Mt. Zion presbyterian Church | Hancock County Georgia | c. 1813
The Mt. Zion community emerged as an academy town in 1811, founded by wealthy planters of Hancock County. Mt. Zion congregation was founded as a Presbyterian Church in 1813 and this Greek Revival style structure was built in 1814 atop a rolling hill in Hancock County. The congregation raised $700 to complete this original structure that still stands 200+ years later. This is unusual in that most churches in the rural backcountry started as ‘brush arbors’, then progressed to a log church and finally to one or more versions of a framed sanctuary.
The community of Mt. Zion has a compelling history, the traces of which have mostly disappeared- except for Mt. Zion Church and cemetery.
At one point, this community was an important early-education center in Georgia- with an academy led by Rev. Nathan Beman. At one point, the village included this church, a two-story school house that stood about 50 feet away, many homes, and various other buildings that served the people of this community.
Services were held here until 1903 when the membership had dwindled from 130 to less than 10 and in 1903, it was sold to the Methodist Church where it would remain in service until 1958.
A 1904 article mentions that even then: “Nearly all the fine residences that stood in the village have disappeared. Those that are remaining show signs of dilapidation and decay.”
REV. NATHAN BEMAN AND FAMILY
Mt. Zion has a storied history as an education center beginning with Rev. Nathan Beman. Rev. Beman moved from Maine to Georgia in 1812. Shortly thereafter, he agreed to serve as the Headmaster of academy at Mt. Zion as well as the pastor of Mt. Zion Presbyterian.
Rev. Nathan Beman’s first wife died and he remarried to Caroline Bird Yancey (Beman) who had a son in the academy at Mt. Zion.
This pupil, William Lowndes Yancey, would become his stepson, and would later go on to initiate the process of Southern secession at 1860 Democratic Convention in Charleston.
Rev. Beman and Caroline had 2 biological children, Samuel and Louisa. Reportedly, the reverend and his wife had a tumultuous relationship.
The reverend taught school here until 1822 when he returned to Troy, NY.