Historical Connection

In THE YEAR 1867 ON THE PLACE OF Mr. Larkin G. Cleaveland, Burks Chapel began under a Brush Arbor. On the 21st day of October in the year of our Lord One Thousand Eight Hundred and Eighty one (1881), Joseph Tignor, Wesley Rowe, Peter Williams, Jacob Traylor and Allen Moore, Trustees of Burks Chapel, applied to Larkin G. Cleveland for land to build a Church. The land was purchased for Ten dollars ($10). (From Burks Chapel History)


Larkin G. Cleaveland

On December 8th, 2013 Burks Chapel celebrated its 146th anniversary. Not knowing that a descendant of the person who donated the land for our church (Larkin Cleaveland) would be visiting our Church. Beverly Cleaveland Gardner (the Great Great Great Grand Daughter of Larkin Cleaveland) and her husband Marvin Gardner were in attendance. Beverly was unaware, at the time that her Great Great Great-Grandfather was a part of our Church’s history. Beverly and Marvin Gardner live on Salem Road on the site of her grandparent’s (Mary Paul and Charlie Cleaveland) home place.

Description: J:\Jackies Photos\Church\Annivarsay 2013\Paste121720130.bmp Beverly Cleaveland Gardner

This story and Burks Chapels connection to it does not end there. While doing research for his 2013 Smith-Williams Family Reunion in Pine Mountain, Callaway Gardens, Nathaniel Williams (Our Choir Director) discovered that Beverly was a part of his family history as her grandmother Mary Paul Smith Cleaveland and his Great-Grandmother, Maggie Smith were half-sisters.

Nathaniel Williams

Beverly’s Grandmother’s, (Mary Paul Smith Cleaveland) Father- was Thomas Wesley Smith. He was also the father of Nathaniel’s Great Grandmother, Maggie Smith.

Maggie Smith’s mother, Martha was a 9 year old slave when she was given to Beverly’s Great Great Grandfather, John Abram Smith (as a gift from his Father-in –Law, Sam Thompson).

John later gave Martha to his son, Thomas Wesley Smith. She was approximately 16 years of age when she began bearing Thomas Wesley’s children.

In 1894, Thomas Wesley Smith married Myrtle Gates, a school teacher from Pine Mountain. They had 1 child, Mary Paul Smith born in 1896 when her half siblings were in their 20’s. Thomas Wesley Smith died in 1904 when Mary Paul was only 8 and he was 72.

Mary Paul Smith married Charlie Cleveland whose Grandfather was Larkin G. Cleaveland. Larkin Cleaveland was the property owner who deeded the land over to Burk’s Chapel Church in 1867 for the sum of $10.

While attending our anniversary service Beverly learned that the Cleaveland Family had donated a chair that remains in the present day pastor’s office. Pictured below.


At that same anniversary service Edith Allen presented to the church a painting depicting the 1923 Burks Chapel building. This is one of her 1st paintings. Edith we think those painting classes are pay off, and you may have discovered a new life vocation. “IT’S NEVER TOO LATE”


Left to Right-Edith Allen, Rev. Smith, and Carl Cotton                              L to R--Nap Williams, Edith Allen, Rev. Smith, Beverly C. Gardner, Carl Cotton    

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