Though it has been expanded during its history, the original circa 1869 core remains in this venerable church, built by Freedmen. Enslaved men and women established this congregation circa 1859 and when they were able, they built their own house of worship, which still serves their descendants to this day. If you’re driving to Christ Church or Fort Frederica, don’t overlook this important part of the island’s history.
Tag Archives: Churches of Coastal Georgia
It’s been shrouded in mystery and rumor for much of its history and the Pink Chapel (modern name) was actually built as the result of a feud between two families. But it wasn’t pink from the bloodstains of slaves (the coloration was due to lichens that few on the tabby walls) and wasn’t a temple for satanic followers, as some urban legends have indicated.
The original chapel was erected in 1838 on the grounds of Colonel William Wigg Hazzard’s West Point Plantation as a place of private worship. Col. Hazzard’s brother, Dr. Thomas Fuller Hazzard, who owned Pike’s Bluff, had a feud with John Wylly, owner of nearby Village Plantation, over land lines. A duel was called for but never commenced. However, when the two met by chance at the Oglethorpe Hotel in Brunswick, on 3 December 1838, Dr. Hazzard fired at Wylly and Wylly died instantly. Since both the Hazzard and Wylly families worshiped at Christ Church, the Hazzard family did not feel safe attending services there.
The present chapel is a reconstruction of the original, incorporating some of the original material. I have yet to track down the date of the reconstruction. [I’m including it only as an historical reference point, and to clarify to those wondering that it is a replica].
The Pink Chapel is not open to the public and can only be seen from a road and the edge of a driveway.
This remote community was first settled in the 1880s by James H. Young and Samuel B. Rowe, son of Fred and Margaret Young Rowe. Because it was located on high ground in a low-lying swamp, it came to be known as Youngs Island. Farming and rice cultivation were the primary economic focus of the area until the Warsaw Lumber Company sawmill provided employment in the 1920s. The church was likely established around 1920, as that is the date of the earliest marked burial in the cemetery.
200 former slaves from Jacob Waldburg’s plantation on St. Catherines Island first settled in the White Bluff area between the Little Ogeechee and Vernon Rivers in 1868. After purchasing 200 acres from John Nicholson in 1878, the community was first known as Nicholsonboro, then Nicholsonville. A church was established here by 1883 and the original (not pictured) still stands in poor but stable condition. The present structure, dating to circa 1890, is the most significant remaining landmark of the historic community.
National Register of Historic Places
Located on the opposite corner of the intersection of the E. B. Cooper Highway and Barrington Ferry Road from First African Baptist Church, First Zion was established by members of the “Mother Church” in 1870-1871 with the Reverend U. L. Houston as its first pastor. The present structure was built in 1971 during the pastorate of Reverend B. N. Jones. The churchyard is a beautiful spot shaded by old-growth oaks.
The First African Baptist Church of Riceboro is considered the “Mother Church of all Black Churches in Liberty County”; the present structure was built in the 1960s to replace the original church. The community, just west of Riceboro, is locally known as Crossroads.
A marker placed by the Liberty County Historical Society notes: The First African Baptist Church, the oldest black church in Liberty County, had its origins in the North Newport Baptist Church, founded in 1809. In 1818 the North Newport Church, composed of both white and black members, purchased this site and erected a church building here [circa 1849] which had a gallery for the slave members. In 1854 the North Newport Church moved to Walthourville, but the black members in this area continued to use the old building. In 1861 the black members formed their own church organization and the first black pastor was the Reverend Charles Thin. On July 20, 1878 the North Newport Church sold the building to A. M. McIver for $225 for use by the First African Baptist Church.
One of the early white pastors of this church was the Reverend Josiah Spry Law to whom a cenotaph was erected here in 1854 by both blacks and whites.
Three other neighboring churches have been formed from the membership of this church: First Zion Baptist Church in 1870, First African Baptist Church of Jones in 1896, and Baconton Baptist Church in 1897.