Historic rural churches have fascinated me for many years! Photographing them could be tough without some planning. About a year ago, I heard of a guy, who photographs rural historic churches in Georgia. Some are still in use and others have been abandoned and some are being restored.
This is a post of an old Methodist Campground—Poplar Springs in Franklin County, Georgia—that is still in use today. Camps meetings are held in the summer and families have cabins surrounding the outdoor chapel. The very earliest camp grounds were held outdoors with attendees camping on the grounds. Over time, these sites became noted for a certain type of architecture involving a large open tabernacle or arbor, surrounded by permanent ‘tents’ which are owned and populated by families, who often hand them down from generation to generation. This is what I found to be true here.
Scroll through the photos and you will see evidence of the many generations of families that have continued to come. The campground was named because of the six big poplar trees, which grew at the springs. The springs are still there but are hardly as strong and cold as they were in earlier years. The big poplar trees are gone as well.
One Methodist pastor wrote: “Today I was honored to preach at the Poplar Springs Camp Meeting in Franklin County, Georgia. . . . It’s one of the true camp meetings still in existence since many of the attendees literally camp on the grounds in tents. The brush arbor was full and the fellowship was wonderful. This was one of the highlights of the summer for me.”
Here’s a little history about camp meetings in America: “After the American Revolution, a Protestant religious movement referred to as the Second Great Awakening or the Great Revival swept across the new nation, and especially so in the South. It fueled the growth of Baptist, Methodist, and Presbyterian congregations across Georgia. An outgrowth of this movement, the camp meeting ground, became a cornerstone of the movement and resulted in the establishment of many of these special meeting places across the state, many of which still exist and are going strong. Poplar Springs Methodist Camp Ground is one of these, having been established in Franklin county in 1832 on 50 acres of land that was purchased for 25 cents per acre.”
Camp meetings have been held at Poplar Springs each year, from 1832 to today, except four years during the War Between the States! The 50-acre plot, “extending one-half mile in every direction from the preacher’s stand,” was purchased for $25. The first meeting on August 1832 was held under a brush arbor with 30 tents on the grounds. Women were seated on one side of the arbor and men were seated on the other. This is part of the history of our country and I find it fascinating!
Some of the original pews are still there.
A basket for tithe collections was left at the end of one of the pews.
A piece of sheet music found on the wood chipped floor. I’m sure that Brush Arbor music was and still is sung here!
View from the pulpit. I can only imagine how this chapel looked in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. I’m sure it was filled with people.
Here are some of the “tents’ or cabins that were constructed by families and passed down from generation to generation. The typography of the land was very important to camp meetings in Georgia. Most were located near streams and under trees that provided plenty of shade.
A hand-hewed beam in the ceiling. I love history and have learned that usually things like hand-hewed beams came from the area. They certainly didn’t visit their local Home Depot to buy this! Now, they may have a local mill help with construction.
I can only imagine how many young people took drinks of water from this water spigot. I remember as a child playing and running around with friends and quickly stopping to drink from an old water spigot like this one. The water was always cold and refreshing because it came from deep wells.
All the cabins were locked tight. Not one was open. So I could not venture inside but they were interesting. Most had screening attached to the walls to keep flies and Georgia mosquitos out. None had air-conditioning.
A plaque on the outside wall of this cabin lists family members’ names and their favorite verse of Scripture.
I thought is was fun and interesting: A hand-painted family tree that records when this family first began attending camp meetings at Poplar Springs in 1929.
This cabin featured hand prints that have been collected of family members over the years.
This one has the names and the heights of growing children.
While I clicked away with the camera, a friend gathered nuts that covered the grounds. Now we just have to identify them!
Here’s more information on rural churches in Georgia!