Compiled by: Paul M. Kankula NN8NN (non-copyrighted)
03 Jun 2013
Advent Christian Churches
African Methodist Churches
Assembly of God Churches
Bethel Temple Churches
Brethren in Christ Churches
Calvary Chapel Churches
Christ Centered Churches
Christ's Church Churches
Church of Christ Churches
Church of Divine Man Churches
Church of God Churches
Church of God in Christ Churches
Church of Jesus Christ Churches
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Churches
Church of the Brethren Churches
Church of the Living God Churches
Church of the Nazarene Churches
Church on the Rock Churches
Churches for the Mentally Disabled
Disciples of Christ Churches
Divine Science Churches
Eastern Orthodox Churches
Fellowship of Christian Assemblies Churches
Foursquare Gospel Churches
Full Gospel Churches
Grace Brethren Churches
International Pentecostal Holiness Churches
Jehovah's Witness Churches
New Testament Churches
New Thought Churches
Open Bible Churches
Religious Science Churches
Rescue Missions Churches
Salvation Army Churches
Science of Mind Churches
Self Realization Fellowship Churches
Seventh Day Adventist Churches
Spanish Speaking Churches
Spirit Filled Churches
United Methodist Churches
Records show the Baptist church had its beginnings in Oconee as early as 1796. That year the Rev. John Cleveland was called to preach quarterly at Coneross Church.
The work of Baptist associations in the South began in 1751 in Charleston, South Carolina. Oliver Hart became pastor of First Baptist Church, Charleston in 1750 and led in the creation of the Charleston Baptist Association in 1751. It included First Charleston, Ashley River Baptist Church, Welsh Neck Baptist Church, and Euhaw Baptist Church. Today, there are 43 associations in South Carolina.
Baptist associations are self-governing fellowships of autonomous churches sharing a common faith and are active in missions in their local setting. Many are involved in organizing missions trips to other parts of the state, country and world. Some are involved in coastal resort ministries, others are involved in popular raceway ministries, still others assist in food banks and in multi-housing ministries, and others minister to large ethnic populations in their communities.
For many South Carolina Baptists, association work provides a local, first-hand opportunity for ministry within the community setting.
Associations serve churches through fellowship support, encouragement, extension of cooperative activities, communication, missions strategy, and with counseling services. In most associations, a director missions is employed to coordinate missions and evangelism; in others, local church leaders may provide this service.
Beyond their local work, most South Carolina Baptist Churches cooperate with both the state convention and the local association, building a family network of statewide support for missions and evangelism.
St. Francis in Walhalla was organized 1917 and appears to be the first Catholic church in Oconee.
Church of God:
On the southeastern Atlantic seaboard lies an irregular triangle of land containing 31,055 square miles with a base of one hundred ninety miles resting on the Atlantic Ocean. From the white sandy shoreline of the mighty Atlantic, the apex of the triangle extends 235 miles to the northwest, supported by the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains. This is South Carolina-the eighth state to join the Union and the first to secede. The permanent colony of the state was established in March, 1670, when 148 English settlers built at Albermarle Point on the west bank of the Ashley River. This settlement was named Charles Towne in honor of their king, Charles of England, and remains today as one of the leading cities of South Carolina.
The expanse of coastal South Carolina, with its small grouping of sea islands and white sand beaches, scrubby palmetto and palm trees, sand dunes and sea grasses, boasts a somewhat tropical appearance as one looks from the Atlantic. Leaving the windswept coast and traveling inland, you encounter the fertile farmland of the low country. Slowly the rise of the land swells upward to the sand hills and on to the red clay foothills until it finally sweeps into the majesty of the blue hill country. This delightful small southeastern state has indeed been friendly to the Church of God.
"About the year 1884, a spirit of dissatisfaction and unrest began to work in the mind of a licensed minister of the Missionary Baptist Church by the name of Richard G. Spurling, then living in Monroe County, Tennessee. The dissatisfaction arose because of certain traditions and creeds which were burdensome and exceedingly binding on the members.
This humble and sincere servant of God, who was also a faithful servant of the church of which he was a member and licensed minister, began a more careful study of the Bible, and for two years or more spent much time in searching the scriptures and church history, with a view to a reformation.
After two years or more of careful searching, praying and weeping, and pleading with his church for reform to no avail, he, with others, began to arrange for an independent meeting for a conference and a more careful consideration of religious matters.
The results of the prayers and research on the part of Mr. Spurling and his companions proved three things to their entire satisfaction: In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, when the noble and illustrious reformers were throwing off and breaking out from under the galling yoke of Romanism, and launched an inaugurated what is commonly known as Protestantism, they failed to reform from creeds, Second, they adopted the law of faith when they should have adopted the law for love, And third, they failed to reserve a right of way for the leadership of the Holy Ghost and conscience.
Besides the aforesaid points, they were awakened to the fact that God's Church existed only where His law and government was observed by His children.
After having taken plenty of time for consideration, the time and place for the meeting was arranged and announced. That day is worthy of remembrance, Thursday, August 19, 1886.
The small company of humble, faithful, conscientious pilgrims met at Barney Creek meeting house, Monroe County, Tennessee. After prayer, a strong discourse was delivered by Richard G. Spurling, emphasizing the need of a reformation. The arguments were full of force and proved effective, and were endorsed by the hearers, so that when the time came for action there was free and earnest response.
The proposition and obligation was simple. We give it below: "As many Christians as are here present that are desirous to be free from all manmade creeds and traditions, and are willing to take the New Testament, or law of Christ, for your rule of faith and practice; giving each other equal rights and privilege to read and interpret for yourselves as your conscience may dictate, and are willing to sit together as the Church of God to transact business at the same, come forward."
In response to this proposition eight persons whose names are given below, presented themselves and gave to each other the right hand of fellowship: Richard Spurling, John Plemons Sr., Polly Plemons, Barbara Spurling, Margaret Lauftus, Melinda Plemons, John Plemons Jr., Adeline Lauftus.
After having joined themselves together under the above obligation they decided to name the baby organization "Christian Union." They then decided to receive persons into membership who were possessed with a good Christian character, and that ordained and licensed ministers from other churches could retain their same position or office without being reordained.
By the virtue of the office he had as a faithful ordained minister in the Missionary Baptist Church for a number of years, Elder Richard Spurling was duly acknowledged and recognized as their minister, to do all the business devolved on him as such in the new order. He then having been placed in authority by the body, took his seat as moderator, and by prayer dedicated the infant church to God, imploring His guidance and blessings for it, and that it might grow and prosper, and accomplish great good.
AN invitation was then given for the reception of members, and they received Richard G. Spurling, who was then a licensed minister. The church chose him as their pastor, and had him ordained the next month, September 16, 1886.
Soon after this, Elder Richard Spurling died at the advanced age of about seventy-four years. Although he was honored with being the first ordained minister, yet he did not live to see the results of his prayers, tears, and labors of love on assisting to launch this last great reformation that is now assuming such vast proportions as it is spreading over the world.
To the sleepless nights of prayer and labors of love by this remarkable old saint and his son, Richard G. Spurling, who is still living, we attribute much of the success and advancement of later years. No doubt they only saw the light as though a glass darkly, but the rays of the early dawn pierced through the darkness until they were made able to at least declare independence and freedom from creeds and sing "Hosannah to the Son of David" for liberty. Great praises be to our God.
The little church grew very slowly. But few cared anything about the infant organization. The pastor, R. G. Spurling, continued his preaching, not only at the church, but wherever he was granted the liberty. In this way the minds of the people were continually agitated, and gradually prepared for the work of the Spirit that was to follow. For ten years this servant of God prayed, wept and continued his ministry against much opposition and under peculiar difficulties, before seeing much fruits of his labor.
In the year 1896 three men, who lived n the same county and locality, became much enthused religiously, and were powerfully wrought on by the Spirit of God. These men, whose names were William Martin, Joe M. Tipton and Milton McNabb, went over into Cherokee County, North Carolina, and commenced a meeting at the Schearer schoolhouse. They preached a clean gospel, and urged the people to seek and obtain sanctification subsequent to justification. They prayed, fasted and wept before the Lord until a great revival was the result. People became interested, and were stirred for miles around. Quite a large number professed salvation and sanctification through the blood of Christ. The Baptist and Methodist churches became antagonistic to the wonderful revival that was spreading and about thirty were excluded from the Baptist church at one time because they professed to live a holy life, which the church denounced as heresy.
After the close of the series of meetings, and the three evangelists were gone, the people commenced a Sunday school, and regular prayer meetings were conducted, usually by William F. Bryant, a leading man of the community. The people earnestly sought God, and the interest increased until unexpectedly, like a cloud from a clear sky, the Holy Ghost began to fall on the honest, humble, sincere seekers after God. While the meetings were in progress, one after another fell under the power of God; and soon quite a number were speaking in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. The influence and excitement then spread like wildfire, and people came for many miles to investigate, hear and see the manifestations of the presence of God.
Men, women and children received the Holy Ghost and spoke in other tongues under the power of the mighty Spirit of God.
The power of healing was soon realized, and a number of miraculous cases of healings were wrought by the power of God. The people knew but little about the Bible, but they prayed, shouted and exhorted until hundreds of hard sinners were converted. The influence grew and spread until it extended into three or four adjoining counties. Persecutions arose, and four or five houses were burned where these earnest, humble people met for worship.
At one time the storm of persecution broke in with such fury that one hundred and six men, composed of Methodist and Baptist ministers, stewards and deacons, one justice of the peace and one sheriff, banded themselves together to put down the revival, even by violence, if that were the only way it could be accomplished. They deliberately tore down and burned the house, where sinners were getting saved in nearly every service, in open daylight. But the greater the persecution, the more the revival spread.
The meetings were moved to the home of W. F. Bryant, and the power and glory increased. It was while they were in progress there that seven men banded themselves together to stop the work, and one day rode to the home of Mr. Bryant and demanded him to stop the meetings, and also forbade him to have prayers with his family; but like Daniel of old, he purposed in his heart to obey God rather than man, and the meetings were continued, amid threats, showers of stones and rains of lead.
During these years of revivals and persecutions Mr. Spurling often came in their midst, and in vain tried to show the precious people the need of God's law and government. Everything moved on smoothly among themselves for several months, even years, and they were able to endure all the persecutions heaped upon them, with grace and love. But in the absence of government and authority, false teachers crept in and led many humble, sincere, unwary souls into error. Factions began to show themselves, and fanaticism took possession of some who were more easily duped by Satan than others.
About that time Mr. Bryant and a few others began to see the mistake in being without government and authority; but as they were unable to accomplish anything on that line, the work was allowed to drift. It is estimated that more than one hundred persons really received the baptism with the Holy Ghost and spoke in tongues as the evidence during that revival.
It is not until May 15, 1902, that any plan for government was adopted. On that day, a number of humble people met at the home of Mr. Bryant, Cherokee County, North Carolina, and under the instructions and supervision of Mr. Spurling, an organization was effected. While this was a continuation of the same organization that was started sixteen years before, yet it was not given the same name, as it was in a different locality. It was called "The Holiness Church at Camp Creek," in Cherokee County, North Carolina. One of the officers, W. F Bryant, was set forth by the church and ordained, which made the church permanent.
R. G. Spurling was chosen pastor, and they continued their meetings; yet the work was rather slow to develop, as so many had been led into error by the false teaching referred to above, but a sufficient number remained true to keep the work alive. For a year it was a real struggle to hold the organization against much unbelief and criticism, and there were no additions.
It was in June 1903, that the work revived and took upon it a new impetus. At a meeting held on June 13 of the above named year, we made a more careful study of the New Testament order, and five more accepted the obligation and joined with the faithful little flock to push the work along. Another minister and two deacons were ordained by the church in proper order. The new minister was chosen for pastor, and that year there were fourteen more accessions, and the work went on smoothly and prospered amid some light persecutions. One among the number added that year was M. S. Lemons.
The next year one organization was effected in Georgia and two more in Tennessee. Then the workers had increased and evangelism was encouraged, so the work grew and prospered under the blessings and approval of God.
Near the close of 1905, the work had so prospered that there began to be a demand for a general gathering together of members from all the churches to consider questions of importance and to search the Bible for additional light and knowledge. Accordingly, arrangements were made and the meeting called."(1) This meeting convened on January 16, 1906, in the home of J. C. Murphy, Cherokee County, North Carolina, with twenty-one in attendance. This meeting was the first General Assembly.
The year 1913 was the year of history for South Carolina and the Church of God. At the Eighth General Assembly of the Church of God, which was held in Cleveland, Tennessee, January 7-12, 1913, the Church of God consisted of 104 churches, 119 ministers, and 3,056 members. The General Overseer, A. J. Tomlinson, stated in his address, "It is not our purpose to merely make history but we are really making history." This was a true statement by the General Overseer because on Saturday, January 11, when A. J. Tomlinson announced the appointments of the state overseers there were seven overseers appointed for nine different states and one of these nine states was South Carolina. Following is a listing of the overseers appointed at this time: Alabama-J. B. Ellis; Bahama Islands-C. M. Padgett; Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, California-R. M. Singleton; Georgia-George C. Barron; Mississippi-J. D. Simpson; South Carolina-H. B. Simmons; Virginia-J. J. Lowman; South Carolina now had its first state overseer, H. B. Simmons.
Coleman Livingston Blease of Newberry was Governor of South Carolina at the time that H. B. Simmons was appointed overseer and he was not aware that history was being made for the Church of God in South Carolina, but God in His Kingdom was well aware of it, for following the appointments of the state overseers a voice was heard saying, "It seemeth good to the Holy Ghost and us that all these men be appointed."(2)
Henry Byrd Simmons and his wife Florence Pringle Simmons accepted their appointment as South Carolina's first state overseer. Their son E. L. Simmons, who was nineteen years of age and who had accepted the call to the ministry at the age of seventeen, came with his parents to South Carolina.(3) He preached his first sermon in March, 1913 at Langley, South Carolina.(4) At the time of H. B. Simmons' appointment, South Carolina had a population of 1,515,400.
The Ninth General Assembly held in Cleveland, Tennessee, convened November 4-9, 1913. At this assembly there was no overseer appointed for South Carolina.(5)
November 2-8, 1914, the Tenth Assembly was held in Cleveland, Tennessee. At this time the second state overseer for South Carolina was appointed. J. C. Underwood was appointed as overseer for South Carolina. Following is a listing of the overseer appointments during the Tenth General Assembly: Alabama-W. S. Gentry, Colorado-R. M. Singleton, Florida-W. S. Caruthers, Georgia-W. R. Anderson, Mississippi-M. S. Lemons, New Mexico-R. M. Singleton, North Carolina-J. A. Davis, South Carolina-J. C. Underwood, Tennessee-George T. Brouaver, Bahama Islands-Milton Padgett.(6)
A rich history has developed for the Church of God in South Carolina. After 72 years the Church of God has 282 churches, 550 ministers and 31,692 members.
(1) Book of Minutes, Volume 1, 1922, pp. 7-14
(2) Ibid., p. 131
(3) E. L. Simmons, History of the Church of God, 1938, p. 7
(5) Book of Minutes, Volume 1, p. 151.
(6) Ibid., p. 179
(Source: W.E. Woody, Church of God Historical Committee
1913 - 1914, H. B. Simmons
1914 - 1916, J. C. Underwood
1916 - 1917, W. A. Walker
1917 - 1920, W. H. Cross
The Church of God had its beginning along the lower Tennessee-North Carolina boundary of the Unicoi Mountains. It was rugged country where farmers worked hard just to provide a meager living using primitive plows drawn by Oxen. Their clothes were handmade and their education was limited. It seemed an unlikely place for anything of importance to ever happen, yet this is the birthplace of the Church of God.
After two years of meetings in which dedicated Christians sought God for direction, it was decided on August 19, 1886, that a new church would be established. On this Thursday night at a place called Barney Creek in Monroe County, Tennessee eight people came forward at the invitation and united with what was to become Christian Union.
This group struggled for several years with no noticeable growth and under persecution. Finally their prayers and faithful evangelistic efforts began to pay off as the church spread from North Carolina and Tennessee into Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Virginia, Alabama, and the Bahama Islands, but it was not until around 1912 that the State of South Carolina had its first encounter with this young, yet expanding movement.
Somewhere around 1912-1913, J. C. Underwood boarded a train from Tennessee and headed for Oconee County in South Carolina. The train had to travel by way of Atlanta, Georgia and then back northeast toward Seneca, South Carolina. Arriving at Seneca, J. C. Underwood loaded the tent he had brought with him onto the flatbed car of another train. From Seneca to Walhalla, he rode with the tent on to the place God would ordain him to minister. When J. C. Underwood arrived in the Walhalla Area, he met a man by the name of Jacob H. Chapman of the Fairfield Community. Mr. Chapman allowed the tent to be placed on his property and soon a revival was underway. The place became known as "Buzzard Roost" by holiness fighters and the people were called "shake rags" because they were poor and didn't have the best of clothes to wear.
It is believed that the tent remained on this same site for as long as one year or longer; and then because of certain problems that arose, the group divided. Those who remained continued with their regular services, although they were not officially organized as a local church. Later they built a small frame building and were organized into an active church. (This was after the Walhalla #2 Church of God was organized.) This church was the Mount Pleasant Church of God, which remained active for several years.
The larger group of believers moved with J. C. Underwood about eight or ten miles to the Ebenezzer Community of Oconee County. Here the tent was set up off Old Highway 11, which is now called South Carolina Highway S-37-175, at a place that came to be known as "Buggarow Field." It is said that a man committed murder here and then cut off the head of his victim. People claimed, afterwards, that the man who had his head cut off would get up on the back of their buggy and ride through the area with them at night. The area is still called "Buggarow Field." J. C. Underwood and his congregation worshiped here for some time, but still as an unorganized church.
From "Buggarow Field" in the Ebenezzer Community, the group moved about five miles back up the road toward Mt. Pleasant. They moved into a building on the property owned by Fred S. Morgan. The building was about twenty feet by twenty feet and had been used as a storage house for cotton. It became known as Morgan's place.
In 1914 Fred S. Morgan gave the group of believers one acre of land upon which to build their first church building. This land was located in the Oconee Creek Community off Highway 183. Until the building was erected, the group continued to meet at Morgan's place, then on July 15, 1914 the first Church of God in South Carolina was organized with eighteen members. They were: Frank Richie, Mr. & Mrs. T. J. Eades, Mr. & Mrs. Issa Eades, Mr. & Mrs. John Pearson, Mr. & Mrs. Sam Pearson, Mr. & Mrs. Will Pearson, Mr. & Mrs. Bea Owens, Mrs. Jacob Chapman, Mr. J. B. Eades, Clara Lee, and Mr. & Mrs. Cleve Vaughn.
In August 1915, a church building was started and on June 4, 1916, services were conducted in the new building for the very first time. The church became known as the Walhalla #2 Church of God because it was located on rural route #2. The pastor was J. C. Underwood, who had been responsible for bringing the Church of God message into the State of South Carolina three or four years prior to the organizing of the first church. J. C. Underwood had been appointed to serve as state overseer in South Carolina at the Tenth General Assembly of the Church of God, November 1914. So not only did J. C. Underwood have the responsibility of pasturing the first church in South Carolina, but he also served as state overseer of South Carolina at the same time.
After the building was completed, the church enjoyed much success but also experienced some measure of persecution. Services were often disrupted by those who opposed the presence of the Church of God in their community. Rocks were thrown through the windows of the building. Tomatoes, as well as eggs, were thrown at the people going into and coming out of the building. Threats were often made, but God showed His glory among the people.
Mrs. Rosa Eades, the final charter member of the Walhalla #2 Church of God to go to be with the Lord, reported that J. C. Underwood returned to Walhalla in 1917, to conduct a revival meeting. During the meeting he spoke of handling snakes through the power of God. On the way to church the following night, two unbelievers came upon a rattler in the road. They caught it and carried it into the service with them as a challenge to what the evangelist had said the night before. The pastor of the church at the time was Andrew Green and he told his congregation that if God willed, they could handle the snake. The pastor placed the rattler on the altar in a box and many of the people present handled the snake and not one person was bitten. No doubt this was done to convince the doubters of the power of God as spoken of in Mark 16:18.
(Source: J.H. Shealy & W.E. Woody, Church of God Historical Committe
St John Lutheran church in Walhalla was founder by German colonist out of Charleston on 20-Nov-1853. They were also the founders of Walhalla.
1736: Church of England sent missionaries John & Charles Wesley to start the Methodist movement in the US.
1785: The Methodist Episcopal Church is established
1800: The Church of the United Brethren in Christ is established
1803: The Evangelical Association is established
1806: The Independent Methodist Church is established
1816: The (AME) African Methodist Episcopal Church (Negro) is established (Denomination still exist in 2006)
1821: The (AME-Zion) African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church (Negro) is established (Denomination still exist in 2006)
1830: The Methodist Protestant Church is established
1842: The Wesley Chapel Methodist Church is established
1844: The Methodist Episcopal-South Church is established (1845?)
1860: The Free Methodist Church of North America is established
1870: The (CME) Colored Methodist Episcopal Church in America (Negro) is formed from uniting the African Methodist Episcopal & African Methodist Episcopal Zion churches (Denomination still exist in 2006)
1939: The Methodist Church is formed from uniting the Methodist Episcopal, Methodist Protestant & The Methodist Episcopal-South churches
1946: The (EUB) Evangelical United Brethren Church is formed from uniting the Evangelical Association & United Brethren churches
1949: The Church of the United Brethren in Christ & The Evangelical Association churches unite
1954: The Christian Methodist Episcopal Church in America (Negro) new name of The Colored Methodist Episcopal Church
1968: The United Methodist Church is formed from uniting the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, Evangelical Association & Methodist churches (Evangelical Association no longer exist)
United Methodist: At present, all the Methodist churches in Oconee are in the Anderson District. Almost every church in Pickens County is part of the Anderson District as well - two churches on the North Easley Circuit - Dacusville and Antioch - are in the Greenville District. Before 1905, when the Anderson District was created, all those churches would have been part of Greenville District.
The Bethel Presbyterian church was founded on 1805 and is consider to be the first in Oconee.
GENERAL AREA HISTORY:
It is estimated by Ramsay in his history of South Carolina (1808) that in 1755, there were not even 23 families settled between the Waxhaws on the
Catawba River and Augusta on the Savannah River. Since much of the upcountry was Indian land, settlement had centered in the coastal
counties. Prior to 1768, the only court held in South Carolina was held at the City of Charleston. In 1768, however, South Carolina was divided into
six judicial districts, with courts to be held in each. What is now Oconee County was in the Ninety-Six District. At the end of the Revolutionary
War, all of present-day Greenville, Anderson, Oconee, and Pickens counties was Cherokee land. There was some white settlement in this area, and forts
had been erected in various places to protect the settlers. The judicial set-up in South Carolina becomes quite fluid (and quite confusing) from
this time on until 1868. A law passed in 1783 recommended the division of the judicial districts into counties of not more than forty square miles,
with each county to have its own courts. This was accomplished by 1785, with the Ninety-Six District being further divided into Abbeville,
Edgefield, Newberry, Laurens, Union and Spartanburg counties. The lands of present-day Oconee County were temporarily attached to the adjoining
counties of Laurens, Abbeville and Spartanburg.
The Indians had sided with the British during the Revolution, and were forced to surrender their land. In 1785 a treaty was signed with the
Cherokee Indians at Hopewell, the home of Andrew Pickens; the following year, a treaty was signed with the Choctaws at the same location. At about
this time it was estimated that the white population of the area was 9,500. By 1789, the residents of present-day Oconee County were having
difficulty with their judicial assignment, and the area was separated off into Pendleton County. A courthouse was set up at the site of the
present-day town of Pendleton in 1790. The next year, however, the Ninety-Six District was divided into upper and lower regions. The upper
region, composed of Pendleton and Greenville counties, was named the Washington District; a district courthouse was set up at Pickensville near
the present-day town of Easley. In 1798 the name "county" once again changed to "district"; Oconee County was in the Pendleton District, and
court was held in Pendleton. The population was increasing rapidly; according to Ramsay's history, by 1800 it stood at 17,828. The area was,
however, still sparsely settled. In 1808, according to Ramsay, there was only one acre of cleared land for every eight acres of uncleared land, and
only one inhabitant per 36 acres. Education was "at a low ebb," although some schools had been established; one newspaper was being published, by
John Miller in Pendleton. In 1826 Pendleton District was further subdivided into Pickens and Anderson districts. The county seat of the
Pickens District, which encompassed present-day Oconee County, was located at Pickens Courthouse, or "Old Pickens."
While some of the settlers during this early period had come from the lowcountry of South Carolina, many were Scotch-Irish immigrants who had
fled Ulster for Pennsylvania to escape religious persecution. They then traveled down the Great Wagon Road from Harrisburg, through the Shenandoah
Valley of Virginia, and into the piedmont region of the two Carolinas. Some wealthy plantation owners from the lowcountry did begin to
build second homes in the upstate, mostly to take advantage of the more moderate summer climate. John C. Calhoun was one of these; his home, Fort
Hill, was later deeded to the state by his son-in-law, Thomas Clemson, and became the site of Clemson University.
In 1868 Pickens District was divided into Pickens and Oconee counties. The area was still a rural one, centered around courthouse towns which usually
had a courthouse, several churches, a school, and a few dozen citizens.
The early settlement of South Carolina took place along the coast. The first minister to preach to Presbyterians in South Carolina was Rev.
Archibald Stobo, who arrived in Charleston in 1700. Until 1704, he was the pastor of the "Mixed Presbyterian and Independent Church" there, the only
place of worship for Presbyterians in the entire colony. There was probably no organized presbytery in South Carolina until the 1730s. Early
Presbyterians were organized under the Presbytery of Orange, Synod of New York and Philadelphia. By 1760 there were eleven Presbyterian ministers in
the colony, concentrated in areas near the coast. By 1784 membership in the Carolinas was increasing, resulting in a desire to form a local
presbytery. Following the various Indian treaties signed in the late 1780s, settlement of the Upstate accelerated, mostly by Scotch-Irish
Presbyterians who had traveled down the Great Wagon Road from Pennsylvania. By 1789, the year the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church was
established, there were ministers appearing in some upstate areas, including the Waxhaws, Saluda, Rocky River, and Upper and Lower Long Cane.
Among churches which had been organized in the upstate at this point were Richmond/Carmel (1787), Bradaway/Broadway (1788), Good Hope (1789) and
Roberts (1789). It was also at this time that Hopewell (Keowee) or the "Old Stone Church" was established. In 1790 the list of Oconee County
churches expanded with the addition of Bethlehem and Philadelphia (or Ebenezer).
Rev. Thomas Reese, who was serving Hopewell (Keowee) Church at the time, eloquently described the possibilities for church growth in the
region. Noting that circumstances were "favorable to virtue and religion," he also noted that "As the country is in its infancy, we have yet to expect
that these congregations will soon become much stronger, and in the course of a few years, if peace continues, it is probable that each of them will
be able to support a minister. It is a pleasing reflection to the friends of religion, that as the people travel westward, the gospel travels with
them, or soon follows after them; that God inclines the hearts of ministers, respectable for learning, worth, and piety, to settle in these
Southern representation at early meetings of the General Assembly was limited, since meetings were always held in the North, and travel was
complicated and expensive. Thus figures on the development of churches in South Carolina are scarce. The western "frontier" of South Carolina was
considered a missionary territory, with ministers traveling around and "supplying" a number of churches. Indeed, a number of the same ministers
served the various Presbyterian churches in Oconee County. Salaries were often left unpaid; the largest contribution toward the salary of Rev. John
Simpson, first pastor at Roberts Church, was $5.00, and some members were only able to give a few pennies, or gifts in kind such as corn, wheat, and
whiskey. Often these itinerant preachers were not even reimbursed for travel and lodging. Consequently, some ministers turned to teaching,
opening early academies and schools. Often they found this work more congenial, and left the ministry, contributing further to the shortage of
In 1796 Rev. Andrew Brown was appointed to spend time as a missionary on the South Carolina frontier, at a salary of $16.66 per month. In 1797 he
apparently had charge of the Bethlehem and Philadelphia churches on Cane Creek in present-day Oconee County. In his history of South Carolina,
Walter Edgar estimates that only 8% of the white population in the upstate belonged to churches at this time. Church membership, however, was
increasing, largely as a result of massive ecumenical camp meetings. The early churches were simple, usually built of undressed logs. They had few
windows, and were furnished with benches rather than pews. No musical instruments were employed in the services.
It was during this time that Nazareth/Beaverdam (1803) and Bethel (1805) were organized. Edgar states that membership had almost tripled, to 23% of
the white population, by 1810. As for the Presbyterians, by that time there were only 9 ministers to serve 25 churches and 634 congregants in the
entire Presbytery of South Carolina. By 1826 Mills' "Statistics of South Carolina" indicated that there was a dominant Presbyterian presence in
Abbeville, Chester, Fairfield, Greenville, Laurens, Pendleton, Richland and York districts. In Oconee County, Westminster and Richland had been
organized in 1834. Ministers continued to be scarce, however, and most only stayed in one church for a short time. It was not until 1859 that the
concept of a permanent pastorate became popular in the church.
By 1870 there were still only 29 ordained ministers in South Carolina Presbytery, and only 13 of these were devoting their full time to the
ministry. During this time the Presbytery continued to employ "domestic missionaries" to supply vacant pulpits. By the late nineteenth century,
after a restructuring of the Presbytery to form Enoree Presbytery, there were 19 ministers left in the Presbytery of South Carolina to serve 39
churches, and rural churches continued to languish on into the 20th century. (For more information on the Presbyterian Church in South Carolina, see:
Howe, George, History of the Presbyterian Church in South Carolina; History Of The Presbyterian Church In South Carolina Since 1850, edited by
F. D. Jones, D. D. And W. H. Mills, D. D.; and Strupl, Milos, History of the Presbytery of South Carolina, 1784-1984.)
Although there is a Presbyterian Historical Society in Philadelphia, the best place to find material on the "Southern" church is at
Montreat. Here's what the Society says about this on their website: The Presbyterian Historical Society serves its constituency from two
regional offices, one in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and one in Montreat, North Carolina.
The Philadelphia office documents "northern stream" predecessor denominations and their work, congregations, and middle governing bodies in
thirty-six states, and the work of the current denomination's national agencies.
The Montreat office documents "southern stream" predecessor denominations and congregations and middle governing bodies in fourteen southern states.
For records from congregations, synods, and presbyteries in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia,
South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Virginia, contact the Montreat office first. For all others, contact the
Philadelphia office first.
Presbyterian Historical Society
P.O. Box 849, Montreat, NC 28757
Telephone (828) 669-7061
Fax (828) 669-5369
Presbyterian Historical Society
425 Lombard Street, Philadelphia PA 19147-1516
Telephone (215) 627-1852
Fax (215) 627-0509
The Special Collections area at the Thomason Library, Presbyterian College, Clinton SC contains a quantity of Presbyterian materials, including minutes
of the Synod of South Carolina (and its successors, the Synod of the Southeast and the Synod of the South Atlantic), the Minutes of the General
Assembly, incomplete sets of South Carolina presbytery minutes, many histories of churches in South Carolina, biographies of area ministers,
sermons, and the papers of 19th century ministers Ferdinand and William Plumer Jacobs. The library also has extensive information on Presbyterian
College and Thornwell Orphanage. The library's catalog can be searched online at: http://library.presby.edu/. Special Collections librarian is
Nancy Griffith, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
South Caroliniana Library at USC has over 474 titles listed on South Carolina Presbyterianism, including local church histories. They also have over 800 issues of the "Southern Presbyterian," which was a prominent journal during the late 19th and early 20 centuries. Their catalog can be searched online at:
By: Nancy S. Griffith at email@example.com in Apr-2001
Southern Methodist History:
United Methodist History:
Wesleyan Methodist History:
7th-Day Adventist History: