20 Meeting Lane
City Directories and History: This wonderful church was originally organized in 1851 and built in 1880 by Edward Jones. The architect was Frederick Jay Hay.
A small rural community located on a high plateau, Liberty Hill visually and historically reflects both the life-style and the architecture of the pre-Civil War period as well as the turn of the twentieth century. There are several imposing Greek Revival structures, Greek Revival cottages, and an 1880s vernacular Gothic Revival church. The later, turn of the century residences are primarily one-stop, simple clapboard cottages. The town’s history begins as early as ca. 1813 when Peter Garlick’s store (location unknown) was a gathering place for surrounding farmers. Soon, impressive structures were built by planters in the area. Remaining from the 1830s are Cool Spring and the Joseph Cunningham House. The majority of the town’s antebellum buildings, however, were built ca. 1840-1850. During this period Liberty Hill was a very wealthy community. However, the final days of the Civil War ended that prosperity. Nevertheless, the town did eventually reassert itself and appears to have changed very little since the beginning of the twentieth century. Listed in the National Register November 8, 1978.
View a map showing the boundaries of the Liberty Hill Historic District.
View the complete text of the nomination form for this National Register property about this structure and others within the Liberty Hill Historic District
The Camden Chronicle Aug., 21, 1961 – History Of Liberty Hill Church as Read At One Hundredth Anniversary
The following very interesting historical sketch of the Liberty Hill Presbyterian church was prepared by John A. Thompson, assisted by Mrs. C. D. Cunningham and was read by” Mr. Thompson at the service Sunday morning: “The Church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ our Lord ‘for other foundations can no man lay than Christ which is Jesus Previous to 1850, some of the Liberty Hid people were members of either Beaver Creek or Tolerant church, both located some miles from the settlement. These members felt the need of a more central located house of Worship Consequently, a petition for this organization was presented at a meeting of Harmony Presbytery held at Winnsboro, October 185o. As Beaver Creek, the mother church protested, the question was submitted to Synod for determination. A commission was appointed for the organization of this church. This commission, consisting of Rev. S. Davis, D. D., Rev. M. D. Frazer, and J. K. Douglass, was to report at a meet at Bishopville, April 1851. At this time, the commission reported that the duty assigned to it was not accomplished.
The commission was continued with the addition of Rev. S.H. Hay. The petitioners, showing their desire for a final completion of these plans, did not wait for the commission to report, but at a called meeting of Presbytery, July 11, 1851, presented the Rev. A. with a pastoral call. Mr. Hoyt accepted this call at the regular meeting in October, having been given permission by Presbytery to hold same until that time. The commission then reported that it had organized a church, to be known as The Liberty Hill Presbyterian church. The said organization was officially declared and enrolled as a member of Harmony. She remained in this Presbytery until 1896, when at her own request was transferred to Bethel Presbytery. The roll of the original members include: R. J. Cunningham, Ml. and Mrs. V. M. Dixon, Mr. and Mrs. John Brown, Mr. and Mrs. R. B. Cunningham, Mr. and Mrs. James Thompson. Mr. and Mrs. Wylie Patterson, Mrs. Wyatt Patterson. Mr. and Mm. J, Sonerville, J. Montgomery, Mr. and Mrs. John Barnes, Mrs. Jack Perry, Mrs. Matheson, Mrs. W. E. Johnson, Mrs. Hudson. Mrs. John Jones, Mrs. S. George, Miss Sarah George. Records also show that there were 130 slaves, who were active. Originating ruling eiders were: Jim Brown, James Thompson, William Dixon, John Barnes.
A Presbytery commission consisting of Rev. J. C. Colt, Rev. M. B. Eraser (to charge the pastor), and Rev. S. H. Hay (to charge the people), installed Rev. Hoyt on Saturday before the first Sabbath in November 1851. The following ministers have served this church in the following order: The Revs. T. A. Hoyt, Arthur Small, J. G. Richards, W. L. Boggs, T. F. Boozer, supply; C. O. Martindale, supply; Chalmers Moore, S. C. Caldwell, supply; I. E. Wallace, L. B. McCord, T. W. DeVane, D. A. Miller, S. B. Hay, Seminary student supply; H. N. Alexander, Seminary student supply; F. A. Drennan, R. W. Joplin, supply; J. T. Dendy, supply; J. S. Robinson, present pastor. Between the pastorates of Rev. McCord and Rev. DeVane, several Seminary students supplied the church. The shortest pastorate, May 1857 to April 1858, was that of the Rev. Arthur Small, an uncle of Willie, Robert, Edward and Charlie Cunningham. The longest pastorate was that of Rev. J. G. Richards, December 1858 to July 1837. During Mr. Richards pastorate, he volunteered as a private in the Confederate Army. Later he was selected to serve as a chaplain. After the war Mr. Richards resumed his work as pastor at Liberty Hill. During his absence, Sherman’s Army had passed through Liberty Hill and left much devastation, but under his faithful guidance, his followers made a remarkable comeback. In 1385, Mr. Richards was elected evangelist of Harmony Presbytery. Two years later, he resigned and his faithful and valuable influence is felt in this community to the present generation.
Elders who have served this church: John Barnes, John Brown, William Dixon, James V.S. Thompson, R. B. Cunningham, James Somerville, W. K. Thompson, S.M. Richards. J. C. McDow, F. J. Hay, J. P. Richards, M.D., R. C. Jones, J. G. Richards, V. A. Cunningham, J. B. Johnston. Present elders: N. S. Richards, L. P. Thompson, E. J. Cunningham, W. E. Cunningham, Will Wardlaw, John Thompson. Deacons who have served this church: John Montgomery, Wylie Patterson, Henry Brown, L. C. Thompson, R. B. Patterson, J. P. Richards, M. D., W. J. Jones, R. C. Jones, J. G. Richards, E. L. Jones, N. S. Richards, J. B. Cureton, G. R. Clements, R. J. Wardlaw, L. P. Thompson, H. F. Haile, W. A. Cunningham, N. S. Richards, Jr., Prof. Prioleau Richards, W. C. Wardlaw. Present deacons: C. D. Cunning ham, Ed. Jones, John H. Clement, R. J. Wardlaw, Jr., John B. Cureton, John B. Cureton has the distinction of being the youngest deacon in the service of this church.
It is interesting to note that two members of this church held the office of Sexton, D. George and W. A. Cunningham. The Liberty Hill Presbyterian church has had the honor of having these commissioner to the General Assembly: W. K. Thompson, S. M. Richards, J. P. Richards, M. D., R. C. Jones, John G. Richards, a former governor of S. C., L. P. Thompson, N. S. Richards. J. S. Thompson, an elder, had the honor of being a commissioner to the first General Assembly of the Southern Presbyterian church, Augusta, Ga., April 1861, and also being the ancestor of the two youngest elders of this church; a son, W. K. Thompson, and a great-grandson (John A. Thompson). The clerks of session include: J. S. Thompson, W. K. Thompson, Dr. J. P. Richards, R. C. Jones, J. G. Richards, N. S. Richards, L. P. Thompson. Sunday School superintendents have been: J. S. Thompson, J. K. Thompson, Dr. J. P. Richards, J. G. Richards, L. P. Thompson. R. C. J ones, W. E. Cunningham, F. L. Jones.
At the present time, L. P. Thompson is again serving as
superintendent. Missionaries have Miss Charlotte Thompson serve a.s a foreign missionary to Japan, October 1903-April 1916. She is now Mrs. MacLauchin, widow of Rev. A. M. MacLauchlin.” Two granddaughters of this church, Charlotte and Mary Thompson, of Atlanta, were missionaries to China, and a grandson, F. N. Wardlaw, was a missionary to Cuba. Another granddaughter, Miss Charlotte Wardlaw, of Augusta, Ga., served as a home missionary.
This church is the mother of the Liberty Hill Colored Presbyterian church, as an application by 25 colored members was granted in 1873, to become an organized, separate church. Prom this church, there have gone out several ministers and elders. It is now under the control of the Northern Presbyterian church. Of great interest is this fact: an original slave member, Catoe James, served the mother church for years and years as sexton. His grandson, Catoe, did likewise. And now his great grandson. Johnny James, is serving assisted by his son. Franklin. The original congregation worshipped in a log school house. Shortly after this, a larger and more comfortable building was constructed by a Mr. Hammond in 1852, on the same site as the present building. This building had a gallery for the slave members and was reached by a stair way from the outside.
The present building, began in August 1879 and completed in June 1880 (71 years old his year), was designed by E. C. Jones of Memphis and built F. J. Hay of Camden. The suitable material from the old building was used in the new one. While this building was under construction, the congregation worshiped in the Grange Hall, the present home of Mr. and Mrs. H. S. Higgins. Two brass chandeliers, one of which is still in use, were given by R. M. Kennedy, Mr. Walker, and Mrs. Charlie Dunlap, of Camden. Mrs. Jack Perry gave a hand some communion service to the old church and it was used in the new until 1924, when Mr. and Mrs. John G. Richards and daughters gave an individual service, in memory of Lieut. Stephen M. Richards. The bell in the church tower, given by John Brown, was used in the old church also. The cemetery nearby is entered through wrought iron gates given by Mr. and Mrs. W. K. Thompson. The granite posts were given by Mr. Wm. C. Brown.
The first manse was an old log house, known as the Logan House. It is still standing today. The present manse was built in the late 1850’s. The land for the church was given by Mr. Joseph Cunning ham; for the cemetery by A. P. Brown and heirs. The land for the manse was deeded to the church by James B. Cureton for 150 dollars, Oct. 22, 1856. This deed is in the hands of the deacons. Copies of the plats for the church, cemetery and manse properties, are recorded in the Court House in Camden. On Feb. 15, 1874, the session adopted this resolution; “that from this time in the absence of the pastor, the church be opened regularly, and service be conducted by some member of the session.” This resolution has been kept down to the present day with the exception of a brief period during the flu epidemic in 1918. (This information is courtesy of Long Ago At Liberty Hill by Mary Ellen Cunningham, 1997 – Midlands Printing Company)
Part of the Little White Church Jaunt – A Driving Tour
Also see PDF this page: GUIDE TO PRESBYTERIAN NAMES AND PLACES IN SC by J.B. Martin, III – 1989
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