From Sparta, Hwy 15 South. About 2 miles out on left is sign, Bethel Church. Follow sign. Road is unpaved and winding.
Church founded in 1802, but the original church was about 3-1/2 miles from Sparta on Shoals Road. The church was moved to this site in 1828. The land for the new site was deeded by John S. Latimer, and the deed names the following trustees of the church: Jesse Lockhart, David Hitchcock, William Barksdale and Byrd W. Brazill. The land was deeded "as a place of Divine worship and burying ground." (Hancock County Deeds, p. 515, Sparta, Ga.).
Early records show that this church was about 1/3 African American. It is believed some black members were buried at the back of this cemetery prior to 1868, when black members left this church and organized Hickory Grove Church.
The black membership after slaves were formally freed, were given their letters as they asked for them. All did not at first or came back later. A few did and built a separate church. Black men were allowed to preach but not to marry anyone in the beginning.
Miss Lora West's 1942 list of cemetery locations says: "Bethel cemetery #1 is off Shoals road on Benjamin Thompson old home place, on his land," but did not list any graves in the cemetery. The current owner's ancestors said there was a cemetery there in 1928 when they obtained the property, but it is no longer visible.
GPS Coordinates: 33.2664, -82.8778
- Added: 1 Jan 2000
- Find A Grave Cemetery: #32782
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