The lovely little church, nestled among the trees and surrounded by a beautiful cemetery, is a perfect example of a very historic rural Georgia church that has been lovingly maintained over the years. When Clinton Methodist was founded, it was on the very edge of the Georgia frontier. Its parishioners were Revolutionary War soldiers and rugged individuals willing to carve out a life for themselves and their families out of the Georgia wilderness.
When Jones County was partitioned from Baldwin County in 1807, it lay on the far western border of Georgia. Clinton was established as the county seat and began to grow quickly. Since it was a frontier town, early settlers were pretty “rough” and for several years, Clinton and Jones County had no organized churches. In 1810, Inferior Court records show the appropriation of one acre to the use of the “Methodist connection”, but there is no record of what type of building may have been erected or any other type of use of the land by these Methodists. However, on July 14, 1821, a deed to the Clinton Methodist Episcopal Church was made by the Inferior Court to five individuals listed as trustees of the church. It has been assumed that the present structure was built that year, 1821. This makes Clinton Methodist one of the very oldest churches founded and built along Georgia’s western border in the early 1820’s.
In Carolyn Williams, History of Jones County – written in 1957, she writes the following: ‘It is thought that the present structure was erected at this period (1821). This church is a frame house of good dimensions with substantial stone steps from the native granite. A steeple is overhead. The windows large and wide and double doors form the main entrance. A large gallery which was reached by steps from the front extended over the front part of (the interior) of the church and was for the use of negro slaves. Years after the negroes became free (1896) the gallery was removed, the church cut down and remodeled until this present structure does not appear as the up-to-date church of 1821.’ Clinton Methodist may not look the same today, but it still admirably serves its initial and permanent mission!
Particular attention should be paid to the cemetery. It is filled with unique quarried stone work by Jacob P. Hutchings. Mr. Hutchings was a former slave with extraordinary skills as a granite mason and builder, as you will see in subsequent photographs. The cemetery is also the burial ground for many Civil War soldiers. Quite a place. Thank you for supporting Historic Rural Churches of Georgia and helping us spread the word. Please be sure to sign up to receive new postings on featured churches.