Thursday, March 15, 2012

Early Union County Settler Adam Corn Noted as a Minister

He was likely referred to as “Elder” Corn among those who knew him. His name was Adam Corn, an ordained Baptist minister, who was living with his family in Union County Georgia by the time of the 1840 census. Extant family stories about this pioneer state that he moved here from North Carolina by 1839. In the 1839 census, his household had four males and four females. By age distribution, one male was five to ten, one was ten to fifteen, one twenty to thirty, and one fifty to sixty; females were two aged fifteen to twenty, one thirty to forty, and one fifty to sixty. The elder two listed in the household would likely have been Rev. Adam Corn and his wife, Hannah Heatherly Corn. Although the last name of another family living in Union at the time of the 1840 census was spelled Carne, it was likely intended to be Corn, the eldest son of Rev. Adam Corn. In that household were John Carne (Corn) who was between thirty and forty, his wife, and one child, a female under five.

As we shall see, this early Baptist minister was what we call today a church planter, for everywhere he went, including Union and Towns Counties in North Georgia, he started new churches. He was aided in this work (especially in the North Carolina area) by two more noted ministers of that early settlements era, the Rev. Humphrey Posey and the Rev. Stephen Smith. Bonded together in their work with frontier settlements and mission work with the Cherokee Indians, these men contributed significantly to early church establishment and mission work in Virginia, North and South Carolina and North Georgia.

Adam Corn was born May 2, 1783 in Albemarle County, Virginia, the son of John Peter and Elizabeth Parr Corn. His father was a Revolutionary War soldier. His grandparents were Matthew and Millie Corn and John and Miriam Parr, all of Henry County, Virginia. When Adam was a young lad of about eleven, his family moved from Virginia to Surrey County, North Carolina, then on to Wilkes County where so many who migrated from Union County had settled.

Adam Corn met Hannah Heatherly in Buncombe County, North Carolina. Her parents had migrated there from the old Pendleton District in South Carolina. Adam and Hannah were living near her parents, the John Heatherlys, in the 1810 census of Buncombe County. Adam was ordained as a Baptist minister in 1812 by the Mud Creek Baptist Church in Henderson, North Carolina. Thus began his career as a minister, church organizer and itinerant preacher and pastor. We trace several moves over the next years as he assisted the Rev. Humphrey Posey of the Board of Domestic Missions and the Rev. Stephen White, sometimes called a “hardshell Baptist preacher” to organize churches. “Hardshell” often referred to an anti-missions position of doctrine. Since Corn and Posey were obviously quite missions-minded, one wonders how the three then cooperated. Perhaps the demarcations in beliefs were not as divisive in those early years and people welcomed ordained itinerant preachers to deliver sermons, perform funerals and weddings, and baptize converts at the locations of scattered churches.

We trace Adam Corn’s ministry to the Cullowhee District in Jackson County, North Carolina where their eldest son, John, was born in 1813, and where he assisted with missions to the Indians and in organizing the Cullowhee Baptist Church. He was also an organizer of the Tuckaseegee Baptist Association at Cullowhee and presided at the meeting. He was present and led in organizing the Waynesville Baptist Church in 1823. He, the Rev. Stephen White and the Rev. Humphrey Posey organized the Cowee Baptist Church on March 15, 1828, and Rev. Posey served as its first pastor. Other churches he and the Rev. Humphrey Posey founded were the Locust Field Baptist Church in Canton (now First Baptist of Canton, NC), Mt. Zion Baptist Church at the Arneechee Ford of the Oconaluftee River, as well as the Luftee Baptist Church, the latter in 1836.

Then when Indian lands opened up in Union County, Georgia, Elder Adam Corn moved his family there about 1839. Within that area Rev. Corn led in organizing Macedonia Baptist Church which is south of present-day Hiawassee in Towns County, Brasstown Baptist Church, and Old Union Baptist Church in Young Harris. Towns County was formed from Union in 1856. Without moving, Rev. Adam Corn became a resident of the new county. Their farm was in the Bell Creek Community. He continued active in the ministry for all of his long life. Records show that he baptized his two older sons, John and Alfred, in the Hiawassee River in 1841 and they became members of the Macedonia Baptist Church their father had helped to organize. Alfred himself became a noted minister. Adam’s son John Corn served as the first moderator of the Hiawassee Baptist Association in 1849.

The graves of Rev. Adam Corn and his wife Hannah Heatherly Corn are in the Lower Bell Creek Baptist Church Cemetery. She died February 8, 1859 and he died September 12, 1871, at age 88. He had served as a minister for sixty years.

c2012 by Ethelene Dyer Jones. Published March 15, 2012 online with permission of the author at the GaGenWebProject. All rights reserved.

1 comment:

  1. Contrary to the implications in this blog, Rev. Stephen White, my husband's g-g-g-grandfather, was not "anti-missions". In fact, all the documentation I have on him indicates he was not only missions-minded, but was in fact a missionary who came to America from Englad. The following excerpt from an article in the 23 May 1929 edition of the Franklin Press, expounds upon and commends Rev. Stephen White for his missionary vision>:

    "More History Of Macon Churches"

    "Names of Pioneers Who Settled in Various Valleys"

    (Published in The Franklin Press, 23 May 1929)

    Rev Stephen White was in the first presbytery which led in the formation of the church. Little is known about him. He was a member of the Stekoe church, Rabun county, Ga. He wrote the circular letter of Tugalo association in 1820. Only men of ability, discernment and degree of literary expression were selected to write these circular letters to the churches. In this letter he deplored the destitution existing in the mountain sections. He noted the scarcity of ministers in the territory. North Georgia had only begun to be settled in 1818. Stekoe church was one of the first in the region. Stephen White was an early minister and missionary, who looked across the border into North Carolina and saw the destitution there. He urged his Georgia ministerial brethren to visit the destitute sections to the north, He also sent out notice to ministers of other associations to look over the fields at the white harvests in the mountains. One writer says of him: "He was evidently a public spirited zealous and far-seeing man." He led in the misssionary development of the Little Tennessee Valley. He saw by faith in this little valley a score or more Baptist churches a century from his time. He envisioned a wealthy paradise of agricultural and pastoral beauty among the hills. He saw the site of the future county seat of Macon county. He and Rev Corn doubtless consulted and gathered a little band of believers at Franklin to form a mother church of the present thirty-two Baptist churches in Macon county. It was a wise step. This missionary vision was given him by God, and he was led in the enterprise by the Holy Ghost.

    How much has come from his vision! Baptists have established churches in every valley and on many hillsides.

    Stephen White led the founding of the Franklin Baptist church. Out of this church have come Sugarfork, Cowee, Coweta, Holly Springs, Cartoogechaye, Wautauga and many others. Franklin is a mother and a grandmother of churches. She led in the foundation of Dillard's church paying back Georgia for leading in the formation of the Franklin church.

    Missions have no state bounds. Georgia Baptists saw a need of a church at Dillard's and established it.

    The Franklin Baptist church is now one hundred seven years old. From a little band of twenty in 1822 she has sent out material to form 31 other churches, and now has over four hundred members. Do missions pay? Does it pay to have a missionary vision? Does it pay to work for Jesus.

    Let us thank God that Stephen White and others loked (sic) across the state line and saw the early destitution in these parts.