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Adairsville • Cassville • Cartersville • Euharlee •
Kingston • Lake Allatoona • Summer Hill

1718 Cassville Road | Cassville, Georgia 30123

This simple church, although modest in appearance, has a complex and important history. First organized as Cassville Presbyterian in either 1833 or 1844, the building displays a wood-truss construction method also seen in New England barns of the era. The true age of this building is unknown, however, as records addressing the early history of the church are scarce, and original deed books were burned – along with the rest of Cassville – by Federal Troops in 1864.

It was November 5, 1864 when the Fifth Ohio Regiment of the Federal Army, under command of Colonel Heath and Major Thomas, burned the city of Cassville. They acted on orders from General Sherman “that not a house be left within the limits of incorporation, except the churches”, which was the only thing that ultimately spared this building. The rest of Cassville was completely destroyed and, as a result, the county seat eventually moved to Cartersville with the construction of a new county courthouse. This turn of events caused local Presbyterians to dissolve their congregation in Cassville and, in 1872, give the church building to the black families living in Cassville on a handshake deal.

These families then went on to found the St. James AME Church in that location. AME stands for African Methodist Episcopal and it is the oldest independent Protestant denomination founded by African Americans in the world. Originally organized in 1816 by Reverend Richard Allen in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania as a response to discrimination from white Methodists the AME church has since advocated for the civil and human rights of African Americans through social improvement, religious autonomy, and political engagement. For recently emancipated African Americans this religious community helped them to establish their own space within the swiftly changing social and political landscape. The church and grounds are maintained by remaining A.M.E. Church members and the St. James A.M.E. Church Committee of the Noble Hill Wheeler Foundation. (770)382-3392/

Photos courtesy Historic Rural Churches of Georgia.



African American

Heritage Trail

Bartow County, Ga

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