Did you know that Central Florida’s Polk County is rich with history? One historic spot in particular, a stop on the Heritage Trail, is the Bethel Baptist Church located in the historic Socrum community of Kathleen. Socrum was one of the earliest settled areas in Polk with families that arrived more than 150 years ago in search of land suitable for agriculture and cattle grazing.
What’s interesting is that before the permanent meeting place was established, church members gathered in the homes of families. One such gathering was noted at William Rushing’s at Indian Pond and dates as far back as August 1851. A total of four church buildings have served the Bethel Baptist congregation. The third building, pictured here, was completed in 1929. A fourth building was established in 2006 to accommodate the growth of the congregation and is located behind this historic 1929 building.
Other nearby historic sites in Kathleen’s Socrum community include the Socrum Cemetery, located beside the Bethel Baptist building, and the Kathleen Area Historical Association Heritage Park, located across the street from Bethel. Heritage Park is not only recognized for its rich past, but also as the Kathleen Area Historical Association’s site for processing cane syrup and the Harvest Festival.
Grab your History and Heritage Guide, which explores 150 years of Polk County history and culture with suggested single day trips in Polk, and plan your visit to these historic Kathleen sites.
For more on Polk County’s history visit the Polk County History Center, Tuesday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., in Bartow or contact them at 863-534-4386.