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Full text of "Historical sketch of the Central Presbyterian Church of Anderson, S. C."

PRESBYTERIAN COLLEGE LIBRARY 
3 5197 00143486 2 






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OUT OF INTEREST IN 
THE HISTORY OF 
SOUTH CAROLINA 

J -^ ^ PRESENTED 

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DUDLEY JONES 

TO THE 

PRESBYTERIAN COLLEGE 



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HISTORICAL SKETCH 



OF 



THE GEKTilllL PRESBYIERi GiRGH 



OF 



ANDERSON, S. C. 




BY G. N. C. BOLEMAN 

CLERK OF SESSION 



V 



45176 

The subject of this sketch is one in which some per- 
chance may be interested, but in presenting it, we are 
aware that it will be received with a measure of indif- 
ference. The young, as a rule, look towards the fu- 
ture, the imagination resplendent with hope, is con- 
cerned chiefly with the prospects ahead; matured 
minds are grappling with the problems of the present, 
engrossed with its ever absorbing and perplexing 
cares; and it is only with the advance of age that the 
mind begins to take backward glances into the dead 
past, begins to linger there, while memory delights 
in resurrecting the things that were — the actions and 
the scenes of years gone by. Hcm^ever, we offer this 
bit of history with a view to the present and the future 
as well as to the past. The future depends on the 
present and the past. All achievement in future 
time, will depend on what the present is, and on what 
the past has been. So it is without further apology, 
that we present to all this brief sketch of the Central 
Presbyterian Church of Anderson. 

It was in the early part of the year 1900, when at 
the suggestion of the Pastor of the Presbyterian 
Church here, an effort was started to organize another 
church. In the spring time or early summer of this 
year, Mr. Thos. A. Ratliffe and Jas. T. Pearson 
presented to the writer a petition to this effect, already 
signed by fifty or more church members. The peti- 
tion had to it such names as Thos. A. Ratliffe, R. A. 
Mayfield, D. R. Morrov/, R. J. Poole, Dr. J. Louis Gray, 
J. W. Thompson, Dr. J. C. Harris, J. K. Hood, J. H. 
Anderson, Jas. T. Pearson, Dr. B. A. Henry, M. M. 
Mattison and perhaps other names that we fail to re- 
call at this time. We have just mentioned a few of the 
leading male members, those upon whom the greater 
responsibility would rest. We scanned the paper and 
decided at once that with such men as pillars the 
church foundation was sure. We cast our lot with 
them and we have never had cause to regret our ac- 
tion. 



y 



Just here we deem it a fitting tribute to the memory 

of Mrs. Rebecca Archer Lewis to record the fact that 

she was one of the very first women that enlisted for 

the new church. And it is without any disparagement 

of the efforts of other good ladies that contributed 

towards the progress and development of the Church, 

; that we are constrained to make special mention of 

f this good sister, now deceased, whose efforts in the 

; early history were invaluable. From the beginning 

' till the time of her death, she labored for the church. 

She not only gave liberally of her means, but gave her 

best service as well, and, as long as she lived, her 

zeal, her loyalty and her devotion to the church never 

abated. On the 22nd, day of October 1915, she was 

called to rest, but her memory abides. 

The petition went up to the fall session of the South 
Carolina Presbytery convened at Smyrna, and our 
prayer was granted by that body. A commission com- 
posed of Revs. J. N. S. Summerell, H. C. Fennell and 
S. L. Wilson, and Elders W. T. W. Harrison and S. D. 
Brownlee of the Church of Anderson, and Dr. M. A. 
Thomson of Varennes Church, were appointed to or- 
ganize the church, and the time set for Sept. 23, 1900, 
at three o'clock p. m., and the place the Presbyterian 
Church, at Anderson. So the new church was then 
and there organized. The following were chosen as 
Elders: J. H. Anderson, Dr. B. A. Henry, J. W. Thom- 
son, R. J. Poole and G. N. C. Boleman, the latter being 
named as Clerk of the new session. Messrs. J. K. 
Hood, J. T. Pearson, T. A. Ratliffe, M. M. Mattison, D. 
R. Morrow, J. T. Holleman and Dr. J. C. Harris were 
elected Deacons, and organized the Deaconate by 
electing J. K. Hood, Chairman, J. T. Holleman, Treas- 
urer, and T. A. Ratliffe, Secretary. It was on motion 
of the writer, that the church was named The Central 
Presbyterian Church of Anderson, and the Chairman 
of the Board of Deacons immediately secured a char- 
ter from the State which is of record in the Clerk's 
office of Anderson County. 

(2) 



The church was organized then without a home, 
without any place of worship. The City authorities 
kindly proffered the use of an auditorium in the City 
Hall, the same that has since been reconstructed and 
is used at the present time as police quarters. The 
first service was held at that place on Sunday, Septem- 
ber 30, 1900, and Rev. S. L. Wilson preached the first 
sermon, and it is a noteworthy fact from that day to 
this, with the exception of the short vacations of pas- 
tors, and during the flu epidemic when churches were 
closed by the authorities, the church has maintained 
regular services almost every Sunday. 

In that early day the church was poor indeed. One 
member presented a pulpit Bible, and we are sure this 
was the first material thing the church ever possessed. 
Soon after we bought two or three dozen gospel hymns 
of the cheapest edition. Such was the Church's full 
equipment at this time. 

It was often predicted that this little organization 
would struggle only for a time and then dwindle and 
finally die. So it comes to mind that on one occasion, 
when about the same crowd mentioned above lingered 
in the hall after services to transact some business, 
this dire prediction was mentioned, when every man 
present, then and there, pledged, for better or for 
worse, loyalty to the church forever. 

At this early period, the church was greatly indebt- 
ed to the good preachers of the A. R. P. Church. They 
served us on the shortest notice whenever called upon. 
There were Dr. O. Y. Bonner, Dr. F. Y. Pressley, Dr. D. 
G. Caldwell, Dr. J. E. Todd, Dr. J. S. Moffatt, Rev. W. 
C. Ewart and Rev. J. V. Black, some one of whom al- 
ways came at our beck and call. Most all of these 
good men have passed to their reward, but their efforts 
in our behalf are not forgotton. Their memories will 
live in the minds and hearts of the charter members 
of this church, and their good work will go on. 



(3) 



And later this church was greatly indebted to Dr. 
S. R. Preston, President of Chicora College, then locat- 
ed at Greenville. For a compensation of barely ex- 
penses, he supplied the church regularly for several 
months or until a regular pastor was secured. During 
his time the church made some progress. The mem- 
bership of the Church increased from about sixty-five 
to eighty members and a Sunday School was organized 
that has not failed to function to the present time. Dr. 
Preston labored faithfully and well. His good work 
will also live en, and while life lasts, his memory, in 
the minds of the older members, will never be eifaced. 

In the latter part of the year 1901, Rev. H. R. Mur- 
chison came to us from Edisto, as the first pastor of the 
church. Mr. Murchison was a strong preacher and 
served the church faithfully for a period of about four 
years. During his administration two more Elders 
were chosen, Mr. D. H. Russell and Mr. R. A. May- 
field, and the church membership increased from 
eighty to one hundred and thirty-five. It was during 
his pastorate that a church building was erected. The 
church bought a lot from Mrs. Kate B. Maxwell for 
$1,700.00. Hov/ever, the price asked by Mrs. Maxwell 
vvas $2,000,00, but she contributed $300.00 to the 
church building fund, which amount was deducted 
from the price of the lot in the execution of the deed. 
A building committee was appointed consisting of 
Messrs. J. H. Anderson, M. M. Mattison, G. N. C. Bole- 
man, J. W. Thomson, J. T. Pearson, T. A. Ratliffe and 
H. C. Townsend. The plan selected was that of Messrs. 
Wilson & Edwards, Architects, Columbia, S. C, and 
Messrs. Grandy & Jordan of Greenville were given 
the contract. When the building was finished, except 
the Sunday School Annex, which was added later, the 
church was several thousand dollars in debt. It was 
then that the burdens lay heavy. Great sacrifices were 
made by the original members. Tithing incomes is of- 
ten thought to be liberal, but at this critical period of 
the church's history we know those of the members 

(4) 



that gave one-tenth of all they possessed. The debt 
with the necessary running expenses was too heavy, 
for it seemed that if a vigorous campaign was made 
and the indebtedness reduced, a corresponding de- 
ficit would appear on the expense side, so it was only 
after several years of struggle, labor and sacrifice that 
the debt was fully and finally extinguished. 

Rev. J. E. James was called to the church as the 
second pastor. He came to us direct from the Semi- 
nary at Richmond in the year 1904, and served the 
church until 1908. He was a young man, well equip- 
ped, and though he may have lacked the discretion of 
some experienced preachers, yet he was a good preach- 
er and his pastorate, in the main, was successful. Dur- 
ing his administration two Elders were added to the 
Board, Dr. M. A. Thomson and Hon. J. Perry Glenn, 
and the membership of the church was increased from 
one hundred and thirty-five to two hundred and five. 
During this period we also lost by death one of our 
most faithful members from the eldership. Elder R. J. 
Poole departed this life November 22, 1908, and in 
his death, not only the oflficial board, but the church 
at large sustained a real loss. He was a good man, a 
man of sterilng worth and integrity, a Civil War Ver- 
eran, a good soldier in the service of his country, and 
no less a good soldier of the cross. 

In the fall of 1908, Dr. Bunyon McLeod, came to 
the church from Bennettsville, as its third pastor. His 
pastorate was a successful one, and continued for 
about four years until 1912. Dr. McLeod was a hard 
worker, a good organizer and withal a good preacher. 
One characteristic of his sermons was brevity, but, 
nevertheless, they were clear, logical, forceful and 
eloquent. The membership increased during his labors 
from two hundred and five to three hundred and thirty. 

Elder J. Perry Glenn died Sept. 18, 1911, being the 
second member of the Board of Elders removed by 
death. His death was a distinct loss. Mr. Glenn was 
a m.an of unquestioned piety, and in point of ability, 

(5) 



he was far above the average. He was also a Veteran 
of the Civil War and had served one or more terms as 
State Senator from this County. He was a member 
of the State Constitutional Convention in 1895. He 
served his country, his state, and his church well. 

Rev. D. W. Dodge was called to the church in 1913, 
and continued his pastorate till April 11, 1917, when 
he was deposed by the Piedmont Presbytery while con- 
vened in regular session at Walhalla. Mr. Dodge not 
only entertained views at variance with the church 
standards, but continued to preach and disseminate 
doctrines that were not even in accord with the gener- 
ally accepted creeds of Protestantism; and hence, his 
arraignment, trial and deposition. This case having 
been adjudicated by a court of competent jurisdiction, 
and the whole procedure being a matter of record 
thereby, we refrain from comment. 

During Mr. Dodge's pastorate, Mr. J. L. Sherard and 
Mr. W. S. Ramsey were added to the Board of Elders. 

The vacancy that occured in the pastorate by rea- 
son of Mr. Dodge's deposition continued for a period 
of several months, and it was during this interval that 
Dr. D. M. Douglas, President of The Presbyterian Col- 
lege at Clinton, kindly consented to supply the pulpit. 
He preached for us regularly almost every Sunday un- 
til another pastor was secured. Dr. Douglas is so well 
known that it is unnecessary to comment on his valu- 
able services, which especially at this time, counted for 
so much for the church. His good work is a part and 
parcel of its history and is inseparably connected with 
it for all time. 

Elder A. G. Cochran died August 20, 1913, making 
the third member of the official board lost by death. 
Mr. Cochran was an elder in the Upper Long Cane 
Church in Abbeville County. He moved to this City 
in 1908, and immediately made his connection with 
this church, and very soon after he was duly elected 
and installed as an elder here. Mr. Cochran was also 



(6) 



a veteran of the Civil War, a good soldier, a good man, 
a conscientious officer, ever faithful, loyal and devoted 
to the church. He was a Christian that would grace 
the official board of any church. 

Again for the fourth time the church lost by death 
another one of its most faithful elders. On Nov. 9, 
1915, Mr. D. H, Russell was called from the church 
militant to the church triumphant. He was a Confed- 
erate veteran also, and in civil life, he had served the 
public in many responsible positions. He was for many 
years editor of the Peoples Advocate, a paper publish- 
ed in the City, for a long time Magistrate, for several 
terms County Superintendent of Education, a member 
of the Constitutional Convention that framed the State 
Constitution in 1895, and, in later years, served as City 
Recorder. Mr. Russell was scholarly, intellectual and 
aggressive. He was a man of strong convictions and 
had the courage and ability to stand by them. In his 
death the church lost one of its strongest supports. 

In passing, we might digress to say that it is a note- 
worthy fact that members of this Church, first and last, 
have been specially honored politically. Two mem- 
bers of this church had served as members of the State 
Constitutional Convention prior to their church con- 
nection here. In addition, the Church has furnished 
two Mayors of the City, two City Recorders, one Mag- 
istrate, one County Auditor, one County Treasurer, two 
County Superintendent's of Education, two Members 
of the House of Representatives, and four State Sena- 
tors. 

In the latter part of 1917, Rev. P. S. McChesney re- 
ceived a unanimous call to the church as its fifth pas- 
tor. He came to us from Kingstree. He labors with 
the church at present and his administration to this 
time has been successful. He has the church well or- 
ganized, and he surely has his work well in hand. Mr. 
McChesney is a good preacher, for without any at- 
tempt at the sensational, he delivers only gospel mes- 
sages, just such preaching, and such only, as will 
make the world better. 

(7) 



The official boards of the Church as constituted at 
the present time, are as follows: — ^Elders; Dr. B. A. 
Henry, G. N. C. Boleman, J. H. Anderson, J. W. Thom- 
son, R. A. Mayfield, Dr. M. A. Thomson, W. S. Ramsey, 
and J. L. Sherard: Deacons; John K. Hood, Dr. J. 
Louis Gray, A. E. Lewis, R. E. Nicholson, T. A. Ratliffe, 
H. H. Russell, C. Eugene Tribble, J. R. Shelor, T. P. 
Dickson, M. M. Mattison, J. T. Holleman, T. Frank 
Watkins and J. T. Pearson. 

Thus we have briefly traced the progress of the 
church from its first inception twenty-two years ago 
when only a poor struggling, but faithful little band to 
that of a strong progressive church. It is established 
now in strength beyond peradventure. It now has a 
membership, resident and non-resident, of about three 
hundred and fifty. It owns a plant free from debt, cen- 
trally located, as its name implies, which has a money 
value of probably $75,000.00 It is nov/ v/ell organized 
for efficiency, strong materially, but most of all, it is a 
strong church spiritually. 

When on that bright Sunday morning, Sept. 30, 
1900, at the City Hall, Rev. S. L. Wilson preached that 
first sermon, to the newly organized church, there was 
started an influence that will go down through the 
ages. Since that distant day a regular supply has been 
maintained and besides, several evangelical meetings 
have been held in which the power of the Holy Spirit 
was evidenced, so we estimate that more than two 
thousand gospel messages have been delivered from its 
pulpit. What a tremendous influence! What a fear- 
ful responsibility! Multitudes have heard the old, old 
story told and retold many of whom have passed to the 
great beyond, but many more are still here, and the ef- 
fect produced in the lives of men, the good that has 
been accomplished, the lives that have been made 
brighter, the souls that have been made happier, the 
number that have been led to the foot of the cross — 
will only be revealed at the last day. God grant that 
it may be a mighty host. 

(8) 



PRESBYTERIAN COLLEGE LIBRARY 

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PAMPHLET BINDER 

^^ZZ Syrocuse, N. Y. 
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