A truly significant fact about this church is its absolute authenticity. It stands today as it did the day James Bazemore and the others put all their tools aside and entered the church for its first service. Being in heart pine country, the church was completely constructed, inside and out, of pine wood sawed and shaped by the locals. The decorative elements, furniture and pews within are all pine. The exterior is distinctive because of the use of horizontal siding on the front and back but employing board and batten techniques for both side walls. Wesleyanna is a perfect example of a rural, 19th century meeting house in the back woods.
Wesleyanna Methodist is a sweet little church in Screven County that has been well cared for by the ancestors of the original founders. Unfortunately the only history we can find for the church is listed on the historical marker copy. We are certain there is some more history out there and we will post it as we come up with it. Any input from our readers would be appreciated. The interior of the church has been beautifully kept and is a great tribute to the old South Georgia rural church architecture. A truly significant fact about this church is its absolute authenticity. It stands today as it did the day James Bazemore and the others put all their tools aside and entered the church for its first service. Being in heart pine country, the church was completely constructed, inside and out, of pine wood sawed and shaped by the locals. The decorative elements, furniture and pews within are all pine. The exterior is distinctive because of the use of horizontal siding on the front and back but employing board and batten techniques for both side walls. Wesleyanna is a perfect example of a rural, 19th century meeting house in the back woods.
The copy on the marker reads below.
Organized 1868 under bush arbor on Stephen D. Lewis farm by Elder Theo. A. Pharr, John Hardy Bolton, Julia Wells Bolton, Stephen D. Lewis, Martha Howard Lewis, Paul Jenkins, Temperance Jenkins, Fulton L. Oglesby, Mary Bolton Oglesby and Mary Lewis Frawley. Built 1870 by James Allen Bazemore and others on land given by Alexander James Wells and Isaac Thomas Bazemore. Original Trustees: John W. Boston, James Allen Bazemore, Green Berry Waters, Alexander James Wells and Abisha Humphrey Bazemore. Among early preachers: John Jenkins, W.D. Smith, Abisha Humphrey Bazemore, A.F. Ellington, Emory F. Dean, Jacob Perry Bazemore, David Matthews Bazemore, A.M. Johnson and John W. Roach. June, 1957, church and cemetery set aside as perpetual memorial to founders by deed from Methodist Conference to Trustees, all of whom are descendants: Dora Bazemore Brooker, E. Lampkin Bazemore, I. Thomas Sanders, James Eugene Bazemore, Charles Thurman Hopkins, Sr., Lilla Sanders Smith, John W. Gross, Palmer A. Bazemore and Bertha Hoffman.
Yes, electricity has been added to provide enough creature comfort to keep the congregation coming. Otherwise, things have hardly changed at this old church. The chancel, altar and pulpit area remains pure, simple and true to the spartan esthetics common in the 19th century and still in place today at Wesleyanna. The very simple, hard wooden pews are uncomfortable enough to keep folks from nodding off as well as remind them of the earnest effort and attention required – then and now- to be a good Christian.
There are no bad seats at this meeting house. Every attendee is up close and personal with the pastor and church leaders present. The rural character of the Wesleyanna interior is remarkable in its simplicity and quiet dignity. It is also a tribute to the stewards of the church who have preserved it in its timeless state.
We used the word “authentic” to describe Wesleyanna earlier. We choose that word carefully and only use it when the exterior of the church is virtually “as it was” on the date of construction. The picture above reflects the fact that the church’s foundation was made of heart pine, wooden blocks or bolts, not the usual rocks or bricks. These blocks rest directly on the ground. After over 145 years of service and exposure to the elements, this church still sits plumb and square primarily on its original, wood foundation structure. What better example of the toughness and resilience of this wood could be offered!
Here lie John and Mary Bolton. John answered the call early in the war and served with Co. B with the 2nd Ga Cavalry. He survived the war, came home, married Julia and had a full life – dying at the age of 87. Julia was ten years younger but died just before John in May of 1927. The federal census of 1910 lists him as a farmer and head of household. He was born in Virginia and apparently had no children. Rest in peace.
There are only twenty three interments in the small cemetery, the oldest from 1881. Though small, the old burial ground is very quaint and complete with a picket fence. We are grateful for the love and stewardship the families have shown for this rural South Georgia treasure.
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We are taking a group on a small tour this week. The number that was on the church last time we were there is no longer valid. Do you have a point of contact? We would love to see the inside.
Jeffrey, we will check but not sure we have a contact.