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Dorchester Village did not survive Civil War
Liberty lore
Margie Love
Margie Love is a history buff. - photo by File photo

Dorchester Village in Liberty County was the last of the villages to separate from Midway Church.

In 1843, Rev. T. S. Winn suggested that a community be established between Midway and Sunbury. Land was purchased from Mr. B.A. Busby because it was high and dry.

Twenty-eight 1-acre homesites were placed around a 4-acre square in the center of the village. Some people built new homes, but others tore down their former homes in Sunbury and rebuilt them in Dorchester.

Pear orchards, vegetable gardens, grape arbors, plum trees and flower gardens were planted around each homesite as were wild olive trees and tea plants or bushes.

Many families had plantations in the area where Sea Island cotton, corn, sugar cane and other crops were grown.

Most of the homes built there were almost alike. They were large two-story houses with porches extending across the front shaded by moss-covered oaks. A picket fence and gate enclosed the yard. The houses had glass windows with shutters on them.

A small school house was built on the 4-acre tract. (I think this little school house has been moved to the old Dorchester Consolidated School now and restored.) Sunday school was also conducted at the academy. The academy had only one teacher for all ages of the children. Friday afternoons were for reciting poetry, reading original compositions written by the students or performing charades.

Midway Church was only 6 miles away so the people decided they did not need a church house. Later, in 1854, they decided they did need a church and erected Dorchester Presbyterian Church. The historical Sunbury market bell, which has been used on many occasions, was installed in the belfry. The marble baptismal font is the one given by Dr. William McWhir to Midway Church.

Dorchester received a silver tankard or pitcher, a bread basket and one goblet from the silver communion service that was divided by Midway Church. This had been part of a contribution given by John Lambert and Simon Munro. They are now in the Midway Museum. The Rev. James Thomas Hamilton Waite’s son, Arthur, built the pulpit or lectern.

At first, the church was used only for summer services, but beacuse of the impoverished condition of the people after the War Between the States, the people wanted to organize their own church to be used all the time. It was officially organized in 1871.

To the delight of the children in the congregation, there was always a bee hive in the church and, sometimes, one or two stung the organist or a long-winded speaker.

The devotion and inspiration of its members kept the church going even when the pastor was not there.

Today, the church is open once a year, on the third Sunday in October, for services.

In 1884, the Liberty Independent Troop gathered on the Sunbury road and advanced in fours up Dorchester Avenue with more than 200 spectators. They halted in front of the Abial Winn house and were greeted.

After a brief speech, the troop performed its usual drill and then went across the road to the church, where the Rev. Montgomery delivered an address. The bugle sounded for dinner, and the ladies and guests were seated at the main table under the trees. The troopers were seated and served in the academy, where they could rest from the heat and tedious activities they had been doing all morning.

The convention was held in the afternoon, and Fleming Martin won as first prize a $20 saddle. Joe Norman won second prize at the dance that night, a lovely cake. Miss Rosalie was crowned with a wreath of flowers as the queen of the dance, which lasted into the wee hours of the morning.

The War Between the States destroyed the village of Dorchester. Many families went to Thomasville with other relatives and friends.

In the Abial Winn home, across the road from the church, Yankees set fire to some Confederate uniforms in an upstairs bedroom and left the house to burn. Some of the slaves put out the blaze. The floor was never repaired and was still that way when the house burned in 1932.

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