Corinth Baptist Church

Mill Church, School House, and Community Center

Photographs on this page are contemporary images of the church as it appears today.

     
 

 

History

The closest church to the cotton mill village, Corinth Baptist Church served as a schoolhouse, place of worship, and community center for Banning's workforce. Mill hands gathered here for revivals, holidays, and school plays.

 
  Although its origins are unclear, sources suggest the building has been remodeled and rebuilt more than once during its history. Arthur Hutcheson purchased the cotton mill in 1878, quickly making improvements and renaming it Hutchesons Manufacturing. Along with improvements to the mills along Snake Creek, he remodeled the local church.  
 

Although the sign posted outside the church today suggests Corinth was established in 1893, it is possible this is the same church Hutcheson remodeled in 1878.

Local newspapers only refer to the church as "the factory church" or "the Baptist church". Thus it is difficult to determine which church, out of the three or more in the vicinity, was the official "mill church."

Thankfully, oral histories can help us reconstruct the history of the church and its place in the community. Below are excerpts from an interview with Barbara Gentry, a former resident and cotton mill worker at Banning in the 40s and 50s. Barbara's grandparents were the first people buried at Corinth. Typically, mill hands were buried down the road at Antioch Primitive Baptist Church.

 
 

Oral Histories

Barbara remembers attending Corinth with her family and the majority of workers from Banning. She recalls, "the majority of them attended it, if the boss attended it. When the boss attended church it would be full of mill hands. If the boss didn't attend it some of them didn't even go to church... back in them days they just thought the boss was a little tin god, I reckon. But my granddaddy, he rang the bell up there at that church every Sunday. They just had church on the second Saturday night and Sunday and Sunday night. He would ring that bell on Saturday night and Sunday morning and Sunday night."

   
  "They had revivals that lasted two or three weeks at a time. I have been up there when I was a kid and they would be as many people outside that couldn't get in. They had both of them doors, both rooms [open]. They would have to go in the other room, there wasn't a door, they used folding doors. And they would unfold them and people would be in there and people would be sitting in the windows. That's how many people was in that church."  

Revivals and Special Events

Although the church was small by today's standards, revivals, holiday events, and school performances would draw large crowds of mill hands. It was not uncommon for patrons to stand in the aisles or sit in the windows for such events.

Plays

To the left, an article from the Carroll Free Press printed April 22, 1927, advertises a spring program sponsored by the Banning school at Corinth. The evening includes songs and skits performed by many of Banning's youngest workers. (For more information about the children who appear in this program, please see the Family Ties page, the interview list at the bottom of the Archival Finding aid page, or contact the Center's archives to schedule a visit.)

 

Christmas

Sometime during the Christmas holiday, employees at Banning took their children to the church and distributed gifts. During the company Christmas party Paul Henry recalls "all the grown people would bring all the children [to the church] and build a fire int eh pot belly stove. Then they'd give out the presents for the children." Ruth Smith remembers a superintendent dressing up like Santa Clause on year. She recalled the costumed boss "scare[d] us to death! We weren't use to nothing like that and when he came up [to the church] the kids would run every which way!" Children typically received fruit, an orange or an apple, a few pieces of candy, and possibly nuts and raisins. Holiday gatherings held at the church gave families a break from their strenuous routine at the mill and time to celebrate as a community. The yearly Christmas party at the church became an event residents looked forward to. Paul Henry declared, "Come Christmas time, everyone at Banning was there!"

Revivals

Held both on the weekends and throughout the week, revivals would draw almost every member of the community to the local church. As a child, Barbara Gentry attended "revivals that lasted for two or three weeks. There would be so many people there, people standing outside, inside, and sitting in windows." It seems as if every summer Banning "had a good revival." Ruth Smith recalls, "different preachers preached, we had a pastor, but they had

different ones during the revival. We always had a good service." Like Ruth Smith, Paul Henry also remembers a variety of speakers at the revivals. "They had all denominations, not just Baptist or Methodist. They had Holiness meetings there, Baptist meetings, whatever kind of preacher come along that wanted to church, he could preach there." Mill hands were not picky; they just wanted a lively, emotional service that would either uplift or entertain them. Floyd Smith would sit in the front row praying while people were hollering and speaking in tongues all around him.

Leisure

For most people in the South, attending church was a tradition upheld come hell or high water. Yet unlike wealthier residents in town, the mill community enthusiastically embraced livelier displays of spiritual devotion. Various historians have suggested this preference was based on location and economic status. But if one takes into consideration the lack of leisure time during the work week, it is easy to see why factory employees relished an opportunity to jump, shout, and sing to God all week long. Revivals could bring both spiritual and physiological renewal to mill communities. Desperate for a release, mill hands utilized the few hours they had during the week to attend nightly sermons or special events. Knowing they would be tired the next day, workers sacrificed their precious time to participate in meaningful revivals, holiday events, and school plays held at Corinth.

Transcript of Corinth Church Charter

State of Georgia Carroll County

We the presbytery consisting of the following named Brethren. Rev. R.W. Stawrick, W. W. Kelley, T. J. Kelly, B. St. Phillips, and J. M. Davidson. By request of a number of Brethren and sisters met at the school house near Hutcheson store on 15th of Nov. 1893 for the purpose of organizing a named Brethren and Sisters after learning the facts concerning the peasantry was organized by the stating Morrow clerk the sermon was preached by Rev. R. W. Stamrick text 1st Timothy 3rd 15th verse after hearing letter read by secretary, read and examined then some the articles of faith and church covenant by Rev. W.W. Kelley, ordination prayer offered by Rev. T. J. Kelley. Changes given to the by Rev. J. M. Davidson. Bible presented by Rev. B. H. Phillips, presbytery then promised it a regularly organized Baptist church and it was named Corinth by Rev. W. W. Kelley then the right hand of fellowship was extended to the Brethren and sisters and it was pronounced a regular organized church. Sung a hymn benediction by the moderator and they moved to adjourned.

Original Members on November 15, 1893

W. H. Thomas R. N. Griffith R. Williams M. G. Holder
T. J. Rush J. N. Griffith M. F. Mote M. A. Gaddie
J. M. Simpson A. C. Thomas Lillie Pritchett Elizabeth Thomas
E. J. Gaddy E. L. Adams A. C. Adams Emma Rush
N. A. Smith G. G. Golden Sallie Griffith Susan Stitcher
J. A. Mix J. Williams Sallie Williams M. J. Smith
S. D. Lovern V. E. Carrel Mary Stitcher Emma Henry
J. M. Jones J. R. Holder Elizabeth Griffith Auner Smith
N. J. Jersey J. C. Williams Allen Wesson G. A. Stitcher
T. J. Bryant Junior Thomas Maggie Smith Auner Griffith
N. J. Adams Ida Boynton Dora Wesson G. M. Mix
J. M. Todd Ethel Holder R. E. Simpson Bettie Forbes
N. J. Jones Lue Jersey Lee Boyton Lula Boyton

Graveyard

Headstone for Vinson Calvin Collins
The small graveyard at Corinth
Bobby and Connie Phillips
Claude and Altma Patterson, the first people buried at Corinth Baptist