No Hope, GA – The Church

That’s what they called it. Since there was only one church they just called it ‘the church’.

That would change.

It got built over the next few months but not without a fight. The fight was between Sylvester and everyone else but Sylvester won because it was his land they were living on. He wanted the first building to be the church and that is what he got. This was happening while everyone was living in tents so the argument was a sensitive thing but only until the church got built.

Sylvester really wanted to build the church with brick but there wasn’t any.

Well, that’s not exactly true. There were two fireplaces and chimneys standing where the house used to be. Sherman burned the house but the chimneys stood as a silent monument to what used to be.

We’ll come back to that.

They found the old sawmill was still intact. The building was damaged and it had been looted by someone but the mill was still there and so were the boilers and the big steam engine that powered it. It was capable of 100 horsepower and later was used to run the grist mill, cotton gin and the sawmill.

This mill could take a pine log and cut it down to 24 inches by 24 inches and up to 30 feet long if the log was a good one. That would then be cut down to the size needed for the work ahead.

The town had a few tools salvaged from the ruins of the house and workshop but the real find was the old cave. In it were some axes, a 2 man crosscut saw and some rope. That’s where they found some of the tents they put up as shelter too. They were a bit moldy but getting them into the hot Georgia sun solved that problem.

Of course, the hot Georgia sun was a problem in itself. It was now June and the summer heat was on them and getting worse. They had scraped out some land and planted some crops for food. Corn was first but they also found the pecan trees had survived as did some of the blueberry bushes.

There was some gun powder in that cave too that was still dry and a couple of rifles. Good for hunting and putting food on the table.

Now, back to the church.

It was not a huge building by any means. Modest in size but capable of housing the town when a big storm came in. It measured just 12 feet wide and 20 feet long inside. There was ample room for everyone at the time and even had a wood floor and a simple pulpit. The flooring was made from boards just under 2 feet wide and 20 feet long. They made some pews too so they could sit during worship time and listen to the preacher.

You’ll meet him later.

There were windows on both sides to encourage a breeze to come to the worship services too but most times it did not. The roof had a 12×12 pitch for the best water run off and the supports for a bell were visible but no bell had been found yet.

They were looking.

But back to the bricks.

Sylvester would stand in the dark and look up at the chimneys left from the fire. He could see them as they blocked the stars from view or on the moonlit nights they were clearly visible. It’s said he only looked at night so no one would see him cry. He had lost everything in the war even though he’d never owned any slaves. He didn’t believe in it and refused to do it but the war still cost him everything.

He wanted to do something with those bricks. After the church was completed Sylvester knew what he wanted to do.

He had those bricks carefully salvaged, cleaned and stacked just behind the church. He announced at the first Sunday service they would have the best brick outhouse you ever saw. It seems like overkill to the rest of the town but Sylvester would not be deterred. Nothing else was going to be built until that outhouse was completed.

Located behind the church, it had two seats divided by a wood wall, a door on either side and a transom window ran up high round the soffit for ventilation and light but was safe from most of the rain except in some of the real “toad stranglers”. It was about 8 feet by 4 feet with ample room for taking care of the needs of the town. For now.

They marked the doors M and W and it was a marvel to behold. Most of it is gone now but there is one wall remaining.

Thankfully the hole is filled in today and safe to walk around but that’s because there was that time Able Cant had the accident. We’ll get to that story another day.

Next we’re going to meet the folks who settled the town.

Sylvester was a religious man and a disciplinarian. Neither trait gained him any friends. He’s the first we’ll introduce. Stay tuned.