City Directories and History: 1961 – Zion Presbyterian Church, Sion Presbyterian Church, Rev. Robert E. Smith
This is the second building used by this congregation, organized circa 1799. The original building was located in the cemetery on Garden Street. For a long time Sion Church was closely associated with Mount Zion College, with the minister of the church also being the head of the college. [Courtesy Chamber of Commerce]
Sion Presbyterian Church began its existence as a preaching or mission station called the Mount Zion Congregation of Winnsboro. As the congregation grew, it is assumed that the elders looked to the Bible to give the church a name that was very similar to but different from the Mount Zion name. Following is a timeline of the evolution of the name Zion to Sion.
1787 – Mt. Zion Congregation is incorporated by the legislature
1799 – Presbytery granted supplication to be noticed on minutes by the name Sion
1808 – First record of the Session of Sion Church
1841 – The spelling is in flux. The Rev. Wm. Brearley records it as Scion in 1841
The Rock Hill Herald reported on Feb. 5, 1880 – “It is proposed to have a series of dime readings in Winnsboro for the purpose of remodeling the pulpit in the Presbyterian Church.”
1897 – The attorney, A.S. Douglas, legalized the spelling as Sion.
Both names refer to Mt Hermon in the upper part of Palestine. Mt. Herman is thought o be where Jesus was transfigured before his disciples.
The first church building was started as early as 1809 and completed two years later. It measured some 30-50 ft with a ceiling of 21 ft. In circa 1885 a bell tower was added to the church building. The bell was cast in 1827 by the John Wilbanks Foundry in Philadelphia. Dr. G.G. Mayes came to the church in 1915 and it was apparent a new church was needed. Mr. J.T. Dabbs of Columbia was hired as the contractor and J.H. Sams of Columbia served as the architect. The cost of the new building was $20,500. The congregation moved to the new church on April 24, 1923.
The availability of this property was due to the massive fire of 1911 which utterly destroyed the magnificent Aiken home at this location. Originally it encompassed a three tier garden from the corner of Vanderhorst to the rear of the bank. The attached pictures show what a major architectural loose this was to the history of Winnsboro, SC.
Click on the More Information > link to find additional data – A Fairfield County Sketchbook, by J.S. Bolick, 2000 (Courtesy of the FCHS)
See PDF this page: GUIDE TO PRESBYTERIAN NAMES AND PLACES IN SC by J.B. Martin, III – 1989
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William Graves says
Thank you for sharing. Sion Presbyterian is my boyhood church. My grandparents and parents area buried in its cemetery on Garden Street. The photos and text are much appreciated and thanks for preserving