History

 CHURCH HISTORY

OF PROVIDENCE BAPTIST CHURCH

SHADY DALE, JASPER COUNTY, GEORGIA

(Transcribed from a copy of the church program on it’s Sesquicentennial Celebration – Sunday, August 28, 1960)


Providence historical sign

        (This page is dedicated to the memory of Mrs. Oscar Eugene Lancaster (Mrs. Ida Lancaster) who was a staunch member of Providence Baptist Church.  Mrs. Lancaster was born May 24, 1870 and died April 8, 1960.  Most of the facts in the following history were obtained from Mrs. Lancaster’s notes made during her long association with the church).

 

        Providence Baptist Church was constituted on December 15, 1810.  It was organized and worked as a Primitive Baptist Church about twenty five years.  The following week in conference it was decided to build a log meeting house on lot number eleven, fifteenth district in Randolph County, which was changed to Jasper County a short time afterwards.  This area had been a part of Baldwin County until a couple of years before.  The Meeting house was to be of logs forty feet long.  Sixty feet wide and twelve feet high.  It was located close to where is now known at Leverett’s Quarter, two miles south of Machen.  The first members were Jacob Mercer and wife, Joel (?), James Brown and wife, Martha, Martin Stanley and his wife Polly, Elizabeth Green, Rebecca Walden, John Ferrell, Elkamy Denson, Joshua Newton, James Richards.  The first deacons were Martin Stanley and James Brown.  Martin Stanley was sheriff of this county at a later time.  As people moved into the community, more names were added to the roll.  These include many names who are now residents of Jasper County, Viz: Mercers, Newtons, Bosleys, Leveretts, Martins(?),  McDowells, Wilburns, Bogans, Whitfields and others.

        The first Associational affiliation was with the Ocmulgee Association which was joined soon after it was organized.  In 1836, the Missionary Baptist spirit began to show up in the Baptist Churches and Providence seceded or withdraw from the Ocmulgee Association.  (This Association is still in existence and has three neighboring churches as members: Friendship in Jasper County.  Crooked Creek in Putnam County and Shoal Creek at Newborn)  Providence first applied to the Flint River Association for membership but united with the Central Baptist Association about 1840. 

        The first pastor was Brother David Montgomery.  He served the church eighteen years.  His grave is in the Loyd Cemetery near Newborn.

        The church grew and the membership enlarged.  Slaves were admitted as members and a special part of the church was assigned to them.  The first man of color to be admitted to membership was Brother London, who belonged to one of the members. 

  The post office was established at Shady Dale in 1827.  James Randall was the first postmaster.  A school house had been built on the site of the present school building.  The land was secured from Mr. Beeland.  In 1829 the church in conference appointed a committee consisting of Brothers William Pearson, Timothy Landrum, C. Webb, John Began, and J. Webb to pick out a site for a new meeting house.  Burrell Leverett was added to the committee later.  They secured a site across the road from the school lot and “on the main road and near Doctor Randall’s house”.  It is thought the houses of Dr. Randall is where Mr. and Mrs. Wallace Banks now live.  A few years later, the Calvary or Mt. Zion Methodist Church was moved to Shady Dale to its present location from a site about 2 and one half miles north of Shady Dale near the Wynn Crossing.  The Walton Lodge No. 200 was also moved to Shady Dale from the same vicinity about the same time.  This put all churches, lodges and schools very close to each other.  On September 24 1831, the new church building was dedicated.  This building stood until 1906 when it was replaced by the present building.  Most of the foundation timbers as well as the framing of this church were taken from the old building.  The church built of this time conformed to the usual architecture of churches, a main auditorium and a porch extending across the entire front of the building supported by four columns. Steps extended across the front of the porch and was the gathering place for most of the male members until the first or second song of the services was over.  About 1903 or 1904 the Geodetic Survey placed a bench marker in the corner of the front steps announcing the elevation above sea level.  This is 628 feet.  The marker is yet in the church yard near the first line of graves.  It is flush with the ground and can be easily seen.

        In 1811, Brother Peterson Pate and wife, Rebecca, were received by letter from Mt. Gilead Church.  In March 1830, Brother John Bogan was ordained a deacon.  The presbytery was from Murder Creek Church and New Salem.  Tirzah Church is also mentioned.  All of these churches mentioned except New Salem are now standing and are occupied by the colored folks of their communities.  Mention is also made of churches at Hebron Shoal Creek, Crooked Creek, Sugar Creek, Fishing Creek, Bethlehem, Ephesus in Monticello and Liberty (later Carmel)

        Evidently, people were moving to this neighborhood from East Georgia, North and South Carolina, as well as Virginia, and the Missionary spirit was becoming imbued in the memberships of most churches.  At every meeting there were many requests for letters of dismission.  On the first day of February 1834 at Indian Creek Church, messengers from Antioch in Morgan County, Indian Creek in Morgan County, Eatonton, Putnam County, Sharon, Henry County, McDonald in Henry County, Paron, Monroe County and Sardis in Butts County, met in a meeting called for that purpose and organized The Central Baptist Association.  Providence Church asked for a letter of dismission from the Ocmulgee Association in 1836.  The letter of dismission was received on September 17, 1836.  Many of the old staunch members asked for their letters, included in that group were Brother Burrell Leverett and wife Nancy and daughter, Celia Ann.  Brother George Green, William Pearson and wife, Eliza, Brother Edward Webb and wife Elizabeth, Ben Gaines, Robert Edwards and wife Eliza and many others.  They moved their membership to New Salem.

        On August 21 1841, they applied for membership in The Central Baptist Association and sent one delegate, John Bogan.  The church was received as a constituent member of this Association.  Brethren Adiel Sherwood and C. D. Mallory preached that day.

        In 1835, John H. Bayne, Tilman Hawk, Aris Newton, Avington Turk, Samuel Blackwell and many other united with the church.  These names are still familiar in this community.

        One of the outstanding Baptist of this age was Lot Hearn.  He was a member at Antioch and on moving to Cave Springs, Georgia, he founded Hearne Academy which was a forerunner of the present School for the Deaf at Cave Spring.  In his return here he united with Providence Church.  At the annual meeting of the Central Association an obituary was read on August 23 1845 on the death of Brother Lot Hearn.  He remembered the Association in his will.

        There were several Revolutionary Soldiers that were members of Providence.  These include, Timothy Landrum, Jacob Mercer, David Montgomery, Brother Jacob Mercer is buried in the cemetery and has a rock wall around it and a Revolutionary Soldier’s Marker.

        The church grew with the times from 1835 to 1860.  During this time we find Brother Montgomery winding up his career as pastor.  He was succeeded by Brother James Henderson who was pastor of Hebron Church, Jason Greer followed; Brethren Almand and Carter served a short while.  In the meantime, Providence helped Hopewell Baptist Church to organize.  Rev. C. D. Mallory and T. U. Wilkes served until 1850.  Rev. L. R. L. Jennings, Atkinson, and James J. Wallace served until 1859.  Edgar Jewell was pastor from 1859 to 1870.  He lived in the pecan grove just before one turns to go to Godfrey in the Walker settlement.

Dr. William G. Horsley was pastor for ten years until 1880.  He lived at Horsley Place on the Sue Jones farm east of Shady Dale near the Shady Dale Stock Farm.  Rev. A. M. Marshall served the church until 1893.  He lived in the Harmony neighborhood in Putnam and was the grandfather of Warren Marshall who is now pastor of Kiokee Church, the First Baptist Church in Georgia.  He was a civil war Chaplain but fought with a gun as much as if he were a regular soldier.  He mentioned Masonry and the Civil War in most every sermon he preached.  Rev. A. J. Beck preached and taught school for three years.  His wife and daughter helping him.  Rev. H. D . D. Stratton was pastor until his death, one year later  He was the father of famous Georgia minister, Hillyer Stratton.  Rev. J. R. Jester served the church while he was a ministerial student at Mercer.  Mr. and Mrs. O. E. Lancaster united with the church under his pastorte.  Rev. C. A. Ridley followed while a student at Mercer. On graduation, he was called to the Monticello Baptist Church and served there until he received a call to the Central Baptist Church in Atlanta.  Rev. E. R. Pendleton served one year and he was succeeded by Dr. H. R. Bernard who had been Superintendent of a Georgia Railroad.  He entered the active ministry following his retirement from the railroad and was also Superintendent of Missions for the Georgia Baptist Convention of the time he was pastoring here.  In 1905, Rev. James E. Pounds was called from Locust Grove. It was during his pastorate the present church building was planned and built.  He was pastor at Gray and here and built two churches identical in all respects. The Gray church was burned a few years ago.  One day while coming from Monticello on a rainey cool February day with the curtains of his buggy top excluding his view he was struck by a Central of Georgia Railway passenger train and instantly killed at the first crossing from Monticello near the present home of Will Turk.  W. T. Granade of Conyers was next and he served from 1907 to 1910.  He also served the Monticello and Eatonton churches full time at a later date, as well as the Bull Street Baptist Church in Savannah.  He was followed by Rev C. A. Cox for a year who thought it better to get rid of some of the members who were a draw back to the church than taking in so many more.  Dr. H. D. Johnson was a Mercer ministerial student when he was called in 1911 and he served through 1913 when he went to Monticello.  Recently, he has retired from the Divinity School of Mercer University.  Rev. J. A. Loggin of Social Circle came in 1914 and his health was poor and he died soon after resigning.  Mercer students did the preaching until 1918 when Rev. L. S. Barrett taught the school and pastored the church.  Brother J. J. Winburn followed him after a year or so.  Brother J. D. Winchester followed and remained one year, resigning to accept the pastorate of the Monticello Baptist church.  Another Mercer student,  A. A. Wainwright served the church three years.  W. B. Underwood came about 1925 and served almost a year.  Monticello also called him and he accepted.  He is here with us today.  J. L. Reeves served two years and was followed by Rev. W. T. Bodenhomer of Ty Ty, Georgia.  He is now in the teaching profession.  H. L. Passmore did not stay more than nine months, he was followed by Gordon L. Brooks who has served at  Chipley and Stockbridge since leaving us.  Dr. Clifton A. Forrester was the last one of our pastors called by the Monticello Church.  He is now at the Tattnall Square Baptist Church in Macon, on the Mercer Campus.

 Then came J. M. Stallings, J. S. Hayes and he held the pastorate longer than any pastor since 1900.  He moved to Watkinsville and resigned the pastorate here.  Howard McClain, George W. Fields, Harris Parker, John Hamrick, Durwood Souther, came and went.  Weyman Reese came in 1928 and did much to organize the church, especially, B. T. U. Sunday School and Women’s work.

        The church has maintained a Sunday School since 1870.  It continue on an even keel.  The Woman’s Missionary Society was organized sixty years ago by Mrs. W. B. Miller of Hepzibah, Georgia.  She was the mother of Mrs. W. B. Frost.  The following members have been president of this organization:  Mrs. George Newton, Mrs. Leila Ezell, Mrs. J. A. Jackson, Miss Lucile McDowell, Mrs. J. E. Pounds, Mrs. R. L. Bailey, Mrs. Will Bullard, Mrs. O. O. Banks, Mrs. Julius Brown, Miss Quinn Lane and others.  Mrs. Ethel Thompson Wood is the present president.  Miss Aurie Newton was the first treasurer. Mrs. O. E. Lancaster held this position thirty four years.  This Missionary Society has done much for missions.  Emmett Stephens for many years received a monthly check from this society while he was in China, so did Dr. Ayres, Pearl Todd, Norman Williamson and Fletcher Stamps.  The Woman’s Missionary Society is due a lot of credit for the work done in Providence Church.

        In 1888 and 1889 the Macon and Northern Railroad was built through Shady Dale running from Macon northward to Athens.  The track was laid between the school and the church and it seems that the trains always pass just in the midst of the morning service.  The engineer of the train that killed Rev. J.C. Pound was a Baptist minister, Mr. Moody, and it was well said of him that he never operated a train on Sunday.  The railroad has been a blessing to Jasper County and the Shady Dale – Machen community.  About 1892 the Middle Georgia and Atlantic was surveyed to come through Shady Dale, the road bed was graded across the fields to the rear of the church and until this day the signs of the fill and cut can be seen crossing the colored cemetery.  An injunction was gotten after some sort of controversy and the two railroads crossed about one half mile south of the church.  Both of these lines were later merged into the Central of Georgia.

        A cemetery was established soon after the removal of the church to the present location and practically all our members who have passed on are interred in the cemetery.  In fact, the cemetery is used by all denominations and faiths as it is the only public cemetery in Shady Dale.  As one browses through the cemetery, he sees the graves of many who have made Providence Baptist Church a church of distinction and renown.  Many of the families who have loved ones interred in this churchyard have moved on and there is no near relative to superintend the upkeep of many of the graves.  The committee in charge of graves cleans the entire cemetery regularly.  The committee needs more funds from time to time to more properly render this service.  Anyone desiring to make a donation to the upkeep of graves in the cemetery may do so by contacting the Chairman of the Board of Deacons.

While Providence Church was in the Central Association, the annual meeting of that body was held at this church many times.  Providence has furnished a few moderators, Brother Banks Preston served as the moderator of this association.  His grandfather Judge John Blackwell was moderator in the early nineteen hundreds.  Dr. E. M. Lancaster has served as moderator on two different occasions.  Brother Charlie Woodfin Preston served a term as clerk which consisted of man years.  His brother, Banks Preston, also served as clerk for several years.  It is hardly possible to give a biographical sketch of each illustrious member of this church for it would be voluminous.  The church is proud of every member that has ever been enrolled and also proud of every minister who has served the church as pastor and in any other capacity.  Providence Church inside               

        Then came J. M. Stallings, J. S. Hayes and he held the pastorate longer than any pastor since 1900.  He moved to Watkinsville and resigned the pastorate here.  Howard McClain, George W. Fields, Harris Parker, John Hamrick, Durwood Souther, came and went.  Weyman Reese came in 1928 and did much to organize the church, especially, B. T. U. Sunday School and Women’s work.

        The church has maintained a Sunday School since 1870.  It continue on an even keel.  The Woman’s Missionary Society was organized sixty years ago by Mrs. W. B. Miller of Hepzibah, Georgia.  She was the mother of Mrs. W. B. Frost.  The following members have been president of this organization:  Mrs. George Newton, Mrs. Leila Ezell, Mrs. J. A. Jackson, Miss Lucile McDowell, Mrs. J. E. Pounds, Mrs. R. L. Bailey, Mrs. Will Bullard, Mrs. O. O. Banks, Mrs. Julius Brown, Miss Quinn Lane, Mrs. Ethel Thompson Wood and others. Miss Aurie Newton was the first treasurer. Mrs. O. E. Lancaster held this position thirty four years.  This Missionary Society has done much for missions.  Emmett Stephens for many years received a monthly check from this society while he was in China, so did Dr. Ayres, Pearl Todd, Norman Williamson and Fletcher Stamps.  The Woman’s Missionary Society is due a lot of credit for the work done in Providence Church.

        In 1888 and 1889 the Macon and Northern Railroad was built through Shady Dale running from Macon northward to Athens.  The track was laid between the school and the church and it seems that the trains always pass just in the midst of the morning service.  The engineer of the train that killed Rev. J.C. Pound was a Baptist minister, Mr. Moody, and it was well said of him that he never operated a train on Sunday.  The railroad has been a blessing to Jasper County and the Shady Dale – Machen community.  About 1892 the Middle Georgia and Atlantic was surveyed to come through Shady Dale, the road bed was graded across the fields to the rear of the church and until this day the signs of the fill and cut can be seen crossing the colored cemetery.  An injunction was gotten after some sort of controversy and the two railroads crossed about one half mile south of the church.  Both of these lines were later merged into the Central of Georgia.

 

 

 

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