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 Eight


The Depression Years

The Great Depression of the 1930's was preceded by the decade of the devastating Boll Weevil Depression in the 1920's, which destroyed the economy of Henry County, and all of the cotton growing regions of the South. When the Crash of 1929 hit, the farmers of Shingleroof didn't even notice because they had already been broke for nearly a decade. These hard times did not break the campmeeting spirit. Writing in her 1980 book on the Sesquicentennial of Shingleroof, Mrs. Mary Rowan Daniel wrote: "During the 1930's there were four religious services a day with two preachers preaching and usually a younger preacher leading the slinging. The services were held at nine and eleven A. M. and three and eight P. M. First the nine o'clock was discontinued and later the three o'clock except on Sunday afternoon. When the number of preaching services were reduced, a children's and youth director was added."

Dorothy Elliott Paul recorded in the Shingleroof Campground Sesquicentennial that in the 1930's; "ice was kept in jute sack in the sawdust. Milk was carried and set in the branch at the spring to keep cool and fresh. If a quick cloud came up someone would have to run down to the spring and get the milk cans to keep them from washing away. This was the one time of year that there was a cook, also a waterboy - water had to be brought to the tents by the bucket until 1944 or 45 when water was piped around the square. Chickens were brought in coops and used as needed. In my early childhood a few still brought their milk cow with them. They lived some distance and could not go home every day to milk them. Sunday of campmeeting was a big day. The Bishop would come down for the 11:00 a.m. service. This service would last so long. The raising of the money always came first - who will give $100, $50, $10, $5? They would get so much that way, then pass the plate for the $1 and change. Bishop Warren Candler would then preach a very long service. In the afternoon after the 3:00 service, Mr. Roy Turner would come up to the little house that generated the lights and start it up for the night service. We had torch lights around on the trees so we could see to go to church and to the big spring." The ecumenical tradition of Shingleroof continued through the 1930's. Henrietta Lambdin Turner wrote in The Henry County Weekly in August of 1931 that through the years Shingleroof Campmeeting has been the meeting place of many denominations and reported that a religious census taken in 1930 showed that seven Protestant denominations were represented among the tent holders.

The tradition of reunions at Shingleroof continued in the 1930's. Mary Elliott Bruce has provided original programs from 1932 of the reunion of the Georgia State Association of Elliott Families. These Elliott reunions were all day affairs and were on a monumental scale. Attendance was routinely in the thousands, there was a full program and dinner on the grounds. The honored speaker was typically the Governor of Georgia, as was the case with Gov. Richard Russell in 1932, or some other prominent statewide official. The Atlanta Journal reported on the Elliott Reunion in the July 20, 1932 edition. The paper reported a crowd of 2,000 gathered for the reunion of the descendents of Mary Cloud Elliott (1756-1840), who brought her 4 sons and 5 daughters to settle in the Henry County wilderness in 1825.

Shingleroof has a long history of large crowds and prominent ministers. On August 22, 1930 the Wesleyan Christian Advocate reported that Bishop Warren A. Candler preached at Shingleroof Campground the previous Sunday to a large crowd estimated at 4,000. The cycles of deterioration and destruction continued and in 1938 a disastrous fire burned the north line of tents. In the Shingleroof Campground Sesquicentennial, the Patrick/McKibben Family reported that: "Clements Patrick saw the smoke from Highway 81 and raced to the campground just in time to salvage the bench and dining table built by Grandpa Clements." This north line was destroyed but the whole row was replaced by new tents by the middle 1960's.

Elsie Glass Rowan described her memories of Campmeeting in the 1930's in the Shingleroof Campground Sesquicentennial in 1980. She said: "I recall my first encampments with my grandparents, Lovett (1862-1949) and Elliott Glass (1866-1954), who loaded their mule drawn wagon before daylight with stovewood, chickens, country hams, bedding and other necessities for a week long stay. As we headed into the eastern sunrise on the two mile trek, it seemed like a pathway to heaven to a small girl whose pleasant memories of previous campmeeting were the highlight of her year - not even surpassed by Christmas." This description of Shingleroof in the 1930's could have just as accurately described any campmeeting in the 100 years prior to that time. The changes, which occurred during the first century, were so insignificant as to be unnoticeable. 

End of Chapter Eight


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