Bethany got it’s name from Mr. James Blumer White who first settled the area in 1855. At the time Bethany was mostly woodland, and didn’t see any farming promise until the years of 1840-1850. Many pioneers who were traveling from the Carolinas settled here due to a land grant from the government. There were seventeen settling families in the community. In 1855 Mr. White, who himself had migrated from South Carolina, built Bethany’s first school, a one room log building. Mr. White became the school teacher and the town officially had begun to be called Bethany. Before the construction of a church the Bethany School was used as a meeting hall for worship services with Pastor J. E. Dykes. During the 1890s the school was demolished to make way for a larger building and a new Missionary Baptist Church was built. In 1950 the church was replaced again by a brick church and was converted to a Baptist church, sadly it is now abandoned. Bethany would go on to support three more schools, but classes were discontinued in the 1940s. A part of Bethany where many people came to meet became known as ‘six points’ due to the intersections of Bethany Road, Hammil Road, Will White Road, and Big Oak Road. During it’s most prosperous years ‘six points’ was home to the Bethany Baptist Church, Bethany Consolidated School, Bethany Store/Post Office, Bethany Gin, Bethany Grist Mill, Bethany Peanut Shelter, and the Bethany Cucumber Packing and Grading Shed. As you can see Bethany was a strong agricultural influence on the towns around it. Sadly, however, time took it’s toil on Bethany and now all that remain is the General Store/Post Office and Church & Cemetery…both abandoned. Despite this the residents of Bethany hold on and stay strong in their community.
This old store is at the corner of Bethany and Patmos Roads, I’m not sure what it was or when it closed. (Private Property)
Bethany Baptist Church was founded on May 11, 1894 by eleven families in the town. The first church was built in 1895 at a cost of $150.00 on land given by Morgan Rye. The church seen above was started in the spring of 1950 and dedicated in June 1951 by Mrs. Lemuel Wright Parr, the only living charter member. It has also seen life as a Missionary Baptist Church.
Bethany Baptist in it’s heyday. (Photo Credit: Baker County Historical Society)
Side view of the church and the cemetery.