The Wrightsboro Methodist Church is located on a small hill in a fascinating historic setting. On this site in 1754, Edmund Grey, founded the Quaker town of Brandon. At this time, the area would have been inhabited by Native Americans and not open to legal settlement. In 1768, following the Treaty of Augusta which ceded this land to the swelling tide of European settlers, forty thousand acres of land was given to Joseph Mattock and Jonathan Sell by Royal Governor James Wright, who were also Quakers. A thousand acres of this land was set aside for the Town Proper, which was later incorporated as the city of Wrightsboro in 1799. The first meeting house would have been constructed at about this time, and some records show that two buildings were built and burned before the church now standing was constructed.
The current structure was built between 1810 and 1812 by the selling of public subscriptions and land. The Georgia General Assembly granted the commissioners of the town of Wrightsboro permission to sell three 50 acre lots and use proceeds of up to $500 to build a house of worship for all Christian Denominations to hold services. We are still searching for records that would have belonged to one of these early congregations , but they appear to have vanished with time. Available records pick up in 1877, which is when the public church was deeded to the Methodist Church. The Methodists asserted that they used the church most often, and that the property would be best served if ownership was transferred to them. The community agreed and handed the church and two acres over to the Methodist Church South. By 1964, the Methodists had disbanded after being active for over 125 years and the ownership reverted back to the public as McDuffie county became caretaker.
Ancestors of prominent Georgia families are buried at Wrightsboro Methodist, including the ancestors of Asa G. Candler – founder of the Coca-Cola company and mayor of Atlanta from 1916 to 1919. An early Quaker burial ground is about a mile east of this church on a hill overlooking a small creek. Only rough field stones mark the graves. While the town of Wrightsboro is no longer an active community, the immediate area houses some of the most interesting historic structures and stories in the state. We encourage you to drop by and spend some time – you won’t be disappointed. To learn more about the history of Wrightsboro click here
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This double aisle jewel was saved for posterity when the McDuffie County government agreed to take possession and maintain it when the Methodists we no longer able to. What they have done is make available to all what is certainly the most authentic and well preserved Quaker church in Georgia. The interior of the church certainly reflects the Quaker lineage. It is a stunning tribute to this heritage and has been magnificently preserved. We are grateful to the stewards past and present for this gift. The Wrightsboro area is perhaps the oldest continually inhabited European settlement in the interior of rural Georgia, and is the southernmost point of the migration of the Quakers in colonial America.
The 16 over 16 original windows provide an abundance of light, ventilation and spritual comfort with a view of the ancient cemetery resting peacefully under the giant oaks. The hand hewn pews were made from heart pine and joined without nails around 1812. Had the President of the United States actually visited this church at that time, James Madison would have occupied one of these now old seats and perhaps have enjoyed a view similar to the one just outside the window above.
The church is equipped with both a piano and this georgeous organ. There has to be a great story behind this piece and we will try to find it. The organ is a foot pumped, tracker style employing pipes rather than reeds.There are 19 pipes and each exhibits beautiful, artistic stenciling. It would have been quite expensive in its day and represent the highest construction and sound quality available. It is unusual for sure, and we would love to know the origin and trace the journey of it to this perfect resting place and final home.
What a beautiful image of religious symmetry. It would be interesting to know the protocol that dictated who sat where in this ancient rural sanctuary. We would assume Quakers would be very formal about these traditions. This was the center of village life and the very seat of community governance as well as spititual salvation. According to the records, a Friend could be expelled from the meeting house for such things as “Marrying out of the society, non-payment of debts, playing cards, hiring a slave, bearing arms in a war-like manner, and marrying again in less than five months after the death of a previous spouse.”
Obviously there was musical talent in the village. The combination of the uplifting piano chords in combination with the deep, somber organ accompaniment and the rousing voices of the congregation would be something to experience. Make a joyful noise unto the Lord.
As with the organ, the Methodists who worshiped here when this piano was purchased bought a high quality instrument. We know it had to be after 1880 because Mr. Ivers joined Mr. Pond in 1880. Prior to that date it would have been inscribed as “Ivers.” Ivers and Pond was one of the most notable Boston piano firms of the 19th and 20th centuries. They were recognized as providing an exceptional product. We are sure this upright accompanied thousands of congregants singing hymns during its lifetime.
This is a very old and wonderful cemetery. There are 137 documented interments with the oldest being that of baby Thoeodosus White who died in 1800. Here lie veterans of the Revolutionary War and many campaigns of the Civil War. Some of Georgia’s most illustrious citizens have ancestors buried in this soil.
There are 137 documented interments in the church yard. No one knows the actual total, of course, since many of the earlier graves were unmarked or marked with wood and/or fieldstone headers that have long since disappeared. Cemeteries this old almost always have the evolution of unmarked graves, to field stone or wood markers, to simple tablets to more elaborate headstones that were either carved locally or bought and shipped in. Another way to look at it was the evolution from subsistence farming and relative poverty to agricultural wealth created with larger landholdings and the rise of cotton as a cash crop.
There are nine members of the Hawes family interred in the yard with deaths ranging from 1854 to 1963. These gravestones are indicative of a wealthy economy arising from the rich agricultural Georgia land only recently acquired from the native inhabitants.
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