Bigham Chapel

Below are two article that give information on the person that the church, Bigham Chapel is name after. There are two interesting observations to be made on it.

First is that Rev. Robert William Bigham never once preached at Bigham Chapel. There is no information that has been found that would confirm such. However, at that time he may have passed through for he did travel quite a lot. Also in his later years he authored several books. One was called "Vinny Leal." This children's novel was widely read and also received great acclaim. However, there are few to be found today. If any reader of the article finds or has such a copy, we would love to have it just to scan it and publish to our web site. We would return it to you. He also wrote another, "Wine and Blood." We would be interested to do the same with that one too.

Second, is that Bigham Chapel has been destroyed once by a tornado. The interesting part about this story is that the church was completely gone except of the pulpit platform, the pulpit and the Bible. Both remained standing right were they were through out this storm. The pages in the Bible was still opened where the preacher left them on the Sunday before the storm. Recentlt, the church sustained a lightening strike. It hit the steeple and was disbursed by the church bell. As a result, while there was a lot of damage, there was not fire.

Indeed, Bigham Chapel has withstood the storms of time. It is all by the grace of God and his divine protection that he has continued to allow this Christian witness to go forward in the community of Mulberry Grove, GA.

In Memorial to him

"Robert William Bigham was born in Meriwether County, Georgia, October 5, 1824, and departed from the body October 11, 1900, full of usefulness and honor, at Demorest, Ga.

He was married January 19, 1858, to Charlotte Elizabeth Davis, and December 25, 1872, to Sarah Jane Davies. His marriage was very happy in each instance, and became a grace and providence to the world because of the splendid daughters and gifted sons it gave to the church and society. The home is a residuary of heavenly power. Robert W. Bigham was admitted into the Georgia Conference on January 27, 1844.
Troup, Harris, and Oglethorpe Counties were the beneficiaries of his first service; Milledgeville and Talbotton felt his helpful hand. Then he was sent to California to meet the needs of miners of that wild region. Six years of toil held him there, on station and district, and at the Conference of 1857 he was its efficient president. Returning to Georgia, he flung himself without reserve into the pulpit and pastorate for forty-seven' years longer, actively serving hte Church with unchallenged fidelity. The Dahlonega, the Athens, the Augusta, and the Griffin districts were fields of his unremitting toil; and at LaGrange, Newnan, Eatonton, Forsyth, Decatur, Gainesville, and other places of repute and importance, the Church was blessed by his ministry, until, after fifty-three years of truest service, he went down into the retreat of the worn and wearied, and two years after that retirement went up to see the King in his beauty and to meet the general assembly of saints. . . ."423

Bishop 0. P. Fitzgerald had this tribute to give to Robert W. Bigham: Another name comes in here-that of Robert W. Bigham, who died at Demorest, Georgia, October 11, 1900. He was my presiding elder in the California mines in 1856.

"Bob" Bigham, his old Georgia comrades fondly called him in his younger days. The abbreviation was expressive of the affectionate familiarity that lent its special charms to the inner circles of clerical friendship. He came of good old Georgia stock, and was molded by Georgia Methodism when it was at the height of its militancy and fervor. He was an uneven preacher; at his best his sermons were massive and symmetrical homiletical structures. His greatest failures suggested more than some noisier men ever say in the pulpit. He was a faithful servant of God. He was a true friend . "Fitzgerald," he said to me one day in his brotherly way, "you have a dangerous gift, the gift of popularity." His kindly heart may have led him to exaggerate the measure of good will felt for me by those early Californians, but his admonition was timely for any young preacher. He was fearless and guileless. In a contest he never thought of making any concessions where any righteous principle or policy was involved, and was incapable of evasion. He was the soul of Christian chivalry in the truest, loftiest sense of the word. Our paths parted. I am glad that I knew him. 424

423 The General Minutes o f the Annual Conferences o f the M.E. Church, South, 1900, pp. 132-134.
424 Fitzgerald, Bishop O. P., Sunset Views, Nashville, Tenn. Methodist Publishing House, p. 155.
422 George G. Smith, History o f Georgia Methodism (1912), pp. 247-248.
Louise Calhoun Barfield., History of Harris County, Georgia 1827-1961. Columbus, GA: Cherith Creek Designs, 1961.

The History of Southern Methodism of the Pacific Coast.

R. W. Bigham was sent from the Georgia Conference as a missionary to Panama, in 1852. Panama was at the tune the great thoroughfare to California. A railroad had been projected across the Isthmus, and it was thought that the city of Panama would be more or less occupied by English-speaking people. And the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, determined to establish a Mission there, and R. W. Bigham, of the Georgia Conference, offered himself to Bishop Andrew as a missionary. He was accepted, and early in 1852 he went to his work. But a fete months' labor and observation convinced him that nothing could be done there. He could be of no benefit whatever to the crowds that were ever passing through; and there were not enough permanent settlers of our people there to make it an object to preach to them. Therefore, during the year, he came on to California, and at the San Jose Conference, in 1853, presented his certificate of transfer, and was received into the Pacific Conference. He did faithful work among us for a number of years, when he returned to his native State and Conference. He did very much for Southern Methodism while on this coast. He e a clear forcible preacher, whose only aim and desire was to work for and glorify his Master. Since his return to his native State he has occupied important stations, and has made his mark as a writer his Sunday - school boot, "Vinny Leal," having taken the second prize, when some very handsome prizes were offered for the best books for children. Many of us felt when we read his book, and the one that took the first prize that the committee made a mistake-and the verdict of the people has been to that effect. The first-prize book has been almost forgotten, but few books issued by our House have had such a sale as "Vinny Leal." It is said that at times the compositor" when setting the type of this look, had to brush away the tears that blinded their eyes. He has written other books-one. "Wine and Blood" -that have well sustained his reputation as a writer.

The above paragraph is copied directly from -
Rev. J.C. Simmons, D.D., The History of Southern Methodism of the Pacific Coast. Nashville, TN: Southern Methodist Publishing House., 1886.