New Salem Baptist Church

Warren County, Georgia

The congregation was founded in 1868. At the moment, I do not have much information. I do have a reference that Reverend Charles Hamilton Holloway served as the pastor prior to 1920.

Since this structure is common among Black rural churches, I suspect the original wood exterior was covered by brick.

The Herndon Family

Atlanta, Fulton County, Georgia
The Herndon Home Museum

Completed in 1910, the Herndon Home was the residence of Alonzo Herndon and his family. Herndon was the first Black millionaire in Atlanta, and one of the first in the United States. He built his wealth by running several successful barbershops in Atlanta and starting the Atlanta Family Life Insurance Company.

Herndon was born into slavery in 1858 in Social Circle, Walton County, Georgia. After Emancipation, he left Social Circle and began work as a farmhand and learned how to barber in Jonesboro, Georgia.

He eventually moved to Atlanta where he began his barbershop business. He helped save a mutual aid association which eventually evolved into the Atlanta Life Insurance Company.

Designed by Adrienne Herndon, a professor at Atlanta University and Alonzo’s first wife, the two-story, 15-room Classical Revival mansion with Beaux Arts influences, was built by local Black craftsmen. It was simultaneously added on the National Register of Historic Places and designated as a National Historic Landmark in 2000.

Upon his death, Herndon’s son Norris took over Atlanta Life Insurance and built upon his father’s success by turning it into a multi-million-dollar business.

The Herndon family are all buried in Southview Cemetery.

Coins left on a grave are left to show that someone recently visited and paid their respects.
Alonzo Herndon’s second wife

Folk Art Headstone

Roswell, Fulton County, Georgia

This headstone is in the Historic Roswell Cemetery. There is no name to be located. I suspect it was on the part that is now missing at top. Below is the backside that looks like six panels are missing. It’s in a section where the markers are from 1900 to 1930.

Trinity School

Sparta, Hancock County, Georgia

Located next to the Trinity CME Church and south of Sparta is the Trinity School. It was used until 1959 to educate Black schoolchildren of the area. Based on the design, this one-room schoolhouse was built before Rosenwald schools were and, likely, before 1910.

Charles Oatman and the Flat Rock Missionary Baptist Church

Matthews, Jefferson County, Georgia

Charles Oatman was an Augusta teenager who was brutalized and murdered while he was in jail. His death spawned a multi-day protest where protesters demanded answers. Six men lost their lives, 60 were wounded, and property damage was significant. All men were unarmed and shot in the back by police officers.

It is impossible for me to succinctly describe the events of the 1970 Augusta Riot. For website reading, I would suggest the The 1970 Augusta Riot Observance Committee site. For a great podcast, I would recommend GPB’s Shots in the Back.

Charles is buried in the Flat Rock Missionary Baptist Church in Matthews, Georgia. Several generations of his family rest here.

Farm Church

Jefferson County, Georgia

This church sits in the middle of a field on what appears to be an active farm. Just on the edge of the photo is part of the home. Tax records indicate the home was built in 1895. The records list many barns and sheds but no church. This might be the fanciest barn I have ever photographed.

The Lone Star Benevolent Society Hall

Waynesboro, Burke County, Georgia

Built in 1898, the Lone Star Benevolent Society Hall is one of the oldest buildings in the Black community in Waynesboro, Georgia. Benevolent societies provided death insurance to its members while also providing a place for members to gather. Here is a great article on the history of benevolent societies.

Notice the “lone star” cut outs in the bell tower.

Thank you to Emmett McNair for helping identify this building.

Keysville Evangelistic Church and Cemetery

Keysville, Burke County, Georgia

Located across from the post office in Keysville, Georgia is this small church with a mausoleum for Reverend Quillar Vertery Russell (1889-1959) and family. My friend Brian and I had just stopped when a nice Keysville native stopped to chat.

He asked if we were kin to the Russells, and we said no. He said that the Reverend was the church’s founder and owned the lumber mill in Keysville. He told us to go inside.

In diving into the ancestry records, Reverend Russell was a farmer and mill owner. I suspect he founded this church as the Keysville Baptist Church.

Over the years, it changed names to the Keysville Evangelistic Church and finally to the New House of Worship before it closed for good.

Bethel Baptist Church

Sparta, Hancock County, Georgia

The church was founded in 1802, and the building was moved to this site in 1828. Prior to Emancipation, the church held services for slave holders and the people they enslaved.

After the Civil War, the newly freedmen and women founded Hickory Grove Baptist Church.

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