“A number of individuals from Neely’s Creek moved west…..”
City Directories and History: The Herald reported on Feb. 8, 1883 that “within a radius of four miles, in the Neely’s Creek neighborhood there are four cotton gins operated by steam, and all are doing a thriving business.”
The Yorkville Enquirer reported on Feb. 4, 1891 – “Mr. Lee Oats is teaching at Neely’s Creek School.”
The Yorkville Enquirer reported on April 15, 1891 – “At a meeting of the Presbytery last week a grant of $200. was made for an ARP church which the people of Catawba Junction are preparing to build. A considerable portion of the necessary lumber has already been layed on the ground and work will soon commence. It is proposed to have preaching at this site on the second and fourth Sundays of each month.” (This was a Chapel of Neely’s Creek ARP congregation at Catawba Junction which operated a number of years but was never organized as a congregation.)
The Herald reported on July 1, 1903 – “Mr. Sam Boyd, a hard working farmer in the Lesslie area, lost his barn to fire last Friday night. The losses included tools, wheat, and between 75-100 bushels of corn.”
The Record reported Jan. 7, 1907 – “The first services were held in the new church at Neely’s Creek yesterday. The congregation are to be congratulated on the handsome building they have erected at a cost of $7,000. or more.”
The Rock Hill Record reported on April 30 and May 4, 1908 – “Neely’s Creek Church was completed in late 1906 and the first services were held in the first on 1907. The dedication was held in May 1908 and an estimated 800 people were present. It is a very handsome structure costing about $7,500. the woodwork on the interior is finished in dark oak, except for the ceiling which is pine in a light oil finish. Two memorial stain glass windows are in memory of Thomas and Nancy Wylie and John and M.G. Roddey.”
The Herald reported on Oct. 31, 1925 – “That Neely’s Creek church has installed electric lights and they will be in use for the first time this Sunday.”
Neely’s Creek Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church was organized around 1790 in what was then the territory of the Catawba Indian Nation. The denomination had been formed just eight years earlier by a merger of two groups which had come from Scotland and Northern Ireland, the Associate Presbyterians and the Reformed Presbyterians. By 1794, a minister was installed, Rev. William Blackstock. He also served the Steele Creek church in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina and the Ebenezer church in York County. Rev. Blackstock was born in Northern Ireland and educated in Scotland. He came to America in 1792 to serve the many new churches being established by Scots-Irish immigrants. It is said that on the voyage across the Atlantic, “Rev. B. preached once, the captain paying strict attention, but not the crew.”
Records show that the first elders of the church were Alexander Harberson, Samuel Lusk, and Thomas Spencer. Other early elders were Thomas Wylie, John Campbell, William Campbell, and Jackson Spencer.
In the first years, the church probably had a lease from the Catawba Indians. In 1820, a twelve acre parcel was leased from the Catawbas to the church for a yearly rent of two cents for 99 years. The first worship space is believed to have been a brush arbor in the 1790s. A log building was soon erected.
In 1804, divisions occurred in the ARP church, and a group of churches left and created a new Presbytery affiliated with the Associate Presbyterians. Neely’s Creek chose to join this Presbytery. Rev. Blackstock remained loyal to the ARP church, so he left the pastorate of Neely’s Creek in that year. He later became pastor of the Tirzah congregation, located in Union County, NC and continued serving the Ebenezer church. Rev. Blackstock was recognized as one of the strongest and finest ministers in the early years of the ARP denomination.
Neely’s Creek was affiliated with the Associate Presbytery from 1804 for several decades. During this time, we have few records. Some of the ministers who served the church during this period were Rev. William Dickson, Rev. Abraham Anderson, Rev. Thomas Ketchin, Rev. John Mushat, and Rev. Archibald Whyte. In the 1830s, the Associate Presbytery became embroiled in the issue of slavery. The national Associate Presbyterian denomination issued decrees calling on its ministers and members to repudiate slavery and to free slaves. Many members sold their slaves and moved to free states in the north. Other churches returned to the ARP denomination. By the mid-1830s, the Associate Presbytery in the South had ceased to function.
The log church building was replaced by a frame church in 1832, with a separate Session House. This building was enlarged about 1860 with an addition of twenty feet.
Neely’s Creek returned to the ARP church in 1847. Session records exist from this date. The first elders were Thomas Boyd, John Roddey, and William Wylie. Elders who were ordained in the next decade include A. T. Black, David Roddey, Samuel Wylie, Jonathan McFadden, and Matthew S. Lynn. The first minister called by the reorganized church was Rev. Richard Fleming Taylor, a native of Laurens County. Rev. Taylor had recently graduated from Erskine Theological Seminary. He was installed in 1849, and served Neely’s Creek until 1851. He had earlier married Isabella Virginia Pressly of York County. Rev. Taylor served as a chaplain during the Civil War, and ministered to Neely’s Creek soldiers at the front, even though he had been removed from the church for a number of years.
In 1853, Rev. Laughlin McDonald was called to serve the church. Rev. McDonald was a native of Hart County, Georgia. He graduated from Miami University (Ohio) and studied theology under Rev. E. E. Pressly in Due West. Shortly after he was ordained, he began serving Neely’s Creek and the Union ARP Church at Richburg in Chester County. Rev. McDonald was well known as a polished and effective speaker. Because of health concerns, he gave up the pastorate in 1870, and he died of cancer in 1874.
Neely’s Creek and Union next called Rev. Charles Bowen Betts in 1871. A native of Dickson County, Tennessee, Betts received his education at Jefferson College in Pennsylvania and at Erskine Theological Seminary. He served the Bethel ARP Church in Winnsboro before coming to Neely’s Creek. While in Winnsboro, he had served as a chaplain in the Civil War. Rev. Betts gave up the Neely’s Creek portion of his pastorate in 1889, but remained at the Union Church until his death in 1903. During the late 1800s, Neely’s Creek maintained a second preaching point at Catawba Junction for the convenience of members who lived in that section. It was never organized as a church. During the early 1900s, a school was operated on the church grounds.
Subsequent ministers included D. G. Caldwell (1892-1894), Oliver Johnson (1894-1908), W. H. Stevenson (1908-1916), O. W. Carmichael (1917-1939), Roger Echols (1939-1970), Lawrence Young (1970-1976), Grant Johnson (1977-1981), and Jan Senneker (1981-1990), Sam Serio, Billy Fleming, Dennis Heiber, and Heiko Burklin.
A new church was built in 1906 during the pastorate of Rev. Oliver Johnson to replace the 1832 structure. This structure, a wood frame church with gothic windows and a steeple, cost $7,500. A crowd of 700 attended the dedication ceremonies. A separate educational building was later added. Because of the growth of the congregation, a new church was planned in the early 1970s. It was dedicated in October 1974. The educational building was incorporated into the new church plant, and a gym/family life center has been added.
The Neely’s Creek Cemetery occupies almost 15 acres to the rear of the modern church. The oldest legible marker dates to 1793.
The Neely’s Creek church has produced a large number of ministers and missionaries who have served the ARP church and other denominations.
Sources: History of Neely’s Creek Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, 1787-1987. Published by the church, 1987.
Centennial History of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. Published by the General Synod, 1905.
Sesquicentennial History of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. Published by the General Synod, 1951.
[Written and contributed to R&R by P.M. Gettys – 2015]
FROM YORK CO., SC TO BRADLEY CO., ARKANSAS (Many thanks to Jann Woodard (email@example.com of Bradley County, Arkansas for sharing the following condensed account with us.)
J.L. Leslie, grandson of Samuel D. Leslie, one of the wagon train members read an account of the trip his grandfather made from York County in 1852 on the 100th anniversary of his church, Hickory Springs ARP Church. This is what he told: “About Thanksgiving Day in 1852, fourteen or fifteen families assembled on the Simpson farm near Neely’s Creek, South Carolina for the move to Arkansas. They had been planning this all year and hastened with the gathering of their crop so final preparations could be made. Twelve of these families were the Milhollands, the Leslies, the Crawfords, the Dickeys, the Thompsons, the Wylies, the Simpsons, the Lathans, the Kenmores, the Davis’ and the Stewarts.
“Two young men . . . Samuel D. Leslie and I.D. McFadden, were in the party. Mr. Leslie’s grandson, J. L. Leslie read the history of the church Sunday. Mr. McFadden came along to Arkansas because he was in love with one of the Leslie girls. They married soon after coming to Arkansas and to them were born eight daughters and one son. “All of those who assembled for the trip to Arkansas were from Santuck, Leslie and Neely’s Creek communities in South Carolina, near Rock Hill in York County. The community in Arkansas, then was named Santuck and the old Santuck post office was located in the John Kenmore store about three hundred yards south of the present Milton Pennington home.
“It is not known had many wagons were in the train, but indications point to a large number since the group brought seed for planting the first year, plows, tools, a gin and a few slaves. They camped out 99 nights on the way, arriving in March of 1853. “Soon after they arrived they began meeting for worship most of the time in a log house across the road from the entrance of the present church. In reality, then, the Hickory Springs church is celebrating its 100,h anniversary this year. “Rev. J.M. Brown formally organized the church in 1859 with 15 members and two elders, Jonathan F. Davis and James F. Leslie.
“In 1860 a small log building was built. During the latter part of 1859 six more members were received. This trend of adding members continued through the Civil War years and up until the turn of the century, when the membership appears to have been around 175. At that time, however, the original group began scattering and a decline in membership began. This lasted until 10 or 12 years ago, when the membership began the to grow again. This growth in membership was culminated with the construction of the new church.” (Information courtesy of and from: YCGHS – The Quarterly Magazine)
Random notes sent my Ms Woodard adding to the above records of Calvary Presbyterian Church, Johnsville Arkansas with a York County reference:
1. William P. McFadden (1813-1899) was a son of Isaac (1788-1854) Patton McFadden and grandson of Isaac (1753-1820 and Elizabeth Steele McFadden and of William and Elizabeth Patton of York County. He first married Amelia Hardie Davies of Fishing Creek Presbyterian Church, then Sarah Miller, and they went to Brazil immediately after the Civil War.
2. John Josina and Major Brown Garrison were the grandsons of Josina and Sarah Brown Garrison of York County.
3. Samuel D. Rainey kept an expense journal during his trek from Blairsville, York County to Arkansas.
A descendant, Doris Clifton, sent me a copy years ago. “Left SC Sept. 29, 1857 and landed on Plum Bayou, Ark., Jefferson County, Nov. 14, 1857.” Instead of the usual route, he went directly over the Blue Ridge mountains.
Ms. Woodard also sent a church register of the Palistine Methodist Episcopal Church South, Johnsville, Arkansas (Bradley County) to which she appended information on the church’s members of York County origins:
1. R. B. McClain, Rufus Bratton McClain, b. 1845, son of Alemoth Byers McClain and Marguerite
Miskelly of Yorkville, York County, SC.
2. The baptismal record of the children of Rufus Bratton McClain and Kate E. McLain: Rufus W.,
1875; Susan E. 1876; Daniel W., 1882; Iver E., 1892; Ever L., 1892; Minnie B., 1892.
THOMPSONS IN 1856 WAGON TRAIN TO ARKANSAS
Arkansas Gazette March 9, 1916 Warren, Mar. 8 – Mrs. Mary Thompson Phillips, 78 years old, one of the oldest residents of Bradley county, died at her home near Hermitage on Monday night. She had been in ill health for several months and Saturday morning suffered from a sudden attack of paralysis, which hastened her death. Mrs. Phillips was born in York county, South Carolina, June 20, 1838. She came to Arkansas with her parents in 1856. The trip from South Carolina was made in covered wagons and 101 days were required to make the journey of 2,000 miles. Mrs. Phillips is survived by three sons and one daughter; W. R. Thompson of Enid, Okla.; R. B. Thompson of Texas; J. C. Thompson of Hermitage, and Mrs. Garland Caplinger of this county.
(Submitted by Jann Woodard, 12008 Ginger Lane, Benton, AR 72015 who would like to share other Bradley County, AR and York County, SC connections.) (R&R Notes: We would like to know where the Thompsons departed on their trip?)
NAMES ASSOCIATED WITH THE HERITAGE MAP: Adkins, John Adkins, Richard Anderson Beckham, L. A. Clark, Archibald Clifton, Jesse Cline Crain, Stephen Coldirons Cook, William Cooper, Jacob Crawford, William G. Crook, Solomon Crosset Culp, Augustine Culp, Casper Culp, Henry Davie, Hyder A. Davies Davison Eaves, N.R. Farrell, William Ferguson Ferguson, M. Fudge, R. H. Gaston, John Gaston, Stephen Greer, George Grierson, George Hagins, John Halliday, John Hicklen, William Hudson, William Hyatt, David Ingram, Tillman Johnston Jordan Walker, Mary Ann Kalteisen, Michael Leonard, Davis Lock, Willis McFadden, John McFadden, Robert Patton, Matthew Reives, William Rives, Benjamin Sleeker, Casper Stinson, Daniel G. Stinson, Samuel Swints, John Taylor, William Walker, Abraham Walker, Alexander Walker, Elizabeth Walker, Esther Adeline Walker, Isabella Walker, James Walker, John Walker, John Alexander Walker, John G. Walker, Martha Jane Walker, Mary Huey Walker, Milton Walker, Rebecca Walker, Thomas Walker, William Wells, Richard White, John Wiley, Francis Woods, James
Please see the Elizabeth Reed article printed in the Herald Newspaper under the picture column marked – More Information / Heritage Maps
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