“An early York County Baptist institution.”
City Directories and History: Flint Hill Baptist church, ca. 1908, in Fort Mill, S.C. is one of the oldest Baptist congregations in York County. It is reported the church began operating in 1792.
The Rock Hill Record reported on Nov. 11, 1907 – “The new building for the Flint Hill Baptist Church was dedicated this week. It is one of our most handsome country churches and is entirely of pressed brick.”
The Rock Hill Record reported on April 27, 1908 – “The splendid new building of Fling Hill Baptist Church is now practically complete. It is of brick and was erected at a cost of about $7,000. The furnishing and fixtures will take some additional $1,500. As soon as the pews can be secured the building will be occupied. The church is now 116 year old and this is the forth building used by the congregation.”
History of the Church by Louise Pettus – In 1792 the Reverend John Rooker (1755-1840) and his wife, Anna Hawkins Rooker, along with 11 friends joined to found Sugar Creek Baptist Church of Christ. It later became known as Flint Hill Baptist Church, named for the huge outcropping of flint rock located in front.
Reverend Rooker, a Revolutionary War veteran, had joined the church in 1782 and began to preach in Warren County, N.C. the next year. He wrote a book, An Essay on the Sovereignty of God, published in Charleston in 1839, in which he stated his belief in, “the sovereignty of the Triune God, His everlasting covenant of redemption for his elect in Jesus Christ, the depravity of fallen man, the final perseverance unto eternal glory and endless felicity.” The only known copy of his book remains in the Baptist Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.
Beginning in 1793, the church made efforts to extend its ministry to the Catawba Indians. A school was established for the Indians across Sugar Creek on the Lancaster County side. A converted Pamunkey Indian, Robert Marsh, served for many years as assistant pastor of Flint Hill and as a missionary to the Catawbas.
By 1837 Rev. Rooker was infirm and Rev. James Thomas came to assist him. But one Sunday, no pastor came to the church so people went to the home of Rooker. There he preached what is believed to be his last sermon, title, “Finally, Brethren Farewell,” In all, Rev. Rooker served Flint Hill for 48 years. The church carried out the instructions of his will, to be buried in the northwest corner of the church’s graveyard.
Building and grounds
The first church building was log, replaced by a larger log building in 1811. The land was leased from the Catawba Indians until 1840. In 1828 a frame building encompassed the log building. The church grew and by 1855 it was necessary to erect a larger building, a frame structure that measured 60 feet by 40 feet. That served until the present building was completed in 1908. A parsonage, renovation of the sanctuary and education building were added in later years.
The large, well-kept cemetery is a point of pride. Buried there are over 200 veterans from all American wars; nearly half from the Civil War.
HISTORY OF FLINT HILL BAPTIST CHURCH by W. W. Boyce
(In 1933 W. W. Boyce wrote a brief history of his church and gave it to Maggie Gist, the secretary of the York County Historical Society (the forerunner of our York County Genealogical and Historical Society). The account was microfilmed and also reprinted by the Yorkville Enquirer. Since Boyce’s time several histories of Flint Hill Baptist Church have been sponsored by the church: Flint Hill Baptist Church – Its History, 1792-1895, by Frances Eppley md Church Record, 1792-1899 with additions of Dedication Pages to James F. Boyd and Sermon of Rev. John Rooker. The original minutes (which are reproduced in Church Record. ..) are in the South Caroliniana Library, University of South Carolina, Columbia. Flint Hill is the oldest Baptist church in York County. The following excerpt from Boyce is not so much a history of the church as of the Flint Hill community. Recently, the church refurbished the old school house on the church property and turned it into a combination meeting place and museum.)
… .There was another big land owner – James Knox, Elder in Blackstock church and his tomb is the oldest in Blackstock Cemetery dated 1795. He is said to have owned the lands from Steele Creek opposite the Harris place around the present farms of J. R. Boyd, Wm. Boyd, Epps, Wilsons. He had two daughters who married Pettus boys. [ERROR: it was Samuel Knox who had two daughters (Jane and Mary) who married Capt. George Pettus and his brother William Pettus]. The old Pettus cemetery lies south east of Mr. Ed Bailes, one and one half miles from Flint Hill. (These lands were later possessed by Edward Smith, William Smith, et. al.) One mile south the S. [Stephen] Pettus, Blankenship place was owned by Meacham, Rev. Peter Nickelson, S. P. Blankenship, now Hall. The H. T. Garrison place one half mile south was owned by Rev. Rollins Pastor Flint Hill 1850, by Rev. Peter Nickelson, Pastor Flint Hill who trained students for the ministry – Baxter Garrison, J. H. Potts, (now Mrs. J. T. Garrison). Two miles southeast the Gilson place owned First by Martin Kee. The Gilsons came bringing their nephew W. S. McClelland, Sr., just a lad who when grown married a Stewart on Haglars Branch and established the former mentioned McClelland home. The Glovers built a home 4 miles south of Flint Hill, on west side of Nations Ford road afterwards obtained as Grant 1848 and moved to 4 miles east of the Church. The estate is practically all still in the family. The Elms place occupied by Charles Elms, then James Elms, now J. R. Miller (no dates obtainable). The Moss place (no dates) Ruddock, Wm. Moss, now Mrs. Millie Coltharp. Spring Hill owned by Alexander Scott probably 1785. Lived first 4 miles north east Hint Hill. In 1805 built the present house one half mile. 1846 Wm. Boyce commissioned by the government as Postmaster of Spring Hill, S. C. a stage line. A letter in my possession dated February 5th, 1851 to my father Wm. Boyce concerning a change of stage schedule between Charlotte and Chester and mentioning the Post Office of Spring Rock, Forest Grove, and asking father’s opinion mentioning Mr. Chambers and and Mr. Poag. (I presume were postmasters at Forest Grove and Spring Rock) signed ‘yours respectfully, S.Whyte (Archibald Whyte) (Information courtesy of and from: YCGHS – The Quarterly Magazine)
ROBERT MURSH by Louise Pettus From around the year 1800 until his hero’s burial on Dec. 7, 1837, Robert Mursh lived in York County’s Fort Mill township and was certainly connected both with the Catawbas and with Flint Hill Baptist Church of upper Fort Mill. Mursh was a Pamunkey Indian and assistant pastor to Rev. John Rooker, pastor and founder of Flint Hill Baptist Church.Mursh fits none of the stereotypes of an Indian of his day. In the first place, the Virginia native was well-educated. He graduated from the Indian School at the College of William and Mary in 1769. In 1776, Mursh enlisted in the 15th Regiment of Virginia Continental Line. His Revolutionary War career is well-documented because he applied for a pension in his old age and his widow continued to receive it after his death. The records show that Mursh fought in the Battles of Brandywine and Germantown in Pennsylvania.. When his first enlistment term was up, Mursh reenlisted. This time he was sent to Charleston, South Carolina where he was taken prisoner of war at the fall of Charleston in 1780. For 14 months Mursh was held prisoner before being exchanged at Jamestown, Virginia. Jamestown was close to his Pamunkey River home and he probably visited there but he quickly reenlisted and spent the remainder of the war years in a Georgia campaign. It is not in his pension application papers, but some of Lyman Draper’s correspondents in 1873 stated that Mursh fought in the Battle of Hanging Rock in Lancaster District. This would indicate that he was probably with the Catawba Indians attached to Gen. Thomas Sumter’s army. Mursh returned to Virginia and married Elizabeth October 1, 1782 in a traditional Indian ceremony. Later, they were remarried in a Baptist ceremony. A page from the family bible was sent to Washington to substantiate the pension claim.
The birth records of the Mursh children showed: “Kity Mursh born August 16th 1784; John Mursh was born May 6th 1786; Robert A. Mursh was born March 26, 1788; Sarah Mursh was born March 29th 1790; James Mursh was born March 13th 1792; Philadelphia Mursh was born Febr. 5th 1794; Betsey Mursh was born Nov 14th 1796; Patsey Mursh was born July 28th 1798; Rhoda Mursh was born Febr 21 1800.” It is thought that Robert Mursh and his family came to South Carolina to live among the Catawba Indians at the request of Capt. John Nettles. Nettles was a Catawba Indian who had also been a student at the College of William and Mary at the same time as Mursh. Nettles was interested in supplying missionaries to the Catawbas. Mursh became the pastor of Hopewell Baptist Church, an offshoot of Flint Hill Baptist Church which was located on the east side of Sugar Creek. Hopewell was both a church and a school. The schoolmaster was James Lewis who taught five of Mursh’s children.
In spite of Mursh’s and Lewis’s efforts, the Catawbas could not be persuaded to accept Christianity or show much interest in schooling. Joseph White of Fort Mill wrote about Mursh: “He had adopted in full the dress and habits of the white man, when I saw him in 1827. He was a Baptist preacher-pronounced Marsh…son was called Mush. The son lived in Chester County, married a Catawba woman. [Robert] Mursh was a man of excellent character. Six feet high and raw-boned when young and in his prime but he became somewhat fleshy.” Under an 1818 Act of Congress, Robert Mursh applied for a Revolutionary War pension in 1820 (eventually receiving $8 per month). He listed his wife Elizabeth, aged 59, three daughters, Sally, 28, Elizabeth, 22, and Rhody, 20, and 7 grandchildren, Philadelphia, Nancy, Alsey, Joseph, John, Miranda and Fanny, all between 1 and 8 years of age, as totally dependent upon him. The value of Mursh’s land (50 acres), house, furnishings, livestock and tools was listed as $389. 63. In 1847, 12 years after Robert Mursh’s death, his daughter Rhoda Mursh appealed for continuance of the pension with a plea of extreme poverty. The plea must have fallen on deaf ears. There is no further record of any action on the part of the Pension Office. (Information courtesy of and from: YCGHS – The Quarterly Magazine)
REV. ROBERT MARCH AND ROOKER: Lands Ford, July 401 1873 Mr. Lyman C. Draper, Dear Sir Yours of June 11th was received a few days ago.
I recollect of seeing the Rev. Robert Marsh or Mursh, I recollect of hearing him preach at Hopewell Baptist Church on the second Samuel McCreary were present- preaching had commenced when I rode up and hitched my horse about a hundred yards from the Church. The Rev. Mush was preaching, although at that distance I heard him distinctly. His voice was ringing and rather melodious when I entered the Church and took a full view of him. He appeared to be an old man dressed in homespun, his speech a little broken. His language appropriate, his gestures natural and would be pronounced Eloquent. He Reverend Jacob [sic John] Rooker lived in York district on the Eastern side of the Catawba River. He was a soldier of the revolution. His hands were cut all to pieces by sabre wounds. He held them very conspicuous before the public. They were so badly crippled up that they were noticed by every body. There was a member of this church who had his hand torn by a bullet ? on the side. He kept his hand always slipt in his pocket or rapt in a handkerchief. The Reverend Rooker & McCreary were the assistants of the Rev. Robt Marsh & had great hopes of Civilizing and Christianizing the Catawba Indians They got a young man by the name of James Lewis to teach a school for the Indians this school was on the Eastern side of the Catawba in the edge of Lancaster County. This school house answered the place of a church where Mr. Rooker, McCreary & Mush often preached the Indians. The school for several years had give them a good hope that they would be successful but the Indians finally became inattentive and the school was discontinued and the preaching was afterwards given up. Rooker & Mush frequently assisted Mr. McCreary at Hopewell about every three months. I don’t recollect of Mush being there after the year Twenty. Rooker probably assisted him up to twenty-six. (Information courtesy of and from: YCGHS – The Quarterly Magazine, March 03)
One of the best known members of the congregation was Hezekiah Thorne, the Thorn’s Ferry owner who died on September 21, 1845, according to his tombstone in the Flint Hill Church Cemetery. His tombstone reads, “In memory of Hezekiah Thorn who departed this life Sep 21* 1845 in the 86th year of his age who was a member of the Baptist Church at Flint Hill, S. C.” The church record merely gives his death as 1845.
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