From the Hancock County Courthouse, go south on Hwy 15 for 2.2 miles to where Shoal Rd turns off to the left. Follow Shoal Rd for approximately 1 mile. Bethel Hill is on the left side of the road where a large white house stands today. It is believed the church and cemetery were somewhere in this area. However, a search of the Bethel Hill and surrounding area has failed to locate the cemetery.
This is private property and permission must be granted to enter the property.
Note: GPS coordinates are estimated and based on a "best guess" of where the church and cemetery were located.
GPS coordinates: 33 15' 49.8" N 82 55' 37.6" W
or in degrees only form: 33.26383° N X 82.92711° WSee location on a Google map in a new window
The map opens in a new window. The cemetery will be at the location indicated by a red marker.)
Cemetery Status: Inactive
Predominant race: Both Black and White
A deed shows that the land for the first Bethel church was purchased from Benjamin Thompson in 1801. Commissioners on the deed are John Pinkston, James Thomas and John Buckner and their successors, Deed dated 23 January 1801, registered 4 December 1801. This deed conveyed 12 acres for the sum of $20 for the "use of a church or place of public worship, bounded North by Castleberry's land and on the other sides by Thompson's land." The said premises were to be held in "trust only for the purpose of building on and keeping in repair a Meeting house and Grave-yard, free to all orderly preachers of the Gospel of any denomination professing the Christian Religion."
From the Baptist Association Minutes, 1844, p. 7: "Bethel, Hancock county, was constituted on Saturday before the fourth Sabbath in October, 1802, by Elders Thomas Mercer and Benjamin Thompson with twelve members. This church has been blest with the labors of several able and pious ministers, whose labors have been successful in bringing large accessions to the church at various times, and is now in prosperous condition."
From the Baptist Association Minutes, 1880, p. 23: "This church was first located on what is now known as Old Bethel Hill about three miles east of Sparta. We are unable to tie the history of this church from its constitution, till the year 1828. In February, 1828 it was removed to its present site, six miles east of Sparta, near the banks of the Little Ogheechee river."
Miss Lora West's 1942 list of cemetery locations says: "Bethel cemetery #1 is off Shoals road on Benjamin Thompson old home place, on his land," but did not list any graves in the cemetery. The current owner's ancestors said there was a cemetery there in 1928 when they obtained the property, but it is no longer visible.
Indexer or Contributor: Bill Jackson, Glen Cook, Mary Ann Willoughby, Harrell Lawson, and Mark Smith