ATHENS — Materials belonging to historic Saint Paul’s Church, Augusta’s oldest congregation, now freely available online.
The Digital Library of Georgia has released a collection of archival documents belonging to the church including marriage registers, historical extracts, print histories, articles, clippings, booklets, calling cards, and correspondence that account for the church’s early history, church conventions, centennial celebrations, and burials.
“Founded in 1750, St. Paul's has a triple life as an active congregation, as a physical space encompassing buildings and a graveyard, and as a historic parish of the Episcopal Church,” said Susan Yarborough, chair of the St. Paul’s Church history committee. “The oldest identified grave in its graveyard dates to 1783. Past parishioners of Saint Paul’s church include a signer of the U. S. Constitution, five governors of Georgia, six Confederate generals, the namesakes of several Georgia counties, two founding faculty of the Medical College of Georgia, several Augusta mayors, and an owner and an editor of The Augusta Chronicle newspaper.”
Significant among the church’s materials are:
• The church’s Vestry minutes for the years 1855-1923 encompass the 73-year period including the Civil War and Reconstruction, World War I, and the church’s destruction by fire in March 1916. The minutes' record names of ministers and Vestry members, costs for the building and upkeep of the church and its furnishings, salaries of ministers, organists and sextons, pew rents, donations to charitable institutions, insurance policies, arrangements for special church services, eulogies to people important to the parish, and the efforts to rebuild the church after the fire.
• With alphabetical indexes, three parish registers spanning the years 1820-1937, including records of marriages, baptisms, confirmations, communications, and burials, with a churchyard map, texts of grave markers, and statistics concerning the rites performed. The parish register from 1820-1868 records marriages, baptisms, confirmations, and burials for roughly 220 enslaved persons, beginning in 1823 and ending in 1865. The enslaved persons denoted in these records were largely house servants, often mixed race, who lived on close terms with their owners. In some cases, the actual houses in which these enslaved persons served their owners still exist, and the addresses are listed in extant city directories of the time.
Erick D. Montgomery, the executive director of Historic Augusta, Incorporated, who has regularly touched upon these materials in his work, notes:
“Having these historical materials available through digitization online will make valuable records available to anyone interested in the history of Georgia, Augusta, religion, societal trends, enslaved and free African Americans, genealogical connections, and countless other topics unforeseen.”
The St. Paul's Church of Augusta Collection, is available at https://dlg.usg.edu/collection/spcag_spcagc.
To learn more about the Digital Library of Georgia, visit dlg.usg.edu.