Tag Archives: Burke County

First McCanaan Baptist Church, Georgia

Sardis, Burke County

The Old McCanaan Missionary Baptist Church, now the First McCanaan Baptist Church, was founded in 1875. Many of the founding members were sharecroppers from the nearby Millhaven Plantation. It served as a spiritual gathering place the Black men and women of the area. The first building for the church was lost due to fire. By 1912, the new building was erected, which the congregation still uses today.

It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2001 for as an excellent example of Gothic Revival in a rural Southern church.

Noah’s Ark Baptist Church, Georgia

Keysville, Burke County

Noah’s Ark Baptist Church was organized in 1864 in Burke County, Georgia. It was one of the founding churches for newly freedmen and women in Burke County. Starting under a brush arbor, the congregation moved into a tenant located near where their current church building stands.

Noah Smith donated land to build the first church. after the first two buildings were destroyed by wind and fire, They moved to their following location, where two more buildings were built. The building above was built in 1883 at a cost of $1900. It was in use until 2006. The congregation is now active at a new sanctuary.

This is a common headstone seen in Black church cemeteries throughout Burke and Jefferson counties.
An interesting marker in the cemetery.
An outside view of one of the windows
A view through a broken window shows the state of the church with more than a decade of being unused.

McCullough Covenant Baptist Church, Georgia

Burke County

McCullough Covenant Baptist Church was founded May 14, 1876 (the second Sunday in May) when Adam and Henrietta McCullough, a freed husband and wife, donated land to start the church on the spot they considered the most beautiful on their land. Many parishioners came from Pine Hill Baptist Church (still an active congregation).

Mr. McCullough owned at least 900 acres of land by the time he passed. From what I can pull together via Ancestry.com records, he and his first wife, Henrietta, were born in the 1820s. From later census records, the McCulloughs had at least four children (Delilah, Jonah, Mahala, and Cornelious).

Based on their ages, I believe that they were all born into slavery. I am unable to confirm, but I believe they were likely enslaved by Calvin McCullough, a planter from Burke County. According to the 1860 Slave Census, Calvin McCullough enslaved 36 people. There are no other McCulloughs in Burke County in the 1860 slave census. Ages and sex match up closely with the ages and sexes of the McCullough family.

According to information shared on findagrave, the family also has ties to Gray’s Grove Baptist Church.

Adam McCullough (1824-1909)
Adam’s first wife, Henrietta (1824-1896)
Henrietta and Adam’s son Cornelious (1850-1900)
Jessie Bell McCullough (1921-1970)
Square R. Heney (1872-1918)

New Springfield Baptist Church, Georgia

Alexander, Burke County

My friend and I had decided we wanted to drive around Burke County taking photos. When I realized that Ahmaud Arbery was buried in Burke, we put it at the top of our list to document. It was a surprise to see this church where a paved road transitions to a dirt road to have a sign honoring Betty White. It shows how she touched many people with her spirit of caring and sense of justice for all.

Some of Ahmaud’s descendants are from Burke County, so it’s not a surprise that this is his final resting place. It’s clear that people are tending to his grave regularly despite its relative remoteness.

Additionally, this cemetery also highlights two grave markers I’ve seen repeated in rural Black cemeteries. One is a marker with the applique cherubs, and the other is the boxy concrete headstone. I’ve seen both types in several cemeteries in Georgia.

The Lone Star Benevolent Society Hall, Georgia

Waynesboro, Burke County

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.

This building sits to the left of the Lone Star Benevolent Society. A Sanborn map indicates that it is part of the hall, but it does not identify its purpose.
This building resembles many early 20th Century early schoolhouses, but I am unable to confirm its identity.

Rowland Grove School, Georgia

Burke County, Georgia

Founded in 1926 on the corner of Ivanhoe Plantation, this land was donated by Mrs. Clarissa Dye and her son Rowland Dye to start a one-room schoolhouse. They were the direct descendants of Charles Alden Rowland, the founder of Ivanhoe Plantation.

The school was started when Jim Hall, a sharecropper on Ivanhoe Plantation, asked the Dyes about the possibility of getting land to start the school. When it opened, there were no glass windows, just shutters. It had a white steeple roof. Savella Hall, Jim’s wife, was the first teacher for the school.

Like so many schools, the building had other uses. On the weekend, it served as the benevolent society.

Thank you to the Burke County Archives for confirming the identification of the building and sharing the older photo of the school. Information on the school was pulled from Eugenia Mills Fulcher’s 1999 dissertation, “Dreams do come true: How rural one- and two-room schools influenced the lives of African Americans in Burke County, Georgia, 1930-1955.”

Courtesy of the Burke County Archives and the Burke County Department of Education.
Notice the blue door trim. Many would say this is haint blue. If so, this is the first haint blue I’ve seen on a schoolhouse.

Walker Grove Baptist Church, Georgia

Keysville, Burke County, Georgia
Louise Randell (1872-1930) This was likely made by the same marker company who made the Alex Steadman marker at Smith Grove Missionary Baptist Church.
I believe the same person who made the Annie McCloud ledger in Smith Grove Missionary Baptist Church also made this one.

John I. Blackburn Presbyterian Church, Georgia

Keysville, Burke County

Tied to the Boggs Academy in Keysville, the Blackburn Church began as the Morgan Grove Presbyterian Church in 1907. Five children began school in the church building. Unfortunately, in 1930, the building was destroyed by fire. A new church was built due to the generosity of the Blackburn family. An addition was added in 1962.

The building constructed in 1930
The grave of Reverend Phelps, who founded the school.

Keysville Evangelistic Church and Cemetery, Georgia

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.

Girard Elementary School, Georgia

Girard, Burke County, Georgia
Main entrance

The Girard Elementary School, an equalization school, in Burke County, Georgia was recently put on the National Register of Historic Places. It was one of six schools built to continue segregation in the county, while replacing one and two room schools that were spread throughout the county. This building includes four classrooms, a library, and a cafeteria. It opened in 1955.

Street side
I am assuming this is either the library or cafeteria.

Boggs Academy, Georgia

Keysville, Burke County

Boggs Academy, now the Boggs Rural Life Center, is a former boarding school that served the Black community of Keysville, Georgia. Founded in 1906 by the Board of Missions for Freedman, Presbyterian Church, it educated students in the grades 9 through 12. The reputation of the school grew, and it educated Black students from all over the country. Closing in 1984, it was the last remaining boarding school built for the education of Black youth.

The campus is quite large and some parts are being restored. These photos show only a few of the buildings in existence.

Boggs Dining Hall
Boggs Dining Hall
Classroom Building
Classroom Building
Classroom Building
From the February 14, 1925 issue of The True Citizen