Presented by the Laurens County Historical Society, Dublin, Georgia. For questions and information, please contact Scott B. Thompson, Sr. at dublinhistory@yahoo.com.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

MARVIN METHODIST CHURCH

MARVIN METHODIST CHURCH




















You may have never heard of Marvin Church. And, you probably never knew it was in Laurens County, much less that actually it still is.  Yet, many of you ride by it nearly every week and never knew it was there.  Wearing a disguise of clay bricks, Marvin Methodist still stands more than one hundred and thirty years after it was first built.  Transported from its original location on the New Buckeye Road in northeastern Laurens County, the small one room church is now a part of Centenary Methodist Church, which recently closed its doors after nearly ninety years of service to the Lord.

The story of Marvin Church actually goes back to January of 1866, when Professor Gustavas Adolfus Holcomb, a teacher from Riddleville, Georgia, opened a school on the old W.O. Prescott Place on the Dublin to Sandersville Road.  Sixty seven students came to class on the first day, eager to learn.  Holcomb's school house was a one room log structure, measuring only eighteen by twenty feet.  Obviously with less than five square feet per pupil, the facility was not large enough to accommodate the students.  Parents rushed into action and added a forty by fifty-foot shelter. The ten-foot-tall addition rested upon heart pine posts.  The floor was made of rough pine planks nailed to a foundation of logs.  The cover was made from five- foot pine boards, cut from local woods and fastened with nails made in a local blacksmith shop.   One end of the shelter was boarded up entirely and the others were left open except about three feet around the three sides at the bottom, which gave an appearance of an enclosure.

The primitive school house had no heat.  On colder days, the teacher and the students built a large fire out on the grounds and positioned their school benches as close to the heart of the fire as possible.  In the school's early days, twenty of the older kids were denied the opportunity to attend school because they were serving in the Confederate army.  These young men, who had experienced vast extremes of heat and cold, spent most of their time in outdoor classrooms.
In 1867, the Methodist Conference sent the Rev. John Morgan of Guyton, Georgia, to serve as the minister of the Dublin Circuit.  At the time, there were only four Methodist churches in the circuit.  The main church was in Dublin with three churches located in eastern Laurens County at Boiling Springs, Gethsemane and what would become Lovett Methodist Church, but which was then a small church about one mile north of Lovett, known as "Gopher Hill," taking its name from the fact that gophers had chosen this sand hill for easy digging of their holes.

Church services began in the school, which was affectionately known as "the Shelter."  Rev. Morgan kept his appointments to preach on the third Sunday of every month.  The Rev. Thomas Harris, a Christian Church minister from Sandersville, preached to his flock late in the evening on every fourth Sunday. Frederick W. Flanders, a member of a clan of Methodist ministers from Johnson and Emanuel Counties, filled in when ever he had a free Sunday.

For nearly a decade, the plan of filing engagements had to suffice until a permanent church could be established.  After ten years of planning and hoping, it was the energy of a young minister, H.M. Williams, that provided the impetus to build at church at "the Shelter."

During the four years in which Rev. Morgan served the yet organized and unofficial church, local residents subscribed twelve hundred dollars to build a permanent house of worship.  Any building needs a plan and it was obvious that Col. John M. Stubbs was just the man to design the church.  Stubbs, a lawyer by profession and a man of many talents, lived just up the road at Tucker's Crossroads, the seat of his wife's family, the Tuckers.  Mrs. Stubbs' father was Dr. Nathan Tucker, the largest plantation owner in the area and one of the largest property owners in the county.  Stubbs tried several plans and attempted to come up with final cost estimates.  He settled on his design which included a magnificent edifice with a tall steeple.   His estimate of a cost at five thousand dollars discouraged many citizens whose resources were scant in the days of Reconstruction and its aftermath.  The young lawyer's ambitious plans were abandoned in favor of the status quo.

 Only when Rev. Williams rekindled up a new interest, did the citizens of the community come forward with their pledges and subscriptions to pay for the framing and weather boarding.   A new site one mile south from "the Shelter" was chosen as a more desirable location at a meeting at the old "Shelter."  

Sixteen people stepped forward to form the new church to be named Marvin. The members represented many of the oldest and wealthiest citizens of the community.   They were: Elijah F. Blackshear, Mrs. Elijah F. Blackshear, William H. Walker, Mrs. William H. Walker, Kinchen H. Walker, Richard A. Kellam, Mrs. Temperance Kellam, Miss Addie F. Kellam, Winfield B. Smith, Alfred A. Morgan, Laura M. Smith, Mrs. Polly Garnto, Mrs. Rebecca Davis, Mrs. I.M. Blackshear, David S. Blackshear, Mrs. Susan Mason and Mrs. Winifred Mason.  

The first Board of Stewards was composed of Kinchen H. Walker, Richard A. Kellam, W.B. Smith and David S. Blackshear.  After the election of stewards, the next step was to give the church a new name.  Suggestions were sought from the members.  Some suggested the traditional names such as Evergreen and Olivet.   One person suggested naming the new church Guyton in honor of Joseph M. Guyton and Col. C.S. Guyton who had given the land for the site.  A disillusioned old gentleman rose from his seat in the back of the church and proposed  the name of "Luck and Trouble."   Rev. Williams asked the pessimistic old man, who was somewhat of an agnostic, why he suggested that name he supplied should be used.  He responded that "they were lucky to get it so far and trouble to get it further." Rev. Williams proposed the name of "Marvin" in honor of Bishop Enoch Mather Marvin.  Rev. Williams's suggestion seemed most popular and the new church was given the name
of "Marvin."

Robert H. Hightower instructed his mill hands to furnish the lumber from his mill, some sixteen miles away in Johnson County.  T.J. Blackshear volunteered to hall the lumber with a three-yoke team of oxen as his matching contribution. David Stout Blackshear directed the construction.  With little or no haste the the church was framed, weather boarded and covered The building remained unfinished until about 1885, when the work was finally completed.  During the interim, regular services were held at  "the Shelter."

After the organizing of Marvin Church, the membership increased until the day of opening the new church   A large enrollment of members were present.  The church was not dedicated until 1885.  Dr. J.O.H. Clark preached the dedication sermon. George C. Thompson was pastor at that time.  The following preachers filled the pulpit at intervals.  Rev. A.M. Williams, Rev. F.W. Flanders, Rev. Hudson, Rev. Powell, Rev. Hearn. Rev. H.A. Hodges, Rev. Joseph Carr and Rev. G.M. Prescott, a local preacher.

By the 1940s, the church, located on the western side of the Buckeye Road, just before it intersects with the Cullens/Ben Hall Lake Road,  was abandoned and was used sparingly for funerals in the church yard cemetery.  After decades of abandonment, the building was removed some twenty five years ago and annexed to  Centenary Methodist Church on Telfair Street, where it still stands today. 

No comments: