Shingleroof Campmeeting

    

Ten Generations of Worship in the Pioneer  Tradition
Located in Henry County, Georgia U.S.A
Documented by Gene Morris Jr.
Henry County Historian
A Local Legacies Project Submitted to
The U.S. Library of Congress in 1999

 

Chapter Six

 

The Second Renewal

The years of abandonment appear to have ended in 1901, in that year The Henry County Weekly reported that services convened and Miss Emma Tucker, "the faithful evangelist" was one of the preachers. This is something of an enigma as there were no ordained female ministers in the area at the time. The paper went on to state: "It was decided to hold a regular campmeeting next year, when a number of tents are expected to be built, and the friends of old Shingleroof hope to experience more of the good times of the past." Plans for a new hotel were also announced in 1901. In Shingleroof Campground Sesquicentennial, prepared by Mary Rowan Daniel in 1980, Louise Piper recorded there was a brush arbor built on lot #8 about 1903. It was believed to be put there by Fannie and Charlie Fargason. In 1904 it was replaced with a tent. Here we see the continuation of the brush arbor tradition.

In an article in The Henry Herald on, June 4, 1980, Mrs. Minnie Babb Kennedy (1890-1983) recalled going to Shingleroof with her father, Kellett Babb (b. 1837) who had served as a medic in Company I, Second Georgia Infantry, for a Confederate Soldiers Reunion around 1900. She said she could still hear the rebel yells, drum beats, songs and marches that took place that day at Shingleroof. The group assembled on the west side of the hotel and marched toward the tabernacle. Over the decades Shingleroof has been the site of many reunions.

Reporting on Campmeeting for the Atlanta Journal Constitution Weekend on August 23, 1980 Billie Cheney Speed interviewed Annie Brannan Rowan, 88. Mrs. Rowan was questioned about early twentieth century campmeetings. She said, "I can recall how the wagons were loaded with essential household items. We brought along our food and country ham and chickens, and even brought a cook, a nurse for the children and a water toter. The family slept on straw beds and drank water from the spring." Along the same line Myrtice Fields Hinton, wrote in the Shingleroof Campgyound Sesquicentennial in 1980 that: "I remember the thrill of moving, it must have taken us a week to move from Mount Carmel community to Shingleroof. The first thing we had to do was build a lot for the mule and cow. They cut down saplings and nailed them to trees. I remember our first load was the cook stove, stove wood, stovepipes, the chicken coop with grown roosters, the boys led the cow behind the wagon. We had wheat straw on the floor of the tent. The beds came next, mother's feather bed was bandied with care. There was the fly brush. Oh, it was beautiful. Grandfather Fields raised peafowl and in the fall they shed their tail feathers and he made each child a fly brush. Somebody always had to wait to eat and their job was to keep the flies off the table. The first night was great, everyone was tired and we soon fell asleep. Soon the cows and mules begin thinking of the green pastures at home, the mules brayed, the cows lowed and twenty-five or more hounds barked. The next day was a day to remember. Buggies began to drive up, passengers got out with valises. Mama would say these are a cousin or old friends. But when night came it meant no beds for us children. Mama would scratch up some straw and spread a quilt on the floor. We had to tote water from the spring for years. When I got to be a teenager, there was nothing so thrilling as going to the spring; it was cemented all around. On Sundays there was never enough room, the young and old got the same thrill. I had a long handle gourd and everyone wanted a drink. We had some kind of street lights back then - a lamp filled with oil with no globe tacked to a tree. It rained and the wind blew but the lamps didn't go out."

Writing in Henry County, Georgia: The Mother of Counties in 1971, Vessie Thrasher Rainer recorded that July 1, 1910 was the date set to tear down the old tabernacle, which was promptly replaced by a new and larger one. This is the same Tabernacle we worship in today. Over the decades, Shingleroof has gone through cycles of prosperity, decline and renewal. The beginning of the twentieth century was a time of revival and renewal of the old campground. Frances Callaway Smith recorded in the Shingleroof'Campground Sesquicentennial in 1980 that her mother, Mary Kathleen Ammons Callaway (b. 1901), began playing the piano for services while still in her teens, and continued to play for over 50 years, with the exception of one year in which she did not play because her daughter, Frances Callaway, was born only six weeks before campmeeting (she and Frances tented, but she didn't play). She retired from her post in 1972.

Some references indicate fire destroyed several tents in 1926; but, by the end of the twenties things seemed to be going well. This is remarkable considering Henry County had been a state of terrible economic decline due to the infestation of the cotton boll weevil. Henrietta L. Turner wrote in The Macon Telegraph on August 17, 1930 that: "The business end of the assembly is in the hands of a capable committee. In 1929 it cost $205 to defray the expenses. Among the items to be included in this list are the cost of operating the Delco system of electric lights, piano moving and rent, cleaning of the camp grounds, straw, police protection, servant and furniture and supplies for the preacher's tent. The item police protection means a special officer paid by the committee supplements the protection provided by the county. True to tradition, the campground furnishes the shingles for the tents and supplies the upkeep for the hotel and tabernacle. The trustees maintain a two-horse farm. This farm is at present rented out for 'standing rent'. In the past it has been let for part of the crop. In good years as much as $1600 has been realized from this farm. However, the campground farm is like other farms and lean years follow good and absorb the surplus."

In her 1980 interview with The Henry Herald, Minnie Babb Kennedy stated that for more than half a century the Babb's have held family reunions, most of them on the second Sunday in July at Shingleroof Campground. Mary Elliott Bruce has provided a copy of an original program from the 1926 Annual Reunion of Confederate Veterans, which was held at Shingleroof Campground on August 5, 1926. Because of the role Shingleroof served as a Confederate Muster Area during the War Between the States, it was a favorite site for Confederate Veterans Reunions. 

End of Chapter Six

 

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Created by Scott Rowan    Copyright (c) June 01, 2000.  All Rights Reserved.