Loudsville Campmeeting

Loudsville Campmeeting
July 19-25, 2004
History of Loudsville Campmeeting

Written by Porter Glover
Edited by Jim Hubbard

This history was written in the mid 1980's by Porter Glover. It is registered with the White County Historical Society and original copies may be obtained from the White County Library.Much of the information was included in the Foxfire volume #7 on churches in North Georgia. Unless otherwise stated, comments and notes were added by Jim Hubbard in the fall of 2003. Every effort has been made to maintain the authenticity of the original document while adding up to date information, and to document the more recent history for the future generations. We have so many children involved now that a long future is assured.

Loudsville Campground, a Methodist institution located 4 miles Northwest of Cleveland, Georgia, off Highway 129, had it's beginning during the time when the first settlers were coming to that part of White County. Records show that the first ones to arrive there included a Methodist preacher in a caravan. The name derived from a gold miner named Philogus Loud from Philadelphia, PA., who prospected in the area in the early 1830's.

The date of the first campmeeting is not known. It was learned through Gordon Leonard and Harve Allison that the first "brush arbors" were located in a hollow just east of the present Loudsville Church,, however, it is thought that these arbors were used for revival meetings since the first Church-Schoolhouse was built of logs and naturally had very little ventilation. This caused them to go outside and build an arbor for their meetings. The first church was located just South of the present church on property now owned by Mrs. James F. Glover (deceased) which is adjacent to the first location. It is generally agreed there were no tents (cabins) at this place since the terrain is steep and rough. One can see why it was moved to the present site.

It is believed that the first campmeeting, as we know it today, was held around the year 1835. Apparently the first church was very crude and inadequate and a new one was built around 1839. The first deed was made by Frances Logan, 14 July, 1839, to the Trustees, John C. Allen, Allison Ledford, Andrew H. Ledford, Joseph M. Powell, and Rev. John L. Richardson, of the church. At that date this part of White County was a part of Habersham County. This deed was recorded in the clerks office of Habersham County in book R R, page 244-245, the 18th of April, 1850, and later filed for record in White County Superior Court, 31 May 1901, in Book K, Pages 288-289, 5 June 1901. This deed called for 2 acres with the church in the center. There was a rumor that Sam Densmore and Major Frank Logan were about to have a law suit about a small tract of land, so Major Logan went over to Clarksville and deeded the land to the Loudsville Campground. Both men were Methodist.

In a statistical report of Habersham County by George White in 1849 it read "Loudsville is in the western part of the county, 13 miles from Dahlonega and 21 miles from Clarkesville, surrounded by mountains and amidst the gold region. The place has been settled for 16 years, has one store, a school, and a church belonging to the Methodists." According to this report, the first settlement of the area was in 1833.

The camp grew, and for years part of the arbor and many of the tents were built on adjacent landowner's property. On August 31, 1949, the White Brothers (Will, John, Frank, Henry, and Charley, who at the time owned the original tract of land from which the first land was given, deeded additional acreage to the Trustees of the campground. Then on November 26, 1949, Mrs. Ben Ledford deeded one acre more to the Trustees of the campground. This gift was made in memory of Tom B. and Hulda Ledford, the parents of Ben Ledford. This area has since been bisected by the highway. Then on August 25, 1966, Miss Pearl Sims made a deed for approximately one acre in the Northeastern sector of the grounds.. Now for the first time in over 125 years, the campground owns all of the land it has been using.

The first permanent arbor was built by placing huge posts in the ground with a roof built upon the posts covered with split boards. One such arbor lasted until 1905 when it was extensively renovated. Will Pardue was in charge of rebuilding and it is said that Tom Ledford dragged the rafters two or more miles using the front wheels of a wagon as a means of conveyance. Coke Ledford hewed the beams for the structure. This was covered with sawed shingles. In 1920 the metal roof was put on (photo) which lasted until 1948 when that structure was torn down and the present one built. (Note 1) The arbor was dedicated by Bishop Marvin Franklin who was born in a log cabin two or three miles from the campground.

There was a year or so during the "War Between the States" that campmeeting was not held. During slavery time and many years thereafter there was an area for the slaves and other colored people to sit during the service.
In early years travel was difficult and the people would stay on the encampment. Even those who did not own a "tent" would camp under the arbor or stay in the tents of relatives and friends. Until recently there were four services each day. At first campmeeting would start on Wednesday and go through Sunday. Now it begins on Monday and lasts through Sunday night. The date for campmeeting was the week following the forth Sunday in August. Recently it was changed to the week following the first Sunday in August so as not to conflict with the opening of school. (Ed. Note: in 2001 it was moved to the week following the third Sunday in July, once again to avoid opening of school.)

The time of campmeeting in the early days was truly a time of revival of one's soul. Preachers would come from far and near. Many local preachers were used and soul stirring messages were heard each day. Testimonial meetings were not uncommon. Many people shouted while they were relating their religious experiences. Even with this, there were times when it seemed that the people were "Hell Bound." On the last night of campmeeting in August of 1886 a preacher by the name of Newt Austin prayed "If it took it to change the ways of the people for the Lord to send an earthquake to wake them up." Sure enough on the Tuesday night following campmeeting the earthquake come. People awoke with horror. A man by the name of Lon Allen (Dr. Charles Allen's uncle) awoke very frightened. In his terror and anguish he was quoted as saying "Damn old Newt Austin."

Some of the first tentholders were Rufus Asbury, S. P. Densmore, E. P. Williams, Frank Logan, Marion Crumley, Allison Ledford, Tom McAfee, Andrew H. Ledford, Henson Allen, and John C. Allen. The first tents were made of logs with a ribbed frame for the roof which was made of boards. Other early tentholders were Bart Allison, Jim Abernathy, Brady Ledford, Cicero Bell, Tommy Winkler, Moody Glover, Anderson Allen, Jeptha Ledford, Salle Hamilton, Jim Sutton, Lamb Allison, Smith Crumley, Eli Allen, Wesley A. Allen, Rufus Ledford, Tom Ledford, Harv Allen, John Allen, Coke Ledford, Jim Jarrard, Anderson Cantrell, Peggy Allen, Lewis Allison, T.V. Cantrell, Curtis Ledford, John M. Smith, Alfred Clark, and others.

In years gone by Loudsville Campground was the site of Quarterly Conferences of the Methodist Church of Cleveland and Dahlonega circuits. One such conference in 1867 included: Q.A. Simmons, presiding Elder, Noah H. Pllmour, Pastor in charge, S.P. Densmore, W.C.Hughes, Charles Payne, W.B.Allison, G.K. Quillian, Miles Abernathy, J.M.Dean, J.C.Bell, G.B. Jarrard, M. Crumley, Allison Ledford, Joel Abernathy, Andrew H. Ledford, and S.A. Major. A report was made of $6.00 for the presiding Elder and $23.35 for the pastor in charge. County-wide Sunday School Celebrations (Children's Day) were held at Loudsville Campground in October of each year for many years.

In early years covered wagons were used as a means of travel and people would bring a coop of live chickens and a milk cow to help provide food for the week. During the time when there was a fence law all stock ran loose to graze so the arbor had a fence around it. Any fresh produce brought had to be lowered into a covered earth pit to keep it cool. The spring was also used for cooking purposes. Many would find a place in the tent that was cool, sweep off the ground, place a clean cloth on it, and lay pies, custards, sweetbread, etc. that they had brought from home. There were no stoves, but some would build a fireplace at the end of the tent without a chimney.

Water for the camp was obtained from a spring some distance away until a dwelling house was built the road from the campground around the turn of the century. Their well was then the "public well" for the tentholders and visitors. The business of taking buckets to go get water provided the young men a way to help the young ladies do the chore, but most of all it gave them the opportunity to talk to the ones they had been "eyeing." Many times courtships had their beginning at campmeeting. In 1939 wells were dug at convenient places and hand pumps installed. In 1954 an electric pump was installed and a water line laid around to the rear of all the tents. Tentholders began to install modern conveniences such as electric stoves, refrigerators, bathrooms, etc. as of 1968 most families had all the conveniences of modern homes and these "tents" served as cabins for weekend or even vacation "get-a-ways." The elevation being around 1700 feet affords cool nights even in the summer.

There were no musical instruments in the early days. All they had was a tuning fork which sounded middle C. Then the song leader would hum up or down the scale until the desired pitch was reached. Then a metrical system was used for the tune, which is a certain number of quarter notes, so many eighth notes and so on in a verse. For many years one such song leader around the 1850's was James F. Glover (great great grandfather of the writer.) Later a reed organ came into existence and was used for years. Currently the piano and electric organ are used.

For years a trumpet made by Marian Crumley (great grandfather of the wrier) was used to remind people it was time for a service. Jeptha A. Ledford was trumpeter in the 19th and early 20th centuries and Oscar Howard and Pat Allison can be remembered as two of the best trumpeters in the 20th century.

In August 1896 a pastor by the name of Cowen recommended that the men sit on one side of the aisle and the women on the other. This was approved at the "Tentholders Meeting." John Henry Brown and his girl friend, Miss Lou Turner, came in and sat together. The campground marshals, Hughes Allen, Jim Morris, and Riley Helton promptly asked Mr. Brown to move across the aisle. Instead he just left the arbor and his girlfriend followed him. Others had trouble when they were asked to move. Otis Henley was ordered to move, but he refused. The marshals moved him by force. In escorting Mr. Henley off the premises, one of the lawmen, H. Riley Helton, was stabbed. This incident caused much hard feeling so by the time the October term of court tension had mounted until someone had set fire to the tents and all the south side burned. This incident ended the separation of the sexes.

The light used at night was made by building dirt filled stands at intervals around the arbor. (Note 2) These were about 4 feet high and a fire was built on top. These gave light to the inside as well as the surrounding area. Around the turn of the century kerosene oil lamps and lanterns began being used. Eli Allen cared for the lamps for many years. He was also a marshal for many years. In the early 1930's Frank Purdue, a tentholder, began furnishing electric lights for the arbor by borrowing an electric generator from Charley Poland, a gold miner. He turned the generator with gas engines of different types. (Note 3)Then about 1940 gas lights were used for one year. The next year the REA lines were built and electric lights were used.

In the early days it did not take much money to operate the campground. As late as 1910 the total collection for the week was $18.00. The expenses amounted to $15.00. The members of the finance committee that year were Moody Glover, Chairman Sam Howard, and John Clark. Now it is not uncommon to have an expense of $5,000.00 or more. (Note 4) Most of the revenue is derived from those who tent and enjoy campmeeting, although visitors are good to help defray the costs of improvements and expenses of the week. As of 1968 there are 53 tents. Many of these are two story. (Note 5)

North Georgia has produced some notable religious leaders. Among those reared near Loudsville are Bishop Marvin Franklin, Bob Allen (Father of Dr. Charles Allen, Cicero Bell, Bob Allison, Marvin Allen, Smith Crumley, Stanton Howard, L. Q. Reid, and Wesley Allen. Rev. Hoyt Allen and Rev. Glen Pardue are the latest persons to enter the ministry.

Much of the information given to this writer was from Aunt Ann (Ledford) Bell, who at the age of seven carried water to her father while he helped rebuild a brush arbor. From that time until her death she never missed a campmeeting, even though she was the mother of twelve children.

The main source of information was from Frank Reid who gave many dates, incidents, and names. Other information was secured from Mrs. Mood (Ocie Ledford) Allison, niece of Frank Logan; Gordon Leonard,, Shirley McDonald, Marion Glover, and Mrs. T. F. Glover.

Notes: 1. The new arbor was built in 1948, by the local members and trustees. I have heard several people tell that Frank Pardue worked so much on it that he did not make a garden that year. The construction is unbelievable. They hand made trusses to span the 60 foot width, using hand tools. The trusses use a ring placed in circles cut into the beams, then simply held in place with a bolt. The strength is in the ring hole which is about a 3 inch diameter, instead of the smaller bolt. The roofing was replaced in the early 1980's. See related story.

2. These were duplicated at the 150th year celebration under the supervision of Claude Pardure. See related story.

3. I heard Claude Pardue telling the tale of the year his father (Frank) backed his truck up on a stump at the rear of the campground lifting one wheel off the ground. They placed the generator against the tire and ran the truck during the evening service and for a couple of hours afterward. Many people thought that the addition of electricity to the campground would ruin campmeeting.

4. The budget for 2003 was about $22,000. Some of this pays the preachers, musicians, children and youth leaders and supplies. The remainder is used for improvements. Examples are new water lines, utilities for a new row of tents, a "year round" fire water line, sidewalks, expansion of the choir loft when the children outgrew it, ball field and basketball court, sound system, security lights, enlarged preacher's tent so families can come, etc.

5. There are now 73 tents with 2 new ones scheduled before next year. Attendance often nears 400 at evening church, with about 95 at children's service, 45 mid-teens, and 60 youth. A welcome center with rest rooms, maps of the campground, and a telephone was built near the visitor parking lot in the mid 1990's.

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