The following history was found at the Old Campbell County Historical Society, date and author unknown.
Trustees of the St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church purchased a half acre in Land Lot 8, District 7, originally Coweta then Campbell County, from Mrs. Nora L. Hopkins on September 16, 1889. This property was located on the Public Road leading from Palmetto to the Chattahoochee River.
These Trustees were: George Weaver, Major Vaughn and Berry Jackson Jr.
In June, 1916, the deed to the church property was used to secure a loan of $300. In this Deed, the description includes “lying in front of the St. Paul School House. . . thence south to white cemetery. . . containing one and one half acres.”
The Trustees listed on the 1916 deed are: Charlie Jackson, Major Vaughn, Mark Sumlin, Mark Sumlin, Lump Cook, Jerry Weaver, Thom. Jackson, Lewis Vaughn, Wm. Sumlin and Thos. Cochran.
George Weaver, son of Abe and Annie Weaver, was born about 1875. He married Thursda (Thersana?) and had at least 3 children: Mary Lee, Edward and Willie D.
Major Vaughn, son of Jack & Sela Vaughn of Coweta County, was born about 1860. His wife’s name is show as Malsie and Jennie on census records. They lived in Rivertown, Campbell County in 1910, but had moved to Dayton, Montgomery County, Ohio, by 1930.
Jerry Weaver, son of Abe and Annie Weaver and brother of George, was born about 1865. His wife’s name is show as Timothy on census records and they were living in Goodes District, Campbell County in 1910. In 1920, they are shown in Palmetto, and by 1930, they moved to Dayton, Montgomery County, Ohio.
Lumpkin (“Lump”) Cook, son of George and Mariah Cook of Coweta County, was born about 1867. He married Martha Ann Richardson in Campbell County.
2009 – HISTORIC PROJECT TO DOCUMENT CHATT HILLS CEMETERIES
During 2009, the Chatt Hills Historical Association, (a committee of the Chatt Hills Civic Association) began a project to identify and document all cemeteries in Chattahoochee Hills. We noticed a “for sale” sign on the cemetery property.
Feb 26, 2009: Chattahoochee Hills Mayor Don Hayes called me to relay a message from Rev. Chester Beavers that he was interested in this cemetery.
My project notes follow:
I contacted Rev. Beavers at 678.499.5146. He said his great, great; grandmother was buried in the cemetery, which used to be a part of AME Church (African Methodist Episcopal Church). The church was burned in the 1960s and the foundation remains today.
Rev. Beavers was interested in participating in the Chatt Hills historical preservation project. He would like to invite members from the other black churches, as they may have family members buried in the church.
We tentatively set a meeting date for Saturday, March 21. He will verify that his church is available. I will draft a letter to the following churches inviting members to attend the meeting:
JS Hammonds Missionary Baptist Church
Attn: Rev. Chester Beavers
211 Beckman St
Mount Pleasant AME Church
217 Fayetteville Rd
P.O. Box 918
Palmetto, GA 30268
Harris Chapel UMC
255 Fayetteville Rd
P.O. Box 710
Palmetto, GA 30268
9325 Rivertown Rd
Fairburn, GA 30213
Vernon Grove Baptist Church
PO Box 315
Palmetto, GA 30268
Ramah Baptist Church
210 Spring St
PO Box 1244
Palmetto, GA 30268
Feb 26, 2009: Contacted new property owner
I called Kim Murtaugh. She gave me the number for her husband Tom who owns the property.
Tom said he was the owner of the property and that it was currently for sale. I asked about the property tax record and said I was confused because someone else’s name was on the record – not Tom.
Tom said he had to go through an ordeal to get a clear title, including suing several people who were on the deed. He said he didn’t know that there was a cemetery on the land when he bought it, but that he is trying to sell it now.
I asked if there was an opportunity for him to donate it. He said he had considered donating it to the city, but he has an offer of $10,000 from someone who wants to build a house. That offer is for one acre but Tom said he would most likely give him both acres.
Tom asked if we had the funds to purchase the property and I said we didn’t, but we had the opportunity to move a historic house there and we’ve got a group of people interested in maintaining the cemetery because they have relatives there.
I asked for permission to access his land for our preservation project. He asked what that entailed and I told him we would make a hand-made map of the marker locations and clean up the grounds. He gave his permission but said he would like a copy of any documentation we generated.
Feb 27, 2009: Coordinating a Cemetery Clean-Up Day
Rev. Beavers confirmed that date/time of the meeting. I mailed the invitation letters and also invited Don Hayes, John Taylor and Carlton Hattaway.
Rev. Beavers also gave me a contact of a person who used to serve as a pastor at the Saint Paul AME Church: Rev. Terrell.
April 4, 2009: Cemetery Clean-Up Day
On April 4, approximately 15 volunteers participated in the clean-up day. As a result, 162 possible gravesites were identified, including four box tombs, five–ten tombstones, and fieldstones marking the remainder of the gravesites, making this one of the largest cemeteries in the city of Chattahoochee Hills.
2018 – CITY OF CHATTAHOOCHEE HILLS ACQUIRES THE CEMETERY PROPERTY
Around this time, the current church cemetery property owner, Tom Murtaugh, contacted me to inquire if the city would be interested in purchasing the cemetery property. I said it (most likely) still did not have the funds to do that, but it might accept the property as a donation. I put Tom in touch with the Chattahoochee Hills Mayor Tom Reed, who discussed the opportunity with the city council.
On November 13, 2018, the City of Chattahoochee Hills accepted the donation of the 2.5-acre parcel by Tom Murtaugh through Resolution 18-11-254.
"WHEREAS, the Mayor and City Council desire to accept the donation of the land for purposes of preserving the cemetery located on the property; however, such preservation shall not necessarily require the expenditure of public money and any such future expenditures shall be within the discretion of this City Council and future city councils."
2022 – RENEWED INTEREST IN DOCUMENTING THE ST PAUL AME CHURCH AND CEMETERY
Around this time, Chattahoochee Hills residents Laurie Searle and Gloria Edwards initiated a heritage project to document the African American residents and culture in Chattahoochee Hills. Gloria, who attends Mt. Pleasant Church in Palmetto, was familiar with the St. Paul AME Church and its Cemetery so she reached out to several members and a former pastor of the church to schedule a heritage chat about the church.
On March 23, 2022, residents Laurie Searle and Gloria Edwards met with Rev. H. E. Terrell, who pastored the church in the 1950s, his wife Daisy, and Thomas W. Cochran who attend the church with his family. The Heritage Chat was recorded and the video is on the Chatt Hills History Website:
A summary of the Heritage Chatt follows:
Thomas Cochran was a member of St. Paul AME Church since he was born. His Father, James Ed Cochran, was a trustee of the church. His great-grandfather, Thomas Priest Cochran, was a member of the church and was one of the members who signed the deed in 1916.
Thomas remembers the church as being a big white wooden church, with steps that came up from the front. It was a steep walk up to the church, on a road that came up to the church from Cochran Mill Rd. It was a single store building, with just one meeting room. An outhouse was out back. The cemetery was all around the back.
A lot of people back in the time used stones to mark the graves, because they knew where their people were buried, and they couldn't afford head stones.
Thomas had heard that the Cochrans had a big plantation with slaves, and he wondered if that is where his family got their name (Cochran).
Rev. Terrell was the pastor there from 1953-1958. He lived in Palmetto, across from the Mt. Pleasant Church, and came to St. Paul's on the 2nd Sundays of the month. He can't recall how he got there, since he didn't have a car, but Thomas and Gloria both suggested that a church member drove him there. The Rev. recalls one time he walked to the church from his home in Palmetto.
When asked what the church services were like, Rev said, "In those days in the county, there was no such thing as preaching education. We had revival one time, the rest of the revivals (after the church had been vandalized) were at Vernon Grove. We had home coming once."
There was no music in the church (no piano, no singing), and no foot stomping. Thomas recalls his grandfather saying to Rev, "You can't preach this hard for funerals. . . you've got to take it easy on the family. You're not preaching to the one who is dead, you're preaching to the ones left behind."
The church was vandalized in the early 50s - several times. The vandals defecated in the church and wrote "KKK" and broke windows. Finally, some years later, the vandals burned the church down. The members decided not to rebuild, so they left for other churches, most joining Mt. Pleasant Church in Palmetto.
St. Paul AME Church ruins near the church cemetery on
Cochran Mill Rd.
Chatt Hills, GA 30268
- Download PDF
1955 Aerial Map
This 1955 Aerial Map shows the image of the St Paul AME Church.
City of Chattahoochee HIlls
- Resolution 18-11-254 to accept the donation of the cemetery property.
Heritage Chat with Rev. H.E. Terrell, Thomas Cochran, Gloria Edwards and Laurie Searle.
St. Paul AME Church Cemetery
- Cemetery Page