Historic Markers Across Georgia

Old Church

Marker ID:  L3
Location: 1011 Wesley Street, Oxford, GA
County: Newton
Coordinates: N 33° 37.511    W 083° 52.254
  33.62518333    -83.8709
Style: Interpretative Sign **
Waymark: None


Old Church
Methodist Meeting House

—March to the Sea Heritage Trail —

Built in 1841 as a Methodist meeting house, Old Church was designed in the Greek Revival style with 14 rows of stark wooden pews and two separate front doors for men and women. During the Civil War, Old Church and several buildings on the Emory College campus served as hospitals for Confederate soldiers brought to Oxford. Some families wanting to stay near their sick or wounded loved ones also sought refuge in town. Thirty-one Confederate soldiers who died in one of Oxford's hospitals are buried in a small cemetery on Emory's campus.

Bishop James O. Andrew, one of five Methodist bishops in the country, lived on property adjacent to Old Church. Through marriage Andrew inherited a female slave named Kitty. Kitty's simple cottage originally stood behind Andrew's residence. Andrew wished to free Kitty but was forbidden by Georgia law. In 1844, after heated debate, the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church (a forebearer of the United Methodist Church) suspended Bishop Andrew from his office so long as he could not or would not free Kitty. Outraged Southern delegates drafted a Plan of Separation leading to the creation of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. The two regional factions reunited in 1939.

One block north of Old Church stands the President's House (circa 1836), once owned by Augustus Baldwin Longstreet, uncle of Confederate Lieutenant General James Longstreet. A. B. Longstreet was President of Emory College from 1840 to 1848. A later president, Alexander Means, was a delegate to the Georgia secession convention in January 1861. His home, Orna Villa, was built in the 1820s and is the oldest house in Oxford.

Oxford and nearby Covington were the targets of Union Brigadier General Kenner Garrard's cavalry raid on Friday July 22, 1864. Garrard's men destroyed Confederate stores, segments of the Georgia Railroad and captured all horses and mules fit for army service. During this raid, some patients at Emory College were captured while others hid in the woods. Confederate Sergeant Walter Clark, a former Emory student, recalled that the first hint of Garrard's arrival was of a Federal cavalryman appearing outside of an Emory College dining room used by patients. Another local resident later wrote, "They came upon us with the suddenness of a whirlwind." Clark eluded capture but numerous other Confederates did not.

On Friday, November 18, 1864, Union Major General Jefferson C. Davis's 14th Corps accompanied by Major General William T. Sherman entered Covington. Skirmishing between Federal foragers and the Confederate cavalry of Terry's Texas Rangers occurred just outside of Oxford but the town was spared further major damage.

After the Civil War the college resumed its use of Old Church for services and community events. Its two wings were added in 1880. After the move of Emory's main campus to Atlanta, Emory College was eventually renamed Oxford College of Emory University.

Erected Georgia Civil War Heritage Trails, Inc.

A photo of this marker can be found on HMDB.org