Marlboro County,
South Carolina Genealogy Trails

Transcribed by Dena Whitesell for Genealogy Trails


Churches 

Source:  A History of Marlboro County: With Traditions and Sketches of Numerous Families, 1897

 

It has been shown in a previous chapter that the Colonial Council of the Province of Carolina, in order to induce the Welsh to settle in the Province, admeasured and had laid off a large body of land for the Welsh settlers. In 1736 or 1737 a colony of Welsh settled along the east bank of the Pee Dee from the mouth of Crooked Creek and extending several miles down the river.    These early Welsh settlers first planted Baptist principles upon Marlboro soil.    In January,   1738, they met and organized themselves into a Baptist church, calling it Welsh Neck.

The spot where the church stood is just to the right of where the public road leading from Bennettsville to Society Hill approaches the banks of the Pee Dee River.  It is now covered by majestic trees and a thick undergrowth hides the ground.    Here repose the ashes of most of the original colony, with many of their descendants.   A monument marks the resting place of Col. Kolb, a Revolutionary patriot and officer, who was slain by Tories in the porch of his mansion a few hundred yards from where the ancient house of prayer then   stood.    It  might be interesting to take our stand at Long Bluff, the site of the old church, and gather up the legends and traditions of the times forty years after its organization, when  wolves and hyenas in human form stealthily crept around the homes of the settlers to carry away their stock and property and  shoot them in the arms of their loved ones. How, even then, a Pugh, a Williams, a Brown preached the Word while the brethren watched for the approach  of armed forces that lurked around.    None of these things broke the spirits or damped the zeal of these early

Baptists

This ancient church sent out several colonies organized upon the principles of the mother body. Brownsville, which was first called Cashway and situated nearer to and lower down the river than where it now stands, was an offshoot from the old Welsh Neck. It was organized into a church in 1789. "Old Brownsville church" stood a mile or two east from where the present church now stands. So that the present house of worship, which was built in 1858 or 1859, by H. G. Lucas, is the third one, all occupying different locations, but in the same community. In 1872 Brownsville church dismissed a number of her members to constitute the Mineral Spring church, which was formally dedicated June 30th, 1872.

Beaverdam (now McColl) was formed into a church in the year 1771 by Henry Easterling at or near what is known as Beauty Spot Bridge, and
was called Beauty Spot. From there they moved to Pine Grove, where they worshipped in common with other denominations in a house built by the Quakers or Society of Friends, who left the house unoccupied and to be used as a place of worship. It ultimately fell into the hands of the Methodists and the little handful of Baptists worshipped for a while at "Parker's Machine," two miles above, near what is known as Mason's Cross-roads. From there they moved to the old site on Beaverdam Creek, near McColl, and built a small framehouse which was standing as far back as 1840. Soon after or about that time a better building was erected, which was destroyed by the Federal army in 1865.

Some years after the war, another and better building took the place of the one destroyed by the army, and in 1891 it was removed without injury from its old site and located in the town of McColl and re-dedicated June 21st of that year.

Clio is mainly an offshoot from Beaverdam. It was organized in 1873 or 1874 with members drawn largely from Beaverdam.

The Baptist church at Tatum was organized a few years ago with members almost exclusively from Beaverdam. Tatum church was dedicated
April 3d, 1892.

Salem Baptist church was constituted in part at least of members from the "old Welsh Neck," in 1793. Robert Thomas, the grandfather of J.
A. W. Thomas, was instrumental in founding the church. He lived in the Beauty Spot region and was long and favorably known as a Baptist preacher engaged in the holy calling before the Revolutionary War began. He-used to travel, generally on horseback, extensively in the Pee Dee region in evangelistic work, and at last died in 1817,while away from home on one of these preaching tours, at the advanced age of 84.

From its organization in 1793 to near the time of his death, he ministered to the church at Salem. A new house of worship was built in 1880.

The Bennettsville Baptist church traces her lineage back to the "old Welsh Neck"; but did not spring directly from it, but from Cheraw.

Cheraw was dismissed from Welsh Neck and organized in 1782. "A part of the membership of Cheraw Hill church, desiring to become an independent church, were regularly dismissed" and constituted a church called the Saw Mill Baptist church in December 1820. Saw Mill, now a colored church, is in the immediate neighborhood of T. E. Dudley's Mill. When constituted, steps had just been taken looking toward the removal of the court-house to Bennettsville. At that time the population was more dense along the river than elsewhere; the only means of transportation for farm produce was by flatboats down the river to Charleston and Georgetown or by wagons to Fayetteville. It was not strange therefore that the church should be located in that community. The court-house was removed to its present location, and thither the tide of population was moving, and in the course of some years the church wisely determined to remove its location to the county-seat.    InSeptember,1832, this entry was made upon the minute book: "The church met at new meeting-house in Bennettsville Sermon by our pastor, C. Stubbs. Brethren present: C. Stubbs, Thomas Stubbs, Jno. Thomas, M. Heustiss, L. Harwell, W. Pearce, A. Lamb, J. Goodson, A. N.

Bristow, J. O. David, E. David, E. Curtis and Jno. Terrel." It is not known when the pastorate of Rev. C. Stubbs first began. He was in charge in 1829, before the removal to Bennettsville; and here he continued, with but a short interval, until 1837. "He was a man of great energy and decision of character; a prudent counselor, and considering his early education, a good preacher. His ministry here and elsewhere was successful, for he preached more or less at all the churches in Marlboro." He was a prudent man of business, and left a valuable estate to his heirs. He died September, 1844, lamented by his brethren. Mrs. B. A. Capel, and Messrs. W. H. and W. J. Stubbs are his grandchildren.

In October, 1837, an event occurred which weakened the pecuniary and numerical strength of the church. It was the organization of an
independent church at Bruton's Fork.    A new house was built at Bruton's Fork in  1878.

In 1839 Rev. W. Q. Beattie was called to the pastorate of the Bennettsville church and continued in that relation for fifteen years. He was an
educated man, was born in the North, came South, married and settled in the county, here worked for his master and here died. The symmetry of his character and the love of his heart were both beautiful; yea, as beautiful as his snowy head and benignant smile. In 1851 the steeple was built and other improvements added to the church; and again in 1858 side galleries, new seats and other improvements.

In 1881
a baptistry was built, the pulpit moved to the opposite end of the house, seats changed, and the church otherwise unproved.

In 1888 a parsonage was purchased. The church was enabled to make the purchase mainly on account of a be-
quest left the church by R. Q. Beattie, a son of Rev. W. Q. Beattie. He willed ten per cent, of his estate to the church, which amounted to
nearly eight hundred dollars, and thus the church came into the possession of a parsonage.
The church building was erected on a lot of land deeded for that purpose by Wm. Munnerlyn, and was first occupied in September, 1832. And
now, just sixty-four years from that date, and in the same month, the foundation has been laid and the work progressing rapidly towards the erection of a new brick building, which, when completed and furnished, will cost ten thousand dollars. The generations preceding us built churches for us to worship in and it is right that we should build for the generations yet to come.

A Baptist church, called Hickory Grove, was organized October 4, 1890, in the northeast section of the county.
A fond son will be excused for making prominent mention of his father in connection with the Baptist churches of Marlboro. The life of J. A. W.
Thomas was so intertwined and interwoven with the life of the churches that a sketch of the Baptist churches would necessarily be incomplete without prominent mention being made of him. The best years of his long life were given to the churches; for them he lived; for them he died.

Through summer's burning heat or winter's chilling blast, year in and year out, for forty-seven years he regularly met his appointments.

Sickness a few times prevented, but inclement weather was not considered by him a good reason for not meeting an appointment to preach.

He reasoned thus, "A few may go and I dislike to disappoint even a few."

J. A. W. Thomas, the son of William Thomas and Eleanor Evans, was born December 31st, 1822, in the Brownsville section of Marlboro
County. His father died when he was less than thirteen years old, and being the eldest of five childen, the care.and support of the familydevolved in large measure upon him.    His opportunities for obtaining an education were therefore limited.    He, however, did attend irregularly the neighborhood schools and when eighteen went for a part of a year to Wake Forest College, North Carolina, and the balance of the same year he attended school under Rev. W. R. Smith, a Methodist preacher who taught at Parnassus.    Two years after his father's death the  family left the Brownsville neighborhood and moved to what is now called the Alford place, in the immediate locality of old Pee Dee church.   At the age  of fifteen he united with  the  Brownsville  Baptist church and was baptized by Rev. Campbell Stubbs.    A few months after, uniting with the church, he was elected church clerk.    In January 1845 he changed his membership from Brownsville church to Salem, and on the same day was elected church clerk.    He also for several years served the Salem church as deacon, taking his turn in leading  the   prayer-meetings   and Sunday-school.    

In August, 1848, license to preach the Gospel was granted him by the Salem church.    On Sunday
night, September 10th, 1848,  his first sermon was preached in the Bennetts-ville church from John, 9:35.    "The Salem church, two months after voting the license to preach, asked him to preach for them twice a month; a call came from Brownsville to preach there once a month, and New Providence church in Darlington County, thirty miles distant, asked for  the other Sunday."    So, from the   first, the young preacher, as he was called, had as much as he could do. On the memorable snowy Sunday April, 15, 1849, J. A. W. Thomas was ordained to the full work of the gospel ministry in the Salem church, and from that day forward devoted his time to the active work of the gospel minis try.    His work has been done in his native county, excepting short periods of service done in counties adjoining Marlboro.    It may not be inappropriate  to give  a summary of the churches he has served  and length of 17 time he served them. His ministerial work began first with the Salem church, and then very soon after or about the same time with the Brownsville church. He began to serve these two churches in 1848, after he was liscensed to preach, and before his ordination, and preached continuously at Salem till 1862.

After an absence of three and
a half years in the army he resumed the pastorate of Salem in 1867 and continued to serve the church till 1885, making thirty-one years in all. Beginning in 1848, he preached three years at Brownsville; and generally his work there was in connection with Rev. Joel Allen, who was the pastor of the church. For one year, beginning in 1848, he went thirty miles from his home to New Providence in Darlington county, and while there would sometime preach at Hartsville, being perhaps the first to preach a Baptist sermon at that place. In the autumn of the year 1849 his services at Bennettsville began and con-: tinued without a break (except during the war) till 1882, making thirty years service with the Bennettsville church. His work for several years at first was in connection with Rev. W. Q. Beattie, who was pastor of the church. He preached thirty-one years, more or less continuously at Bruton's Fork church, beginning there in 1852. Beginning in 1866 he preached at Cheraw for three years giving them one Sunday in the month. Before the war he preached for several years in the Sand Hills, in the afternoon, going from Bennettsville once a month.

In 1851 he began his work with the Beaverdam church (now McColl), and there his last days' work on earth was done. It is likely that he
preached more sermons to the congregation of Beaverdam than to any other. His services there extended through a period of thirty-six years. During the war, and for two years succeeding, he did not preach at Beaverdam. For two years the Dargans, father and son, were the pastors of that church, and for two other years, R. Ford was the pastor.    But during all of theother years, since and including 1851, up to the day of his death, August 2, 1896, J. A. W. Thomas ministered to them in spiritual things. His last sermon there was from the text found in 1 Samuel, 30:24. In the afternoon of the same day he preached his last sermon to the church at Tatum, from John 12:19. Tatum is a new church, which he was instrumental in founding, and to which he preached till his death, about seven years, preaching for about two years in the academy and the Presbyterian church, till the Tatum Baptist church was built.

He served the church at Gibson station in North Carolina for about nine years. For about eight years he preached at Mason's Cross-roads
once a month in the afternoon. Before the war he went in the afternoon of one Sunday in every month to the Judson church in Marion for several years. Since the war he preached at Catfish church, in Marion County, for two years. The Clio church he served for five years; and the church at Mineral Springs for perhaps ten or twelve—some of the time in connection with other ministers. Other Baptist preachers have been in the county and have had charge of and acceptably ministered to different churches for longer or shorter periods. The Aliens, father and son, of Marion County, Ford, Battle, Pratt, Jordan and Easter-ling; but J. A. W. Thomas, through a long life, lived for the churches, and worked for them, and with them and was instrumental in the organization of several, and the building and rebuilding of several more. In addition to his work with and for the churches, since the year 1865, he married two hundred and fourteen couples; and from the beginning of the year 1881 to August, 1896, he attended two hundred and fifteen funerals.

In the course of forty-eight (48) years in the ministry he preached about 6,195 times, an average of one hundred and twenty-nine sermons
per year for each of the forty-eight years; and an average of two and a half times for every Sunday in the forty-eight years. He preached on texts taken from every book in the Bible, including both the Old and New Testaments ; the Psalms furnished the largest number of texts, four hundred and eleven; while the books of Ruth and Obadiah only furnished one each. Five books furnished over two hundred each, six books more than one hundred each, and eight books more than fifty texts each, while twenty-seven books furnished ten and less than fifty each. He always wrote his sermons out in full, and estimated that his "written manuscripts would, make seventy volumes of four hundred pages each."

He prepared and wrote in full more new sermons during the last years of his life than ever before. His library has never been extensive, and his theology was drawn largely from the Bible. He went into the Confederate army from a sense of duty, and fought for a principle that he thought was right; but was thankful that he was better known in the army as a preacher than as a soldier. He preached constantly and on one occasion baptized about forty in the surf on Sullivan's Island.

Methodist Churches

A sketch of the Methodist churches of Marlboro properly begins with the Beauty Spot church, the mother of Methodist churches. The first house of worship was built there in 1783 on land given by Turbet Cottingham. It was "built of logs, covered with long boards held in place by weight poles, and the seats were split pine logs." That primitive church may have been inconvenient and uncomfortable, but the day of small things should never be despised. The zeal and devotion there displayed by those early Methodists has perhaps been an inspiration to those coming after them: at all events, zeal and devotion to their church and religion have characterized the Methodists of Marlboro, and to-day they are stronger numerically than all the other denominations combined. They have twenty-two active churches, and all well located and actively at work.

The first itinerant preachers who visited Beauty Spot were Jeremiah Mastin and Hope Hull in the year 1783. They at first preached in the
private houses of the neighborhood till the church was finished. The first Quarterly Conference held at Beauty Spot was on 23d February, 1788. Bishop Asbury presided and preached from Isaiah 36:1-6.

In 1810 the congregation at Beauty Spot erected their second church. It was a neat frame building. During that year the first camp-meeting
was held at Beauty Spot and the last one held there was in 1842. Robert Purnell,. the first local preacher in Marlboro, was one of the early members of Beauty Spot church. He preached in the county for fifty years, and died in   1830.    The name isnow extinct in the county, but his descendants are here.

The third church was built in 1839. It was 60x45 feet and cost more than $ 1,100. It was a large, roomy church for that day and was used by
the congregation forty-four years. It was erected by John McCall, of Darlington, under the supervision of Rev. Thomas Cook, Eli Thomas and Thos. S. Covington. In 1883, when the fourth church was built, a new site was selected on the same road, but two miles further east. When it was built the old church was sold at public outcry, and purchased by a gentleman who has not removed it, and there it stands to-day on the sacred spot of ground where repose the ashes of those who in the years gone by worshipped within its walls. The present house of worship was completed and dedicated June 17th, 1883. Rev. T. J. Clyde preached the sermon and Rev. Lewis M. Hamer delivered an historical address. The cost of the building was $2,000. It was erected by Mr. Bounds, under the direction and care of P. M. Hamer, Crawford Easterling, David Easterling and L. D. Hamer.

Among some of the local preachers who have from time to time preached at Beauty Spot may be mentioned A. H. Adams, Wm. K. Breeden,
Thomas Cook, Allen Edens, John Jones, Chas. Manship, Cornelius Newton, Richard Welch and Wright Wilson. Some of the prominent male members were Eli Thomas, Robert Bolton, Jas. H. Bolton, John H. Hamer, Thomas Cook, W. J. Cook, and John Murdoch.

Hebron

Hebron Methodist church is located in the center of one of the garden spots of the county. The farms lying adjacent to the church are very fertile and are cultivated with great care and system. Highly respectable, industrious and intelligent people live on the farms and justly pride themselvvs on being able to make an entire success of farming. The church is about six miles southeast from Bennettsville and was built in the year 1848. Its original membership went out from Beauty Spot, the mother church. The Hebron Academy building stands near the church, and hard by is the cemetery, noted far and near as being the neatest and best cared for cemetery in this whole region of country. A few years ago, 1879, a handsome new church was erected.

About 1760 Ivy's church (now Clio) was situated near what is nowDunbar. It was afterwards moved to a point one mile below the town of
Clio, and there they worshiped until 1885, when a church was built in Clio. They have had five churches. One was burned in 1866 by the incendiary's torch.

Parnassus

In the years prior to 1835 the Methodists in the Parnassus community worshiped at Mossy Bay. The location of the old church is yet well-known on account of the graveyard. The dust of our forefathers buried there has long since mingled with the mother earth. There they worshipped; there they lie buried, and from thence their bodies will arise on the great resurrection morn. The site of the old church is in the immediate neighborhood of J. R. Townsend's residence. In that day there was also a Methodist church called "McLeod's church," located near where Berry Alford lived. It was on the McLeod land, and was doubtless built by or through the instrumentality of Donald McLeod, grand-father of Mrs. W. Z. Donaldson and D. McD. McLeod. During the year 1835 a church was built at Parnassus; the membership of Mossy Bay and "McLeod's" churches united and  made the new organization. The church was built by John Sinclair, and the dedicatory sermon was preached by Rev. Nicholas Ware, a local preacher who lived in the Brownsville neighborhood and  preached in  the lower section of the county. Our forefathers worshipped at both of the old churches, and then our parents and grandparents attended the Parnassus church. Some of the prominent members and attendants at Parnassus in the long ago were Thomas Barnett, James Galloway, John L. McRae, Thomas Kinney, Daniel John, James Spears and W. R. Smith. The last named was a Methodist preacher and lived in the neighborhood of the church and frequently preached. The present church building was erected by Mr. H. G. Lucas just prior to the late war.

It is well located, in a thickly populated community and has a large membership of substantial, pious and devout people.

Zion church, located a few miles west from Parnassus, near John C. Townsend's, has been organized and built since the war, and belongs to
the Blenheim Circuit.

Bennettsville Church

On the 21st of June, 1834, Col. Wm. J. Cook conveyed one and a half acres of land to Thomas Cook, John L. McRae, Wm. Dudley, John McCollum, Alexander J. Miller, Jas. C. Thomas and Alexander R. Brown, as trustees for the Bennettsville Methodist church. The deed was not recorded till 1846. It is fair to presume that the church was built within a year or two after the conveyance was made. The town of Bennettsville had even then begun to show signs of growth and life, and the Methodists residing in town up to that time had held their membership at Beauty Spot. The members residing in Bennettsville doubtless experienced some difficulty in reaching their place of worship, and influenced by the belief that Bennettsville would some day grow to be a town of some size and importance, wisely determined to build a church in the young town. The Baptist congregation had just two 1 years previously built a new house, and this might have provoked them to good works. Let the causes influencing them be what they may, just ten years from the completion andoccupancy of the new court-house they took steps towards the building of the first Methodist church. It seems strange that the people of Bennettsville should have waited eight or ten years after the completion of the court-house before a church was built in the town. The Baptists living in the town at that time worshiped at Saw Mill and had just built a new church there in 1820; so it was natural that they should wait awhile and be well convinced that Bennettsville was to be a reality before beginning another new house. But the Methodists needed a new house at Beauty Spot when the town was founded, for in 1839 they erected a new building at Beauty Spot.

The first church, built more than sixty years ago, was a plain square building without steeple, portico or other architectural adornments. It
was covered on four sides, forming a quadrangular roof, ending in a sharp point at the apex. Two doors opened from the street and led you directly into the body of the church. The house was never painted and the bell was swung to a frame platform outside the church. The singing was done by the congregation without the aid of an organ or cornet. Major Townsend or Judge Hudson, with the aid of a silver tuning fork, could be relied on to "raise the tune." In the "amen corner" of the church devoted to males (for males and females each occupied their own portion of the church) sat Col. Wm. J. Cook, Dr. Crosland, Wm. Dudley, John McCollum, James C. Thomas and Rev. Thomas Cook. In the opposite corner sat Mrs. Fannie Easterling, Mrs. Sarah Cook, Mrs. Jas. C. Thomas, Mrs. Little and Mrs. Rowe.   They have all gone to their reward.

About 1871 the present building was erected on the site occupied by the old church. It was made a station in 1883 and has been served by T.
E. Wannamaker, J. L. Stokes, J. W. Daniel, W. S. Wightman, E. O. Watson and now (1897)ls agam under the care of Rev. J. L. Stokes.

Boykin

A preaching place was established about one hundred years ago at Boykin; about the same time a school was established there and was taught by Lemuel Boykin, from whom the place took its name.

A fine spring of freestone water near the church doubtless influenced the establishment of this educational and religious center.   The spring
has been  flowing through all these years without cessation or diminution, yielding from one hundred to two hundred gallons per hour of as pure water as   any in  the  country.    It is not  definitely known when the first schoolhouse or church was  built. The earliest recollection of some of the oldest people indicates a small log schoolhouse in which Barnabas Wallace,  afterwards   a prominent planter in  the  vicinity, taught.   Many years before the war, a good framed school building was erected, principally through the efforts  of Rev.  Cornelius  Newton, who   lived about three miles southeast of the place and always took a lively interest in its educational affairs.   About 1845 or before, Robert Fairly taught school for a number ot years at this place. He was a famous teacher, and much loved by scholars and patrons.  He came  from the Scotch settlement of Richmond county, North  Carolina.   James Stewart also taught here.   He was a Scotchman  and bachelor and famous for his wit and peculiarities of disposition.    Alexander J. Stanton also taught there many years.    He was a man of positive disposition and wielded the "rod" with a   master hand.    He was Tax-collector  for two  terms and died several years ago, leaving a large and interesting family.   Thomas W. Huckabee, who has been mentioned elsewhere, taught there from about   1850 to 1855.   And various other men have occupied the teacher's chair in that school, which has done its work in training the best citizens this county has known.

There were three church buildings erected there from the beginning; the first was built of hewn logs dove-tailed at the corners; the second
was a frame building about 30x40 feet, and it stood, as did the first, on the south side of the road. This building was erected about 1830. It had the usual high pulpit, and benches made from heavy plank with a six-inch board about high enough to strike the shoulder blades for a back. The last church, which now stands there, was built in 1859 or 1860 by H. G. Lucas, who built several of the churches in the county and died a few years ago at Parnassus, and was followed just two days after by his wife. This church is 40x60 feet, and is one the best church edifices in the county. It has sheltered one of the largest memberships in this section of country. Barnabas Wallace, Samuel Odom, Sr.; Younger Newton, David C. Newton, Tobias Calder, John W. Stubbs, Thomas Barrentine, Needham Ryal and others had their membership here in the generation before the last. Of the last generation were such names as James M. Gibson, Noah Gibson, Robertson Adams, Jephtha Adams, Ebenezer W. Goodwin, Giles Newton, Anderson Newton, William Peel. The last named could neither read nor write at the age of nineteen years, when he married, but began to study, learned to read and write and has read the New Testament through one hundred and fifty-eight times, word for word, since 1844.

James W. Gibson and Noah Gibson were brothers and together with William, Eli, Ziba, Nelson M. and the Rev. Thomas Gibson were the sons
of Nathaniel Gibson. They were all reared near the North Carolina line, and were strong men, physically, intellectually and morally, and have made their impress upon the communities in which they have lived. The Rev. Thomas Gibson, who lived over the line in North Carolina a few miles, was a surveyor and a local minister of fine reputation. His labors in and around Boykin church were abundant, and "none named
him but to praise." He was a sweet, spiritual, Christian gentleman. All these brothers are dead except Eli, who is seventy-two years of age and
has been a member of the Methodist church for fifty years, and Nelson M., of Mc-Coll, who has reached his three-score and ten and calmly awaits the summons to go up higher. He has been a close personal friend of the author of this history for fifty years, and has been frequently called "his Methodist deacon at Beaverdam." The Gibson family is of English extraction. Noah was very successful as a merchant, and by his skill in business and his industry amassed a large fortune. He was the father of Francis B. Gibson, who is his worthy successor in the mercantile business at Gibson, North Carolina. Noah left several sons and daughters, all of whom occupy prominent positions in church and society. James M. Gibson lived within about half a mile of Boykin church. He reared a large family and always took a prominent part in church and school matters. These and other prominent laymen among the Odoms and Quicks and other families were reared under the influence of Boykin church, nearly all having crossed over the river prior to this record. Most of them left families and descendants who are worthily sustaining their record for piety and good citizenship.

The traveling preachers who served this church were those who were from time to time assigned to the Bennetts-ville Circuit, and their
names are given elsewhere in this volume. Cornelius Newton, Henry Covington, Aaron Turner, James Turner and James Odom were local preachers who were members here and did their faithful work here and in other parts of Marlboro, and even across the North Carolina line.

Cornelius Newton married the daughter of Rev. Robt. Purnell, who is elsewhere named as the pioneer local preacher of the Beauty Spot section. Cornelius Newton was born 25th December, 1797; was a son of Younger Newton and grandson of Giles Newton, Sr.,who came to this county from Henrico County, Virginia, in the latter part of the last century, and was the great progenitor of all the Newton family in this country, which has grown to great proportions and intermarried with the Adams, Gibsons, Fletchers, etc., till its relations number in the hundreds, perhaps. Cornelius Newton is the only one of the local preachers whose complete history we have been able to get.

He was married, as stated, to a daughter (Dorcas) of Robt. Purnell on 31st December, 1818, and joined the church in the summer of 1820, and embraced religion in October, 1821, appointed class leader in 1822 and licensed to exhort in 1830; licensed to preach in 1834; ordained Deacon in 1838; and was recommended for Elders' Orders in 1842. He reared a large and interesting family, many of whom still survive; among them Cornelius D. Newton, Joseph Newton and Hope Hull Newton. He was a successful planter and a faithful soldier of the cross, and after "having served his own generation, by the will of God fell on sleep" in the summer of 1878. Among those who labored in this vicinity in later years as local preachers were Wm. K. Breeden, who lived in the Smyrna section, and Andrew Adams, whe still survives and was born and reared in the vicinity of Boykin church. Who can tell how much the local preacher has had to do with the successful growth of Methodism in this and other sections?

Boykin, sixty years ago or more, was a famous camp-meeting place, and during these annual summer convocations, ministers, local and
itinerant, went from other sections of country and heartily engaged in the services. Time and space both forbid telling more of the history of this church and community. A chosen people; a chosen land, and the deepest spiritual influences from time immemorial are enough to evolve a superior type of Christian civilization, just such as has long been and doubtless will continue to be in the vicinity of Boykin church.


Ebenezer

About 1856 or 1857 Rev. P. E. Bishop, the pastor of the Bennettsville Presbyterian church, appreciating the fact that a section a few miles south from Bennettsville was comparatively destitute of Gospel privileges, determined to carry the Gospel to that community. He was assisted in his efforts by Rev. Paul F. Kistler and Rev. J. A. W. Thomas, and a union church was built. It was called Pine Plains and services held alternately by the three preachers named. The Methodist faith largely predominated in the community and Rev. P. F. Kistler was doubtless the first preacher to preach a sermon to the congregation which formed the Ebenezer M. E. Church. His first sermon was preached beneath the spreading branches of a large oak tree, near the spot where the church now.stands. About the year 1858 the first church was built, and the dedicatory sermon preached by him. Rev. Mr. Kistler yet lingers on the shores of time, and resides at Bamberg, S. C. He married a sister of Dr. J. T. Jennings, of Bennnettsville. The membership came from Beauty Spot and Hebron. About 1892 the old church was sold to Mr. R. M. Edens and a new house built on the site of the old one. The Ebenezer church belongs to the Blenheim Circuit.

Bethel

Bethel M. E. church was built in 1875 or 1876, during the pastorate of Rev. J. M. Carlisle. He gave it the name and told the people how to pronounce it, and impressed upon the people the fact that the accent should be placed on the last syllable, and that a hyphen should be placed between the two. Bethel is really old Level Green with a changed name and location. Level Green church stood where George M. Webster now resides. The land (one acre) upon which it stood was, upon the 28th day of August 1844, deeded to John Jones,Philip Barrentine, James Moon, H. H. Williams, Benjamin Moon as trustees, by Ananias Graham and wife. The church was therefore built about 1845, and the membership went from Beauty Spot, the mother of Methodist churches, and from Bennettsville, which had been built a few years before. From some cause Level Green languished, and perhaps died, but its successor, Bethel, is destined to be a strong church. It is in a thickly settled community of prosperous young farmers who will be able and willing to give it their support.

Breeden's Chapel

Not many years ago Mr. Joel Hall and others built a brush arbor, and invited the Rev. Wm. K. Breeden to preach for them. He preached for sometime under the arbor, but Mr. Hall, not being satisfied, determined in his old age to have a church near him; he canvassed the country for subscriptions and donations, was successful, and to-day there stands on the hill, just in front of his late residence, a large, beautiful church bearing the appropriate name of Breeden's Chapel, and long may it stand among the lonely pines, a monument to the efforts of Mr. Hall, and of the piety, Christian character, and Godly labors of the man whose name it bears. The church was built in 1887. They have both gone to their reward; Mr. Hall several years ago, and Mr. Breeden in 1896. From the time Mr. Breeden entered the ministry in the early sixties to the time of his death, his life -was full of useful  work.


Bethlehem

The history of Bethlehem M. E. church, in the extreme southern part of the county, is similar to that of other churches. They began with a log house. The date of organization is not known; but it is well known that our fathers attended a camp-meeting held there in their youth,and that would make Bethlehem one of the old churches. They have had at least three houses of worship. The present house was built by H. G. Lucas about 1858 or 1859.

Smyrna

Smyrna was first located a few hundred yards from where it now stands, and quite near to J. F. Breeden's place, formerly the Wm. Pearson place. A house was built where the church now stands, about 1846 or 1848 for a gentleman, not now a youth, remembers attending service there the 15th of April, 1849, "tne day °f tne big snow" in April. His recollection is that the church was new and had but recently been completed. The present church was built by Samuel Sparks in 1884. Mr. Sparks, while building it, fell from a scaffold, and was quite badly hurt.

Pine Grove

It is safe to say that Pine Grove has been a place of worship for more than a century. The Quakers first worshipped there, but, as has been already told, on account of slavery they moved to the Northwest and the other denominations used their house. Rev. Cornelius Newton remembered attending a revival meeting held jointly by the Baptists and Methodists early in the present century at what is now Pine Grove church. During the progress of the meeting a "young man, riding in a gig, came up to the meeting ground, alighted and made his way into the congregation near the altar, and paid very respectful attention to the services then in progress. After the close of the services, his acquaintance was sought, and it was ascertained that he was a Baptist minister (Rev. W. Q. Beattie) who had just finished his education and journeyed South to preach the Gospel. He was invited to preach at the next service, and he charmed the whole congregation with his graceful speech and melting words, and many were the shouts that were raised as he eloquently portrayed the glories of salvation, and when he would have ceased, cries of 'go on,' 'go on,' spontaneously arose from the congregation."

It has not been ascertained when the present church or the ones preceding it were built. In 1871 and a few years succeeding, a camp-meeting
was held at Pine Grove—the last held in the county but perhaps not the first held at Pine Grove.

A good school has for many years been kept up at Pine Grove. The Academy is just across the road opposite to the church, both being in a
beautiful grove of majestic oaks. Under such men as Robert Johnson, J. Monroe Johnson, Hope Newton, Hamilton, Craven and others, along with the unanimous hearty support of the patrons, educational as well as religious interests have been maintained at Pine Grove.

There are a number of other Methodist churches in Marlboro, but the difficulty of obtaining information, and the lack of space, will preclude a
more extended notice than a mere mention of their names. Antioch, Hickory Grove, Shiloh, New Hope, Beulah, Manning's Chapel, Pleasant Hilt, Oak Grove, and McColl.

In the preparation of the foregoing chapter invaluable assistance has been kindly rendered by Rev. L. M. Hamer, Rev. J. L. Stokes, H. H.
Newton and others.

Circuits and Preachers

The circuit embracing the churches of Marlboro was first called Pee Dee. It embraced territory lying North at least as far as Rockingham, and presumably extended down the Pee Dee river, perhaps to its mouth. The name was changed from Pee Dee to Rockingham Circuit in 1832, and a parsonage established at Rockingham. At the close of the year 1845 the circuit was reduced in size and the name changed to Bennettsville.   A  parsonage was built in Bennettsville, and H. H. Durant was the first preacher to occupy it in 1846. At that time Bennettsville Circuit doubtless embraced all the churches located in Marlboro. Now the same territory is covered by five circuits and one station; named as follows: Bennettsville Station, and Bennettsville, Brightsville, North Marlboro, Blenheim and Clio Circuits. Bennettsville was made a station in December 1883. The pastors have been T. E. Wannamaker, 1884; J. L. Stokes, 1885-6; J. W. Daniel, 1887-90; W. S. Wightman, 1891-2; E. O. Watson, 1893-95; J. L. Stokes, 1896, and now serving. The parsonage originally stood on the same street and and just south from Judge Hudson's, on the lot now belonging to Mrs. Barnes. It was sold and another built on the opposite side of the same street.

In a few years it was disposed of, and a handsome two-story structure erected in East Bennettsville.
Bennettsville Circuit is now composed of four churches, Pine Grove, McColl, Beauty Spot and Smyrna. The parsonage is located at McColl.

Brightsville Circuit was set apart from Bennettsville Circuit in 1849, and is composed of Boykin, Bethel, Anti-och and Breeden's Chapel. The
parsonage is near Gibson Station, North Carolina. This Circuit has been served by G. M. Boyd, R. W. Barber, P. A. Murray and B. M. Grier.

The churches in North Marlboro Circuit are New Hope, Oak Grove, Ebenezer, Shiloh and  Pleasant   Hill.
Clio Circuit was first known as South Marlboro, and was a part of the Bennettsville Circuit till 1874. The churches now composing it are Clio,
Bethlehem, Beulah, and Manning's Chapel. The parsonage is at Clio. The preachers who have had charge are J. T. Kilgo, G. T. Harmon, J. C. Bissell, G. M. Boyd, D. D. Dantzler, F. Auld, R. A. Child, John Owen and J. B. Traywick.

Blenheim Circuit was a part of the Clio Circuit until the close of the year 1887.    The churches forming it are
Hebron, Parnassus, Ebenezer and Zion. G. M. Boyd, W. H. Kirton, J. A. Porter, J. W. Ariail, L. F. Beaty, T. G. Herbert, Sr., and P. B. Wells are
the preachers who have been in charge. The parsonage is located at Blenheim.

- The following list gives the names and date of service of the preachers who have had charge of the Bennettsville Circuit since the year 1821
and up to date.

1821  John Boswell and-----Tradewell.
1822  Jeremiah Norman and Morgan C. Turrentine.
1823  John Boswell and Malcom McPherson.
1824  Nicholas Ware and Elias Sinclair.
1825  Elias Sinclair.
1826  J. L. Jerry and J. Hartley.
1827  Joseph Moon and W. T. Smith.
1828 ------Groover, W. M. Wightman  and ------ Culverhouse.
1829  John H. Robeson,-------Humbert  and  Wm. Murrah.
1830  Noah Lany, Samuel W. Capers and John McColl.
1831  Wm. King, Jackey M. Bradley and------Boseman.
1832  Wm. King,-------' Allen and Wm. Whitby.
1833  Joel W. Townsend and John L. Smith.
1834  John Watts and J. W. Welbourn.
1835  Allen McCorquodale and A. W. Walker.
1836  John H. Roberson and Thos. Sumter Daniel.
1837  John H. Roberson and John McMackin.
1838  Chas. S. Walker and Paul A. M. Williams.
1839  Theophilus Huggins and Wm. C. Clark.
1840  Wm. T. Harrison and Wm. A. McSwain.
1841  Abe) Hoyle and Miles Pucket.
1842  Ira L. Potter and A. Richardson.
1843  Jacob B. Anthony and John W. Vandiver.
1844  Lark O'Neal.
1845  M. Robbins and Robt. J. Limehouse.
1846  Henry H. Durant.
1847  Marcus A. McKibben.
1848  Dennis J. Simmons.
1849  James W. Wightman.
1850  John A. Porter.
1851  Jackey M. Bradley.
1852  John H. Zimmerman.
1853  Robert P. Franks.
1854  Lewis M. Little.
1855  Lewis M. Little and John W. Crider.
1856  Henry M. Mood and John W. Crider.
1857  Henry M. Mood and J. E. W. Fripp.
1858  Paul F. Kistler and J. M. Cline.
1859  Paul F. Kistler and E. F. Thwing.
1860  R. R. Pegues and A. H. Hafmon.
1861   R. R. Pegues and-----Allston.
1862  Tracy R. Walsh and J. B. Campbell.
1863  Tracy R. Walsh and R. R. Pegues.
1864  J. A. Porter and M. C. Davis.
1865  J. A. Porter and M. C. Davis.
1866  T. R. Walsh and A. McCorquodale.
1867  T. R. Walsh and R. R. Pegues.
1868  M. L. Banks. 1869-1870 Claudus H. Prichard.
1871  John A. Porter.
1872  J. A. Porter and J. F. England.
1873  John A. Mood and L. M. Hamer.
1874  John A. Mood and Dove Tiller.
1875  John M. Carlisle and J. L. Stokes.
1876  John M. Carlisle and D. G. Dantzler,
1877  Thomas Mitchell and Thomas E. Gilbert.
1878  Thomas Mitchell and J. W. Tarbox.
1879  T. Mitchell and F. Hauser.
1880  J. W. Murray and------Graham.
1881  J. W. Murray and P. B. Murray.
1882  J. W. Murray and J. E. Beard.
1883  Thomas J. Clyde and John C. Kilgo
1884  Thomas J. Clyde and J. A. Harmon.
1885  Thomas J. Clyde and E. G. Price.
1886  Thomas J. Clyde and E. 0. Watson.
1887  James C. Stoll and John A. Rice.
1888  James C. Stoll.
1889  George M. Boyd.
1890  W. H. Kirton. 1891-1894 W. S. Martin.
1895-1896 J. S. Beaseley.

Presbyterian Churches

Great Pee Dee Presbyterian church, now located at Blenheim, is considered the parent church of the Bennettsville Presbyterian church. The old church yet stands five miles from Bennettsville on the public road leading from Bennettsville to Blenheim. The Great Pee Dee church, being inconvenient for the worshippers living at Bennettsville, in 1852 measures were adopted looking towards the erection of a building in Bennettsville. A lot measuring one acre, fronting Marion street, was purchased of Hartwell Ayer, for $150.00, and the deed taken in the name of L. B. Prince and George Dudley, on October 5, 1852. Subscriptions were made by the members in Marlboro, Cheraw, and by others friendly to the object. Messrs. W. D. Johnson, Chas. A. Thornwell, Neil McNeil, Geo. Dudley and J. Beatty Jennings acted as a building committee. Messrs. Jones and Lee, architects of Charleston, S. C, furnished the plan, and the work was let to D. A. Boyd, of Virginia, the lowest bidder, at $2,800.00 On May 12, 1855, the church was dedicated. Rev. Jno. C. Coit conducted the service, being assisted by Rev. A. D..Campbell.

The Bennettsville church was placed under the jurisdiction of the Harmony Presbytery of the South Carolina Synod. Through, a
petition presented by Alexander Southerland and others, and by order of Presbytery a committee composed of G. C. Gregg, J. A. Wallace and A. D. Campbell was appointed to organize the church on the 1st of December, 1855. Dr. James H. Thornwell was present and aided in the service. W. D. Johnson and J. Beatty Jennings were elected ruling elders   and  obligated  by   Dr.  Thornwell.   Rev. A. D. Campbell acted for a few months as stated supply, and a call having been accepted by Rev. Pierpont E. Bishop, on 19th of April, 1856, he was installed as pastor. Rev. P. E. Bishop served the church acceptably and faithfully till March 5th, 1859, when in the vigor and prime of manhood, and in the zenith of his usefulness he was taken away by pneumonia. His ashes now repose in the churchyard by the side of his wife.

On November 10th, 1860, Rev. Charlton W. Wilson was installed pastor of the church. He died at Petersburg, Va., June 4th, 1864, a chaplain
in the Confederate army In 1870, Rev. E. H. Buist was stated supply; and in the early part of 1871 Rev. Joseph Evans became stated supply for the church. On the 21st of November, 1874, Rev. D. S. McAlister was installed pastor, and continued in that relation till December 6, 1881, when he resigned the charge of the church. April 2, 1882, Rev. W. B. Corbett became stated supply, and continued till his death, April, 1894.
From May 12th, 1855, 156 members have been enrolled, including the organization and those admitted on examination and by letter.

Baptism has been administered to forty-nine adults and infants. There are fifty-two members in good standing, enrolled and living, of which number thirty-four per cent have been added during the first six months of 1896.
Samuel E. Bishop and W. Beatty Jennings have gone out as ministers of the Gospel from this church.

About the year 1832 Archibald McQueen, a Presbyterian preacher residing in North Carolina, came to this county at stated times and
preached at what was known as the "Old Club House." It stood not far distant from Drake's Mill, which then belonged to the Campbells. What the ''Club House" was originally erected for we are not advised, but the presumption is that there was a "racetrack" in the vicinity.   At all events Gen. Robert B. Campbell,
who owned the land upon which the "Club House" stood, was not averse to having services held there on Sundays, and for a time the
arrangement continued. But from some cause, not now known, services were afterwards held near where Hill's store was, in the vicinity of Zion church. But about the year 1834 the great Pee Dee church was built, and the membership to whom Mr. McQueen had been preaching was organized into a church. Mr. McQueen was the first pastor. D. G. Coit, who married Miss Maria Campbell, was ruling elder. The Campbell families, McQueens, B. N. Rogers, McLeods, Sparks, Drakes and Mathesons have been members and supporters of the church. About 1855 the Bennettsville Presbyterian church was organized and the strength of Great Pee Dee weakened by the removal of quite a number to Bennettsville, prominent among whom were W. D. Johnson, Alexander Southerland and Dr. J. B. Jennings. The names of some of the preachers who have supplied, the pulpit of Great Pee Dee church for longer or shorter periods are Revs. Archibald McQueen, P. E. Bishop, C. W. Wilson, A. D. Campbell, Martin Brearley, Cousar, McAlister and Richards. About 1882 a new Presbyterian church was built at Blenheim arid the old Pee Dee church sold to the colored people.

The Presbyterian church at Tatum was organized in the Academy building June 15th, 1890, and for about a year they worshipped in the
Academy. In the spring of 1891 the church was completed and dedicated, Rev. H. G. Hill, D. D., officiating in the services. It was the first church built in the town and is out of debt. Rev. W. B. Corbett was the pastor from its organization till his death in 1894. For the last two years the pulpit has been supplied by Revs. Brearley, Gillespie and Arrowwood.

Red Bluff

Early in the present century there was a Presbyterian church  at Red Bluff.    It has been shown elsewhere in
these pages that a good many Scotch people came to this county soon after the Revolution, and settled mainly in the eastern portion of the
county along the Little Pee Dee River; and, having brought the Presbyterian faith along with them, they would naturally soon want a church of that faith to worship in. The first church was situated on the bank of the stream at Red Bluff. It is well authenticated that it stood there as far back as 1817, and might have been built some years previous to that date. The old building was not torn down till about 1860. For a good many years before that (perhaps twenty or more) the congregation had not worshipped there, but had moved their membership to Smyrna, a church in Robeson County only a few miles distant. Near the site of the old church is the burying ground, where the Scotch people of that community have been interred, and McLaurins and others have been carried there from other communities to find their last resting place.

The second church, bearing the name of Red Bluff, occupied a site two miles or more west from the old one, and was built about 1857 or 1859.

The land upon which it stood was conveyed by Solomon L. McColl for that purpose, and when no longer used as the site for the church, was to revert back to his heirs. It was a new organization, the members of the old church, as already mentioned, having gone to Smyrna. It was organized and built, perhaps, through the instrumentality of Rev. P. E. Bishop, who for several years previously had been pastor of the Bennettsville church. The land upon which the church stood is now owned by D. D. McColl, of Bennettsville, who recently deeded a spot of ground near by for a burial ground.

Soon after the founding of the town of McColl (about 1886) it was determined to constitute a church at that place. It was accordingly done,
and the membership of the new organization was made made up largely of members of the Red Bluff church. From members originally forming Red Bluff, McColl and Tatum Presbyterian churches have both been organized.

Within the last few years a new Presbyterian church has been built at Dunbar, a station on the Latta & Clio branch of the Atlantic Coast Line
Railroad Capt. T. E. Dudley, Dr. J. C. McKenzie and others have given assistance much appreciated in the preparation of this chapter.


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