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Conneross Baptist Church
Oconee County, SC
      Conneross church in Oconee county, S. C., is, along with Beaverdam, Chauga, and Old Liberty, among the oldest churches in this section. The records prior to 1833 are not available, perhaps being forever lost. The church was established by or before 1812, and according to some accounts, in 1798. It is said that the ancestor of the Alexander family came to the section in 1798. The old Alexander house near the church is said to have been built in that year. Joseph Grisham and Rev. Nimrod Sullivan were among the prominent Baptists associated with the early life of Conneross.

      From 1833 to 1836 the following were among the constituents of the body: James Ferguson, and Malissa his wife, Barbara Phillips; Alexander Dedlon, Andrew Seago, Androland Cobb, Noah Abbott, John Ferguson, Thomas Walters, John Adair, Andrew A. Cobb, Henry Head, Father Phillips, Lewis Frick, Francis Mason, Elijah Deaton, Andrew McGuffin, Andrew Ferguson, Edmund Cason, Daniel Stephens, Simon Hobbs, Littleton Fountain, Elie Deaton, Mary Head, Joseph M. Grisham, Esther Denny, Morgan Head, Father Ferguson, Massengale Sisk, David Fox, Cinthy Head, wife of Morgan Head, Joseph Sisk, David Fox, Nancy Johnson, Henry and Lucy Chambers, etc., besides many colored members.

      Among the churches with which Conneross corresponded in 1833-35 were Holly Springs, Bethlehem, Perkins Creek, Poplar Springs, New Hope, etc. Messengers from these churches often sat in conference and were invited to council.

      Elder Cobb, Elder Humphrey Posey, _______ Ballard, James R. Smith, Elder Whitton, Elder Simpson, Elder Baldwin, and Elder Murphree ministered at times to the saints in the ministry about 1833. The pastor seems to have been Elder James R. Smith. Old Father Ferguson, said to have led Morgan Head down into likeness, for baptism, also was perhaps a minister. Andrew McGuffin was pastoral supply about 1835-36. Elder Posey held several continued meetings about this time and there were outpourings of the Holy Spirit when he preached. Many were added to the church through his ministry. Prayer and rejoicing and the birth of new born souls poured out the oil of joy upon the heads of the saints. Stekoe church also sent messengers to Conneross. Joseph Grisham was among the early clerks.

      The third Sunday in May 1836-1836, the Westminster Baptist church was organized with help of aids from Conneross, among the charter members being Andrew Ferguson, Sr., James and Melissa Ferguson, and a colored woman belonging to Jesse Stribling.

      Revs. Andrew Cobb and Andrew McGuffin were sent out in 1836 to visit and aid weak churches in the section. The first gifts to missions were about 1836 when Joseph Grisham gave one dollar, John Ferguson gave one dollar, and Roland Cobb fifty cents. Andrew McGuffin was ordained at the request of Perkins Creek about 1836. He was an influential minister in the early days in the section.

      Among members received or dismissed about 1836 were William Peterson, Henry and Lucy Chambers, Nancy Johnson, Washington Abbott, Angelina Head, etc.

      A new meeting house was erected about 1836, John L. Ferguson, Roland Cobb, John Adair, John Abbott and David Barton being appointed to raise the money for it. It was let to the lowest bidder.

      Some money for home missions was collected, but it was for some reason returned to the donors, because perhaps of dissension. Notes which were unpaid by members of the church were turned in to the church for collection. If not paid the defaulting member was disciplined.

      Among members received were Stephen Whitmire and Mary Whitmire, his wife, Elizabeth Beck, Mary Seago, Nancy Abbott, etc.

      Bird Abbott was disciplined for non-attendance, and said he had no horse to rise and lived far off, so we see there was some poverty in those days.

      Among the ministering brethren between 1836 and 1842 were Elders Henson, Ammon, Kimsey, Smith, McGuffin, Cobb, William King, Perkinson, J. Grisham., etc. A. A. Cobb was chosen pastor in 1837. Andrew McGuffin was chosen pastor in 1838. Sanford Vandiver was pastor later on. Rev. Findley was ordained to the ministry about 1840. Joseph Grisham was pastor in 1852.

      The Fork Association was formed about this time. G. W. Abbott took the church book and refused to give it up. James Abbott was appointed to get it, but it was a long time before the book was given up. There was some dispute about missions, perhaps.

      David Butler, Drury Knox, and others succeeded to the pastorate in the fifties. Drury Knox was pastor during the Civil war.

      The church book remained out of the hands of the church from 1848 to 1866. Simson Abbott gave it to the church "as a present" in 1866. He did not deem it a special duty, but gave it "as a present." A dispute arose between Conneross and Westminster church about the latter receiving certain members. There was a split in Conneross and some dissension. The church was removed to West Union for a time. It was all perhaps about missions.

      Nimrod Sullivan and Brother Collins were ordained to the gospel ministry about 1848. Among the churches of this section in 1848 were Bethel, Chauga, Double Springs, Long Creek, Providence, Pleasant Hill, Perkins Creek, New Hope, Conneross, and Westminster churches. All sent aids when Sullivan and Collins were ordained to the ministry. Westminster delegates were refused seats because of the quarrel mentioned above. Rev. Fendley, Rev. John West, from New Hope, Rev. A. Swofford from Long Creek, Deacons S. Hughes and D. Bearden from Bethel, deacon Daniel Inman from Double Springs, ordained the above two ministers to their work

      Bro. Compton was pastor of the church when it was (on account of the schism). located at West Union. Members at the time the church was located at West Union were Elder J. Compton, James Bryson, Jane Davis, Elder N. Sullivan, Barton Abbott, John Wootson, M. Moss, Sister R. Rusk, H. Huitt, L. Temple, Elijah Collins, J. Adair, W. Robinson, Elder S. Findlay, Elder J. Grisham, etc. The West Union section of the church was the missionary branch of it, doubtless, as it contained the more intelligent and liberal of the members. Mt. Pleasant church was sent out as an arm of West Union. Many slaves were members at this time.

      Third Sunday in February, 1849, it was agreed to establish an arm of Conneross at Pickens - old Pickens, perhaps. This was the court house of Pickens county.

      Special attention was given to the religious instruction of the slaves, and Joseph Grisham was appointed by the church to teach them. Compton, Sullivan, Grisham, Fendley and Collins were among the ministers who preached at the church at times in these days. Pastor's salary was collected regularly in I849.

      The Westminster church finally joined the West Union association of missionary and acknowledged her wrong doing toward the Conneross church.

      The branch of the church at West Union met for the last time in 1852 and was disorganized. Rev. James Sullivan preached among his first sermons at Conneross. Rev. Sullivan was among the best workers in the church for years.

      In I869 the first agricultural society was organized for the purpose of paying ministers of the gospel for their services. This was an innovation for the times, perhaps. Rev. J. S, Simmons was pastor about this time. Each member was required to pay for pastor's salary according to his means.

      Rev. A. W. McGuffin was pastor for many years of Conneross. He is buried at his request near the pulpit. Conneross has had a long and useful life in the section. She sent out her ministers to dark sections when other churches refused to engage in the missionary enterprise. She had a liberal constituency. As a result of her influence the first great gift to the Seminary came from the Brown family, who were related to Joseph Grisham. Conneross believed in an educated ministry. She was among the leaders of the advance movement for the missions and ministerial education in the hill region.

      Pastors during the last fifty years have been Revs. A. McGuffin, J. H. Stone, J. H. Sullivan, P. J. Vermillion, A. P. Marett, J. H. Ayers, I. E. McDavid, L. D. Mitchell, L. H. Raines, G. W. Gardner, etc.

      What interesting stories the waters of Conneross Creek could tell, if they only could talk.


[From Walter M. Lee, editor, Baptist History Record, Westminister, SC, July 1927. Document from Boyce Digital Library, SBTS Archives, Louisville, KY. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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