George W. Davis ~ Methodist Circuit Rider

George W. Davis was an early circuit riding Methodist preacher in Lowndes County, GA.  He was sent from the Tallahassee District in 1832 to ride the newly created Lowndes (later Troupville) Circuit. This was when Lowndes County encompassed a vast area of south Georgia including much of present day Lowndes, Berrien, Brooks, Cook, Tift, Echols, and Lanier counties, and the county seat of government was at Franklinville, GA.

Methodist Circuit Rider in the early days. The history of Georgia Methodism from 1786 to 1866.

Methodist Circuit Rider in the early days. The history of Georgia Methodism from 1786 to 1866.

The privations of the early circuit-riders (as they soon became known) were such that the health of most of these vanguards of the Cross was soon broken.  Subjected to bitter cold and at other times to unbearable heat, oftentimes with the ground as a bed at night, fording impassable streams, long distances between settlers and between preaching points, no roads, no bridges, no churches (and even when some were formed they were too weak to afford any financial help to the pastor), with many natural enemies in addition to the lurking Indian, long absences from home and kindred, with the heavy spiritual care of a struggling mission work upon their shoulders, it was no wonder that many of the early pioneer preachers died in the prime of life, while others had to take enforced “locations” on account of broken health. It was thus that the first young preacher sent out on the newly established Lowndes Mission in 1832, died at the age of 24 years.

The loss of Rev. Davis weighed in the reflections of Rev. Robert H. Howren,  who would soon follow in this young circuit-rider’s footsteps round the Methodist churches of Lowndes County. In his memoirs Howren said:

Rev. George W. Davis, the first pastor of the Lowndes Mission, was born in Morgan County, Ga., in 1808, and was converted in 1824 in a camp-meeting near Monticello, Jasper County, [FL]. In 1828 he felt a call to preach and was admitted on trial into the Georgia Conference, later into the full connection. He was assigned to the traveling ministry in which he continued  with great fortitude and faithfulness despite hardships and trials, until his death. His first work in South Georgia was in 1830 when he served as Junior Preacher on the Liberty County Mission, Savannah District. The next year he was assigned to the Appling County Mission, a truly pioneer work. In January, 1832, he was assigned to the newly-formed Lowndes Mission but did not live to wind up the year, dying suddenly within two minutes on November 17, 1832 at the home of Joseph McBride in Florida. (From Conference Obituary).


Though his death was sudden, the righteousness of his life gives assurance that he died in the Lord. Being seated at the table in company with some of his brethren at the house of brother Joseph McBride, in Florida, he suddenly sunk down and expired in about two minutes, November 27, 1832, in the twenty-fourth year of his age.  -Minutes of the Annual Conferences of the United Methodist Church, 1840

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