A Brief History of Nails Creek Baptist Church
August 2, 2010
Nails Creek Baptist Church is among the oldest Baptist churches in the state of Georgia. It was the first church of any kind to be organized in the state’s northwest frontier settlements. The Reverend Moses Sanders was the missionary who founded the church and started it as a mission for Indians in the area. Rev. Sanders was born in Westshire, England in 1732 and came to the New World seeking religious freedom in the 1770s. He served in the Continental Army under George Washington and the American Revolution made him a hero. He had many scars from bayonet wounds and one source said, “He got the scars in a bayonet fight and the Brit lost.”
After moving to Banks County, Rev. Sanders built a log chapel to minister to the Indians and early settlers. The community at the time was wild frontier territory with only a few settlers. Tradition states that there was a fort where the church was located. It was a public meeting place and General Elijah Clark and his soldiers were said to have camped there more than once on their expeditions against the Indians. It was not uncommon for men to carry their muskets to church on the Sabbath.
On February 11, 1787, Nails Creek Baptist Church was established and Rev. Sanders became the first pastor. The church was named for the community which was called Nails Creek for Joe Nails who ran a trading post.
The first building served the church until around 1800 when the membership increased to a point where a new structure was needed. That building was said to have been a masterpiece of architecture for the time. The people freely gave of their time and labor to build it. It was constructed of the best huge yellow pines from the nearby forests. Congregations were so large that some wondered where they all came from. They arrived in surreys, wagons, on horseback and many walked. Every available seat was taken and people stood around the wall, at the doors and in windows. They would place their wagons near the window so they could hear.
In 1864 the meeting house burned and the culprit was thought to be an enemy of the Confederacy. There was no house of worship until 1868 when a house of built. That building was torn down and another framed building was erected where the church worshiped. The present brick building was built in 1908 at a cost of $6000. The church was built with hand-cast brick. It has large, distinctive timbers throughout the center of the sanctuary to support the 20 foot high ceiling.
Nails Creek Baptist Church has the honor of being the mother church of Middle River Baptist Church, Grove Level Baptist Church, and Indian Creek Baptist Church. It also contributed to the building of New Bethel Baptist Church and Webb’s Creek Baptist Church. Nails Creek has always been a mission church.