Kiokee Baptist

Kiokee Baptist

Churches of Columbia County

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Columbia County lies along the Savannah River in east central Georgia, bordering South Carolina just northwest of Augusta. It was created by an act of the state legislature from a northern part of Richmond County on December 10, 1790. In the colonial era the territory that constitutes Columbia County was laid out as part of St. Paul Parish. Named for explorer Christopher Columbus, the county was created in response to a request by backcountry settlers that they be given court sessions that would be more convenient than those held in Augusta.  The eastern edge of the county is bordered by the Savannah River which acts to separate Georgia from South Carolina.  To the south of Columbia County is Richmond County and to the north Lincoln County. 

Beginning in the 1770’s numerous people begin crossing the Savannah River and migrating into Columbia County.  Frequently, the settlers were from Virginia, North and South Carolina, Maryland or simply the older colonies.  In 1783, State legislation was passed which provided each head of the household ‘headrights’ or ‘bounty’ land grants.  After February 17, 1783, State legislation was passed which provided each head of the household headrights.  A married man could obtain 200 acres, plus 50 additional acres for each member of his family and each slave at a cost of from one to four shillings per acre.  Bounty land grants were made to veterans of the Revolutionary War in lieu of monetary compensation for military service.  Grants were limited to 1,000 acres and the applicant was required to live on the land for at least a year and cultivate a minimum of 3% of the total acreage. The individual could then apply to the Governor’s office for the grant and pay all necessary fees.  The grant would then be issued and recorded.

The current county seat, Appling, was chartered in 1816 and was named for Colonel Daniel Appling, a War of 1812 hero from the Columbia County area.  The Quaker town of Wrightsborough was founded in the 1760s, and William Bartram recorded a visit to that town in 1773.  Both the oldest Baptist church in the state, Kiokee (established in 1772), and the third oldest, Abilene (established in 1774), were founded in what became Columbia County.  After the Georgia Railroad began construction in the 1830’s, several towns such as Harlem and Grovetown, sprang up or began to flourish.  By the 1850’s, thousands of acres in Columbia County were cotton plantations.  Census records show that the county had a slave population of nearly 8,300, more than twice the white population.

The county provided several leaders in national affairs.  Of the six delegates appointed to attend the constitutional convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1787, William Few Jr. and Abraham Baldwin were from the portion of Richmond County that became Columbia.  Few and Baldwin were the only two Georgia delegates who signed to ratify the Constitution of the United States.  Both later served in the U.S. Senate, Baldwin as president pro tempore under U.S. president Thomas Jefferson.