Photo from Carol Dickerson Dunbar

Wolffork Baptist Church
by Carol Dickerson Dunbar and
Dennis Dickerson

The church was the center of the community and the only gathering place when we were young.  The only places we went were to school, to church and occasionally to Clayton.  In our earlier years, we shared a pastor with Head of Tennessee Baptist church, but both churches were later able to call full time pastors.  Beth played the piano and I did too after she went away to work and college.  I was never very good at it, even though I took piano several years from Miss Van Gorder.  I remember going to GAs (Girls Auxiliary) and BTU (Baptist Training Union).  We walked most of the time until in 1950 we bought a new Chevy pickup. 

Bill and I were married in the church that was torn down to make way for the current sanctuary.  It was the first formal church wedding in 40 years and most people came that were invited. (that wedding was Bill Page's grandfather and grandmother) 

One of our pastors was James F. Marchman.  His daughter, Margaret, was a missionary to Africa.  I remember one time when she came home on furlough, she was teaching the church about Africa and their customs in Nigeria and she had me dress up in a red wedding outfit.  I was pretty small then.  I remember thinking how odd it was to get married in red. 

In the second old sanctuary, when we were real young, I remember having singing conventions.......that is singing the do-so-la kind of music.  I hope I said that right.  We would also have people come in from all over the county, sing all afternoon and have "dinner on the ground".  Carlton Coleman was always in the middle of those as he loved to sing and led the singing at our church on a regular basis when I was playing the piano ...late in my high school years. 

I believe the second building was built around 1909.  The original building which was used for a school and church was  built around 1890s.  There is a photo of students and teachers of the Wolffork School showing many kids, parents and teachers in a book of Beth's called "Yesterday's Rabun".  I tried to scan it, but it did not do very well.  Also a photo of the newer church in 1909 with quite a gathering of people in front of the church.  Those two original photos are in the possession of Georgia Department of Archives and History. 

Abraham Keener gave the land where the church is located.  My dad's funeral in 1981 was in the second sanctuary, which had hard, straight backed pews.  Daddy was always uncomfortable sitting and complained about how hard they were since he was pretty slender.  After he passed away, many people donated money in his memory and the church bought  pads for all the pews in his memory....James M. Dickerson. 

I remember with fondness the covered dish dinners we had outside under the trees.......lots of good food.  However, now they have a new kitchen and usually have the dinners inside in the dining room. 

The early church structure did not have a baptistery and the second one did not have one for a long time .  Many of the Dickersons, Keeners, Thurmonds, Hoppers, etc. were baptized in Bill's Mill Pond.  The water coming off the mountain into that pond was ice cold and you came out of that water bluer than blue! 

Bible School was always held in the summer and it was always lots of fun.  All the kids in the community would not want to miss that week or two. 

If you get a chance to go in the current sanctuary building you will notice a lot of beautiful oak woodwork.  Much of the baseboard is made from oak boards that Daddy had in our barn for years.  Mama gave it to the church and they had it finished and used in that manner. That lumber was sawn by Daddy and Uncle Melton Dickerson on Melton's home made saw mill he made using an old car motor for power.......way back there....even some of the lumber for our home was sawn on it in the early 30s. 


Photo by Beverly Guthrie Lougher '58 © 2001
Isn't this a beautiful picture that Beverly took of
the view through the window?

As you sit in the church the view from the pews toward the pulpit looks out on the beautiful mountains behind our house there.  It's hard to look at the preacher when the view is so beautiful.  One Sunday we were listening to the preacher and looking at the view when a great gray heron flew by outside.  You tend to forget what you are hearing!!  You have a great photo of the view from inside the church to the mountains. 

  I keep thinking of things.........when someone died in the community, one of the men would go to the church and toll the bell to alert everyone that there had been a death.  Also, each Sunday morning and evening someone would ring the bell to let everyone know it was time to start the service. It was rung several times to get your attention. If the bell was rung any other time than Sun. a.m. you knew someone was dead.  It was rung as many times as the person was years old (65 yrs old, it was rung 65 times) That way you would know many times who it was, because you knew most everybody and their age. I remember it clearly and in 1950-51, when we got party line phones, we got on the phone to see for sure. Before that word got around somehow.  Those folks that had cars would make sure everyone knew about whoever it was. This practice was discontinued when the new sanctuary was built as the bell was not used in the new sanctuary. 

Holy Ghost Revival
by Carolyn Carnes Brewer

When I was a young girl, maybe seven or eight, my parents and I would walk to the Wolffork Baptist Church.  By taking a short cut through a cousin’s pasture the distance would be shorter than the three miles around the church road.

 We were at a revival in the church one night and the Rev. J. F. Marchman was up behind the pulpit waving his arms, shouting and preaching on the Holy Ghost.  Well I was such a skinny little girl back then, my hair braided into pigtails. There I sat on that wooden bench, listening to him preach and I was shaking like a leaf with fear. Yeah, I’d been afraid of ghosts all of my life, they were every where and especially around Halloween.  My mama always told the story of living in a house where a man had committed suicide and one night she saw this ghost fly up and go out a window and she was so scared her hair stood straight up on her head.  There was always some one telling a ghost tale and no telling how many ghosts were around Booger Hollow on the north side of the valley.

 The longer preacher Marchman preached on the Holy Ghost the more scared that I got, it was already getting dark outside the little wooden church and we had a long walk ahead of us. What seemed like hours went by when he finally closed his sermon and opened the doors of the church, the organ whooped out the strains of “Just as I am, without one plea, But that thy blood was shed for me”....  Some of the youngsters in the valley walked the aisle took his hand, repented and were saved right there on the spot.  I couldn’t even stand to sing, my little legs were still shaking with fright.

 After many verses of the song had been sung, the preacher stopped everything and came down and sat down on the pew by me with a pad and pencil, he drew the plan of salvation for me, all EYES were on the preacher and me, there were chants “go on down to the front, join with your little friends”.   As the reverend talked and explained, I kept shaking my head “no, no”.  He finally gave up on me giving my heart to the Lord that night. 
 It was several years later that I did make a profession of faith when I truly felt that I knew the Lord and the blessed Holy Spirit. 

 Through out my life I have often remembered that night when I was such a frightened child.  I am thankful for all my memories of the Wolffork Baptist Church, especially for all the dear saints who taught me in Sunday School and Bible School and yes I am thankful for Preacher Marchman, even if he did scare me half too death when I was a child.  I look back with love knowing that he was doing what God wanted him to do, serve Him.

Memories of Elizabeth Dickerson Shaw

These are a few of the things I recall as a child and teenager at Wolffork Baptist Church. I was a member there until I was 18 or 19 years old.

In the old building (before any additions) I think I remember sitting on hard wooden pews with slatted backs that were very uncomfortable.

I remember Carol and I were janitors for some time and would walk every Saturday to the church and clean it for Sunday services – I don’t think Dennis did this.  In the winter it would be very cold because during the week there was no heat.  We would go early on Sunday morning and light the heaters (originally woodburning  stoves, then later propane heaters) to warm the building.

I remember the church was never locked and you could stop in at anytime.

I played the piano for several years for Sunday School, Sunday Church, Sunday night service, and Training Union, as well as for a number of funerals.  I never smell a carnation now without thinking of a funeral because the casket was always placed so near the piano, and you couldn’t miss the distinctive scent.  I was not a great pianist, but I loved the job and took particular pride in my offertory music.  I was always so irritated when Mrs . Miller, from Florida, would come to her summer home at Sylvan Lake and also wish to play for services.  There was a very old pump organ, and sometimes she would play it as I played the piano.

I remember that if you had to go to the restroom during church you left the building in front of everyone to go to the little house out back.

I remember when I was baptized, along with Carol.  Mr. Harrison was the minister  (We didn’t call him Rev.) who baptized us one cold June or July Sunday morning in Bill’s Mill Pond near the beginning of the Little Tennessee River.  It was so foggy and cold  - and the water is always cold – we must have turned blue.  Later, a baptistery was included in the renovations, along with indoor plumbing.

I remember occasional critters coming inside during services when all doors and windows were opened.   Sometimes bees or bugs would fly inside and create a little distraction.  There were no screens.  Also, occasionally someone’s dog would follow him or her, and before church was concluded he would creep inside.  I remember once or twice a dog would crawl under the pews until he was at the front of the church near the preacher.

Carlton Coleman directed most of the music for years.  He had a very good voice, and often did solos.  The choir area was small and probably wouldn’t seat more than 12 or 15 people.

For many years my dad didn’t have a car or truck and we either walked to the church or someone came around the valley with his truck and we rode in the back of it.  Also, I remember walking home with other kids, and enjoying it so much.

I remember we had Bible Drill contests each year where we practiced finding given verses in the Bible for speed, then there was one final contest, with a first place winner, involving other churches.  This was in Training Union.  I always wanted to win, but never did.

After high school I went on to college, then to work, in Atlanta.  My husband and I were married at Wolffork Church October 29, l953, the same year Carol and Bill were married there.  We only get back to Wolffork for occasional visits now.


To Read some of the 100 year
Wolffork Baptist Church History

Rabun Ramblings

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