St. Paul CME

Photography courtesy of Scott Farrar


 St. Paul CME

Org 1857

The story of St. Paul CME cannot be told without relating the story of the renowned farmer and plantation owner, David Dickson.  David Dickson was one of the wealthiest planters in Hancock County at a time when Hancock County was arguably the wealthiest county in pre – Civil War Georgia.  Even though his land was not regarded as particularly suited to raising cotton and other cash crops, David pioneered agricultural techniques that were way ahead of his time.  His fame as a planter was known far and wide.

David Dickson was also an outcast among the white planters of the region because of his open romantic relationship with one of his slaves, Julia Francis.  Upon his death, the daughter(Amanda) he had with Julia was set to solely inherit all of Dickson’s landholdings – about 17,000 acres appraised at $309,000.00.   After legal battles that went all of the way to the Georgia Supreme Court with the other Dickson would-be heirs, Amanda America Dickson won her right to the land and became the wealthiest African-American woman in the country.

To learn more about the life of Amanda Dickson click here.

The St. Paul CME church was organized in 1857 by slaves on the Dickson Plantation. In 1870, property near the brush arbor where services were conducted was deeded over to the church.  This property is the site of the present church and cemetery.  Lucius Holsey, a well-known Bishop in the CME church, founder of Paine College in Augusta, and former slave of Richard Malcolm Johnston, began his preaching career at this church.  There have been many notable church leaders since, and the congregation is still active today having established a new sanctuary close to the one above.

St. Paul is off of the beaten path.  There is a wide open field in the middle of the woods at the junction of St. Paul Church Road, Pine Bloom Road, and an unnamed dirt road that leads back to the Dickson Plantation house. The church grounds offer a quiet, peaceful place to reflect upon the lives of slaves and former slaves as they struggled to define themselves within the limits of their reality.   The cemetery is unusually large for such a rural cemetery, and many of the markers are home-made.  The congregation must have felt strongly about leaving reminders of the past for the future.  Maintenance of the cemetery and church grounds is a daunting task considering the size, but things are well kept.  We encourage visitors to be mindful of the sacred history of this place and the stories – both good and bad – that it has to tell.

For church location and direction click here.

31 Thoughts

  1. Anna Daughtry · October 30, 2017 Reply

    Does anyone have information about Robert Barnhart born 1896 in Hancock CO GA

  2. zee blake · June 25, 2017 Reply

    I am a descendent of the Holsey line and I am trying to find out more information as to where Lucius Holsey was enslaved. I am also interested in finding out who were his siblings, the names of all of his children and his nieces and nephews. A lot of us Holseys have found each other and we have relatives in their 90s. There was also some oral history in my family which speaks to Native American ancestry. This relative who remembers this is the eldest living Holsey. She is 1o1 and she is still in Hancock county. We were contacted once by some Native American’s but I can’t locate that information right now. So anything would be helpful. I can be contacted by email at

  3. Michael Dickson · June 15, 2017 Reply

    Hey I want to know about my bloodline, and my fathers name is Charles Dickson and his fathers name was Henry Dickson born 1923 and his fathers name was Henry Dickson born (1893)- I think.

    I want to know more and about the whole family

    Contact 843-812-1407

  4. Robert · January 6, 2017 Reply

    John C Lewis is my 3rd Great Grandfather. I would love to know more.

  5. Shaniqua Clayton-Jones · April 24, 2016 Reply

    Great family history. My great great grandmother was Betsy Youngblood. Her daughter, my great grandmother was Amanda Lewis Clayton. We just buried her in there 2 years ago. I was told the story about St. Paul and how it came about as a little girl. I would love to get information about the August homecoming. Always heard about it.

    • Knowledge · October 1, 2016 Reply

      so charles clayton is your GG grandpa!thats my Great grandfather arthur clayton brother

    • Knowledge · October 1, 2016 Reply

      Sorry thats julia dickson niece Amanda related to me also

    • Harrell Lawson · November 14, 2016 Reply

      Please contact me at 770-498-1700 or 706-444-5568. or reply to the email address above. I can provide you with whatever information you desire.

  6. Julian Goode · September 29, 2015 Reply

    This is so appreciated. I do hope to visit the Sparta area soon. Amanda America is my great-great grandmother and Julia Lewis my great-great-great grandmother. I’m named after Amanda’s son, Julian, and looking forward to attending the next reunion.

    Thanks, Hal, for all that you continue to do to preserve our family history.

    • knowledge copes · April 9, 2016 Reply

      Hello cousin

    • Naomi Young · March 4, 2017 Reply

      I am very interested in the Lewis/Dickson line. In 1850 my third great grandfather Leonidus Lewis lived on the Dickson plantation with his mother, Martha Lewis, his great grandmother Elizabeth Lewis, his sister Narcissa Lewis who married a Eubanks, and his younger brother Josephus Lewis. In his will in 1850 Greene Dickson left some of his estate to the Lewis family. They note that this family was white, in later census records Martha Lewis was stated as being Mulatto and that she was a servant in her daughters home Narcissa Eubanks. I have had my DNA tested, because I believed that my family had somewhere down the line had been of African descent, my DNA proved my thoughts that were correct. I have not been able to find out who the father of this line of Lewis was, nor who the grandfather was. I have wondered if the Dickson family had been related to this line of Lewis or if Julia Lewis Dickson was either a cousin or of some other relation to my Lewis family. So many questions have ran through my mind, such as why would Greene Dickson leave a portion of his estate to this Lewis family if they were not somehow related, or if he might be the father of some of the children in the Lewis household. He not only left to Martha but also two other Lewis females in the household as well as their children. Amanda’s story has fascinated me for years and would love to know if her DNA was a match to my family. With all due respect if any of you are a member to my tree is Naomi Nelson family tree. My DNA is posted as well, if anyone is wanting to view it.

  7. Brenda Sutton · January 20, 2015 Reply

    Thank you so much for sharing St. Paul’s rich history. I am the great great great grand daughter of Lou Vicy Mills, the mother in law to Johnny Youngblood. I am working on the family reunion for the Lester Dukes in July 2015 in Macon, Ga. I am reaching out to the family members of Lucy Mills (sister to Mark Mills?) Lester. Please contact me at 478 320 1891 or email me at Look forword to hearing from you soon.

  8. Brandon Chatman · December 17, 2014 Reply

    I am from Sparta and my fathers side of the family are all members. He is buried there. I have not made it back for homecoming in a while. I will have do come back this year.

  9. knowledge copes · November 7, 2014 Reply

    Arthur clayton and glady clayton are my grandparents

    • gwendolyn washington · January 31, 2015 Reply

      my grandmother was minnie clayton of sparta. The census shows that she had a brother named Arthur. Could we be related?

      • knowledge copes · December 30, 2015 Reply

        As a matter of fact we are cousins.I remember seeing minnie clayton name on was in search of mary clayton (the wife of Weston Clayton)roots but I couldn’t find nothing.Mary mom name is Jane wilder huntt but all I got was her grave site

  10. Keenan · April 14, 2014 Reply

    Ms. Julia Dickson is my Great-Great-Great Grandmother. I grew up in this church, but today God has blessed us with a new church.

    • churchadmin · April 15, 2014 Reply

      Thanks for sharing this. St. Paul has seen a lot of history.

    • Julie · July 22, 2014 Reply

      Keenan, how fascinating! I am reading the book mentioned in the above link. I would love to know more about the family, as the book is kind of dry. Are you descended from one of her other children, or from Amanda? Thank you!

      • Keenan · July 27, 2014 Reply

        @Julie I made a mistake above, Julia Dickson is my great-great-great Grandmother, but Julia “Francis Lewis” Dickson (Amanda’s Mother) is my 4th Great Aunt. Julia Francis was one of the original trustees, along with Gilbert Castleberry, and John C. Lewis (assumed brother of Julia Francis). John C. Lewis is my 4th Great-Father. Many of our family historians often get the two confused, but recently at the Dickson Family Reunion I received the facts. This is a link to a brief overview of the history of St. Paul CME Church wrote by my cousin Mr. Harold Lawson, . Today, their are no actual members that bear “Dickson” name only descendants. For my family the Dickson name merged with the Pinkston Family which is one of the prominent names of the church members today.

        • Knowledge · December 1, 2016 Reply

          John c lewis is my 3th great grandfather also.He and jane wilder huntt had mary clayton as a daughter

          • Knowledge · December 27, 2016

            My mistake seaborn hunt is my 3rd great grandfather.john lewis is my uncle

      • Harrell Lawson · December 28, 2014 Reply

        Please contact me if you are interested in the history of St. Paul or genealogy of members. I’m a Steward at St. Paul and Chairman of the Trustee Board. I maintain a computer database on most of the original families and am willing to share information. I am descended from Amanda America Dickson’s paternal uncle Green Dickson and her marternal uncle John C. Lewis. If I don’t have your family I am willing to help research it at no charge.

        Hal Lawson
        706-444-5568 Sparta
        770-498-1700 Stone Mountain

        • churchadmin · December 28, 2014 Reply

          Thank you Mr. Lawson. This is a nice offer and we hope some of our followers will take you up on it.

        • Davon Dickson · March 19, 2017 Reply

          I would like to know more about the history my name is Davon Dickson. Grandson of johnnie west Dickson

    • Kathy Graham · September 28, 2014 Reply

      Hello Ms. Margaret Allen, (bulldogfan),

      Our DAR Chapter is trying to locate relatives of Michael Dickson of Hancock County GA. He is buried in the Sparta City Cemetery, Sparta, GA.
      The Reverend John Andrew Chapter, NSDAR will host a grave marking ceremony Sunday, 26 Oct 2014. This event will be held at the Sparta City Cemetery, Sparta, Hancock Co GA at 3:00 pm.The Athens Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution will also mark graves of Patriots.
      Your ancestor, Michael Dickson will be honored for his service in the American Revolutionary War at this ceremony and a granite marker will be placed by the SAR.
      Our Chapter would love to have you or a representative from your family attend and participate in the ceremony by saying a few words about your ancestor and laying a wreath on his grave site.
      If you are able to attend or need more details, please call Kathy Graham at 706-207-1169 or email at:
      If you are unable to attend, you might want to send a note to be read at the ceremony by a member of the Reverend John Andrew Chapter, NSDAR or the Athens Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution.
      We look forward to hearing from you. Attached are the invitations
      Kathy Graham, Historian

    • knowledge copes · November 7, 2014 Reply

      AKeenan me and you related.My great grandfather brother charles clayton married her niece amanda dickson

      • Deshanna Walls · February 14, 2016 Reply

        Charles Clayton was my great grandmother’s father Annie Mae Clayton Chatman. Her daughter Louise Chatman Warren is my grandmother.

  11. gwendolyn washington · January 20, 2014 Reply

    my mother grew up in sparta and attended this church. My grandparents are buried in the cementary of the church. She was born in 1903. My grandfather owned a store in sparta, His name was Oliver Cain. Have you ever heard of him. They left Sparta in 1920 My mother always said that sparta was home. She would often go for homecoming in the month of august.

    We still have relativies in sparta.

    • churchadmin · January 20, 2014 Reply

      Thanks for sharing your Sparta roots. Glad you enjoyed the St. Paul photos. Special place.

  12. lonnie j huff · December 9, 2013 Reply

    I grew up in that church my grandpa was a Stewart on the board and church treasurer. And I had no ideal about the history behind this church. WOW!.