Thomasville Times Enterprise

Local News

February 13, 2014

Valentine brunch Sunday at historic Dawes Presbyterian

THOMASVILLE — A 77-year-old Thomas County church continues to serve the community and issue invitations to worship.

Dawes Presbyterian Church, founded in 1937, conducts Sunday School at 9 a.m. and a worship service at 10 a.m.

 On Sunday, a Valentine brunch will be held after the worship service at the 231984 Ga. 3 church.

 The Rev. Richard T. Gillespie, First Presbyterian Church pastor, with assistance from First Presbyterian elders and church members, organized a Sunday School for the Dawes community in 1937.

Services were conducted in a small, improvised chapel off the Albany highway, the use of which was granted by Roy Hay.

From 1937 to 1941, Gillespie was pastor. Leroy Edwards was Sunday School superintendent, Stella Rowe, Mrs. Guy Milton and Mrs. Will Watt were Sunday School teachers.

Sunday School, which convened at 3 p.m. on Sunday afternoons, was well-attended by adults and children of the community.

W.A. Dawes and Lillie Dell Craft were married on Jan. 23, 1886, and to the union was born one child, E.A. Dawes. Mr. and Mrs. Dawes came to Thomasville from Wabash, Ind. Their son had previously moved to Thomasville, where he was engaged in business.

Upon the Dawes’ arrival, W.A. Dawes entered into partnership with his son in the establishment of the Dawes Silica Mining Co., which from a very small and humble beginning, grew into one of the largest operations of its kind in the Southeast.

For many years, he was actively engaged in affairs of the business, but after the death of his wife in 1938, he practically retired from business, never, however, losing his interest in further growth and development of the establishment nor of this community to which he was an adopted resident and most devoted.

W.A. Dawes was a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Thomasville, and for many years was active in work of the church, believing implicitly in the mission of the church as a means for spreading the Gospel word.

He had given liberally of his time and means to the support of Christian endeavor and in every-day life he had exemplified the finest tenets of the faith he professed, for he was ever ready and eager to help the needy and distressed, to lend comfort and aid to those needing assistance, and in many ways he had quietly and unostentatiously gone about lending a helping hand to others.

Lillie Craft Dawes had expressed a desire that the community would at sometime in the future be served by a church. In memory of their wife and mother, W.A. Dawes and E.A. Dawes built a beautiful white chapel on the Dawes property. The building is of semigothic design and was designed by Prince Jinright, local architect, and friend to W.A. and E.A. Dawes.

Much of the labor for the building was contributed by men of the community. The chapel was dedicated Dec. 29, 1940, as Dawes Memorial Chapel. A bronze tablet on the exterior bears the following inscription:

“To the Glory of God and in loving Memory of LILLIE CRAFT DAWES 1863-1938.  This Memorial Erected by W.A. and E.A. Dawes Husband and Son who loved her so much — Prince Jinright    Architect.”

Beginning in the church year 1941, Dawes had 41 members. During the same year, a ladies circle was formed and a Sunday  School also was organized.

Daily vacation Bible schools and many revival services were conducted by First Presbyterian Church members. The Session of  the First Presbyterian Church also was the Session of Dawes Memorial Chapel.

The Rev. William McKay, First Presbyterian Church assistant pastor, was placed in charge of the chapel in 1941. Regular church services were held every Sunday morning.

In 1962, Dawes pastor, the Rev. R.T. Wallace, and his wife began working with members of the church to establish Dawes chapel into a church of its own. On Feb. 11, 1962, Dawes Chapel became Dawes Presbyterian Church.

Since the chapel’s dedication in 1940, the structure and grounds have taken on many changes to a more modernized state. With its improvements and rural setting, surrounded by cotton fields and pecan trees, it is quite eye-catching to passers-by. On numerous occasions, people have used the facilities for weddings because of the simple beauty of the church and its surroundings.

Two former Sunday School rooms were recently dedicated to the memory of the founders, the Rev. Richard T. Gillespie, the Rev. William McKay, Mrs. Will Watt, Stella Rowe, Leroy Edwards, W.A. and E.A. Dawes and Mr. and Mrs. Robert T. Wallace. The rooms have displays of church items and photographs from 1937 to 1962.

Another room has been dedicated to Ruth Butler Causey, a charter member, who has blessed the church with many contributions and dedication to the chapel and church.

Further information about the church may be obtained by calling (229) 226-5386 or (229) 228-9841.


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