Choose another Topic

Ben Hill County Historical Markers

First Baptist Church Bell

  • Source: David Seibert
  • Marker: First Baptist Church Bell
  • Location: First Baptist Church, 402 S. Merrimac in Fitzgerald


This bell was awarded to the First Baptist Church by Governor William J. Northen (1833-1913) to honor the first church built in the Colony City of Fitzgerald. Governor Northen was an outstanding Baptist layman who graduated from Mercer University at the age of 18 and was president of the Georgia Baptist Convention for 14 years. He was president of the Southern Baptist Convention during 1899-1901 and served as a Mercer trustee for 44 years.

Fitzgerald was settled during the summer of 1895 by 2,700 Union Veterans and many Georgians. The First Baptist Church was constituted by 34 charter membes on December 15, 1895. The members first met in a furniture store and built their first church, a 32 by 60 feet perpendicular slab building constructed during the winter of 1896-97. In 1898 the church, now boasting 300 members, built a new frame buiilding with a tower for the prized bell. In 1912 the church laid a cornerstone for a handsome brick building where the church grew and propspered until 1972, when the church moved into this complex. President Jimmy Carter, then Governor, rededicated the bill in 1974.

This marker dedicated during the church centennial May 21, 1995