Church in a Georgia Ghost Town

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Powelton Methodist Church | Hancock County, Georgia | Founded c. 1830

Located in one of the oldest villages in Georgia, the story of Powelton Methodist Church is interwoven into the story and founding of the community of Powelton, which has all but disappeared. It was here in this quiet rural village where the crossroads of two important settlement roads met, encouraging a community to grow around it. The major east-west artery from Augusta to Greensboro ran through Powelton and one of the major north-south routes ran from Milledgeville to Washington via Sparta, Powelton, and Wrightsboro.

The village of Powelton became an important stop along the backroads of inner Georgia in the days when most of the settlements were focused on the coast. So important in fact that the village of Powelton was considered as a potential location to replace Louisville for the state capital in 1796.

Powelton Methodist Church

The village of Powelton was prosperous enough to have two churches- a Methodist and a Baptist church. Down the road from this church was founded Powelton Baptist Church in 1786 by Silas and Jesse Mercer. This Methodist Church is believed to have been established prior to 1800.

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The date of construction on this church isn’t confirmed, although one record mentions that this is the original 1830 sanctuary that was re-roofed in 1946. Another history says that the present building replaced an earlier ‘Methodist Meeting House’. Inside the church is a pristine sanctuary that looks just as it did when this church still had services- complete with a pot-belly wood-burning stove, the original pulpit, 9 over 9 sash windows, and hand-carved wooden pews. The church also has two front doors that were used by men and women who were also seated separately inside.

The church is in fantastic condition for its age and lack of use for so many years. This is due in part to local caretakers who look after the church and do regular maintenance on the grounds and building. Due also in part to a short scene in the 2009 movie, Get Low, which starred Robert Duvall, Sissy Spacek, and Bill Murray. As part of the film’s budget, the interior was ‘spruced up.’

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Powelton Methodist Cemetery

Records indicate that this church was founded before 1800, but the first known burial here dates to 1802. Other records mention that the oldest grave here dates to 1817 and because so many burials were unmarked, we will likely never know the exact date of the oldest burials or who was buried in those graves.

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Below, you can see a gallery of images that I collected in my research of the people who are buried here.

Carolina Doney

b. 1789 in New York

d. 1817 in Powelton, Georgia

Carolina was 27 when she died in Georgia and unfortunately, there is little to tell us what brought her from New York to this Georgia village, but her grave is the oldest marked grave in the cemetery. Her headstone reads:

“In Memory of
Mrs Carolina Doney
a native of New York
who departed this life
in the Triumphs of Faith
on the 4th day of Nov. 1817
in the 28th year of her age”

Photo courtesy of Patty Shreve on Find A Grave

Captain William Archibald McClellan

b. 1759 in Somerset County, Pennsylvania

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d. 1824 in Hancock County, Georgia

According to North Carolina records, William was a Revolutionary War Veteran and served as a private in McRee’s Co., 10th Reg., N.C. He enlisted April 1781 and left service in April 1782. in November 1781, he married Francina Veazey in Orange, North Carolina. By 1795, the pair were living in Powelton, Georgia. Some records say that William was a sea captain like his father, which seems to be confirmed by the accompanying portrait, c. 1800 which (painted by John Brewster.)

William D. Seals

b. 1840 in Powelton, Georgia

d. 1911 in Powelton, Georgia

In 1861, William enlisted the Confederate Army, Company K, GA Infantry, alongside his brother, Henry. Four years later, William returned to Powelton, having been injured at the Battle of the Wilderness. However, his brother Henry wasn’t so fortunate, dying during his service at Antietam.

Sally Herndon Seals

b. 1852

d. 1896

Sally gave birth to and raised 11 children with er husband William at the village of Powelton.


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