Archives collections include the histories of Clay County churches organized into Subject Files. For many of the churches you can find lists of the early ministers, deacons and members.
Only a few antebellum churches are known to have existed. A Catholic church in Middleburg is the first known building to be erected in 1847. This was apparently a short-lived institution, and was, perhaps, more of a mission. Despite several Spanish surnames in the area, the Diocese in St. Augustine confirms there wasn’t much of an early Catholic presence. The Plantation Church in Orange Park sat on the McIntosh Plantation and a photo survives. It was, presumably, antebellum and served the slave population there. Apparently Benedict demolished it with the advent of the establishment of Orange Park.
Middleburg Methodist is the oldest church building to survive. The next oldest surviving congregation is Beulah Baptist Church. It, like so many Clay County churches, made use of one of the county’s first one-room schoolhouses. These were little more than shacks, painted with creosote. Screen doors kept the flies out, or, more often, kept them in. Hickory Grove, still thriving, was the last church to be established before the Civil War.
St. Margaret’s, at Hibernia, was built after the Civil War by the Fleming Family and remains one of the oldest wooden churches in Florida.
This is the earliest known photo of a Clay County church — Plantation Church at Laurel Grove.