PRESBYTERIAN COLLEGE LIBRARY
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OUT OF INTEREST IN
THE HISTORY OF
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THE GEKTilllL PRESBYIERi GiRGH
ANDERSON, S. C.
BY G. N. C. BOLEMAN
CLERK OF SESSION
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-
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.
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.
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
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,
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
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-
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.
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.
PRESBYTERIAN COLLEGE LIBRARY
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