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Full text of "Historical sketch of Salem Church: the origin of "Old" and "New Salem""

PRESBYTERIAN COLLEGE LIBRARY 
SMC 285. 175 74 St8 SBTA 

Historical sketch of SalemChurch : the 



3 5197 00106435 4 






SYn yjh Collecjioyi a\ o. C 



PRESBYTERIAN COLLEGE 
LIBRARY 

*o.8MJ2£?f O c 



HISTORICAL SKETCH 



SALEM CHURCH 






THE ORIGIN OF 
"OLD" AND "NEW SALEM" 



mv- 



PREPARED BY 

J. L. STRAIN 

AND READ BEFORE ENOREE PRESBYTERY AT SAI,EM CHURCH 



*<fpnit, a. e. 



HISTORICAL SKETCH 



SALEM CHURCH 



THE ORIGIN OF 
"OLD" AND "NEW SALEM'* 



"PREPARED BY 

J. L. STRAIN 
AND READ BEFORE ENOREE PRESBYTERY AT SAEEM CHURCfi 



VME LEDGER PRINf 
aiFFNEV, •. e. 







HISTORICAL SKETCH OF SALEM CHURCH 



The history of Salem church is a 
history of which this and all future 
generations may well be proud. Far, 
far back, before the beginning of the 
last century this country was com- 
paratively a wilderness with only 
here, there and yonder an Anglo 
Saxon home. Savage Indians and 
wild beasts were plentiful. Broad 
river was the dividing line between 
the Cherokee and Catawba tribes of 
Indians. 

Principally from Pennsylvania, 
Maryland and Virginia, in about the 
year 1750, the tide of emigration set 
in and brought various colonies of 
sturdy Scotch-Irish settlers who 
found homes in Mecklenburg, (N. C), 
York, Chester and Fairfield counties, 
of this State. 

Many of them settled in Western 
York in the Bullock's creek valley, 
and the sections contiguous thereto 
along Broad river, and not a few 
settled on the western side of that 
stream. By blood consanguinity and 
marital relationship, they were more 
or less people with one interest. All 
having imbibed that spirit which 
more or less caused their ancestors 
to seek homes in the western world, 
where they could enjoy both civil and 
religious liberties. 

Revs. Azel Roe and John Chose 
who were sent out by the Synods of 
New York and Pennsylvania as mis- 
sionary evangelists about the year 
17G5, were really the first minis- 
ters who ever advocated, taught or 
published Presbyterianism in upper 
South Carolina, and to these servants 
of the most high God, we trace the 
origin of Salem church. 

These pioneer ministers organized 
on the waters of Bullock's creek in 
York county two churches — one near 
the mouth where it empties into 



Broad river, and the other near its 
head waters. These they called re- 
spectively Dan and Beersheba. After- 
wards the congregation concluded to 
change the name of the former to 
"Bullock's Creek," which name it re- 
tains to this day. Of the history of 
these two divines and the work they 
did before, during and just after the 
Revolutionary war I would like to 
speak. It forms the warp and woof 
of Presbyterianism as it exists in both 
principal and policy today. Whether 
they or their friends ever realized the 
far-reaching results of their labors in 
upper South Carolina, we are unable 
to say. But we must not overlook 
the mustard seeds of history for 
tradition is that Bullock's Creek. 
Beersheba, Bethel and Bethesda (all 
in York county) were organized about 
the same time — during the vears 17G5 
to 17G9. 

We must not forget the fact that 
to be a Presbyterian in those days 
was to be a "Whig," and the four B's 
— Bullock's Creek, Beersheba, Bethel 
and Bethesda, with their strongly 
interlaced congregations stood like 
grim sentipa^ate Upon the four cor- 
ners of the territory now comprising 
York county. To the first of which 
the people of Salem were closely al- 
lied by the strongest ties of social, 
political and religious affinities. 
Salem at that time was part of Bul- 
lock's Creek congregation to which 
grand old mother it owes its pater- 
nity. These several churches were 
the Mizpahs where the patriots ral- 
lied for the struggle at Hanging Rock, 
the pursuit of the infamous Huck 
at Brattonsville, and to join the lion- 
hearted Williams at King's Mountain. 
and the brave Morgan at. Cowpens, or 
to follow the Swamp Fox into the la- 
goons on the Pee Dee — all for that 






boon, civil and religious liberty 
which we so highly prize today. 

The history of Bullock's Creek is 
largely, if not entirely, the history of 
Salem. To divorce the two would be 
to separate the mother from the child. 
We can't well disassociate them, and 
allow either to retain its individual- 
ity. It would simply be a contradic- 
tion of terms. It's sufficiently under- 
stood that the Salem congregation 
was formed principally, if not entire- 
ly, from the Bullock's Creek congre- 
gation. Most, if not all the territory 
now embraced in the Salem congrga- 
tion, belonged to or was part of the 
Bullock's Creek congregation. A ride 
or drive of ten, twelve or even twen- 
ty miles, was no barrier to the de- 
vout spirits which gave to Presby- 
trianism the impetus it attained in the 
early days of our republic, and which 
has ever marked the career of the 
ti-ue followers of John Calvin. 

Of the early history of Salem as a" 
church but little is positively known, 
further than about the year 1804 
a group of Presbyterians, some of 
whom held their membership at Bul- 
lock's Creek, came together and with 
the assistance of Rev. Wm. C. Davis, 
organized a body of worshippers, 
which afterwards took the name of 
Salem church. For several years 
previously, this little group (for they 
were small, numerically) worshipped 
without a house, meeting at different 
homes in the neighborhood which 
were friendly to them and their work. 
This has always been considered the 
initial step in organizng the church 
which today we are called upon to 
celebrate the one hundreth anniver- 
sary of. 

Rev. Wm. C. Davis was the first 
pastor of Salem church. Although 
Rev. Joseph Alexander had preached 
here to the group of persons who 
composed its first membership, yet 
he never lived to see the first house 
erected in which they worshipped as 
as organized church. 

Dr. Joseph Alexander was pastor of 
Bullock's Creek church from about 
year of 17G9 to 1806 — three years be- 
fore his death. He preached to the 
Salem people as a body, but in pri- 
vate houses in this community as 
early as 1790. After the death of 



Rev. Joseph Alexander, Rev. W. C 
Davis was called to the pastorate of 
Salem. In fact, he (Davis) took up 
the work of Dr. Alexander and 
preached at Bullock's Creek as well 
as Salem. 

Just here I will quete from a letter of 
Judge Sam W. Williams, now of Lit- 
tle Rock, Ark., who is a son of Rev. 
Aaron Williams, who was at one 
time pastor of Salem church. Judge 
Sam W. Williams was also a nephew 
of Rev. Wm. C. Davis, the first pastor 
of Salem. This letter was written 
form Little Rock, Ark., to Mrs. Mar- 
tha E. Smarr under date of January 
lGth, 1899. He says: 

"Dr. Alexander, who died in 1809, 
had grown so feeble that he resigned, 
and Rev. Wm. C. Davis was called 
as pastor, and about 1810 he organiz- 
ed Salem and they built a large frame 
church on the Union side of Broad 
river, on an elevation just back of 
the old Hamilton place, where a Mr. 
Bstes lived In 1880. After crossing 
Broad river from the York side, we 
used to turn to the right nearly in 
front of Mrs Bankhead's, near the 
top of the hill, and cross a ravine by 
a path to go to this church which in 
my childhood's first recollection 
(about 1832) was called old Salem, 
while the newer building — newer in 
1832 — which-stood to the left-hand side 
of the big road as we came up from 
the ferry, near, or at the top of the 
hill or ascent from the river, was call- 
ed new Salem. Uncle Wm. C. Davis, 
shortly after organizing Salem, es- 
tablished the Independent Pres- 
byterian church. His followers at 
Salem were strong enough to hold 
the church edifice and afterwards the 
old school people built the new build- 
ing at the place I have indicated — to 
the left of the big road as we came 
up from the ferry." 

It's not essential in this sketch for 
me to refer to this action of Rev. Wm. 
C. Davis, mentioned by Judge Wil- 
liams, as declaring independence 
and establishing the Independent 
Presbyterian church. Suffice it to say; 
parenthetically: The doctrine he 
preached and for which he was de- 
posed, was contrary to the standard 
of the Presbyterian church, to wit: 
That the active obedience of Christ 



was not imputed to the believer, but 
only his passive obedience. Also that 
faith was previous to regeneration. 

But all differences have now been 
amicably settled and the church is 
now a unit on the great principles 
and doctorines of Presbyterianism — 
especially a unit in the south. Further 
on in his letter Judge Williams says: 
"In 1817 my father, Aaron Williams, as 
a licentiate, was employed to preach 
at Bullock's Creeek. where the old 
sides were the strongest and held the 
old church, while the "Independents" 
' ^^^ built a new house near the P-iaekn-ey- 
/V "* J " V vilie road, where they all worship 
now. The old house stood near the 
graveyard. In 1819 my father was 
called as pastor and ordained in Au- 
gust of that year. 

Father, shortly after this, accepted 
a call from Salem for a part of his 
rive, and he preached there until he 
resigned the pastorate of both in 
1834. It was while father was preach- 
ing at Salem, I suppose, that the new 
Salem house was built. It was a good 
long, large, frame house with a large 
entrance at the end way from the 
river, and an aisle from it to a cross 
aisle that ran in front of the pulpit 
at right angles with the big road; 
there was a side door, a large one, 
at the end of this cross aisle. 

In this house I was baptized by 
Rev. John B. Davis, 70 years ago, or 
more." 

During the time (or part of the 
time) Rev. Aaron Williams preached 
at Salem be taught the Hopewell 
academy, later kno,-n as the Dr. 
Wright 'place where he then lived. 
In 1S32 or 1833 Rev. Daniel Baker 
held a revival meeting in the new 
Salem building and there were many 
professions of religion made, among 
them Miss Harriet Newell Wil- 
liams, a daughter of Rev. Aaron Wil- 
liams, who died within a year after- 
wards and lies buried at Bullock's 
Creek graveyard. After the resigna- 
tion of Rev. Aaron Williams as pas- 
tor of Salem Rev. W. B. Davis, who was 
then serving Beersheba, was called 
for one-half of his time to Bullock's 
Creek and he could only give each 
fifth Sabbath to Salem. In this way 
the church languished for the want 
of spiritual food — the preaching of 



the gospel — until in 1837 or 1838 the 
church, (of which Robert Lush was 
the only surviving elder), petitioned 
Presbytery to dissolve it, which was 
done November 2nd, 1838, and the 
members mostly, if not altogether. 
went back to Bullock's Creek. 

That the harmony of the church 
had been seriously disturbed by the 
erroneous doctrines of Rev. Wm. C. 
Davis, may well be taken for granted. 

It caused hard or unfriendly feel- 
ings among neighbors and friends 
that were never settled or compro- 
mised. Soon after the dissolution of 
Salem church — November 2nd, 1838 — 
the star of hope made its appearance 
above the horizon and shed its lustre 
upon the apparent ruins of the church 
and Robert Lusk, in April 1840, was 
sent with a petition to Bethel Pres- 
bytery to have the church reorganiz- 
ed. This was granted and Saturday. 
May 30, 1840, was the time set foi 
that work to be done. 

Rev. John B. Davis and.Rev. J 
H. Saye were appointed a committee 
f o effect the organization. Rev. Mi 
Saye being providentially hindered 
from attending, Rev. John B. Davis 
proceeded to organize the church. 
At this meeting the following »vhite 
persons presented certificates from 
other Presbyterian churches, to wit: 
Robert Lusk, Martha. Lusk, Ms 
Martin, Martha Bankhead. Jane 
Smarr, Caroline Walker, Samuel 
Davidson, John G. Davidson. R. G 
Davidson, Jane Davidson, Sarah E. 
Davidson, Elizabeth Plaxico, Esther 
S. Lewis, Ann Cain, Elizabeth Wil- 
liams, Eliza Ann Williams, Theodore 
Williams, Nancy Hemphill, William 
Plaxico, Elizabeth Plaxico, Elizabeth 
Robinson, James Meek,- Elizabeth 
. Martha Leech, Mariah Leech. 
Martin Leech, Jr., Z. D. Hemphill. 
Elizabeth Greer, Mary E. Plaxico, and 
the blacks were: Nancy, Jonah. 
Anthony and Becca. Wm. Plaxico, Jno. 
G. Davidson, Robert G. Davidson and 
Robert Lusk. were elected ruling 
elders. Robert Lusk, elder at Bul- 
lock's Creek, was installed a ruling el- 
der at Salem and Messrs. Pi. 
and the two Davidsons were ordain* I 
and installed ruling elders, also. The 
church being formally organized was 
placed under the care of Bethel Pr< 



bytery May 31, 1840. On this same 
day the sacrament of the Lord's Sup- 
per was administered by Rev. John 
B. Davis. 

The first meeting of the church ses- 
sion was held September 26th, 1840, 
and kept open until the next day — 
September 27th. Rev. Wm. B. Davis 
was chosen moderator and Robert 
Lusk was elected church clerk. Wm. 
Plaxico, Jr., Dr. Samuel Wright and 
his wife, Mrs. Elvira Wright, came 
before the session and upon giving 
satisfactory evidence of piety, were 
received into the church as members. 

At the beginning of the session that 
morning, William Gillis, infant son 
r of John G. Davidson, and Martha El- 
vira, infant daughter of William 
Plaxico, received the ordiha^on of 
baptism, Rev. Wm. G. Davidson, offi- 
ciating. I mention these facts to 
show who were the first members re- 
ceived into the church and the first 
infants to be baptized after the re- 
organization of the church in 1840. 

Rev. Wm. Banks was the first min- 
ister called to the pastorate of the 
church, but in failing to get him, a 
call was made for Rev. A. H. Mon- 
roe, of Unionville, a licentiate of 
Harmony Presbytery. It was placed 
in his hands at an adjourned meeting 
of Presbytery held at Bethel, No- 
vember 11th, 1840, and on the 8th of 
December following. Rev. Mr. Mon- 
roe entered upon the duty of supply- 
ing Salem in connection with Union- 
ville church. He lived at Union and 
preached at Salem in 1841 and 1842. 
During his pastorate the following 
names were added to the church roll: 
Williamson Howell and Sophia How- 
ell, his wife, Nancy Walker, Wright 
Walker, John Goudelock, Wm. Mitch- 
ell and wife, Violet, Rachel Carothers. 
Margaret Parker, Hannah McCulloch 
and John Murry. 

On August Gth, 1841, the Church 
session with Mr. Monroe moderator, 
adopted the following resolution: 
"Resolved. That all persons wishing 
occasional communion shall come 
through the session, and after being 
examined by it and received, shall be 
entitled to commune as long as they 
evince to the world by a Godly walk 
and conversation that they are Chris- 
tians." This was repealed by the ses- 



sion August 4th, 1844, under the pas- 
torate of Rev. Ferdinand Jacobs, who 
had succeeded Mr. Monroe. With the 
repeal of this resolution one was al- 
so adopted dispensing with the use 
of tokens and the new Hymn book 
approved by the general assembly 
was adopted by the church. 

At the time Rev. Ferdinand Jacobs 
was called to the pastorate of Salem 
in 1843 he was teaching school at 
Yorkville. 

In 1845 the session was composed 
of Robert Lusk, Robert G. Davidson 
and William Plaxico. The church 
got permission to employ Rev. Joseph 
Hillhouse as pastor for part of his 
time. He served until the close of 
1847 when he was succeeded by Rev. 
Mr. Beard, who supplied the church 
once a month during 1848. Occasion- 
ally supplies were sent the church 
during 1849, during which yean Rev. 
P. E. Bishop held the communion ser- 
vice in July, and in December the 
board of domestic missions was peti- 
tioned to assist Rev. Wm. Savage the 
ensuing year. 

On October 26th, 1846, Elder Robert 
Lusk and his family, including several 
slaves owned by him, were dismissed 

by letter to join church in 

Mississippi, whither they had gone. 
This, I neglected to mention in con- 
nection with Rev. Mr. Hillhouse's 
pastorate. The removal of Elder 
Lusk created a vacancy on the bench 
of elder and on the 25th day of June, 
1847, Newton Plaxico and Dr. Samuel 
Wright were elected elders. Dr. 
Wright declined to serve as he had 
such a large and extensive practice of 
medicine that he thought he could 
not discharge the duties of the office. 
Newton Plaxico accepted and was or- 
dained and installed as ruling elder 
by Rev. James H. Saye, June 26th, 
1847. John S. Plaxico (who was 
familiarly known as Old Steady), was 
elected and ordained elder by Rev. 
William Savage, September 27th, 1850. 

It might be well, just here, to go 
back a little in order to correct any 
errors that may exist in the mind of 
any about the organization of this 
church — as to the time and condition 
under which it was effected. This 
error might arise from our using the 
terms, "Old Salem" and "New Salem," 



when really new Salem, so called, was 
the parent church ami 'Old Salem" 
the offspring or out-growth of the In- 
dependent movement inaugurated by 
Rev. Wm. C. Davis and his follower.?. 
These terms, or rathe.- names, apply 
to the houses of worship and not to 
the bodies of worshippers — to the 
church militant and not the church 
triumphant— to the church outwardly 
rather than inwardly. 

The reason we call it "Old Salem" 
is because the followers of Rev. Wm. 
C. Davis, when he declared "Inde- 
pendence," were the stronger faction 
of the church (if that is the proper 
term or word to use in this connec- 
tion), and they held the building, and 
so the other or minor part of the con- 
gregation had to build the new house. 
This gave rise to the terms "Old" and 
"New Salem." 

During the late war, or more par- 
ticularly during its closing days or 
weeks, while the Federals were going 
through our State spreading terror, 
desolation, devastation and doom 
over our Sunny Southland, and de- 
fenseless old men, women and chil- 
dren were being driven to strangers 
for a miserable shelter from the in- 
clemency of the season, when all 
valuables and valuable records were 
being hidden out so as to escape the 
touch and torch of the chiefest in- 
cendiary of the age — the vandals of 
the nineteenth century — the records 
of Salem church suffered irreparable 
injury, and some of its most important 
history was forever lost beyond hu- 
man power or control. Though they 
were not secured by- the marauding 
armies of Sherman and Wheeler, 
yet the contending elements of na- 
ture effected their ruin. 

January 1, 1854, Rev. A. A. James 
was called to the pastorate, supply- 
ing it one half his time. The session 
consisted of Colonel R. G. Davidson, 
M. S. Lynn and J. S. Plaxico. Rev. 
Mr. James preached here until Janu- 
ary, 1859. When he commenced his 
ministry there they had been wor- 
shipping in a very dilapidated build- 
ing. He urged them to build a new 
house, but they did not think they 
were able. The old church stood 
about seventy-five yards west of the 
present building, and Providence in- 



terposed and in a severe wind storm 
brought down a large pine tree, com- 
pletely demolishing the building. 
This occurred a few weeks af- 
ter Rev. A. A. James commenced 
preaching there, (1854). The In- 
dependent Presbyterians were wor- 
shipping in the old church, about 
one-fourth of a mile north of where 
the present church stands, and they 
invited Rev. Mr. James to occupy 
their church, which he did. The feel- 
ing between the two denominations, 
or perhaps we should say, congrega- 
tions, had been very bitter, and after 
preaching in their house and bot:i 
congregations worshipping together 
and communing with each other, Rev. 
Mr. James ventured a proposal to 
them to which they agreed, and the 
result was the building of the present 
house of worship in 1854. They con- 
cluded they would not build in the 
grove on account of storms, but ex- 
changed the site of the old Indepen- 
dent lot of land with Mr. Henry 
Thompson for the extension of their 
lot into the field where the present 
house stands, and they then planted 
shade trees around the building. 

The pine tree which demolished the 
old church opened the way for a 
union between the two factions or 
churches. The Independents had but 
four ministers and but little pros- 
nects of any increase. At a meeting 
of the Presbytery in Unionville, Rev. 
A. A. James offered a resolution that 
r. committee be appointed to meet 
with the Independents in their annual 
convention and propose a union of 
the two branches of the church. It 
was adopted, and Rev. A. A. James 
and J. Starr Moore, of the York 
church, were appointed. They met 
with the Independents at Olive 
church in York county, and were very 
cordially received, and steps were 
taken toward the union of the two 
branches. But the war coming on it 
was delayed for some time, but finally 
it was accomplished. The Indepen- 
dents had only four ministers at that 
time, viz.: Rev. Robert Y. Russell. 
Rev. W. Washington Carothers, Rev. 
J. Starkes Bailey and Rev. W. W. 
Ratchford. They had in charge fit- 
teen churches, which were added to 
Bethel Presbytery. All praise to the 



lofty pine tree and the Providence 
that directed the storm. 

The present house of worship was 
built in 1854, and dedicated to the 
worship of Almighty God. Rev. Ar- 
nold W. Miller. D. D.. (at that time 
pastor of Fishing Creek church, in 
Chester county, and afterwards pas- 
tor of the First Presbyterian church, 
Charlotte, N. C), preached the de- 
dicatory sermon from the text: "How 
amiable are thy tabernacles, Oh. 
Lord of hosts," Psalm Ixxxiv, 1. 

At a meeting of the church session 
held September 11, 1864, with Rev. 
Robt. Y. Russell, moderator, the fol- 
lowing communication was received, 
and was ordered placed on the church 
records: 

"Jackson Hospital. Richmond, Ya. 
To the Session of Salem Church, 
Union District. S. C: 
This will certify that on the 25th 
day of June, that I examined Joseph 
I.I. Smith upon his Christian experi- 
ni.l was well satisfied that he 
Lad received a change of heart. I ad- 
ministered to him the sacrament of 
(.baptism and received him at his own 
request into the Presbyterian church, 
and it is at his own request that his 
tia in be enrolled upon the church 
took at Salem, Union District, S. C. 

R. F. Payton. 
F^ast Chaplain, Jackson Hospital, a 
Presbyterian minister of the Synod 
of Georgia and Presbytery of Cher- 
okee." 

In 1878 the church was re-covered. 
Within a year it has been re-weather- 
loarded and painted inside and out- 
side. The plastering on the inside 
was much damaged by the earth- 
quake of August 31, 188G, but it has 
L een repaired. To give a full history 
of the church, with its various minis- 
elders, and other officers, togeth- 
er with its membership would carry 
this sketch far beyond the space we 
have for its publication. Deaths, re- 
movals and the vicissitudes of life have 
\ . ught many changes in all these. 



"They have been scattered like roses 

in bloom. 
Some by the bridle and some by the 

tomb." 

Rev. YV, H. White is at present sup- 
plying the church once a month. The 
elders now are, S. F. Estes, C. W. 
Whisonant, T. J. Estes and J. L. 
Strain The deacons are, J. W. Brown, 
Jack Smarr and H. Terry Estes. The 
janitor, Leslie Blackwell. There are 
sixty-two members on the roll. 

The Sabbath school was organized in 
188G and in evergreen. 

The first person buried in the cem- 
tery was Mr. William Davidson. He 
died June 25th, 1854. 'during the awful 
epidemic of flux . Rev. A. A. James 
preached his funeral, taking for his 
text, "Weep not for me, but weep for 
yourselves." These words are in- 
scribed on the family monument in 
the cemetery. 

During the pastorate of Rev. A. A. 
James, and before as well as since, 
large congregations attended. The 
gallery was generally filled with ne- 
groes at each service. This was the 
case for several years after the war. 

Mr. James tells a laughable inci- 
dent which took place while he 
preached there. By some means a 
dog found its way into the gallery, 
crowded with negroes. It couldn't 
find its way down stairs again, but 
jumped upon the parapet and looked 
down upon the white congregation be- 
low. An old negro woman, seeing what 
was about to happen, caught it by the 
tail and pulled it back. Very few of 
the white people saw it and so Mr. 
James had their part of the fun to him- 
sell. He preached on just as if nothing 
had happened. 

To Howe's History, Rev. A. A. 
James, Mrs. Martha E. Smarr and 
others, besides the sessional records, 
I am indebted for the invaluable help 
I got in making this sketch as full as 
it is. 



PRESBYTERIAN COLLEGE LIBRARY 
SMC 285.175 74 St8 SBTA 

Historical sketchof Salem Church : the 



3 5197 00106435 4 






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I 



Photomount 

Pamphlet 

Binder 

Gaylord Bros., Inc. 

' Makers 
Syracuse, N. Y. 

PAT. JAM 21, 1908 



4 



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