In Salem Church

Salem Methodist Church

Salem Church, Lowndes County, GA circa 1866

Salem Church, Lowndes County, GA circa 1866

Salem Church is among the earliest Methodist churches in this section. The church would have been on the Troupville Circuit ridden by Reverend Peurifoy, a Methodist circuit rider of Wiregrass Georgia. Other Methodist churches on the circuit included Troupville, established about 1832, Oak Grove Church, Concord Church, and Bethlehem Church. Pre-dating any of these churches was the annual Methodist revival held at the old Lowndes Camp Ground, later called the Mount Zion Camp Ground. The earliest Methodist church in Ray City was organized in 1910.

About Salem Church

“The exact year this church was organized is unknown but it is believed that the original church building was a small log structure constructed near a spring fed branch behind the present 110-year-old home place of Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Folsom. The existing Salem UMC was built on its new location in 1856, on land that was deeded by Eli Driver Webb. The first trustees were Randall Folsom, Joseph T. Webb, William Varn, William D. Smith and Berry J. Folsom. It is believed that the first pastor of Salem was either Rev. Joseph T. Webb or Rev. Hamilton W. Sharpe, both local Methodist preachers of that era. Many of the citizens of the community attended school in a one-room school across the street from the church and, when needed, the church was also used for classroom space.”  – South Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church

Salem Church was attended by slave owners and slaves, as well. The church kept two graveyards, a white cemetery and an  African-American cemetery. There is still a distinct line between the two cemeteries, one with unmarked graves, the other with neat white headstones and plush grass.  Laying in the marked graves are many of the Folsom family connection, among them Dr. James Rountree Folsom, father of Montgomery M. Folsom.

M.M. Folsom was one of the best known and most versatile newspaper men in the South, according to his obituary. He was a great and prolific writer of prose and poetry, which was widely read and copied.  In the September 14, 1885 Atlanta Constitution, Montgomery M. Folsom recalls Salem Church of his youth.

 

In Salem Church

The Memory of a Middle Age Man Stirred Up.

M.M. Folsom in Valdosta, Ga, Times.

        Let me see, the old church must be getting old indeed, now; I am shiffling along toward the dim and mysterious regions of the third decade of life, and, I am beginning to feel right patriarchal. Yes, I was walking along the street a few day since when a diminutive specimen of the genus homo accosted me with “hello, old chum,” and I came very near rebuking him on the spot, but on second thought I remember how fine a sense of ridicule the modern ragmuffin is blessed with, so I contented myself with a withering glance, and then winked to keep him from thinking hard of me. Good gracious! How egotistical I am growing. But never mind, I’m going to be a country editor, some day, and then I can use that delusive pronoun “we” and then we’ll make ourself just as great an ass as we choose, and no one will molest us or make our cheek to blush.
       Well, that church is a few months older than I, but I trust it hasn’t half as much to answer for. When last I threw a ball at its stately front I tried to hit the figure “6” in the date, “1856” painted above the tall columns which support its venerable front.
       Long time ago there was another Salem, built of logs, clap-boards and puncheons. “H.W.S.” could tell you all about it. The good Methodists decided to build a new one, and the present site, fronting the old Coffee road, was selected. I think William McGuire was the master carpenter in the job, but I don’t know, it has been so long. Oh! what a flood of sweet old memories come trouping along as, in fancy, I sit once more within those sacred walls. A goodly space, in the rear of the pulpit was partitioned off for the negroes who were then slaves, of course.
      Certain seats were recognized as the special property of certain old people, not that we had any pew renting, and the like of that, but they came so regularly, and occupied the same seat so often, that younger folks soon learned to look for Uncle Randal on a long bench near the partition, with the south window at his back. Dear old man! How I loved to watch his portly figure as he waddled up the isle, and the few scant locks glistening like a glowing silver light above his ruddy brow. Uncle Billy Sineath was bent with age and hard labor. He would plow hard all the week, and till near meeting time Saturday, then he donned his meeting clothes, and started for the church just like the true Christian that he was. His face was rugged, and the dark eyes glowed beneath a pair of cavernous brows, but never a kinder heart beat in the bosom of any man. Uncle Hamp was always there, too, with a kind word and a hearty handshake for every one. What made him more conspicuous was the tall beaver, that he took off at the door. Now there is a great deal of individuality about a hat. Grandpa and Uncle Billy Sineath wore broad brims, and the brim had to turn up in certain places, while in others it must lay flat, or curve around in a peculiar manner. I used to wonder how much time they spent training a new hate ere it acquired the regulation flop. Our old teacher was straight as an arrow and nearly as slim, his hair was always gray, I suppose, but when he patted one of us little urchins on the head as he stepped into the porch, we were of the elect the balance of that day. But why try to describe such individual? It would require volumes simple to record their goodness and the act of Christian charity which they did in their days.
        I remember one sermon that touched me, boy as I was, deeply and it stirred the depths of the hearts of every individual in the vast congregation that were packed in the church. Leonard C. Peake had lately been blind, but his sight was now restored. A man of venerable aspect and commanding presence, he stood in the pulpit that day and preached as I never heard man preach before. His text was “And Moses said unto——-” but I can’t remember, it was so long ago but it read on- “we are journeying unto the land which the Lord God hath given us. Come thou and go with us, and we will do thee good.” In the course of his sermon he told how, after a season of darkness, he had been allowed to look again on the blessed light of Heaven. Oh, that was a time long to be remembered.
      Then there was Jesse J. Giles, the happiest looking man I ever saw. His soul knew no wintry season. His face eternally beamed with the smiles of a perpetual spring season. To look at him was to love him, and to love him was but a step removed from the worship of that God whom he worshiped with the most sublime adoration. His voice was a s a woman’s and the musical tones were like the strains of music from some faraway land. The old well-worn copy of “John Wesley” that he gave me so many years ago lies before me as I write. Unhidden tears bedim my eyes as I think of the last words he ever said to me.
       But the grandest old warrior was big, burly, tender-hearted John Hendry. His voice was of that deep, rich kind which men of slender chests are wont to covet. The tawny beard covered his face and hung down on his breast. When he ascended the pulpit steps the evil doer trembled, and the first syllable of that deep voice sent a thrill through me like an electric shock. And oh! you ought to have heard him sing,
“I’m glad salvations’ free!”
      The great voice filled the whole building, and the thunder tones went reverbating and re echoing among the dark pine woods. Wafted by the soft evening breeze the echoes grew fainter and fainter until the word “Salvation” died away on the hilltops faraway, away, where the autumn moon shed such a wondrous shower of golden light.
       But we had one funny parson, I’ve forgotten his name. He said that when he left his last circuit he left “six crowing roosters sitting on the front yard fence.” He never stayed long.
       Another was a vissionary and a dreamer. In fact, he was so fond of relating his wonderful dreams, that there grew a proverb out of it, and we sacrilegious boys were in the habit of illustrating our opinion of a doubtful yarn by saying, “Ah! you thought like—–dreamt when you studied that up.”
      There was one man who could never pray without weeping. His voice would grow husky and broken and his petition always ended in a heart-broken sob. If that many wasn’t a Christian I never knew one.
Good men they were. I have not mentioned a tithe of them. The subject is too big for me. I cannot write of things that touch such tender chords, and wake such sacred memories. All that was best in my wasted life is interwoven with the story of old Salem. How often in my wanderings have I cast my longing eyes thitherward, and sighed to think of the days that are past forever more.

“Blest scenes of enjoyment long have we been parted,

My hopes almost gone, and my parents no more;
And now as an exile, forelorn, broken-hearted,
I wonder alone on a far distant shore.”

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Big Thumb McCranie was First Postmaster of Lowndes

On this date, one hundred and eighty-five years ago, March 27, 1827, the first post office in Lowndes County was established at the home of Daniel McCranie on the Coffee Road. The McCranie post office, situated on the only real “road” in the county, was perhaps a fifty mile round trip  from the point to the east where Levi J. Knight settled, at present day Ray City, GA.

Daniel ‘Big Thumb’ McCranie had come to this area of south Georgia in the winter of 1824 or 1825. This was before Lowndes County was created out of parts of Irwin County, and about the same time that William Anderson Knight brought his family from Wayne County. Daniel ‘Big Thumb’ McCranie, ‘of full Scottish blood and fiery temper,’ was known to still wear a kilt on certain occasions.

Did Daniel McCranie have Brachydactyly?
His nickname, ‘Big Thumb’ McCranie, might indicate that Daniel McCranie had brachydactyly type D, a genetic condition that affects 1 out of a 1000 people, commonly known as clubbed thumb or toe thumb. Brachdactyly captivated the attention of the entertainment media in 2009-10, when movie star and superbowl headliner Megan Fox was identified with this condition. The word brachydactyly comes from the Greek terms brachy and daktylos. “Literally, what it means is short finger,” says Dr. Steven Beldner, a hand surgeon at Beth Israel Medical Center.  “The nail of the thumb in this condition is often very short and wide.”  “It is usually hereditary,” Beldner explains. “Although it could also have been caused by frostbite, or it could have been an injury to the growth plate in childhood.” Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/gossip/brace-megan-fox-imperfection-actress-thumbs-article-1.196125#ixzz1qGndhWsv

McCranie, Daniel 1772-1854

Daniel ‘Big Thumb’ McCranie was born in North Carolina in 1772, a son of Catherine Shaw and Daniel McCranie, R.S.  His father had immigrated to North Carolina from Scotland and fought with the Cumberland County Militia during the American Revolution.

About 1793, young Daniel McCranie married  Sarah McMillan, daughter of Malcolm McMillan of Robeson County, N. C.

To Daniel and Sarah were born:

  1. Neil E. McCranie, born 1794, married Rebecca Monroe. Moved to Florida.
  2. Mary McCranie, born 1795, married John Lindsey, son of Thomas Lindsey.
  3. John McCranie, born 1797, married Christiana Morrison, daughter of John Morrison.
  4. Daniel McCranie, born 1800, married Winnie Lindsey, daughter of Thomas Lindsey.
  5. Malcolm McCranie, born 1802, married Elizabeth Parrish, daughter of Henry Parrish.
  6. Duncan McCranie, born 1805, married (unknown). Lived in Liberty Co.
  7. Nancy McCranie, born 1808, married Robert N. Parrish.
  8. Archibald McCranie, born 1810, married a cousin, Nancy McMillan.
  9. William McCranie born 1812, married Melvina Beasley, daughter of Elijah Beasley.
  10. Elizabeth McCranie, born 1815, married Sampson G. Williams

Daniel McCranie’s parents moved from Robeson County, North Carolina, to Bulloch County, GA about 1800 and shortly thereafter, Daniel and Sarah also brought their family to Georgia, moving to Montgomery county sometime before 1802.   He was a Justice of the Inferior Court of Montgomery County and was commissioned Jan. 17, 1822.

It was on December 23 of that year, 1822, that the Georgia General Assembly appropriated $1500.00 for construction of  a frontier road to run from a point on the Alapaha river to the Florida Line.  General John E. Coffee and Thomas Swain were appointed “to superintend the opening of the road,  to commence on the Alapaha at or near Cunningham’s Ford” and running to the Florida line near the “Oclockney”  river. The route, which became known as Coffee’s Road, was an important for supply line to the Florida Territory for military actions against Indians in the Creek Wars, but also quickly became a path for settlers moving into the south Georgia area.

In a previous post (see Pennywell Folsom fell at Brushy Creek), historian Montgomery M. Folsom’s  described General Coffee’s ‘road cutters’, his hunters Isham Jordan and Kenneth Swain, and the Wiregrass pioneers that honored them with song.  Isham Jordan, along with Burrell Henry Bailey and others had worked to survey and mark the first public roads in Irwin County.

About Coffee’s Road,

“This road was a great thoroughfare and many a hardy settler has packed his traps in a cart drawn by a tough pony, and driving his flocks and herds before him has traversed the lonely pine barrens in search of a more generous soil and greener pastures.”

About 1824,  Daniel and Sarah McCranie moved their family from Montgomery County and settled on Coffee’s Road in the lower section of Irwin County .  The place where they settled was Lot of Land No 416 in the 9th district of Irwin County. In 1825 this section of Irwin was cut off into the new county of Lowndes.  (In 1856, this property was cut into Berrien, and in 1918 into Cook County.)

The McCranie’s home served as the first post office in original Lowndes County. Known simply as  “Lowndes,”  the post office was established March 27,1827, with Daniel McCranie as the first postmaster. That arrangement lasted only a year, as the following year the Lowndes county seat was established in the new town of Franklinville, GA. The post office was moved to Franklinville and William Smith became the new postmaster (see Post Offices of the Old Berrien Pioneers).

In the Indian War in 1836,  Daniel McCranie provided forage for the local militia. It is said that five of McCranie’s sons fought in the Battle of Brushy Creek, serving in Captain Hamilton W. Sharpe’s Company, of the Georgia Militia. The Battle of Brushy Creek, was among the last military actions against Native Americans in this area.

Sarah McCranie died about 1842. Her grave is the earliest known burial in Wilkes Cemetery.  Following her death, Daniel McCranie  married Mrs. Kittie  Holmes Paige in 1844. She was the widow of James Paige of Jefferson County, GA.  Kitty Holmes was born Jan. 2, 1802, in Duplin County, N. C., and moved with her parents to Washington County, GA, in 1812.  In 1818 she married Silas Godwin and by him had one son, S. B. Godwin, who became a resident of Berrien County. After divorcing  Silas Godwin she had  married James Paige of Jefferson County, Ga., and lived with him twenty years until his death. By James Paige she had two children, one of whom, Allen Paige, became a resident of Lowndes County.

Kitty joined Pleasant Primitive Baptist Church, Lowndes (now (Berrien) County on October 17, 1850.  A month later Daniel joined, on November 16, 1850.

Daniel McCranie died in 1854 and was buried in the Wilkes Cemetery in present Cook County. After his death, Kittie left Pleasant Church for New Salem Church, Adel, Georgia.  Kittie McCranie died in 1889 and was buried beside Daniel at Wilkes Cemetery.

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