Walthourville was the first retreat to be established. It is believed that around 1795 Andrew Walthour, who had rice plantations on the Liberty County coast, began to acquire property inland on higher ground where the mosquitoes were not as prevalent. The site was originally called Sand Hills. He and his
family established a farm and built a dwelling and began’ to spend the hot summer months there hoping to avoid the sicknesses associated with the swampy plantations. Other families followed suit so that within a few years a significant village was formed and it became known as Walthourville, named
after Andrew Walthour. The village flourished and many of the citizens began to organize themselves into a church and in 1820 erected a building for worship. In 1830 they erected a second building which was used by both Baptists and Presbyterians. When both denominations made other arrangements, this building became a schoolhouse. The Presbyterians erected another building in 1845 and it burned in 1877. It was replaced the following year but this new building was destroyed by a severe storm in 1881.
In 1884 the present building was erected and has been used for worship ever since. It is the only one of the original structures that still stands. It should also be pointed out that during the pastorate of Rev. Robert Quarterman Mallard (1856-1863) a structure was built nearby for use in the Christian
instruction of the slaves. Rev. Mallard was the son-in-law of Rev. C.C. Jones of Midway and shared with Rev. Jones the strong desire to evangelize the slaves owned by the various plantations. As with the earlier structures, no remnants of this one remain today. In 1854 the Walthourville Church withdrew from Midway and became a member of the Presbyterian Church. It is obvious in reading the
correspondence about that separation that it was a practical move that made sense but that the ties to Midway remained strong and heartfelt.
This church, built in 1854 on a lot of four acres donated by B. A. Busbee, was first used for summer services only. On January 6, 1871, it was admitted into the Savannah Presbytery as an organized church of 14 members. The Rev. J. W. Montgomery was the first pastor. L. J. Mallard was the first ruling elder. The bell, from old Sunbury, was once used for church, school, market and town. The font and communion service are from Midway Church. The font was a gift from Dr. William McWhir, the tankard from John Lambert, the communion service from Simon Monroe, Esq. Elders contributing most in later years – Preston Waite and Charles B. Jones.
Written by Abbott L.R. Waite.
Rev. Abbott Lee Richmond Waite was born May 7, 1860 at Salisbury, Maryland, spent his boyhood at St.Simons Island and Dorchester, GA, graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary, died October 17, 1942 in Hinesville, Georgia.
Many famous persons lived in the town of Sunbury. Among them was Dr. Lyman Hall, signer of the Declaration of Independence. It was also the home of Richard Howley and Nathan Brownson, later governors of Georgia; of John Elliott and Alfred Cuthbert, United States Senators; of Major John Jones and Major Lachlan McIntosh. Button Gwinnett, another signer of the Declaration of Independence, spent much time here as a Justice of St. John´s Parish, and Georgia´s third signer, George Walton, was among those held in Sunbury as a prisoner of the British during the Revolution.
Maria J. McIntosh, noted authoress and her brother, Commodore James McKay McIntosh, hero of the Mexican War, were born in Sunbury. The Hon. John E. Ward, first United States Minister to China, and the Hon. William Law, noted jurist, were also natives of Sunbury.