Some of the proceeds from this presentation will be donated to the preservation of the structure of the Lexington Presbyterian Church as an effort to support the Ga. trust for Historic preservation Program for Places in Peril.
Circa: 1785, Beth Salem/Lexington Presbyterian is one of Georgia’s oldest, most prominent and historic rural churches. A Georgia Governor and a number of early Georgia movers and shakers lie in the Beth Salem grave yard. The church is located in Oglethorpe County(incorporated in 1793) at its county seat, Lexington, Georgia(incorporated in 1806). As you can see, the founding of Beth Salem in 1785 predates both the county’s and city’s incorporation.
The county, city and church history is intertwined. In 1785, a group of Pennsylvanians came southward to provide missionary work among the Native Americans. Later that year they were joined by an old friend, John Newton, at their settlement deep in the wilderness of Indian Territory, approximately three miles southwest of the present location of Lexington. On December 20, 1785, John Newton organized the Beth-Salem Presbyterian Church; the first Presbyterian Church to be organized in Northeast Georgia and the first church established in what would become Oglethorpe County. From the beginning of the 19th century, the county, city and church prospered. Lexington and the county grew rapidly from booming cotton production.
By 1810 Oglethorpe County contained at least 8 church meetinghouses and a dozen separate congregations. Lexington was known for its culture, educational institutions, commerce and as the cradle of some of Georgia’s most prominent early 19th century planters, judges, merchants, clergymen and politicians. In the 1830′s, Lexington residents made a fateful decision. They voted against allowing the new Georgia Railroad to pass through the city. Subsequently, the railroad stop was located a few miles west of town in Crawford and Lexington and Oglethorpe County’s prosperity and influence began to wane and fall into a long decline. This is a common story repeated in many towns throughout Georgia.Description courtesy of Historic Churches of Georgia