Pastor Leonard Quick is one of the leading hands in the project renovating Old Bark Camp Church near Midville.
1700s church being renovated
• Church is rich in local history, influence
By Regina Reagan
The Old Bark Camp Church, located four miles north of Midville off of Highway 56, is finally getting the attention it deserves.
After sitting completely idle for the past 40 years, a local group decided that the church's historical influence and role in shaping Burke, Jefferson and surrounding counties more than justify its restoration.
Pastor Leonard Quick, who grew up in the church as the son of Old Bark Camp's last deacon, is a leading hand in the restoration project.
"I was ordained right there in that building," Quick said last week while looking up at the weathered boards and rusted tin roof. "So you can see, it holds a special place in my heart."
Organized in 1788 and built in 1847, this church, which still has the original lights and pews, is looking at a major face-lift.
Former members of the church and descendents of the church members are more than happy to volunteer to help, including the members and descendents of the existing Bark Camp Baptist Church, just down the winding country road which was formed in 1868 by 309 former slaves.
The church's restoration project also includes reclaiming the cemetery, which was established before the Civil War and where many of the first members are buried, such as charter member Jonathon Coleman, who happened to be a revolutionary soldier. Also buried there is a soldier killed at Gettysburg and a confederate soldier who died of exhaustion running out of Atlanta when Sherman made his infamous march.
Quick has even found mention of "Sherman and his raiders" in the church's orignial minutes.
"Whoever kept the minutes said there's something wrong with humanity when you desecrate a cemetery, but we are leaving it in God's hands," Quick recalled walking between the weathered granite markers in the church's cemetery. "I assume that they were referring to the way they left the grounds. See, they were camped out here, all around the church."
Quick said the renovated church will not be used for regular weekly services but the committee in charge of the restoration has considered maybe including the church and the 10-acre property it lies on for weddings, holding community-wide Easter sunrise services and Thanksgiving celebrations.
"Number one is to save the building," Leonard Quick stated.
So far there has been some leveling done and some new wiring, but there are many changes ahead. First on the committee's to do list is replacing the roof using a lot of volunteer help. Other changes include replacing the shutters, refurbishing the windows, painting inside and out and cleaning the entire structure.
The expected finishing date is the end of March or sometime in the beginning of April. Quick said the committee is considering holding the public unveiling, complete with period dress and horse and buggy rides in coordination with this year's Ogeechee Red Breast Festival.
Farrer family raises reward to $25,000
• Family and friends asking others to contribute to growing reward fund
By Ben Nelms
There is no giving up on the mystery of the disappearance of Bill "Bo Peep" Farrer. Family and friends of the man who never met a stranger decided last week to offer a $25,000 reward to solve the mystery.
The disappearance of the 66 year-old Louisville resident on Sept. 12, 2002, sparked the largest sustained search for a missing person in Jefferson County history.
The scene of the mystery was set when his truck and fishing boat, pulled over a fallen tree in the creek with fishing gear intact, were found at his favorite fishing spot at Rocky Comfort Creek north of Louisville. A search of his house, interviews with community members, the investigation of his finances and credit card revealed nothing. A massive search over a five-month period in and around Rocky Comfort with a total of nearly 1,500 volunteers, donated earth moving equipment, a total of eight K-9 teams from Florida to Connecticut and 10 dive teams from Brunswick to Nashville revealed nothing. In late 2002, the possible explanations for his disappearance ranged from accident/injury death to a walk-away hoax to suicide to foul play.
For their part, more than two-dozen of his family members are far from satisfied with the results of the investigation and decided recently to take a different approach to the disappearance of their relative.
An Oct. 10 statement by the family said "the family and friends of Bill 'Bo Peep' Farrer are offering a reward of $25,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for Bo Peep's disappearance. Anyone with information about Bo Peep Farrer's disappearance is asked to contact Louisville attorney John Murphy."
Anyone providing information will do so in strict confidence, Murphy said Monday. Family members said they believe a substantial reward is necessary to get someone to share vital information about Bo Peep's fate, said brother Joe Farrer.
Bo Peep's siblings feel strongly that his disappearance is due to nothing less than murder. Their attempts to have both local law enforcement and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation consider anything other than accidental death or suicide have fallen on deaf ears, said Farrer's sister Mary Farrer Baker.
With a year having come and gone with no trace of their relative, family members say they still want an answer. The bizarre circumstances of Farrer's disappearance and his failure to be located deserve a conclusion for the community and closure for the family, they said.
The reward fund now sits at $25,000. The family added that any of Bo Peep's friends who might wish to contribute to the reward fund, whether by a direct donation or by pledging a specified amount of money, should contact Murphy at (478) 625-7281.
Two arrested for series of area thefts
By Ben Nelms
Half brothers from Matthews and Hephzibah were charged last week in the theft of five golf carts and one four-wheeler stolen from north Jefferson County residences over the past several months.
Steven James Wilcher, 17, of Hephzibah, and Kevin Daniel Wilcher, 17, of Matthews, were charged with five counts each of felony theft by taking and one count each of arson, according to a spokesman for the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office. The value of the items totaled approximately $15,800, investigators said.
All the vehicles were stolen from the north portion of Jefferson County in June, July and October. The most recent thefts, a golf cart stolen from a residence off Campground Road and a four-wheeler stolen at a residence off Noah Station Road, occurred in early October. Both items were recovered Oct. 10 and both had received minor damage. Both men were charged as adults in the case since they had reached their 17th birthdays, said investigators.
The remaining four golf carts were stolen during a period between late June and late July. The vehicles were stolen from residences on Oak Court, SR 221, Cedar Road and US 1 north. All were recovered within days of the thefts. All had been left either wrecked, partially submerged in a creek, burned or otherwise inoperable, investigators said. Both men will be charged as juveniles for the thefts and arson that occurred prior to their 17th birthdays.
The motivation for the thefts appeared to be joy riding, according to the sheriff's spokesman. All the vehicles appear to have been driven on paths in the same general location of north Jefferson County.
Investigators advised owners of golf carts and four-wheelers to have the items insured.
Glascock county moves offices
By Ben Nelms
In preparation for the upcoming renovation of the courthouse, Glascock County commissioners voted Oct. 7 to temporarily move county offices to the old school building in Gibson.
Funding for the renovation will come from the county's current one-percent Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST).
Commissioners had been considering between the old school and the former Tucker grocery store. The old school contains 11,370 square feet and will rent for $2,000 per month for the estimated 12-18 months required to renovate the courthouse. The commission's other option was $1,500 per month for 8,944 square feet at Tucker's grocery.
During the discussion, commissioners agreed that the additional space at the old school would be desirable.
Also considered was the amount of parking space at the school, which will accommodate more vehicles than the alternative location.
Plans for the courthouse renovation are anticipated to be ready within a month, with work anticipated to begin in late 2003 or early 2004.
The extensive renovation requires that all offices, including personnel and equipment, be vacated.
The renovation is funded by a local one-percent sales tax. One of the stipulations of the sales tax allows the county to pay rent with money from the SPLOST account.
Also at the meeting, commissioners provided a brief update on the TEA21 grant that will provide funds for the streetscape additions in downtown Gibson and the renovation of the Peebles house. Bids for the project are due later in the month. Once awarded, the project is expected to take approximately six months to complete.
Mention was also made of the potential for securing a $750,000 Community Block Grant that would enable Glascock County Family Connection and other agencies to secure better accommodations. The potential will be explored in coming months and will include exploratory meetings with the commission, Family Connection, the school board, library board, Glascock County Chamber of Commerce and others. Public meetings will be held if pursuit of the grant is determined to be feasible.