........folklore, fact, fiction; Mrs Martha Mizell Puckett records in her book "Snow White Sands" the existence of church..."there was a settlement on the south banks of the Satilla River that appears to be many years older than the Waynesville Settlement. It was called High Bluff. They had a church and a cemetery. (Initially Located East of Raybon in Brantley County.) Why did it move to Big Creek?
The story is about a settlement of early pioneers on a high bluff of the Satilla River goes deeper than a review about a religious organization.Over the years this story has fascinated local residents and aroused a curiosity about a group of people who initially settled near Raybon, and then mysteriously relocated to a new site on Big Creek, approximately 23 miles away. Nothing has been uncovered which identifies the actual arrival of the Raybon High Bluff settlement. In "Snow White Sands", Martha Mizell Puckett records,"there was a settlement on the south banks of the Satilla River that appeared to be many years older than the Waynesville settlement. It was called High Bluff. They had a church and a cemetery. . ."
Judge Folks Huxford's notes revealed that the Raybon High Bluff Church was initially constituted on June 30, 1819, with the Piedmont Baptist Association.The settlement could have occurred prior to the establishment of the church.
They seemed to have come up the river in boats and some may have been members of Little Satilla Church (location unknown). The Presbytery of the Raybon High Bluff Church was Fleming Bates and Isham peacock. Others included, William and Elizabeth Dryden, Aidey Osteen, John and Phoebe Roberts, Martha Hill, James Weare, Nancy Dryden, Sabra Taler, and some with family names of Dowling, Griffin, Roberson, Crews and Thrift.
Acceptance into the Primitive Baptist Church is contingent upon a confession of faith, an experience with the Lord, and baptism, therefore the Raybon High Bluff church added membership on a meeting to meeting basis.
According to Judge Huxford's notes, on May 11, 1822, the church relocated to Big Creek, near Schlatterville, for the convenience of some members. It is believed that an epidemic of Cholera was the reason for the move. On June 1, 1822, the members met at Big Creek and agreed to name the church Big Creek. Since the Piedmont Association had no covenant with a church named "Big Creek," the initial name of High Bluff Church was restored, although it was 23 miles farther west of the original location.
According to records, the name of Big Creek was changed to High Bluff in 1878-1880. On December 7, 1822, the Big Creek Church considered the disadvantage of the members still living at Raybon High Bluff and agreed to set up a mission church there. On July 5, 1823, the members of Raybon High Bluff Church expressed a desire to become a constituted church and appointed William Dowling and David Bryant to write to Big Creek for letters of dismissal. Letters were granted on July 12, 1823 to: Shadrack and Keziah Jacobs, James and Hannah Douglas; John, Jacob, and Savilla Rhoden, Mary Rhoden, William and Rebecca Dowling, Samuel Dryden, Elizabeth Kelly, Susannah Crews, Mary Kelly, and Nancy Melton.
It is not known when the Raybon High Bluff Church was discontinued, but there is still evidence of a cemetery with three graves and an indication of two or three more graves. The High Bluff/Big Creek Church joined the Alabaha Association in 1842 and became a Crawfordite during the division of 1875.
Ministers ordained by High Bluff include Elders Lester Griffin, Lester McDonald, Elton R. Dowling, and Frank T. Lee.John Roberts and wife Phoebe were charter members of High Bluff.They were dismissed by letter 12-23-1823, to help constitute Kettle Creek Baptist Church. James Jones Sr. was ordained as a minister of High Bluff. Elder Jones and his wife, Nancy were dismissed by letter in order to establish the Little Buffalo Primitive Baptist Church in Hickox. The High Bluff Church is still active and is the largest church of the Alabaha Primitive Baptist Association.
The Altmans, Lees, Griffins, Stricklands, Thomas, and Dowlings are some of the families that were members of the church.
The large cemetery beside the church is the burial site of many of Brantley County's prominent families. One of the most noted buried at High Bluff is, Mrs. Lydia Stone, "Queen of the Okefenokee."