Cancer group learns history of Coweta preachers
Members of the Cancer Support Group of Coweta County know more about some of Coweta County’s preachers following a recent meeting.
Winston Skinner, writer and historian, was the group’s speaker during their Oct. 9 meeting at First Baptist Church. Skinner, who pastored for 24 years and is assistant news editor at The Newnan Times-Herald, said that he knew from both pulpit and pew how much pastors and their spouses put into ministry.
Using his love of history, he shared the stories of four couples who ministered at Coweta churches — Humphrey and Jane Posey, James and Emily Stacy, Charles and Annie Lipham and A.D. and Naomi King.
A North Carolinian by birth, Humphrey Posey was one of the first Baptist missionaries to the Cherokees. He was part of life at New Echota, the Cherokee capital in north Georgia, but was best known for his work at the Valley Towns School for Cherokee children and youth in Tennessee.
He and his first wife, Lettice Jolley Posey, lived in north Georgia until her death in Walker County. During his years of missionary work, Posey occasionally was in the local area.
Skinner said Posey preached the dedication service when Greenville Baptist Church was formed in Meriwether County and also pastored First Baptist Church in LaGrange for a time.
Late in his life, Posey remarried. His second wife was Jane Strong Stokes, widow of a Coweta County plantation owner. He was pastor of New Hope Baptist Church on Corinth Road and of Ebenezer Baptist, which continues today as New Heights Baptist Church.
When Posey died in 1846, his funeral was held at First Baptist — then known as Newnan Baptist Church of Christ. Robert Fleming, a pastor at First Baptist, wrote a biography of Posey, which was published by Western Baptist Association in 1852.
Skinner brought his copy of the biography to the meeting for CSG members to see.
When Jane Posey died in 1860, she left $10,000 in Atlanta and West Point Railroad stock to Mercer University for the training of ministers. The bequest amount to more than $1 million in current terms.
The Poseys and her previous husband, William Montford Stokes, are buried in a cemetery on Posey Road. Skinner recalled that when he first visited the cemetery 30 or more years ago, it was in a rural setting, but the cemetery — which belongs to Western Baptist Association — is now surrounded by subdivision homes.
James J. Stacy was pastor of Newnan Presbyterian Church from 1857-1911. For many of those years, he also pastored a Southern Presbyterian congregation that shared a meetinghouse with White Oak Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church on Gordon Road.
Stacy was from coastal Georgia and wrote a history of Midway Congregational Church, one of Georgia’s oldest and most historic congregations, that is still in print today.
Stacy’s firt two wives, Jane Hawley and Mary Jane McIver, died before the Civil War began.
Emily Jones married Meredith Kendrick, who served in the Confederate Army and attained the rank of major. He was killed in battle on June 14, 1864. His battle flag was presented to his widow, and it is now in the Male Academy Museum collection.
While she was a widow, Emily Kendrick was hauled before Union authorities in Newnan for refusing to pass before the American flag at their headquarters. Skinner said she has been referred to as “Newnan’s Scarlett.”
The major’s widow and the Presbyterian pastor married and had a long, happy life together. She died in 1909 and he three years later.
Charles M. Lipham was a Methodist pastor who served his first charge in Fairburn around 1905. In 1925, he was serving as pastor at First United Methodist Church in Newnan when the congregation decided to build a new church.
At that time, the Methodist church was at the corner of Madison and Jackson streets. “In fact, the back wall of the church was incorporated into the building where Lindsey’s is today,” Skinner said.
Lipham had architectural skills, and he designed the majestic edifice on Greenville Street. He also designed the Methodist church buildings in Grantville and Manchester. “I have been told they are almost identical,” Skinner said.
Lipham’s wife, Annie Lois Longino, was Skinner’s distant cousin. A family history reports their 1905 wedding at the Methodist church in Fairburn took place "on a dark winter night in the pouring rain," he said.
Annie Lipham was from College Park but had Coweta pioneers as ancestors. Charles Longino Thompson, who persuaded Andrew Carnegie to donate the funds for Newnan’s Carnegie Library, was her double first cousin. “Their parents — mothers and fathers — were siblings,” Skinner explained.
After leaving Newnan, Charles Lipham served as a pastor in Elberton and Dalton, where they are buried. He did in 1964, and his wife survived him by a year.
Alfred Daniel Williams King was born in 1930 in Atlanta. His father, Martin Luther King Sr., and his maternal grandfather were ministers. His older brother, Martin Luther King Jr., was the famed Civil Rights leader. Shortly before his 20th birthday, A.D. King married Naomi Ruth Barber. Eventually, they have five children. Their oldest, Dr. Alveda King, is a prominent anti-abortion activist.
A.D. King continued his schooling after he married, and her graduated from Morehouse College in 1959. That same year, he became pastor of Mt. Vernon First Baptist Church in Newnan.
During his time at Mt. Vernon, A.D. King invited his brother to preach a series of revival services. A.D. King also preached at his brother’s church in Montgomery, Ala.
Though he kept a lower profile than Martin Luther King Jr., A.D. King was also active in the Civil Rights movement. His home was bombed while he was pastoring at Ensley, Ala. in 1963.
A.D. King later pastored in Louisville, Ky. After his brother was murdered in 1968, he returned to Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta where he joined his father as co-pastor.
Skinner said A.D. King’s father described him as “an able preacher, a concerned, loving pastor.”
A.D. King was a skilled swimmer but was found dead in the swimming pool of his home on July 21, 1969. “Many people believe he was murdered,” Skinner said. Naomi King is still living.