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Macedonia Baptist Church




Monroe Fordham


Mance Oxford was born in 1872.  We are not certain about the locality of his birth.  (Note: The U.S. Census tracts of 1920 simply reported “Georgia” as his place of birth.  The U.S. Census tracts of 1900 reported that Mance’s father’s name was Berry and his mother’s name was Jane.  The father’s and mother’s respective dates of birth were listed as 1832 and 1849.  The U.S. Census of 1900 listed the entire Berry Oxford family, except for Mance, who had gotten married and had left home in the 1890s.  The family’s place of residence was Terrell County GA, and the names and ages of Mance’s siblings were listed as follows; Ada-15, Huna-13, Field-12, Bud-11, Boon-10, and Scold-5).  One of Mance’s sisters, Ada, married Jim Williams, and raised their family in Parrott.  Some descendants of the Williams family remained in southwest Georgia and were/are longtime members of Macedonia Baptist Church.  (Note: The 1920 U.S. Census showed that Mance’s brothers, Bud [Wilkes] and Boon [Boone] were also residents of Terrell County.  Bud was married to Hattie Oxford and the couple had three children, Jollie Mae, Edith, and J.B.  Boon was married to Millie Oxford and that family had one child, David).


Sarah Ann Shepherd Oxford, Mance’s wife, was born in 1877.  We think that her family was from Terrell County.  (Note: One of her brothers’ [Alfred Shepherd] obituary, listed Terrell County as his place of birth.  In addition, the U.S. Census of 1900 listed “Emaline,” Sarah’s sister, as being born in Terrell County).  Sarah’s father’s name was Abe Shepherd.  A family story holds that Abe Shepherd was burned to death in a field fire.  Sarah had one sister (Emmaline Shepherd Moon) and two brothers (Dennis and Alfred Shepherd).  Another family story stated that Sarah raised her sister Emmaline.  (Note: The U.S. Census of 1900 showed that “Emaline Shepherd” was living in the household with Mance, Sarah and their two sons.  At that time, Mance and Sarah only had two children.  Their third child, Nannie Mae, was born in 1902.  In the U.S. Census of 1900, “Emaline” was listed as being 8 years old).  Emmaline, eventually married Bonnie Moon.  Many members and/or descendants of the Moon family remained in southwest Georgia and have been prominent in the history of Macedonia. 


Mance and Sarah were probably married in the mid 1890s.  Their first child (Jethro “Jess” Oxford) was born in 1897.  Their nine children were born between 1897 and 1919: (“Jess” 1897-1971, “Dock” 1899-1978, Nannie Mae 1902-1994, John L. 1903-1958, Ozie 1906-1971, Otis 1908-1983, Velma 1910-1979, Martha 1917-1998, and Arie D. 1919-1987).  (Note: The U.S. Census of 1920 indicated that “Jess,” “Dock,” and Nannie Mae had left the household by that year.  Only Mance, Sarah, and the couple’s six other children occupied the homestead.  The U.S. Census of 1920 listed Mance as being 48 years old and Sarah’s age was listed as 43.  Their youngest and final child, Arie D., was listed as being 11 months old.  In the first half of the 20th century, the Oxfords were stalwart members of Macedonia.  Mance was a Deacon and Sarah was at one time “Mother” of the Church.  Moreover, numerous members of the Oxford and extended family were prominent in Macedonia’s history


Unlike most blacks in Parrott, Mance was not a sharecropper.  Sometime before the “Great Depression,” Mance purchased a large farm and had many farm animals.  (Note: Loverture Carter, his mother and two brothers, actually lived with his grandparents on that farm).  However, during the “Depression,” Mance was unable to get the loans that farmers need to sustain them between planting and harvest, and he had to sell the farm.  He bought a smaller farm.  He worked the smaller farm until around 1950, when health conditions and age forced him to give up farming and move into town in Parrott.  Sarah Ann Oxford died in 1952, and Mance died in 1955.  The remains of both were buried in the Macedonia Church Cemetery.


Prior to, and during the era of WWII, some of the children, grand children, and siblings (and their descendants) of Mance and Sarah left Parrott in search of economic opportunities and re-located to cities in Florida and the “North.”  We know for certain that some went to Orlando, Florida; Philadelphia, PA; Hartford, Conn; and some went to New York, and New Jersey.  Others moved to Atlanta.  As they moved, family members reached back and helped other family members to leave Parrott and move to areas with more economic opportunities.  However, some family members and their descendants remained in southwest Georgia and continued to farm, and some eventually moved to cities like Albany and Dawson where they found work. 


I along with my Aunt Ozie B. Oxford Carter and her three boys (Loverture, Reggie, and Robert Carter) lived with my grandparents, Mance and Sarah, during most of the 1940s.  I have vivid and fond memories of life at Macedonia during those years.  I remember that Macedonia’s membership was made up of four or five extended families.  In many ways Macedonia was like one big family.  The church was central to our lives. 


Most of the black farmers in Parrott came to town on Saturdays.  Most of the children spent the day walking from one end of the town’s short main street to the other end, and sitting on the edge of the big loading platform by the highway counting cars.  Sometimes the young men would play baseball games in nearby cow pastures against teams from other towns. 


Most of the adults spent some time at the church, which was located about a ten minute walk from Parrott’s one street business district.  Women worked on the inside of the church—cleaning, dusting, and getting things ready for Sunday.  Men did maintenance jobs around the church, and did landscaping projects in the church cemetery.  Everyone helped to keep the church and grounds clean and in good repair.  The church was our collective and most prized possession.


On Sundays, everyone either walked to church or rode in wagons pulled by a team of mules.  During the church services, the mules would be unhitched and tied up to the side of the wagons.  I remember that sometimes, my grandmother Sarah baked the bread for the First Sunday Communion Sacrament.  Some Sundays, when we had a minister, we spent the entire day at church.  We only had a minister one or two Sundays per month.  The Deacons conducted services on the other Sundays.  I remember that my Uncle Willie Whaley, and Cousin “Flick” Oxford could set the church “on fire” with their prayers.  Mr. Sapp and Uncle Henry Gunn could “sing the church happy.”  Our pastor was Rev. J.E. Brown, he was a legendary figure.  I was less than seven years old and I still remember several of his sermons.  I remember that he always called me “Samson,” after the Biblical figure. 


On Sunday, we began the day with Sunday school, which was followed by devotion and, on the Sundays when we had a minister, the main church service.  When we spent all-day at church, families brought box lunches and in the afternoon they would spread the food out on tables for a pot luck picnic.  After the meal we would have a final church service.  In the late afternoon and early evening, we would make the long wagon-ride home, arriving home after dark. 


Macedonia has been “an anchor in a time of storm” in the history of African Americans in Parrott, Georgia.  The Church provided and nourished the hope and faith that propelled Mance and Sarah Oxford, their relatives and descendants, as well as hundreds of other members, through the segregation era, and the ups and downs of the twentieth century.  Memories of the Church’s transforming power have even sustained and inspired many that have long since left southwest Georgia.  And, what is most remarkable, after almost 1½ centuries, Macedonia continues to offer the same values and life benefits to all who are willing to plug into its sustaining spiritual power.                                

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