Even in a new land of religious freedom, the Quakers became outlaws searching for a place to call home almost 250 years ago. They ended up in a town called Wrightsboro, now northern McDuffie County. A Bicentennial Celebration of the Wrightsboro Church will be Sunday, May 2.
Everyone is invited to a special ceremony at the church on Wrightsboro Road. During the morning service at 11 a.m., David Moore will speak about the history of Wrightsboro and Epp Wilson will explain the religious aspect of the Quakers' settlement.
Mr. Wilson said the Quakers left England and settled in the Pennsylvania area of the New World in the 1700s.
"It's just amazing to me because we take freedom of religion, freedom of speech and freedom of the press for granted. I feel like so many of these concepts came from the Mother country of England, yet those practicing the Quaker faith were imprisoned for their beliefs," Mr. Wilson said.
The Quakers were forced to leave the Pennsylvania/Virginia area when their refusal to bear arms or fight for religious beliefs was mistaken as loyalty to England in the pre-Revolutionary War times. They moved to North Carolina, but as soon as they were settled in, the same thing happened and they had to keep moving.
In 1768, the Quakers settled the Wrightsboro Township in Georgia. The land of Wrightsboro is part of the property Mr. Wilson has been horse riding and fox hunting on for more than 40 years. Because of that, he became interested in the history of the land.
"Their blood, sweat and tears are still in that dirt -- how they developed it ... put pastures ...left the woods where they did and built the rock dam," he said. "I just so admire these people that just went out in the wilderness and settled. They didn't have a Lowe's or a Home Depot to get supplies. They didn't have McDuffie Feed and Seed to get their horse feed and they didn't have Georgia Power, Jefferson ENC and Wilhoit Gas. They were tough. I admire them and respect them."
The original Quaker meeting house burned and was rebuilt. That building also burned and was replaced in 1810 by the current Methodist church.
"The town records were kept in the churches, and because they had two churches burn, then all those records were destroyed," Mr. Wilson said. "So, we're piecing the story back together."
After the Bicentennial Celebration service and presentations about the Quakers, a picnic on the grounds will be held from noon until 1 p.m. Everyone is encouraged to bring a covered dish and jug of tea.
A guided tour of Wrightsboro, which will include the Rock Dam, Quaker cemetery and Maddock Mill, will be from 1-3 p.m. Tours will be via Tally-Ho wagons, or people may follow in their SUVs or trucks.
"A lot of people have been to the dam, but they haven't been to the mill," Mr. Wilson said. "There's new information we've learned about the mill, and we've only recently discovered the cemetery."