Dozens of people filled Carswell Grove Baptist Church in Jenkins County to dedicate a national marker. Those who spoke at the Saturday’s event tell us someone set the church on fire in 1919 and 2014. Elyse Butler says the events listed on the marker happened almost 100 years ago.
“Because you go to a church expecting to read about the congregation and the building itself, unfortunately, the building is not there,” said Butler. “This marker reminds us of that building, it reminds of the events that happened right here.”
Community members say it is a special day for healing for the area because the first lynching happened where the marker stands.
The marker comes in time for the anniversary of the first church burning. Deacon Palmer Lewis, whose family built the church four generations ago, says he and his family are happy because visitors will learn about his ancestors.
“My forefathers [Grandfather], as well as his three sons, built that church on the gothicsal after it was destroyed in 1919,” said Deacon Lewis.
Georgia State Senator Jesse Stone served as guest speaker and helped unveil the marker. Butler says the Georgia Historical Society picked Jenkins County after learning about the historical background of the church.
The Outreach Coordinator for Georgia Historical Society believes the marker will attract people to the site, which will be known as “Heritage Tourism.”
“The Red Summer event that occurred here, the riot in 1919, the racial conflict, explained Butler. “That was the element of the application that really brought this location, not just a local significance but a national significance.”