City Directories and History: The Old Stone Church and Graveyard, or Old Jackson Creek Church, is one of Fairfield County’s most historic sites and retains a number of remarkable gravestones from the 19th century even though they were erected on a steep knoll. The church building itself has long been gone but large stone remnants remain and the once lovely granite wall surrounding the compound can be easily viewed.
David McCreight, William Hamilton John Robertson, Alexander Robertson, and John Phillips were early Scots-Irish settlers in the Jackson Creek area, who shortly after the American Revolution determined that they wanted new house of worship. The were organized at the home of John Robertson with the Rev. John Simpson of Fishing Creek Presbyterian Church, Chester County, S.C. presiding. The church building was erected sometimes thereafter, (one articles states that James Russell constructed the church in 1791), date unknown, and was used until 1893. Dozens of outstanding ministers preached services at the church and lived in the stone manse.
The large monument erected for Lt. James Clark of the Mexican-American War can also be viewed at the church.
Old Jackson Creek Church and a History of the Covenanters : The earliest settlement of this part of Chester District took place In 1750-51 by a few emigrants from Pennsylvania and Virginia. [Editor’s note: it was at that time Camden District] Among these were Hugh and John McDonald with their families. Hugh settled where Mrs. Moore now lives, on Little Rocky Creek, five miles from Catholic Church.1 John settled a plantation known as Davis Wilson’s, at the south of Bull Run on Big Rocky Creek. He [John McDonald] and his wife were both killed In 1761 by the Cherokee Indians, and their seven children carried off. (See Mrs. Ellet’s 3rd Vol. Women of the Revolution article by Catherine Steele: The night succeeding this – the scalping of Barbara McKenny – preparations for hostile action was going on also at Steele’s Fort. The Cherokees had passed over to Rocky Creek and still intent on rapine and bloodshed, had stopped at the house of John McDaniel whom they killed, with his wife, and carried away captive seven children, the eldest a girl fifteen years of age. The outraged settlers were not slow in collecting a party of 10 or 12 men to pursue them. Thomas Steele, the leader, was well calculated for the service, having been an Indian Trader and being acquainted with their language. The party followed the trail almost to the borders of the Cherokee nation. They came upon the savages at length, In dead of the night, assaulted and completely routed them. One of the white men, Thomas Garett of Rocky Creek, chanced to kill the Indian who had tomahawked Mrs. McKenny and found the scalp in his shot. Other bloody trophies were recovered to carry back to the friends of the murdered, and then placing the children on their horses, the men retraced their steps homeward. The joy of the poor little captives at the sight of familiar faces was more than reward enough for their deliverance. They had no parents to welcome them home, but their uncle, Hugh McDaniel [McDonald] received them.”)
In 1755 there was a considerable increase in the settlement by correspondence to Ireland and there commenced an emigration by way of Charleston. The settlers were a mixed mass as to religion, they were Associated Reformed, Presbyterians and seceders. Rev. William Richardson of Waxhaw was the only minister within a hundred miles, and they applied to him to supply them with preaching. He consented and directed them to build a church, as he would preach to them week days; the first preaching day was Monday. He named the church, which they built according to his directions, Catholic. It is situated 15 miles southeast from Chester Court House, near Rocky Mount Road. See Dr. Howe’s History Presbyterian Church.
Rev. William Martin emigrated from Ireland at least as early as 1772; he was the first Covenanter preacher in the settlement. And ……settlement; this letter Is dated May 30,1773, In answer to one from his son-in-law; the reference to Mr. Martin is in these words, “We hear It reported here that Mr. Martin and his Covenanters had ill getting their land and that John Cochran was the occasion of all their trouble.” I suppose the reason of this trouble about land was that they expected to settle all down close together in a colony., but such was then the situation of the country that they had to scatter and select lands at a considerable distance from each other. They were entitled to bounty lands, 100 acres to each head of a family and 50 to each member – those who had means bought from the old settlers. Rev. William Martin bought from William Stroud a plantation of a mile square, 640 acres, on the north side of Big Rocky Creek, on which he built a rock house and a rock spring house. The place selected for a church was 2 miles east of Catholic on the Rocky Mount Road near the house now occupied by Mrs. James Barber Ferguson. It is described as a log building, was burnt down by the British in 1780. See Women of the Revolution 3rd Volume, Art. Nancy Green. Also, Dr. Howe’s History Presbyterian Church Art. “Lebanon Church” – Mary Barkley.
After Martin was released by Cornwallis at Winnsboro, owing to the state of the country, he went to Mecklenburg, NC. There he met a Mr. Grier, a refugee from Georgia, whose son. Isaac, he baptized; he was said to have been the first Presbyterian child born in Georgia. This Isaac Grier was afterwards the Minister at Sardis; was the father of Robert Calvin Grier, who was President for many years of Erskine College, Due West, – and his son, William Moffatt Grier, is now the President of that College.
After the war, when Mr. Martin returned to Rocky Creek, he was employed as supply at Catholic for 3 years; he was dismissed by the people of Catholic on account of becoming intemperate; he however, did not quit preaching; he preached at a Stand of Schoolhouse at Ed McDaniel’s about a mile or two west of the place at which the brick church was afterwards built. He [Mr. Marlin] also went down to Jackson’s Creek in Fairfield County and preached there. I recollect that Richard Gladney was a Covenanter in that neighborhood and doubtless there were others. He was also in the habit of crossing the Catawba River and preaching at the house of William Hicklin, who had moved from Rocky Creek to Lancaster. He frequently preached at other places, often at private homes. The congregation afterwards built him a church 2 miles from the site of the one formerly burnt, near the Rocky Mount road, on a beautiful hill in rear of what is called Earle’s House, a fine grove of trees; the lands are now all cleared up and there Is a negro’s house now on the top of that hill where the church once was; in that hill and dale country It can be seen for miles.
He [Mr. Martin] must have continued to preach there until near his death. I have frequently heard him preach at that place as well as at my father’s. Some two years before his death his rock house was burnt down, it was in the early part of the night. I suppose most of his property was saved. He after that lived in a log cabin. He sold his plantation for six hundred dollars, one hundred to be paid yearly. After his death his widow received this payment. He had been three times married, but left no children living. His only daughter, married to John McCaw, had died before him. Shortly after coming to this country, he [Mr. Martin] took up about 400 acres of vacant land which he made a present to his nephews, David and William Martin, now Mrs. Gaston’s. Mr. Martin often staid at my father’s for days or a week at a time. I do not remember ever seeing him under the influence of liquor but once, that was one day he came in company of some wagons. It was a wet day.
My mother, with the assistance of two negro women, her servants, got him to the back door, and bringing him in put him to bed. She came out, I remember, with a long face. The last visit he ever made to my father’s, after crossing the creek at Stroud’s Mill, in some way he got his horse’s head turned up the creek by the path. He fell off in the water, being old and feeble, he was unable to rise. He was found by a Mr. Thralekill, was said to be in the act of praying when found. Mr. Thralekill understood from him where he wanted to go. My father sent for him and had him brought to the house. He had fever, and lay there for more than a month. In the delirium of fever he constantly quoted scripture, and spoke of the crossing of Jordan. My mother becoming alarmed sent for my father, thinking Mr. Martin was near his death. But he recovered, and became able to walk. My father mounted him on a horse and took him home He soon became again became confined to his bed and died In about six months In 1806 – ‘He [Mr. Martin] was a large, heavy man, by those who knew him said to have been an able divine. He came here from county Antrim, Ireland, in the same party with him came my father, his brother, James Stinson then called Stevenson, Wm. Anderson. his wife, Nancy, Alex Bracy and wife, Elizabeth, I think ——- and possibly the Kell’s. Mr. Martin owned two negroes. I recollect Savannah and Bob by name my father owned three, so did some others of the congregation. Some who owned slaves refused in 1800 to submit to the regulations made by Mr. McKinney and Wylie, believing that the scriptures justified possession of the heathen, whom they as teachers were civilizing and Christianizeing; it would be, they thought, as cruel to free them as to turn a child out to buffet with the world.
After writing this and the following sketches a pamphlet was sent the author of the sketches purporting to be Reminiscences of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in South Carolina, written by Mr. Farris, a son he supposed of the Rev. James Faris, a native of South Carolina; these Reminiscences were published In the Reformed Presbyterian Covenanter, a monthly, from Pittsburgh, PA. This article he revises, exposing the many errors It contains. In this article It is asserted that Mr. McGarrah married him self; it was Mr. Martin, who married himself, not Mr. McGarrah. This was a legal marriage according to the laws of South Carolina. “Those whom God has joined together let no man put asunder,” found an easy acceptance here. Divorces were never granted until after Reconstruction. We close this with an anecdote related to Mr. Martin. When the “Red Coats” evacuated South Carolina, he was east of the Catawba River preaching. As he was returning home, when nearing the residence of Mr. Lynn in Chester, he saw the lady of the house passing through the yard and called out, in true stentorian style, “Good news, great news, glorious news, woman, the British have sailed from Charleston for England, and may the devil go with them!”
The next Minister of the Covenanters was William McGarrah in 1791 he settled on the North side of Beaver Dam, a branch of Big Rocky Creek. His first wife died shortly after his coming, leaving one daughter, who was married to Henry Lynn. Mr. McGarrah marrying badly the second time was the cause of his being for a short time suspended. His second wife was Miss McCann; she was the mother of an illegitimate child, born before her marriage. She called it the child of her sorrow and named it John Kirkpatrick. By the second marriage he had sons James, William, Joseph and David, all long since removed to the north west. Mr. McGarrah died about 1816, was buried in what was called Paul’s grave yard. His wife died soon after and was burled at the same place, that graveyard is on the road above Mount Prospect, a Methodist-Episcopal Church, South, (on the plantation Rocky Creek, 15 or 16 miles east of Chester Village. More Covenanters are buried here than at any other place in the South.
Rev. Mr. King arrived here in 1792. He settled on the South side of Beaver Dam, near Mount Prospect Church, on the plantation now owned by Mrs. Backstrom. He died-in 1798 and is buried at the Brick Church. He left two children, both daughters, one of whom married Abram White, and was the mother of Rev. W. G. White, who is now pastor at Tirzah and Douglass Churches in Lancaster County. The other married to Archibald McGurken and emigrated to Illinois. Hugh McQuiston married the widow of Rev. King; they had three children, a son and two daughters, – they moved to Ohio. Rev. James McKinney was the next In order. Where his residence was, I do not know. He was pastor of the congregation at the Brick Church and died in 1803, August, and was buried at the Brick Church. Rev. Thomas Donnelly was licensed to preach at Coldingham, June 1799 — he settled first somewhere near Little Rocky Creek. He afterwards bought Stephen Harman’s place on the north side of Big Rocky Creek — a plantation now owned by Mr. George Heath. I recollect hearing him preach at a stand near his house some time In the year 1804. From this date he was the only minister until the arrival of Mr. Riley In 1813, and preached at most of the churches that will hereafter be mentioned. After the Covenanters had generally removed from the country, Mr. Donnelly preached at Old Richardson, a Presbyterian Church – a portion of the time at his own house, there being some of his people scattered in the country. He and the elder Thomas McClurken married two of the sisters of David Smith this was numerous on Little Rocky Creek. Mr. Donnelly’s eldest son, Samuel, became a Presbyterian minister, now residing In Florida (deceased), his father frequently visited him when he lived at Liberty Hill, and preached in his son’s church. Mr. Donnelly died in 1847 – his family after his death removed to Illinois, it consisted of John, Thomas (who married to John Cathcart’s daughter) and Nancy, she married in Illinois. Riley L———- Mr. Donnelly was buried at the Brick Church by the side of McKinney and King. His wife was also burled In the same place.
The next minister. Rev. Jno. Riley, came into South Carolina in 1813, settled on the south side of Big Rocky Creek, about a half mile of Martin’s first church, the one burnt. He was a popular preacher, his places of preaching were the Beaver Dam Church), the Brick Church, and Richmond. He died in 1820. is burled at the Brick Church, some distance from the other ministers — All have appropriate tombstones. The Brick Church situated three miles from Pleasant Grove, on the plantation now owned by John Hood, has all been removed, nothing but the graveyard left. There was a considerable immigration to this country after 1785, but whether this church was built before Mr. King came or not, I do not know. It was first a log building. The brick building was built about 1810. Hugh McMillan came to the section of country after ’85. His brother Daniel [McMillan] came at the same time. Daniel and his family went into the Associate Reformed Church, Hopewell. Hugh had sons, Daniel a merchant, John, David, James, Gavin and Hugh. The last two were ministers of the gospel – all Covenanters. There was a family of Coopers, McKelveys, Robert Hemphill – brother to the Rev. John Hemphill — Darrande Woodburne, Montfords and Nebitts. were some of the names composing a part of this large and flourishing congregation of covenanters.
** the Hunters, the Hollidays, William Harbison, Munford, McQuiston and many others • I do not remember, these however, composed part of the Covenanter’s Congregation. James Wilson an elder was also a worshiper here.**
The Beaver Dam Church on a branch, on the north side of Big Rocky Creek — on a plantation now owned by Stephen R. Ferguson. The church was about a mile distant from Mr. Kings’ and Mr. McGarrah’s when organized I do not know, but probably about the time that Mr. McGarrah arrived in ’91. In the bounds of this congregation were the Kells, the McHenrys, the Ervins/Ewins, the Orrs, the Littles, the Rodmans, the Lynns, the Bells, the Ewings and the Blairs, John Rock, Paul Guthrie, the Gellespies, the Steeles, the Martins, the McFaddens, the Simpsons and many others. In Mr. Riley s time that congregation was very large. The church and people have all long since disappeared. The Richmond Church was situated near the dividing line between Chester and Fairfield. This was Mr. Martin’s church, and was removed three miles south to a more convenient situation for the neighborhood. Members of this church were the Dunns, Daniel Wright, the Hoods, Sprouls, Hugh Henry, James Stormont, the Catheads, John and William McMillan, and the Richmonds. *****Probably built before 1800, here worshipped the elder James Cathead and his son John, the Marshalls, Richmonds, Jim Hood, Alexander Kell, Sprouls, Hugh Henry, McMaster, Dan Wright, David McMtlle, James Stormont, with others. Rev. Maddon was their pastor.
The McNinch Church was situated three miles east of Chesterville, built after 1813, by John McNinch himself. Of the congregation, which I think was numerous, I now can remember but one name… Andrew Crawford. The Smith Church was on Little Rocky Creek, on the south side about five miles south west of Catholic Church. In that congregation were several families of the name of Smith who were relatives of Rev. Thomas Donnelly. A church, called the Turkey Creek Church in York County, was situated about two miles west from McConnellville, on the Chester and Lenoir Railroad, in the bounds of the congregation of this church were some families of Wrights and Wilsons.
We will now go back to the close of the Revolutionary War. Martin’s church being burned down, he preaches a supply to the congregation of Catholic, through the years (17]’82, ’83 & ’84. at the same time visiting and preaching to different societies of his own people, as heretofore stated. In the year ’87, Matthew Lynn of th6 A. [associate] R. [reformed] Church, came out as a missionary. The next year Rev. Jae. Boyce of the A. R. church likewise came and commenced preaching at the schoolhouse near E.[Edward] McDaniel’s; afterwards at the stand where the Hopewell Church now is. A large majority of the Covenanters at this time went Into the A. R. Church — leaving a few still scattered over the bounds of the different congregations. From the year 1785 until 1812, there was a considerable immigration coming every year from Ireland, filling up the congregations. At the time that Mr. Riley came, in 1813, the congregations were pretty numerous, the restrictions on the subject of slavery took some covenanters out of the church. Mr. Riley, however, received into the church Mrs. Isabella Hemphill and her sister, Mrs. Jane Cloud and her daughter, Mrs. Sarah Hicklin. These ladies had been members of Mr. Martin’s church. He had baptized their children, and each of them had a son called for him. They were received in the Richmond Church, notwithstanding their families were large slave holders.
Mr. McGarrah, after he was restored, preached for a few years at the Beaver Dam church, but not after the arrival of Mr. Riley in 1813. Mr. King preached at the Brick Church and probably at other small societies scattered over the country. After the arrival of Mr. Riley at the Brick church, Mr. John McNinch was tried in the session, and the congregation became dissatisfied with Mr. Connelly, which was intrinsically the cause of the churches Smith and McNinch, being built. John Orr Immigrated to the United States after 1790. He was a classical scholar and had taught in Ireland before coming out here. It is said the Rev. Sam’l B. Wylie and Rev. John Black of Pittsburgh commenced their literary course with him in Ireland. After coming here he continued to teach. A good many young men started the classics with him, among them, Jas. A. Hemphill and Alex. Curry, both afterwards physicians. Rev. John Kell, after being prepared by John Orr, went to Scotland and graduated there. Judge John Hemphill of Texas, was among his scholars. Mr. Orr had a numerous family of sons and daughters. He removed from the State to Ohio In 1832. It was said that although over eighty years of age, he walked every step to Ohio, refusing to ride. Rev. Hugh McMillan commenced preaching in the year 1822, at the Brick Church were he had a large school for a number of years also one third of his time he preached at the Turkey Creek Church in York, about the same date Rev. Campbell Maddon commenced preaching at the Richmond Church and at a stand at Jonnie Orr’s, he also taught a school, he had studied medicine before he came out here – he spent a winter at Lexington, Kentucky where he received a diploma, he commenced the practice of medicine but did not live long; had married a Miss Cathead, left children, a son and two daughters now living in Winnsboro.
Rev. Hugh McMillan and Robed Mondford were gradates of the S.C. College. McMillan commenced preaching in 1822 at the Brick church where he had for a number of years a large classical school. He preached one-third of his time at the Turkey Creek church in York county. About the same date Rev. Campbell Madden commenced preaching at the Richmond church and at the stand at John Orr’s. He also taught a school near Gladen’s Grove. He had studied medicine before he came out here. He spent a winter at Lexington Ky., where he received a diploma – he commenced the practice of medicine, but did not live long. He married Miss Cathead, and left children, a son and two daughters, now living in Winnsboro. Rev. Hugh McMillan must have left the country as early as 1831, removing to the North West. The Covenanters commenced emigrating soon after the death of Mr. Riley and continued to do so from year to year until the congregation became weak. Revs. Fisher and Scott supplied the Churches in ’32, that is during the winter of that year. Revs. Black and McMaster in the winter of ’33; these were Licentiates. Rev. Gavin McMillan was here in the spring of ’32, and held communion assisted by Fisher and Scott. John Kell in the spring of 1833 held communions, assisted by Black and McMaster.
Click on the More Information > link to find additional data – A Fairfield County Sketchbook, by J.S. Bolick, 2000 (Courtesy of the FCHS)
The Rev. Charles Woodmason stated, “From thence I crossed over toward Broad River to Jackson’s Creek, where a large body of people met me on Sunday the ……I preached twice and met with many serious and religious person…..” (The Carolina Backcountry on the Eve of the Revolution – Richard J. Hooker, 1953.)
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ADDITIONAL IMAGES by Bill Segars, Photographer
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