The Briartown Baptist Church, located on Briartown Church Rd.approximately two miles from the Nantahala School,is still searching for information about its beginning. There seems to be a connection between the Western Mt.Pleasant Baptist Church and Briartown, but at this time we lack the facts needed to clarify the relationship.
On March 15, 1863, a meeting was held in the neighborhood of Briartown, and a presbytery comprised of the Reverends Merritt Rickman, Samuel gibson, Mark May, and William M. Deweese conducted the meeting. The Reverend Rickman was moderator and Reverend May, clerk. The purpose was to organize a church, and the minutes of that meeting show the following membership: Reverend William K. Adams, Nancy Adams, Johnston K. Adams, Elijah Wilson, James Forrester, Martha Forrester, E. Forrestor (female) , John Quween, Martha Quween, George W. Burnett, Sarah Burnett, Mary Mason,and Mayy W. Hampton. These people are first linked with Western Mt. Plesant, and later some of them at least were members of Briartown Church.
We would be grateful for any information that someonecould offer us about the start of our church. Our sources are the above mentioned sheet of minutes, but no other Briartown Church minutes prior to October 1897 are in our possession. We have been in the Southern and State Baptist Archives, Macon Baptist Association of which we became a member in 1904, church minutes from 1897- 1998, and by various indidvduals. Briartown was a member of the Tuckaseige Baptist Association until 1904.
Pastors who have served the Briartown Church beginning in 1867 are:
Mark May 1867-85
Francis Marion Morgan 1885-88, 1891-93, 1896-97, 1902-05, 1914-16
A.A Justice 1889
J.S Woodard 1890, 1900-02
J.T Barnes 1894-95
J.S Kinsland 1908-09, 1922-23
J.S.Stanbery 1919-22, 1935-40
J.M.Woodard 1924 - 25, 1927-30, 1945-47
Alga West 1925-26, 1932-34
Robert Barker 1931, 1943-44
T.D.Denny 1940-43, 1948- 51
By 1869 the official membership had increased to 23, and the number peaked for the 19 th century at 155 in the year 1888. In 1900 there were 101 members, and the highest total ever was 281 in 1928. Currently there are 187 members ( less than 70 are residents of the local area.)
Barring inclement weather weekend worship included both Saturday and Sunday services until around 1940. Often a visiting preacher would help the pastor in the services--on Sunday August 20,1910 there was preaching by Reverend Mashburn followed by Pastor Hogue. Saturday preaching hours were changed to
2:00 pm,on May 23 , 1914 . Also until the middle decades of the 1900,s, an elected pastor would only be at the church on alternate weekends. The other weekends would often find different preachers presiding over the services. For instance, Reverend Robert Barker conducted services the weekend of October 12, 1927, when Pastor J.M.Woodard was elsewhere.
From its early history on ,special revival services have been conducted yearly, smoetimes more so. Possibly the last such series of meetings for the 1800,s lasted 16 days beginning on Saturday July 25,1899, with twelve members added by their professed "experience of grace" and baptisim. Pastor W.C.Hamrick was assisted by Rev.M.A.Leon and Rev.F.M.Morgan. August 12, 1900 beganthe first revival meetings of this century. Rev.J.S.Woodard, after helping at least three other ministers, was elected pastor near the end of the month.
The meetings of 1940 and 1946 each resulted in 28 professions of faith. The first was lead by T.D.Denny and Rev.George Cloer, and for the 1946 meetings Rev.Denny returned along with Rev.Floyd Sitton at the request of Pastor J.M.Woodard and the church. Woodard was also the pastor in 1925 when Rev.W.W.Marr ran a five- week revival. Thirty-four professed their hope in Christ and were baptised.
BYPU and WMU were approved on Oct.8,1933. The work of the BTU was supported by the church beginning in Feb. 1946.
For many yeary a collection for the pastor or guest preacher was taken after each service and often included both cash and produce. Cash collections usually ranged from $2-$8.00 and might be as low as 54
cents. On a Sunday in 1932 the pastor's offering was $7.20 cash and &1.00 produce. On Dec.26,1937 the
collection amounted to $9.96 cash and $21.70 produce. Besides these weekly love offerings, there were occasional pledges for a yearly salary. A motion was approved in August, 1900 to pay the pastor $50.00
for the years services. In May of 1929, the deacons recommended that the church pay the pastor $150.00
for the year. By the 1930's a transportation collection was sometimes given also.
A special offering was taken in August 1918 to buy Reverend W.T.Truitt a horse. It ammounted to $17.75
and a committee of ladies was appointed to collect additional money--- a few monts later they had an additional $37.65.
Briartown has long been among the churchs that support home and foreign missions. Selected examples are: (1) November 2, 1902--$3.49 collected for home and foreign missions;(2) August 21,1910--$2.00 for an orphanage(apparently supported the one at Thomasville for many years); (3) July 19 19-- $28.20 for missions; (4) May 1, 1920-- raised $93.00 for the Baptist $75,000,000 program; (5) January 9, 1921--
an unknown ammount sent to suffering Armenians; (6) May 26,1939--collected $93.30 for three local sick and needy people; (7) July 28, 1952---adopted a precentage plan in joining the Cooperative Program;
(8) Active support for the Broyhill Children's Home and many other efforts throughout the years.
Tradition says that origional Briartown meeting House was a log building. It was followed by the building that some of our present members can recall and was used until another one was completed by 1943. In April 1943, the following 5th Sunday in May was set aside for the dedication of the new building.The
dedication sermon was preached by Reverend C.C.Welch. Thie was the beginning of our current church house.Organ music was replaced by the first piano in 1946, and one year later electric lights were installed. Three years after this a new roof was built.
Coal heating was replaced by oil heat in 1965, and 1974 saw three major changes-- a brick exterior, front porch, and stained glass windows.
The building sits on property acquired or donated primarily in the year 1871,1911,1937,and 1981. From slightly more that ten beginning members, Briartown's history has seen 663 or more interred in its main cemetery and 86 in the nearby Bobby Hill Cemetery. This cemetery came under the care of the church in 1940. The longest tenures amoung elected officials are believed to be: Mark May--pastor; Oscar Hamilton--clerk; Weaver W Cochran--Sunday School Superintendent;and Dave L. Owenby--deacon.
The first delegates on record to the annual association convention were J.M.Forrester, Thomas Caler, and J.B.Morgan ( Tuckaseige Assocation 1870). The first delegates from Briartown to the Macon Baptist
Convention in 1904 were J.M.Cochran, J.R.Wikle, and F.M.Morgan.
Front Row 2nd Row 3rd Row 4th Row
52 Vernel Grant 37 Dave Owenby 53 General Owenby
13 Etta Shields 38 Olsen Grant 54 Rev.Robert Barker
14 Eula Wishon 39 Jim Grant 55 Frank Wilson 1 Lillian Wishon 15 Jessie Wilson (Daphne's bro) 56 Jeffie May
2 Carleen Grant 16 Amanda Deweese 40 Beuford Owenby 57 Mark Cochran
3 Christine Dalrymple 17 Lola Cochran 41 Rev.Mose Woodard 58 Fate Owenby
4 Doris Grant 18 Wade Boone 42 Beulah Owenby 59 W F Will Cross
5 Arnold Wilson 19 Verless Wishon 43 Beulah Owenby 60 Kermil Dalrymple
6 Jennette Owenby 20 Ruby Shields ( Dill's dau) 61 Ted Cochran
7 Francis Owenby 21 Carlene Owenby 44 CB(Tump)Owenby 62 Clint Dalrymple
8 Pauline Owenby 22 Halena Dalrymple 45 Myrtle Owenby 63 Oscar Cross
9 Newell Owenby 23 Grace Owenby ( Lester's dau)
10 Carl Cross ( GW"S sister 46 Myrtle Owenby
11 Fred Grant 24 Faye Duvall ( GW's sister)
12 Burzell Mason 25 Exie Owenby 47 Murill Owenby
26 Gladys Cochran 48 Lonnie Caylor
27 Eulene Grant 49 Frank Cross
28 Wilma Cochran 50 Jeff Hampton
29 Geneva Wishon 51 Morgan Owenby
30 Gladys Owenby
31 Vera Owenby
32 Catherine Ayers
34 Mone Deweese
35 Bernice Deweese
36 Daphne Grant