Photograph of Midway Church, ca. 1875
Source: Vanishing Georgia
He beholdeth all high things: he is a king over all the children of pride. JOB 41;34
Walthourville was the first retreat to be established. It is believed that around 1795 Andrew Walthour, who had rice plantations on the Liberty County coast, began to acquire property inland on higher ground where the mosquitoes were not as prevalent. The site was originally called Sand Hills. He and his
family established a farm and built a dwelling and began’ to spend the hot summer months there hoping to avoid the sicknesses associated with the swampy plantations. Other families followed suit so that within a few years a significant village was formed and it became known as Walthourville, named
after Andrew Walthour. The village flourished and many of the citizens began to organize themselves into a church and in 1820 erected a building for worship. In 1830 they erected a second building which was used by both Baptists and Presbyterians. When both denominations made other arrangements, this building became a schoolhouse. The Presbyterians erected another building in 1845 and it burned in 1877. It was replaced the following year but this new building was destroyed by a severe storm in 1881.
In 1884 the present building was erected and has been used for worship ever since. It is the only one of the original structures that still stands. It should also be pointed out that during the pastorate of Rev. Robert Quarterman Mallard (1856-1863) a structure was built nearby for use in the Christian
instruction of the slaves. Rev. Mallard was the son-in-law of Rev. C.C. Jones of Midway and shared with Rev. Jones the strong desire to evangelize the slaves owned by the various plantations. As with the earlier structures, no remnants of this one remain today. In 1854 the Walthourville Church withdrew from Midway and became a member of the Presbyterian Church. It is obvious in reading the
correspondence about that separation that it was a practical move that made sense but that the ties to Midway remained strong and heartfelt.
This church, built in 1854 on a lot of four acres donated by B. A. Busbee, was first used for summer services only. On January 6, 1871, it was admitted into the Savannah Presbytery as an organized church of 14 members. The Rev. J. W. Montgomery was the first pastor. L. J. Mallard was the first ruling elder. The bell, from old Sunbury, was once used for church, school, market and town. The font and communion service are from Midway Church. The font was a gift from Dr. William McWhir, the tankard from John Lambert, the communion service from Simon Monroe, Esq. Elders contributing most in later years – Preston Waite and Charles B. Jones.
The Church and Society of Gravel Hill was organized at some time prior to June 1832. At the annual meeting of that date, the members subscribed to the building of a house of worship. The organization took place in a log building used for both church and school purposes.
The Church was a branch or chapel of ease of the Midway Congregational Church and was served by ministers of that church. A frame structure was erected in 1836, four acres of land having been donated by Simon Fraser. The name of the church and community was changed from Gravel Hill to Flemington in 1850 in honor of William Fleming, one of the first settlers in this area.
The present structure was erected in 1852. The gallery was originally intended primarily for the slaves of the members. The bell in the steeple was made in 1799 and originally hung in the Midway Church. The communion silver was donated by the will of John Lambert to the Midway Church in 1786. The silver and the bell were given to Flemington Church in 1866 when services were no longer held at Midway.
In 1865, when from force of circumstances the members were no longer able to attend services at Midway, they formed a separate organization and adopted the Presbyterian form of government. The church was admitted to the Presbytery of Georgia on April 6, 1866. It is now a member of the Presbytery of Savannah, the Synod of the South Atlantic and the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). On May 31, 1887, the church was incorporated and granted a charter by the State of Georgia.
A Sunday School was organized in 1836 and has functioned continuously since that time. The work of the women dates back to the Liberty County Female Cent Society of 1817. The Women’s Home and Foreign Missionary and Aid Society was organized in 1889; their work has since conformed to the plans set up by the General Assembly for Presbyterian Women. The same is true of the youth organizations, which began with the Christian Endeavor Society for Juniors in 1906. The present youth groups are the Junior and Senior High Fellowships.
The Men’s Service Club, begun in 1926, has been active in mission work. The Allenhurst Presbyterian Church is one outcome of the missions organized by Flemington Church. The Men’s Club also sponsored the first Boy Scout Troop in the county.
Organized in 1754 by descendants of an English Colony which came first to Massachusetts, 1630; to Connecticut, 1635; to South Carolina, 1695; to Midway, 1752. Built on the same spot as the church which was burned by the British in 1788. This church has given to her county 86 ministers of the gospel and seven foreign missionaries, Governors, United States Senators, Congressman, and Cabinet members. Among the Midway ministers were the Rev. Abiel Holmes, father of Dr. Oliver Wendall Holmes; Dr. I.S.K. Axson, grandfather of Ellen Louise, the first wife of President Woodrow Wilson; and the Rev. Jedidiah Morse, geographer and father of S.F.B. Morse, Inventor of the telegraph. General Daniel Stewart, a member of the congregation was the great-grandfather of President Theodore Roosevelt. Five counties were named for Midway men; Baker, Gwinnett, Hall, Screven and Stewart. Midway, in St. John’s Parish, now Liberty County, was the cradle of Revolutionary spirit in Georgia and two of her sons were signers of the Declaration of Independence.