|City/Town: • Uchee|
|Location Class: • Religious|
|Built: • 1857 | Abandoned: • ~2015|
|Status: • Abandoned|
|Photojournalist: • David Bulit|
Table of Contents
The Community of Uchee
The oldest continually active church in Russell County, Good Hope Baptist Church is located in the unincorporated community of Uchee. The town is one of the earliest settlements in the Chattahoochee Valley, both before and after the forced removal of Native Americans from the area. In fact, land deeds between white settlers in the area date back to 1832, which coincides with the founding of Russell County. The name “Uchee” itself comes from the name of the nearby Uchee Creek, which in turn is named for the Yuchi tribe. The Yuchi lived around present-day Russell County before being removed to Indian Territory.
Despite being a small community, Uchee played an important role as a cultural, political, and religious center in its early years. Three academies were established in the area: Good Hope, Spring Grove, and Andrew’s Chapel. Good Hope Academy was located on the ground. Furthermore, Uchee was the hometown of Russell County’s first member of the Alabama House of Representatives, Nimrod Washington Long. A post office operated in Uchee from 1835 to 1907. Today, Uchee is a quiet, rural community, and many of its residents are employed in the nearby Russell County Prison.
Good Hope Baptist Church
Good Hope Baptist Church was organized on July 29, 1837, by Reverend Obediah Echols and Reverend Albert G. Beckham. The original members of the church were Robert Jelks, David Covington, Ann Covington, Jane Miles, Mary Davis, Lucindy Wallace, Barney and Alsey Ivey, Frederick G. and Rebecca Thomas, Ola Miles, Edwin C. Turner, Frances Ann Turner, and Sidney who was a slave of E. C. Turner. The day after the church was organized, the church received four slaves: Winnie, Archibald, and Esquire who were the property of James Comer, and Kettie who was the property of Barney Ivey.
On September 22, 1837, the church unanimously chose Obediah Echols as its first pastor. That same day, Nimrod W. and Catherine Long, John C. Kindred, and John A. Richardson.
A committee made up of F. G. Thomas, Robert Jelks, Barney Ivey, John Richardson, and Nimrod W. Long, selected the site of the church and decided that it would be built on the lot next to Good Hope Academy. Good Hope Male and Female Academy was constructed on land acquired from John R. Spain and its trustees were made up of both Methodists and Baptists.
The land Good Hope Academy once stood upon was purchased from the government in 1852 by a local builder named Laban Scott Johnson who also served as Postmaster of Uchee. Johnson was responsible for the construction of Good Hope Baptist Church in 1857 and the local Threadgill-Williamson House in the Greek-Revival style. He was also responsible for the construction of the historic Uchee Methodist Church located about a mile east of Good Hope.
Tragically, a tornado destroyed Good Hope Baptist Church in 1990. However, thanks to the efforts of the historical society, the church was reconstructed using only original materials. Although the rebuilt structure is only about a quarter of its original depth, it stood for many years as a testament to the dedication and preservation of local history. The church sustained tornado damage once again in 2015 and although repairs were made, the church has since fallen into disrepair.