Shady Grove Baptist

Harris County
|
Org 1832
|
Photography by Gail des Jardin

Shady Grove is one of those nondescript rural churches churches that are ubiquitous in our Georgia landscape. We were intrigued by this one since it had a sign in the front yard stating the church was organized in 1832. This means the church dates back to the very earliest days of Harris County, formed in 1826 right after the Second Treaty of Indian Springs, ceding all the Creek land between the Flint River and the Chattahoochee. The treaty was signed by William McIntosh, who had no tribal authority to do so, and he was executed by a group of his tribesmen as a result. The Creeks were then forcibly removed across the Chattahoochee and the general assembly began the lottery system to distribute the land. Every church has a story and this is the historical context for old Shady Grove.

William McIntosh Jr. was the offspring of Captain William McIntosh of Savannah. He was a member of the McIntosh clan that had been recruited by James Oglethorpe to migrate from Inverness, Scotland to found the town of Darien. The Highlanders of Scotland were famed as “Warrior Farmers” and were brought in to protect the southern flank of Savannah from Spanish intrusion from the south. Many of the Scots became fur traders and established extensive trading relationships with the Indians. William Jr.’s mother was a Creek Indian named Senoya, of the Wind Clan. He was raised in the Creek culture, but spent enough time in Savannah in his formative years to become comfortable in both environments. The American “melting pot” was beginning to assert itself and William subsequently became related to a number of prominent Georgians including George Troup, who was a first cousin. Senoia, Georgia is said to be named for William’s mother.

According to the History of Harris County, Shady Grove was a community founded in the late 1820’s. The Baptist church was established there in a small log sanctuary along with a cemetery. It also states that “The church baptized its members in Mountain Oak Creek below Hargett’s grist mill”. Rebecca Wynn, the present owner of the church, is a 6th generation descendant of David Laney, one of the original founders of the church. According to Rebecca the original log church, was located close to the road in the center of the cemetery. It burned in 1907 and the members replaced it with the present church located across the road from the cemetery. The church has been inactive for many years but Ms. Wynn, who was raised in the church, has been trying to keep the church and the cemetery maintained. As far as we know, she is the last living link to the church. We applaud her efforts but she could use some assistance, and we hope some is forthcoming.

The most well known member of the church was Jesse Mercer Callaway. According to a History of the Baptist Denomination in Georgia – Volume 2, he was a deacon of Shady Grove Baptist from 1853 – 1866. During the war he served as an officer in Co D. 3rd Georgia Cavalry. After the war Rev. Callaway was called to the ministry and served as pastor of Shady Grove for eight consecutive years. He was then chosen to serve as pastor of both Antioch and Shady Grove Baptist before moving to Troup County in 1872 to enter the mercantile business. However, he was called back to the ministry and returned to serve Antioch and Shady Grove for several years before returning to Troup County.The Callaway family has been an important one in Georgia since before the revolutionary war and many members of the family have served as Baptist ministers. Fuller Callaway, the patriarch of the textile empire that arose in Troup County was descended from two generations of Baptist ministers.

+ Read More