“You may delay, but time will not.”
(a bible sits open on an old pulpit in the Shoal Primative Baptist Church /
Talladega National Forest / Julie Cook / 2017)
A long time ago, before cotton was ever king…
(a rural cotton field, Rabbit Town, Alabama / Julie Cook / 2017)
Or 13 colonies fought to form a new and perfect union…
the Nation of the Creek Indians called the lands of what is now Georgia and
It is estimated that these native Americans had lived and thrived in this region
before the year 800 AD, as they were descendants of an even earlier people, from
what is known as of the Mississippian period.
In 1733 Captain James Oglethorpe landed in the what is known today as
He claimed the land south of the Carolinas and north of Spanish Florida,
in the name of King George…as the New Georgia.
In 1752 Georgia became officially the 13th colony.
However despite the British crown’s claim to this new land,
the Creek indians continued to be the majority inhabitants and land owners
of this young colony.
(James Ogelthorpe /Savannah, Georgia / Julie Cook / 2016
However that all began to change in 1760 with the continued exploration
and expansion westward by the British, Spanish and French.
Native Americans were quickly being squeezed from their ancestral lands
by a deluge of European exploration and subsequent settlers.
By 1800 the Creek Nation ceded all of their lands to the state of Georgia
and were forced to move westward…
This time they moved deep into the lands of what is known today as
the state of Alabama.
But in 1819, with Alabama being recognized as the 22nd state
in the Union, once again the Creeks were forced to relocate.
In 1830, following the orders by President Andrew Jackson,
the once proud Nations of the Cherokee, Creek and Choctaw
tribes were forced from their traditional lands,
and were relocated to reservations west of the Mississippi,
as Scotch/ Irish settlers made their way
south and west, down from the Carolinas, claiming these once tribal lands as
their new homesteads.
Around 1835 to 1840, deep in the back woods of the Alabama foothills of the
Appalachian Mountains, a small community of European settlers found a home
in a rugged area of Alabama.
These settlers were farmers, hunters, loggers and even moonshiners.
At the heart of their community these hardy settlers erected a log hewn church
to serve as an anchor for their community.
It was a building that would serve their community needs, their spiritual needs
as well as the educational needs of their children.
(Shoal Primitive Baptist Church, originally built in 1845 / Julie Cook / 2017)
Today both time and Mother Nature have each reclaimed this once small community.
Long forgotten are the voices of those first Native American inhabitants…
as well as the voices of those early European settlers.
Yet hidden deep within a mix of virgin forest and replanted pines,
resting at the end of a long forgotten rutted, single dirt lane road,
a lone wooden church remains ever vigilant…
standing the test of time.
She is a far cry from the great Cathedrals and Churches of big cities or
of far away lands.
She possess neither stained glass, gleaming silver or brass nor
ornately carved wooden fixtures.
For hers is a humble yet strong and determined example of faith.
Her small cemetery of unmarked graves whispers tales of those hardy souls
who once called these lands home…those individuals who worked the land
living and dying in the shadow of this church.
(the unmarked graves of Shoal Creek / Julie Cook / 2017)
The Shoal Primitive Baptist Church originally erected in 1845,
with the building we see today being rebuilt in 1895, is listed and recognized
as an important historic building on the National Registry.
It remains a lone sentinel of the early American pioneering spirit in an area
that is now known as the Talladega National Forrest.
This area was bought by the Federal Government and made a national park
by President Franklin Roosevelt in the early 1930’s.
The church is one of 6 remaining log hewn churches scattered throughout the state
of Alabama and still hosts special events such as Sacred Harp singings.
Inside this lovely and lonely darkened church, resting atop the single black pulpit,
sits a worn and tattered bible.
It is open to the book of Psalms….
I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.