From the Archives

History, documents, and photos

Mrs. Maria Wightman and the Woman’s Missionary Society

Written By: Phillip Stone - Mar•12•19
Mrs. Maria Davies Wightman

Mrs. Maria Davies Wightman

Mrs. Maria Davies Wightman lived in several states, but she became one of the most prominent women in South Carolina Methodism as the founding president of the Woman’s Missionary Society of the South Carolina Conference.  Given how the organizations have evolved, she stands first in the line of women to have led the conference’s women’s organization.

Born in 1833 in the home of her great-grandfather, a Revolutionary War veteran of the Siege of Yorktown, Maria Davies moved as a small child first to Montgomery, Alabama, then to Macon, Mississippi.  She graduated first in her class in 1849 from Centenary Institute in Summerfield, Alabama.

During the Civil War, her family moved to Greensboro, Alabama, where Southern University was located.  A South Carolina clergyman named William Wightman was serving as the university’s chancellor, having left Wofford College in 1859 to help start the new university.  (This college eventually became Birmingham-Southern.)  In 1862, Maria Davies met Wightman, who was a widower with 5 children.  Despite a 25-year age difference, they married in November 1863.

In 1866, the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South elected William Wightman a bishop, and the Wightmans moved to Charleston, Bishop Wightman’s home, to establish his episcopal residence.  Bishop Wightman traveled throughout the country to preside over Annual Conferences, and Mrs. Wightman found herself busy supporting the bishop and raising their two children.

And here began Mrs. Wightman’s involvement with missionary society work.  Women in Methodism had wanted to organize some type of women’s work in the church for years but had been discouraged by the church hierarchy.  In 1878, the Woman’s Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South was approved by General Conference and a constitution prepared by the College of Bishops.  On May 23, 1878, the society was organized, and plans soon made to establish societies in each Annual Conference.

The bishops appointed the initial officers of the church-wide society, and the eight bishops’ wives became vice presidents.  Mrs. Wightman helped organize the society and she suggested that each Annual Conference should also have a society.  When the South Carolina Conference met in November 1878 in Newberry, the conference missionary secretary invited any interested women to meet to form a society.  Mrs. Wightman was asked to preside.  The nominating committee recommended her for the presidency of the conference Woman’s Missionary Society, and she was elected.  Some sources have suggested that she was the first woman to preside over a public meeting in the history of South Carolina.

Mrs. Wightman remained as president of the conference Woman’s Missionary Society after Bishop Wightman died in 1882, and for thirty more years, until her own death in 1912.  Many of the articles in her papers testify to the strength and resolve she brought to her position, for she was intent on supporting women who wanted to serve the church.  When the conference society held its first annual meeting at Trinity Church, Charleston in April 1880, she addressed the assembled members as to why they were not holding their state meeting during Annual Conference.  “At this time, we have, all to ourselves, two days for consultation, for reports, suggestions, for united, specific, continuous prayer, and an opportunity to see our duty and our privilege, that our lives may take a deeper meaning and purpose.”  Had they met during Conference, they would have felt like a side show.

She concluded her address, “We need faithful, willing hearts and hands for service… I say to each of you, my sisters, your hand is wanted.  The Lord has need of you.”  And so, Mrs. Maria Wightman spent the next thirty years organizing the missions work of South Carolina’s Methodist women.

Kappa Alpha at 150

Written By: Phillip Stone - Feb•22•19

This February 23, The Delta chapter of Kappa Alpha, at Wofford College, celebrates its 150th birthday.

Kappa Alpha traces its origins to Washington and Lee, though like all secret societies, the founders were more concerned with getting their organization going than they were documenting the history they were making.  But, the fraternity was founded there between late 1865 and early 1866.  For anyone interested, a recent history of the fraternity by historian Martin Clagett, Excelsior, will give you all the details.  Within a few years, the early founders had decided their group needed to expand.  In the spring of 1868, the Alpha chapter authorized members to establish a “lodge of our order” at Virginia Military Institute and the University of Georgia.  Very soon thereafter, an opportunity arose to establish a lodge at Wofford.

A South Carolinian named William A. Rogers had attended Washington College in 1867-68, desiring to study under Washington College’s president, who happened to be Robert E. Lee.  Rogers was initiated into Kappa Alpha while at Washington College, but returned to his native state in the fall of 1868.  According to campus legend, he came with a letter of recommendation from Lee.  He joined the freshman class at Wofford in October 1868.  He soon communicated his desire to establish a chapter in Spartanburg, and in November, the Alpha granted him permission to organize a chapter.  Rogers, according to the Alpha chapter minutes, had recruited several interested members.  Clagett’s history notes that “On February 23, 1869, in a rented room of the old Evans residence on Church Street, four members were initiated into the lodge.”  These four members, William A. Rogers, Edwin W. Peeples, Hope H. Newton, and Lawrence D. Hamer then organized Delta Chapter.  Peeples and Newton were seniors and Hamer was a junior.  These four then elected John Woods as a member.  The Alpha chapter soon sent the bylaws and charter to the Delta chapter.

Delta chapter grew, though Clagett notes that the Alpha chapter waned somewhat after the founding generation left.  Rogers, as the grand master of the Delta chapter, went about organizing a strong chapter and recruiting good brothers.  Two of them were politically (in Wofford terms) well connected.  One was John Wesley Shipp, the son of the president of the college, and another was Joseph Augustus Gamewell, the son of a founding trustee.  Gamewell, a member of the class of 1871, came back to join the faculty in 1875, a position he retained for 65 years.  In the fall of 1869, Shipp succeeded Rogers as Grand Master of the chapter.

This 1902 photo includes student members of the fraternity along with the founder, Rev William A. Rogers, and Professors J. A. Gamewell, David Duncan Wallace, and A. Mason DuPre, all of whom were members of KA as Wofford students.

Kappa Alpha has been a consistent presence at Wofford for 150 years.  Several other fraternities quickly joined them on campus – Chi Psi came later in 1869, and Chi Phi came in 1871.  Those two did not come back after the early 1900s, when the college banned fraternities for about ten years.  Banning the fraternities did not do away with them, it just forced them underground.  One interesting moment in the early 20th century was when about 9 students were initiated sub rosa by the chapter at the College of Charleston.  When the college learned of their misdeeds, they expelled all of them.  Those students all enrolled at Trinity in North Carolina, where they all graduated.  Eventually, Wofford relented, granting them their degrees some twenty years later.  The faculty and trustees realized that banning secret societies was ultimately a fruitless, pointless endeavor and allowed them to return in 1915.  That’s why the Kappa Alpha chapter actually has two charters – one from 1869, and another from 1915.

Their original 1869 charter makes Kappa Alpha the oldest currently existing student organization on campus.

Professor Frank Woodward

Written By: Phillip Stone - Feb•12•19

Another in a fairly short list of professors who served but a short time at Wofford in the early days was Professor Frank C. Woodward.

A Virginia native, Woodward graduated from Randolph-Macon College, a Methodist institution in Virginia that is older than Wofford.  After graduation, he followed his father into the Methodist ministry in Virginia.  But, he had been trained in some of the more scholarly methods of teaching English and languages, and despite having no advanced degrees, in 1881 Wofford called upon him to teach French and Latin.  A year later, the college gave him the English chair that Dr. William M. Baskervill had vacated to go to Vanderbilt. He lived in the house on the eastern end of the row of faculty homes formerly occupied by David Duncan, and later occupied by J. A. Gamewell.  That house is now the wellness center.

Woodward continued Baskervill’s teaching style in the English courses enthusiastically.  He taught for a total of seven years at Wofford before, in 1888, the faculty at South Carolina College called him to join their ranks as professor of English language, literature, and rhetoric.

He was destined for higher office.  In 1897, the trustees made him president of South Carolina College.  An interesting point there is that the faculty in the 1880s and early 1890s had two members who went on to presidencies at much larger places, Woodward as well as John C. Kilgo, who went to Trinity as president in 1894.

After USC, Woodward went to the University of Richmond to teach English.  It’s hard to say what impact he had on Wofford these 130 years later, but he was one in a series of faculty who spent a few years helping to improve teaching and scholarship, who worked alongside a core of faculty who stayed for many more years.

William Baskervill, the first PhD at Wofford

Written By: Phillip Stone - Feb•08•19

William M. Baskervill’s name is unfortunately not one that comes to the forefront of Wofford’s history.

Joining the faculty in 1876, Baskervill was one of the first Wofford professors to have studied in Germany.  He was a Randolph-Macon graduate and a Tennessee native, and had met the young Charles Forster Smith, a Wofford graduate, in Germany.  Smith, who had come back to teach at Wofford in 1875, had encouraged Baskervill to join him and cover some subjects that were under-staffed, and so fresh from two years at Leipzig, Baskervill arrived at Wofford to teach Greek and English literature.

David Duncan Wallace, the college’s historian, noted that Baskervill stimulated the students and faculty alike.  His study of literature was much more scholarly than the older generation of teachers, and his methods were a bit new for the students.  Some no doubt thought he was too hard.  Some of the students found him sarcastic and impatient with them as well.  One student, Wallace noted, left a poem on the chalkboard that poked some fun back at Baskervill.  It read, in part:  Anglo Saxon and Dutch:  This is taught by Baskervill/ Who goes for it with vinn and will/ And tries so hard his class to inspire/ With his Anglo-Saxon Fire.  The class heeds not his high behest/ But utters up a strong protest/ Against each foolish innovation/ Brought hither from the German nation.”

The student who confessed to the prank was brought before the faculty for punishment.  Dr. Carlisle reportedly asked, “What are you before the faculty for?” and the student replied “Writing poetry.”  With that, the student nearly caused Carlisle to erupt in laughter, and the student managed to get away without any punishment.

In 1878, Baskervill left Wofford for further study in Germany, but the death of his wife caused him to return to the United States sooner than he planned.  He returned to complete his PhD at Leipzig in the summer of 1880, while remaining on the Wofford faculty, and thus became the first faculty member to earn a PhD while teaching at Wofford. His dissertation, a copy of which is in the archives, was entitled “The Anglo-Saxon Version of the Epistola Alexandri ad Aristotelem.”

He did not remain at Wofford long, like his contemporaries Charles F. Smith and James H. Kirkland who had helped move to a greater emphasis on scholarship, he moved on to Vanderbilt.  In Nashville, he taught both Henry Nelson Snyder and David Duncan Wallace, both of whom came to dominate Wofford during much of the 20th century.  He spent the rest of his life at Vanderbilt, but his untimely death in 1899 cut short a flourishing academic career.

Baskervill may not rank up there with Gamewell for longevity, or with Carlisle, Snyder, Wallace, Chiles, and  several others in terms of recognition.  However, his time at Wofford marks a shift toward greater scholarship among the faculty, and he set a tone of increased rigor in teaching.  Numerous faculty who came after him were much closer to his style than they were to those who came before him.

Charles A. Woods, Wofford’s first prominent judge

Written By: Phillip Stone - Feb•05•19

Wofford alumni have long held important positions in the judiciary, and the man who began that tradition was an 1872 graduate named Charles A. Woods.

A Marion native, Woods came to Wofford in 1868, joining a class that included William A. Rogers (the founder of Kappa Alpha) and A. Coke Smith (later a faculty member and Methodist bishop).  His 1872 commencement address was entitled “Balance of Forces.”  Leaving Wofford, he taught school in Darlington County, which was his home, for a year while reading borrowed law books.  In 1873, he passed the bar exam and was sworn into the bar in Chesterfield, SC.  In July 1873, he moved to Marion, SC where he established a law practice.  In 1875, he formed a partnership with Henry McIver, which lasted until McIver was elected to the state supreme court in 1877.

For the next 25 years, Woods continued his law practice in Marion and throughout the Pee Dee.  His reputation grew to the point that in 1901, the trustees of the University of South Carolina elected him to the university’s presidency without him having sought the job.  He decided that he’d rather continue to practice law than preside over the university, and the next year, he was elected president of the South Carolina Bar Association.  He also served his alma mater as a member of the board of trustees from 1898 to 1907.

In February 1903, a vacancy on the state supreme court occurred when his old law mentor and partner, Chief Justice McIver died, and the General Assembly elevated another justice to the chief justiceship.  To that vacancy, they elected Charles A. Woods.  This offer he accepted, and he served the next decade as an associate justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court.

Justice Woods was an active citizen of Marion, and his nephew, who had joined him before his election to the bench, continued to practice.  Justice Woods also was involved in building Marion’s library, both in raising the funds to buy property for it, and also in requesting a Carnegie grant to construct it.  An address in his archives file indicates he gave an address in Greenville to support building a library in that city.

In most cases, elevation to the South Carolina Supreme Court would have been about as high a judicial office as a South Carolina lawyer might attain.  However, in 1913, Justice Woods was nominated and appointed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, becoming (I think) the first Wofford graduate to have served as a federal judge.  He served the final twelve years of his life on the 4th circuit in Richmond, and at the time of his death in 1925, was the senior and presiding judge.

A number of his fellow alumni followed him into both positions – the state supreme court and the fourth circuit court of appeals, but it’s worth remembering an alum and attorney who was the first Wofford graduate to serve in each of those positions.

Bishop James S. Thomas

Written By: Phillip Stone - Feb•01•19

Bishop James S. Thomas was one of South Carolina’s most significant contributions to the United Methodist Church. His pioneering work helped lead to the end of racial segregation in the church’s hierarchy.

Bishop James S. Thomas with Wofford President Paul Hardin III

Bishop James S. Thomas became the first African-American to receive an honorary doctorate from Wofford College on May 14, 1972.

Bishop Thomas was born a hundred years ago this spring, on April 9, 1919, in Orangeburg. His father, the Rev. James S. Thomas, Sr., was a clergyman serving there. Bishop Thomas enrolled at Claflin University, graduating in 1939 with a degree in sociology. He first became an educator, spending a year as a school principal in Florence County. However, he could not ignore his call to the ministry, and was ordained deacon and elder in subsequent years. He attended Gammon Theological Seminary and served the Orangeburg Circuit, and later, earned a master’s degree at Drew University.

Back in South Carolina, he served two years on the York Circuit, and was also a chaplain at South Carolina State College. From the local church, Bishop Thomas found a calling in higher education, going on to become a professor at Gammon Seminary. While there, he earned his PhD in sociology and anthropology at Cornell University. During part of his time at Gammon, he served as acting president of the seminary.

In 1953, he took a position as associate general secretary of the Methodist General Board of Education, with responsibilities for assisting and supporting the denomination’s historically black colleges. He served at the General Board for a dozen years, retaining his clergy membership in the South Carolina 1866 Conference.

During the 1950s, many Methodists began to question the bargain that had been struck during the reunification of the northern and southern branches of Methodism, the bargain that relegated African-American Methodists into the segregated Central Jurisdiction. As early as 1952, Methodists were arguing that “there is no place for racial discrimination or segregation in the Methodist Church.” In a painfully slow manner, Bishop Thomas was at the forefront of helping to dismantle segregation in the church.

Though the Central Jurisdiction still existed in 1964, Thomas was elected to the episcopacy by the North Central Jurisdiction. He became the youngest Methodist bishop at the time of his election. He was assigned to the Iowa Area, one of the largest annual conferences in the denomination, where he served until 1976. During that twelve years, the merger with the Evangelical United Brethren Church created the United Methodist Church, the Central Jurisdiction was abolished, and former African-American conferences throughout the country merged into integrated conferences. During that twelve years, Bishop Thomas became president of the Council of Bishops, served as chair of the social principles study commission, and delivered the principal episcopal address in 1976. In 1972, in fact, three native South Carolinians played leading roles in General Conference, one of them being Bishop Thomas.

Claflin remained dear to his heart, and he helped the university raise funds on numerous occasions. A long-time trustee, he chaired the board and was inducted into the Claflin hall of fame. He also received honors from colleges across the Midwest, including Ohio Wesleyan, Iowa Wesleyan, and DePauw, and in South Carolina, both Claflin and Wofford conferred honorary doctorates on him. He was the first African-American to receive an honorary degree from Wofford in 1972.

In 1976, he was appointed to the East Ohio Conference, where he served until retirement in 1988. He continued his ministry as a bishop in residence at Emory and at Clark Atlanta, and continued his work of mentoring and teaching until his death in 2010 at age 91.

130 years of student publications

Written By: Phillip Stone - Jan•29•19

In January 1889, a group of students from the two literary societies got together to launch the Wofford College Journal.

The Journal, which continues publishing as a section of the Bohemian, our yearbook, is the oldest of the three student publications, and has for most of those 130 years been the student literary magazine.

When the Journal first started publishing, it was more than just a literary publication.  With no newspaper on campus, and no alumni magazine, it served those functions as well.  In the twenty-six years between the founding of the Journal and the first issue of the Old Gold and Black, I rely on the accounts of student life in the Journal to know what was happening on campus.  Moreover, since we have only a few issues of the OG&B between 1915 and 1930, researchers rely on it for those years, too.

So what was in that January 1889 Journal?  The editors began with a statement:  “The Wofford College Journal, in making its entrance into life, does not come with aspirations to fame, nor to a place among the leading literary journals of the day.  It was conceived of an honest purpose among the young men of the College to further their own development, and to give to the public the matter of the best literary character they are capable of.

On that same page, the editor in chief, Ellison D. Smith (later a 6-term United States Senator from South Carolina) published a piece by his older brother, Rev. A. Coke Smith, later a Methodist bishop, entitled a “plea for liberal culture.”   The essay, in words that might ring familiar today, began “The mercenary spirit so characteristic of this age is affecting detrimentally our educational interests.  Nothing is allowed as worthy of pursuit which will not bring its speedy return in gold or glory.”  He continued “one by one the different branches of the old College curriculum are brought into question and too often either entirely surrendered or so crippled as to be of little use.  The spirit of hurry which possesses the American mind… cannot take time to lay the foundation of a broad culture in the study of ancient and modern classics, and the sciences.  Boys must hurry through school and college and be in business at twenty, or the opportunity to make a fortune may be lost.”

It is interesting, actually, that three pieces in this first Journal were by faculty members: The aforementioned A. Coke Smith, a piece entitled “An Aspect of the German Novel” by Professor J. H. Marshall, and a retrospective on the class of ’67 (that would be 1867) by Professor Daniel DuPre.

The remainder of the issue included a news article about alumni fundraising, a series of alumni notes that would remind any reader today of Wofford Today, some news notes, a reference to a bill pending in Congress, and reviews of some other literary magazines.  This general format, literary articles, opinion pieces, alumni notes, and campus news, would be the pattern for much of the next generation.  But it’s interesting to look back to student and faculty writing of 130 years ago this winter and see that some things remain constant even in a very different age.

Methodism in Charleston, Part II

Written By: Phillip Stone - Nov•09•18

Charlestonians may be able to claim visits from John Wesley, but they were not always as kind to Wesley’s successors. While Methodism took root in Charleston in the 1780s and grew in the 1790s, it was not without opposition and even persecution.

With the establishment of the Cumberland Street Church in 1786 and the completion of its structure in the middle of the next year, the first meeting of the South Carolina Annual Conference was held in Charleston in 1787. The next year, when Conference again met at the church, a mob attacked outside during the Sunday morning service. The women of the church were so frightened that many of them escaped out the church’s windows. Later that night, protesters threw bricks and rocks at the church while Bishop Francis Asbury was preaching. The next year, the newspaper denounced Bishop Thomas Coke when he visited the Holy City. Why all this opposition to early Methodists? Perhaps it was their anti-slavery position, or that they had more African-American members than white members in some early years. Perhaps it was their evangelical zeal that put off the Charlestonians, who were generally low key in their religious practice. In any event, as long as Methodists held on to their opposition to slavery, they found condemnation among white Charleston society.

Those early Methodists faced other internal challenges. When Bishop Coke arrived for the 1791 Conference, he brought with him the Rev. William Hammett, who had been working among Methodists in the British West Indies. His enthusiastic preaching wowed the Methodists of Charleston, who demanded that Bishop Asbury appoint Hammett to Charleston. Asbury, having already made the appointments, was unwilling to budge. Hammett, who was probably not the first clergyman to be disappointed with his appointment, and certainly not the last, protested. He went further than most clergy, taking his protests to the newspapers. And then, he led about half of the aggrieved members of the Cumberland Street church out to form a new congregation, calling themselves “Primitive Methodists.” They acquired property on Hasell Street, took the name Trinity, and there Hammett preached until his death in 1813. They eventually spun off a second Primitive Methodist congregation, which became St. James.

The Cumberland Church, though wounded by the loss of so many members, continued, and in 1793 they looked to start a second Charleston congregation. They acquired land for a cemetery on which they also planned to build a church, and as soon as they raised 300 pounds, they began construction on what became Bethel. They put the building into use around 1798.

The “regular” Methodists continued to face criticism and attacks from Charleston society, and the protests increased in force and volume during the early 19th century. Finally, the church abandoned its long-held anti-slavery positions, choosing the path of growth in the South over Wesley’s teachings. The attacks gradually stopped.

The African-American Methodists grew increasingly frustrated with the white leadership of the local congregations. While the enslaved Methodists had class leaders and some control over finances in the class groups, a movement was underway to take that away. When that financial control was taken away by the white leadership, many of the African-American members withdrew to form a new congregation and denomination. That loss of membership marked a momentous change in the antebellum Methodist church in Charleston.

Eventually, after Hammett’s death, the primitive Methodists returned to the Methodist Episcopal Church, becoming regular conference appointments. Charleston Methodism continued to grow into a more influential body within the state and the conference.

This was my column in the November 2018 issue of the SC United Methodist Advocate

Methodism in Charleston, Part 1

Written By: Phillip Stone - Nov•02•18

Many South Carolinians call it the “Holy City,” but it’s safe to say that Charleston has had a long and complicated relationship with Methodism. Sometimes supporting the church’s growth and sometimes finding its doctrines in opposition to the prevailing culture, Charleston has been a part of South Carolina Methodism’s story since before there was a Methodist church.

Charleston can claim a connection to early Methodism that very few places in North America can match. John Wesley visited the Holy City on a few occasions while he was serving in Georgia. According to Francis Asbury Mood’s Methodism in Charleston, John and Charles Wesley arrived in Charleston on July 31, 1736, barely six months after his arrival in Georgia. He was there to visit the Rev. Alexander Garden, who was the rector of St. Philip’s Church and also the representative of the Anglican Bishop of London. Garden invited Wesley to preach in St. Philip’s, which Wesley did on Sunday, August 1 to about 300 parishioners. At this service, Wesley encountered several enslaved persons among the worshippers, which seemed to have a profound effect on him. The next day, Mood notes that Wesley paid a call on the governor, who in 1736 would have been Thomas Broughton. He then returned to Savannah, starting out on foot because he could find no other passage available. Charles Wesley was soon to leave Savannah, having found serving as Governor Oglethorpe’s secretary not in keeping with his skills.

Wesley made two more trips to Charleston, once to visit with Garden (for whom the gardenia was named) to ask the rector of St. Philip’s to help put an end to someone in Georgia from marrying his parishioners without going through proper procedures. Mood does not mention the other reason that Wesley visited – to have his “Collection of Psalms and Hymns” printed at the Lewis Timothy print shop on King Street. Wesley’s final visit to Charleston was after he abruptly left Georgia in late 1737 on his way back to England.

Mood notes that George Whitfield, who was an early collaborator in ministry with Wesley, also visited several times in Charleston, but after an early visit, his street preaching offended Garden, who had him suspended from the ministry. Whitfield took to other pulpits to spread his message. One of Wesley’s ministers visited Charleston in the 1770s, but did not leave much of a record of his presence.

After the 1784 Christmas Conference, Bishop Francis Asbury journeyed to Charleston, with Rev. Jesse Lee and Rev. Henry Willis helping him set up preaching places. Willis found a deserted Baptist meeting house on the west side of Church Street between Water and Tradd streets and restored it for services. Asbury himself visited both St. Philip’s and the Circular Congregational Church as he familiarized himself with religion in Charleston. After Asbury left in March, Willis stayed behind, and at the next conference in the spring, Charleston Circuit was established. The Methodists continued to worship in the borrowed meeting house for a few months, but one Sunday, they found their benches in the street and the doors locked. The congregation was a bit itinerant until they secured a lot in early 1786, and a structure built by mid-1787. The lot, on Cumberland Street between Meeting and Church, was the first permanent Methodist church in Charleston.

The congregation and its leaders would face a number of challenges, but we’ll save those for later.

This was my column in the October 2018 issue of the SC United Methodist Advocate

A. H. Lester, the forgotten early professor

Written By: Phillip Stone - Oct•26•18

In the list of names that we associate with the early faculty of the college, we usually include the likes of William Wightman, Albert Shipp, James Carlisle, Warren DuPre, David Duncan, and Whitefoord Smith. The last four of these served together for much of the 1850s and 1860s, and the first two served portions of that era as the first two presidents. Beginning in 1866, a sixth faculty member joined them, but perhaps because he only stayed seven years, nobody ever remembers his name.

That sixth early faculty member was the Rev. Archibald H. Lester, who served from 1866 to 1873 as professor of history and Biblical Literature. Lester was a Greenville County native, born in 1828. He attended and graduated from Erskine College in 1849, and in 1851, he joined the South Carolina Annual Conference. A series of appointments followed, Pendleton, Union, Cokesbury, Yorkville, Columbia, Cheraw, and in 1860, Spartanburg’s Central Church. Between 1856 and 1865, he married three times, once in November 1856 and once in October 1858, and the final time in 1865.

The five trustees present voted in their July 1866 meeting to establish a sixth faculty position, that of professor of history and Biblical literature, and also to establish a divinity school that President Shipp and the occupant of the new position would run. At the same time, they elected Rev. Lester to that position. When he arrived at Wofford in 1866, he evidently had some personal wealth, and thus, due to the college’s precarious financial position, did not take a salary for teaching.

The divinity school never really materialized beyond the two professors teaching various religious subjects. It’s only speculation, but perhaps the failure of the divinity school to get off the ground led both Lester and Shipp to search for other opportunities. Lester, according to college historian D. D. Wallace, resigned on Dec. 1, 1873 to return to the active ministry. He accepted an appointment that year to serve in Union, which was probably a bigger town then than it is today. Shipp himself left in 1875 to go teach in the new Vanderbilt Divinity School, eventually becoming its dean.

Lester served for over fifteen more years, including four years in Georgetown, before finally leaving the active ministry in 1892. He died in 1897 in Columbia.

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