All Roads Lead To Powelton

I met my lifelong friend, George Hart, in 1960. I was a student at Georgia Tech, and George was a musical prodigy at Emory. Over the Years, he has given me many gifts. One of these is a passion for bluegrass music and another is a love of the Georgia backroads and the history that goes with it. George and I have been periodically riding the back roads of Georgia for years, with no other motivation than the sheer joy of discovery. Just jostling along those lonely byways to see what was around the next curve was exciting in a strong and exotic sort of way...old towns that have virtually disappeared, farmhouses that are falling down, cemeteries covered in weeds, the decay of an agrarian way of that seems so distant and yet so near. We thought at some point we would get it out of our system, but the more we learned about Georgia's unique beginnings, the more fascinating it became.

One of our backroads sojourns, we went through the little village of Powelton in Hancock County between Crawfordville and Sparta. There were just a few old houses with kudzu running through the windows and a little store that had been closed for decades. Other than this, the only significant structures was a Baptist church at one end of town and a Methodist church at the other end, only a few hundred yards apart. The historical marker outside the Baptist church noted that the church was organized in 1786 and that Jesse Mercer, one of the pillar founders of the Baptist Church in Georgia, led to preach there. Obviously, this had been an important village over two hundred years ago.

The old Methodist church at the other end of town was embraced by a very small, very old graveyard where depressions and fieldstone marked the earliest graves. There were later graves where collapsing false crypts and weathered headstones of many styles stood. I spotted a Confederate headstone on the edge of the woods and walked over to read it: "Sergeant William D. Seals - 4th Sgt - Co. K - 15th Ga. Inf." I had visited many cemeteries in our back roads travels but had found very few markers inscribed with the surname Seals. As I found out later, this casual but fateful encounter had been with my great-grandfather.

Sonny Seals / Co-author Historic Rural Churches of Georgia / Co-founder of hrcga.org