The Yorkville Enquirer reported on Jan. 30, 1889 – “The people of White Oak in Fairfield Co., have greatly improved the grounds around the school house and church by covering the yard with sand and planting trees.”
City Directories and History: White Oak Historic District is significant as a very intact example of a late nineteenth to early-twentieth century rural community whose development centered around the Patrick family in the 1870’s. It serves as an example of the importance of a trading community in rural areas after the Civil War through the early twentieth century. The district consists of nine properties constructed between ca. 1876 and ca. 1925, and includes three large frame residences (including a manse), a frame church with steeple, two frame store buildings, a cotton
warehouse, and two vacant, wooded lots, some of which reflect Victorian stylistic influences. Prior to the 1870s the community was known as Cockrell’s or Cockrell’s Lane, named after a prominent family that resided there until immediately after the Civil War. The Patrick family moved to the area from York County around 1870 and was instrumental in developing the community by building houses, stores, and a church. The village was relatively prosperous around the turn of the century with a cannery, at least two stores, and a school. Thomas G. Patrick opened a general merchandise store around 1876 which served the surrounding rural area. Listed in the National Register December 6, 1984.
WHITE OAK ARP CHURCH
The White Oak Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church was organized on March 16, 1877 in the village of White Oak in northern Fairfield County. The village was a stop on the rail line which connected Winnsboro and Chester. The congregation had been meeting prior to the organization in the local school building, two-story building with a meeting hall on the second floor. The ten charter members were John Vinson, Mary Vinson, Anna Vinson, S. R. Simonton, Sallie R. Simonton, R. A. Patrick, M. A. Patrick, T. G. Patrick, W. W. Brice, and Hattie V. Brice. Rev. John Preston Marion, pastor of the Chester ARP Church, was the organizing pastor, and served the church part-time from its organization in 1877 until 1879. A native of Chester County, Rev. Marion was educated at the University of Virginia and Erskine Theological Seminary. Other early pastors were Rev. J. A. White (1881-1893) and Rev. J. A. Smith (1893-1899). Rev. White was a native of Chester County, and served as pastor of the Hopewell ARP Church, serving White Oak on a part-time basis. Rev. Smith was White Oak’s first full time minister, and while in White Oak, he married Sallie E. Patrick. He later returned to White Oak as pastor, serving until his death in 1911.
During its first few years, the White Oak church continued to worship in the school building. In 1882, the congregation had grown to the point that interest was raised in building a church building. In that year, Elder John R. Patrick offered an acre of land for a site for a church and cemetery. The first step, in good Presbyterian fashion, was to appoint a committee to accept the land and a committee to enclose the proposed burial ground with a fence. Committees to raise funds and to build the church were later appointed. Construction was begun on May 1, 1884 and the building was completed by December. The total cost was $2,178.66 and all bills were paid in full upon its completion. The church building, 40 feet by 60 feet, continues to serve the congregation. In 1888, a decision was made to plant the grounds in trees, for which another committee was appointed. To save the trees from damage by being used as hitching posts for horses, a committee was appointed to provide hitching facilities on the grounds. Some of the trees planted in 1888 still grace the church grounds. The church has been struck by lightning several times. After a storm in 1894, the front of the church needed repairs. A fellowship hall/educational building has been added to the facility.
Most of the ministers serving White Oak over the years have been part-time, serving other ARP churches in Chester and Fairfield counties. In recent years, several retired ministers have served as part-time stated supply pastors.
Although a small rural congregation, White Oak has produced a large number of well-educated leaders who have served both the local community and larger cities. White Oak young people have become pastors, doctors, missionaries, and educators of high attainment.
When the congregation was organized in 1877, a Sunday School was created and has been in existence throughout the church history. T. G. Patrick served as superintendent of the Sunday School from 1894 to 1939, a period of 45 years. The women of the church were organized in 1888, being called the Ladies’ Missionary Society. Several of the women of White Oak have held leadership roles at the regional and denominational level.
A remarkable characteristic of the White Oak Church has been the prominence of the Patrick family throughout its history. Patricks were among the charter members and have served in almost every capacity in the leadership of the church from 1877 to today.
Sources: Centennial History of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, 1905, published by the General Synod.
Sesquicentennial History of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, 1951, published by the General Synod.
A stop on the Little White Church Jaunt – A Driving Tour
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