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Black Swamp Circuit – Walterboro – Churches – Early Methodist Missions to Slaves – Absurdity of Northern Sentiment – Their Self-complacency – Some Old Colored Saints – Dr. F.A. Mood’s Testimony.


            The old Black Swamp Circuit and the Walterboro Circuit that adjoined it greatly deserve notice.  This with the Barnwell Circuit noticed farther on, will complete the survey of the state as far as these annals can do so.  Black Swamp is first noted in 1811, and was then in Ogeechee District.  Lewis Meyers was presiding elder, and John S. Capers preacher in Charge.  The membership reported in 1812 was 96 whites and 55 colored.  In 1813 it was transferred to Edisto District, and numbered 213 whites and 112 colored; and that year Thomas Mason was the preacher in charge.  Up to 1830 it was served by such men as J.C. Belin, Freeman, Hill, McDaniel, Callaway, Laney, Watts, and Crook.  From that time to 1850 it was served by Bond English, King, T. Huggins, M.C. Turrentine, William Martin, H.A.C. Walker, R.J. Boyd, Bass, Durant, and McSwain.  Its early boundaries are not now definable.  In 1851 and 1852 the parsonage was at Brighton’s Cross Roads.  The circuit swept on down to Robertsville and Purisburg, then on to Ebenezer and Kadesh, and up to Cave’s and Gillette’s then turning to Swallow Savannah, then down toward the Bluff and on down to Union and Brighton.  There were some twenty appointments.  It was always regarded as a choice charge in the Conference.  Here were the Manors, Martins, Lawtons, Bosticks, Solomons, and Davises, most of them men of wealth and deeply pious; with many who, if not so well off in this world’s goods, held to the true riches.  The people were universally kind, and unexcelled in attention to their preachers.  Union Church at that time was at the head of all.  Manor Lawton, one of the chief stewards, used to say to the preachers:  “We keep no books; get all you can from the others, and Union will make up the deficiencies.”  And on this being reported, in less than half an hour a deficit often amounting to hundreds of dollars was made up.  Swallow Savannah came next in liberality.  The younger Bosticks and Martins were there, and their training at Union was not forgotten.


            One member now at Black Swamp Church, well known as “Old Bill,” still survives, and may he long do so.  We would like to put on record all who helped to make this so pleasant a charge, but this cannot be done.  The civil war spread desolation over this fine country, swept away its wealth by emancipation, and many a palatial mansion was given to the flames.  Several charges have been made out of this grand old circuit, and since railroads have invaded its quiet, towns and villages have sprung up, and Methodism is still on the advance.


            The Walterboro Circuit was another of those famous old charges of the past.  Long incorporated with Edisto and Orangeburg, it was not known as Walterboro until 1834.  T.E. Ledbetter and George Wright were the preachers.  The churches at that time and afterwards were Pine Grove, Green Pond, Ebenezer, Carmel, St. John’s, Little Swamp, Mizpah, Rehoboth, Sheridan’s Chapel, Island Creek, Buckhead, Cross Swamp, Shiloh, Bethel, Antioch, Salem, Peniel, Sandy Dam, Walterboro, and Tabernacle.  Among the chief stewards was Thomas Raysor, famous in his day for liberality rather beyond what was common then.  He was always attendant on Quarterly Conference, ever exerting a most healthful influence in supporting religion.  Within its boundaries lived the Rev. Lucius Bellenger, remarkable for his zeal and long travel, far and wide.  He was noted for eccentricity, not by any means harmful, but always attracting attention.  This good man, without fee or reward of earthly nature, long preached the gospel of Jesus, and now rests from his labors.  Aaron Smith was noted as a class leader at Pine Grove.  Brother Steadly was another, as also was Allen Williams.  At Ebenezer were Alfred Raysor, B. Risher, Stevens, and Martin Jacques.  At Rehoboth were Philip Jacques, Ackerman, and Dandridge.  At Sheridan Chapel were the Johnsons, Willises, and, though not a member, Dr. Shendon, who has left an admirable son, Hugo, who is doing good service educationally for the Church.  At Island Creek Louis O’Brien can never be forgotten.  This was one of the first charges, as to time, in the old Edisto Circuit.  At Mount Carmel were the Robinsons, Bloxes, and Blockers; and the good man Linden must not be forgotten.  The Rishers, Stewarts, Stevenses, Varns, Sniders, Ulmers, Campbells, Pages, Hendersons, Lowrys, Larasys, Fulkses, Kirklands, Muses, Brabhams, and many more, have left descendants who are an honor to our Church.  Benjamin Stokes, at old Sandy Dam, still survives; as also Col. William Stokes, often representing his circuit at Conference.  Dr. A.E. Williams still lives, and has done yeoman service for the cause.  The old Green Pond Camp Ground was long a rallying point for the hosts of Methodism, with old Binnaker’s in Barnwell Circuit, both gone into desuetude.  At the latter place in the early days may have been seen a man not especially remarkable then, but developing finally into H.N. McTyeire, one of our bishops.  Joseph Moore and Reddick Pierce were often at Binnaker’s preaching with power to delighted thousands.


            We have said little, and only incidentally, concerning our missions to the slaves.  This lower part of the state was covered over by them.  They were once our chief joy; but since the civil war has swept them out of existence, and since the whole body of colored people have gone into other communions, we can look alone to heaven for the reward due for the labor expended on them.  From the very beginning attention was given to these poor beings; and not only sermons, prayers, and tears freely bestowed upon them, but the record from 1830, when $201.33 an average of 1 and ¼ cents per member, up to 1864, when $63,813.70, an average of $1.77, was given, together with the full yearly exhibit as seen in the Appendix, will prove clearly that much had been done for them.  The Methodist Church was the first to care for the slaves, beginning with the very advent of Asbury, and for years trained the best instructed of the African race.  And it is well known that when emancipation came – to say nothing of their behavior during the war – because of this they quietly adjusted themselves to their new relations.  And yet how absurd is the northern sentiment on the religious condition of the negro in slavery!  To show this convincingly we quite from an address delivered by the Rev. Charles Cuthbert Hall, D.D., at Norlan, Mass., June 28, 1893 , and published in the Outlook for September 16:


            Character is invisible thought translated into visibility, and fixed before the eye, cut on life.  And the nature of character is affected – yes, is determined – by that whereon the mind principally dwells, by the tools principally used.  To an astonishing extent this can be verified by the observation of human life.  Even upon so broad a scale as a comparison of nations it is possible to make this verification.  Take the African race, while still in slavery, in our southern states, and contrast it with the New England …


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This file was contributed for use by the Colleton County SCGenWeb Project  by:

Beverly K. Mott
March 27, 2004

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