will remain a local treasure for decades to come.
Matthew Robert Hall was born March 15, 1836 and died Jan 28, 1908. He enlisted in Company B, 48th Georgia Infantry on July 17, 1863 as Captain of the company. He was later promoted to Major, Lieutenant Colonel and on November 12, 1864 to Colonel. He was wounded at Wilderness, Virginia May 6, 1864. The 1900 census lists Matthew R. Hall, age 64, married 43 years, physician. His wife Frances I. Latimer Hall was age 60, and she had given birth to 9 children with 6 still living in 1900. She is buried at the Warrenton Cemetery. Seven of their children are also buried at the Warrenton Cemetery.
Dr. R. W. Hubert was born Sep. 2, 1821 and died July 14, 1907. His wife was Nancy B. Turner Hubert and she is also buried at the Warrenton United Methodist Church cemetery. They were married March 25, 1841. In 1850 Dr. Hubert owned 6 slaves and in 1860 he owned 17 slaves. In a Warren County deed record between the Georgia Railroad and Banking Company and the trustees of the Methodist Episcopal Church South, R. W. Hubert is listed as one of the trustees. This deed was dated March 4, 1887.
George Robert W. Hubert was born June 19, 1842. He served as a Lieutenant, Company D, 5th Georgia Regiment, CSA. He enlisted as a private May 11, 1861. He was killed at Chickamauga, Georgia September 19, 1863.
Edward H. Pottle was born July 17, 1822 and died January 10, 1886. He enlisted as a captain with Co D, 5th GA Inf CSA May 11, 1861. He resigned May 8, 1862. He enlisted as a private in company F, 7th Battalion, Georgia State Guards Cavalry August 4, 1863. He was a lawyer and later a judge. In 1850 he owned 3 slaves and in 1860 he owned 9 slaves. His obituary appeared in the Union and Recorder, Milledgeville, January 19, 1886. He died in Micanopy, Florida. His body was returned to Georgia and his funeral was held at the Warrenton Methodist Church. His obit states he was born in St. Mary, Georgia and graduated from the University of Georgia in 1839. He came to Warrenton in 1846. He served in both branches of the general assembly.
Gilbert Roberts was born Feb. 21, 1826 and died Apr. 21, 1907. Fannie L. Hill wife of Gilbert Roberts was born Dec. 10, 1837 and died Oct. 22, 1881. They were married in Warren County August 12, 1852. The 1880 census shows Gilbert Roberts, age 53, harness maker, Fannie, age 42, seamstress. The 1900 census shows Gilbert Roberts, age 73, living alone, harness maker, his father born in Ireland. In Feb., 1898 the Candler Club of Warren County was formed to advance the interest of Allen D. Candler in his candidacy for governor. Gilbert Roberts was a member of this club. Others shown at this church cemetery who were also members were R. W. Hubert and Dr. M. R. Hall.
Alexander Page was born September 9, 1840 and died October 3, 1867. Mary J. Black Page was born February 9, 1844 and died September 25, 1868. They were married December 20, 1866 in Warren County by R. W. Hubert, Minister of the Gospel. Mary Black is shown as a 16 year old in the 1860 census. Her father E. B. Black is listed as a master carpenter. In the 1850 Richmond County census Alexander Page is shown as 10 years old. His father, George Page, age 30, was a mechanic.
Frances Elizabeth consort of Thos F. Persons was born March 39, 1822 and died Sept 13, 1855. She married Thomas Flewellen Persons July 26, 1849 in Warren County. She had no known children. The 1850 Warren County census shows Elizabeth Persons, age 23 and Thomas F. Persons, age 27. His occupation was planter and his real estate value in 1850 was 17000. In 1850 Thomas F. Persons owned 133 slaves and by 1860 he owned 166 slaves according to slave schedules in Warren County.
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