From the Archives

History, documents, and photos

Selma, fifty years ago

Written By: Phillip Stone - Mar•02•15

This was my Advocate column for March 2015.  

Fifty years ago this month, a group of civil rights protesters met Alabama state and local lawmen on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. The protesters were beginning a march from Selma to Montgomery to protest the lack of voting rights for African-Americans in Alabama and much of the rest of the South. A recent movie, Selma, has brought new attention to the events surrounding what came to be called “Bloody Sunday,” and no doubt there will be other remembrances of those events in coming weeks.
Advocate editor Rev. McKay Brabham wrote a long and thoughtful piece in the March 18, 1965 Advocate about the events of March 7 and the following days. Here are some excerpts.

“No mistake should be made at this point: The Commission on Religion and Race of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. is every bit the potent pressure group its friends or critics claim that it is. Certainly its impact upon the President of the United States must be recognized as formidable if the Commission is given its share of credit, as it should be, for his presence before the Congress last Monday evening.

“…It was clear from the meeting last Friday in the Lutheran Church of The Reformation that the skilled and dedicated leadership of the commission is committed without question to absolute equality before the law for all people. It is also evident that the Commission’s leaders are equally willing to take the word of Dr. Martin Luther King and those associated with him as to legal or other strategic means for achieving it. The Commission operates under a mandate from the General Board given in 1963, ‘to do everything possible by Christian, non-violent means to work for the achievement of racial justice in the nation.’

“Those Christians who seek to maintain a concern for all of God’s children – of all colors – must reckon with this fact in their efforts to exercise the force of reconciliation in our time. Without an understanding of its emotional impact and its power over men’s minds and wills, they stand to be ready victims of traps such as enmeshed the police of Alabama at Selma when their unleashed brutality provided the springboard for Selma’s dive into world history.

“Selma did provide an occasion for real heroism and spiritual power, according to what we could learn from those who had gone there on Monday and Tuesday, and who shared the fears of the Negro community. The listener did not have to agree with the tactics to appreciate the response of faith on the part of those who felt called to witness in Selma.

The 1866 Conference

Written By: Phillip Stone - Feb•03•15

This was my column in the SC United Methodist Advocate for February 2015

150 years ago this month, the Union Army, fresh from its march across Georgia and its capture of Savannah, set out to march across South Carolina. In February 1865, on a cold and very windy night, much of Columbia burned. (I don’t want to start an argument about who did what, but it’s safe to say that General Sherman’s army was there and the city was burned and leave it at that!) Sherman’s march across the middle of the state left an indelible mark on South Carolina. The Civil War, which started in Charleston Harbor four years earlier, had come home to the Palmetto State, and nothing would ever be quite the same.

The Union Army’s arrival and the end of the Civil War signaled something else for the majority of South Carolinians: freedom. The end of the war brought reality to Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, and as a result, those held in slavery found themselves free. These newly-free persons sought to form separate institutions, including churches, where they could be independent of their former masters.

Churches, naturally, were high on the list. Methodist missionaries had worked among the slaves throughout the antebellum era, and the Northern branch of Methodism had also sent missionaries to work in the Sea Islands, which came under Federal control early in the war. So, the work of founding a new Annual Conference was well underway by the summer and fall of 1865. Though many white South Carolinians expected to return to something resembling the social and religious system from before the war, African-American South Carolinians were not interested in returning to sit in the church balconies. With the support of the Methodist Episcopal Church, a missionary Annual Conference convened on April 2, 1866 under the leadership of Bishop Osman C. Baker. The previous General Conference had authorized creating missionary conferences in the former Confederacy as the need arose, and the first members of the conference were the northern mission workers. On its first day, that conference admitted five African-American members.

The need for some ministerial education was immediately recognized, and the Baker Theological Institute was organized in Charleston. Dozens of men attended the institute for further ministerial study, and over the next few years, they were ordained into the ministry and joined the South Carolina Conference. The conference boundaries included South Carolina, eastern Georgia, and Florida. Just three years hence, the conference established a university, and clergy members Willard Lewis and Alonzo Webster purchased the property in Orangeburg. The funds for the new university came from Lee Claflin and his son, Massachusetts Governor William Claflin, and the university bears their name. In 1870, the South Carolina Conference met there.

Claflin and the Conference became almost one and the same over the next decades. The state’s African-American Methodist clergy were educated there, as were teachers for the state’s African-American schools. Those individuals spread out throughout the state, founding churches in communities far and wide. Born out of the Civil War and Reconstruction, the 1866 Conference became the backbone of African-American Methodism in South Carolina, and its heritage lives on in the modern-day South Carolina Annual Conference.

William Wightman, Bishop and President

Written By: Phillip Stone - Jan•29•15

Bishop William Wightman’s career shows that Methodist clergy can wear many hats.

Wightman-portrait

William M. Wightman

A Charleston native, William May Wightman was born on January 29, 1808 to parents who were active Methodists. His mother was a native of Plymouth, England, and according to family legend, sat in John Wesley’s lap as a small child. Wightman graduated from the College of Charleston in 1827, and his valedictory address is in the Wofford archives.

Wightman joined the South Carolina Annual Conference in 1828 and served appointments over the next six years on the Pee Dee Circuit and in Orangeburg, Charleston, Santee, Camden, and Abbeville. In 1834, he became a fundraiser for Randolph-Macon College in Virginia, and over the next three years, helped raise $20,000 to fulfill the Conference’s pledge to endow a chair there. He then served as a professor for two years. Thus, in his first ten years of ministry, he had served in the pulpit, as a fundraiser, and as a professor.

In 1839, he returned to South Carolina to become the presiding elder of the Cokesbury District, and in the summer of 1840, he became the editor of the Southern Christian Advocate in Charleston. His pulpit for over ten years was the paper, and he became widely known throughout the Southeast. His first election as a delegate to the General Conference came in 1840, and he was a member of the 1844 conference that saw American Methodism split into northern and southern branches. In 1845, he represented South Carolina at the founding conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. He was a delegate from South Carolina to the next four General Conferences. In 1854, only a mis-marked ballot prevented his election as a bishop.
That mismarked ballot may have been fortunate for Wofford College, for Wightman had been named in the will of Benjamin Wofford as one of the founding trustees of the college, and he gave the principal address at the laying of the cornerstone of Main Building in 1851. In November 1853, the trustees elected him as Wofford’s first president. Thus, the pastor, fundraiser, presiding elder, professor, and editor took on the role of college president.

Bishop Wightman

Bishop Wightman

After five years at Wofford’s helm, whose founder had been a friend of his, Wightman left to become the founding chancellor of Southern University in Alabama, now Birmingham-Southern College. And, in 1866, twelve years after a balloting error cost him the episcopacy, he was elected a bishop.

Upon his election, he returned to Charleston, where he established his headquarters. He purchased a house at 79 Anson Street in the Ansonborough section of Charleston. That house, built before 1760 and known as the Daniel Legare house, is one of the oldest homes still standing in Ansonborough. That fall, Wightman presided over his first South Carolina Conference, and for fifteen years, he presided over conferences around the South. He died on Feb. 15, 1882 in Charleston, and he is buried in that city’s Magnolia Cemetery. The bells of St. Michael’s tolled for the Methodist bishop, a rare honor that the Episcopalians conferred upon this leader of southern Methodist higher education.

Basketball, 1915

Written By: Phillip Stone - Jan•23•15

For your Friday afternoon reading and viewing enjoyment, here is a photo of the 1915 Wofford varsity basketball team.

Basketball1915

 

According to the March 1915 issue of the Wofford College Journal, the team had a pretty good run during the winter of 1915.

“Since the February issue of the Journal, the Wofford basketball team has been going at a rapid clip.  The students of Wofford have never before experienced such success in this line of athletics as has been experienced this season.  It was evident at the beginning of the season that the Terrier quintet was in line for the State Championship.”

“Beginning with Erskine, she has defeated the fast Carolina five on two occasions, Clemson twice, P. C. twice, and Newberry once.  No one of these teams has been able to break the winning streak of the Terriers until Newberry came back for revenge of her former defeat on March 2.”  (Apparently we didn’t play Furman that year.)

Things have been looking pretty good for basketball this winter, too, so let’s hope that 1915 and 2015 bot mark great years for basketball here on the city’s northern border.

What and where was this?

Written By: Phillip Stone - Dec•09•14

So, what was this building, and where was it located?

Mystery

Happy Birthday, Phi Beta Kappa

Written By: Phillip Stone - Dec•05•14

A long time ago, in a state not far away…..

Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest, and arguably its most prestigious honor society, was founded 238 years ago today, December 5, 1776, by 5 students at the College of William and Mary.  Between then and 1780, when the British army’s approach led William and Mary to close briefly, the Phi Beta Kappa chapter held more than 70 meetings, inducted fifty members, and granted charters to Harvard and Yale.  That act saved the fraternity, which was the first to have Greek letters, a badge, a Latin and Greek motto, a secret handshake, and an oath.

In its first hundred years, Phi Beta Kappa grew slowly, and even 100 years later, in 1883, only 25 chapters existed.  Growth in the second century was much faster, and today, chapters exist at 283 colleges, generally at major research universities and leading liberal arts colleges.

Wofford’s chapter was granted at the 1940 meeting of Phi Beta Kappa’s Triennial Council, which to this day is the body that has the right to grant new charters.  On January 14, 1941, PBK President Marjorie Hope Nicholson visited Wofford to formally install the Beta of South Carolina chapter.  Since that day, a little over 1,000 Wofford students and alumni, along with a few honorary members, have been inducted.  As the chapter’s secretary, I get to sign letters to students each year letting them know they have been elected as well as their membership certificates.

We celebrate today that a small group of friends, meeting in a tavern a few hundred miles from here, created an organization that has evolved into a leading voice for the study and promotion of the liberal arts.

Cokesbury, the Methodist Town

Written By: Phillip Stone - Dec•02•14

This article appeared in the December issue of the SC United Methodist Advocate.

Perhaps you’ve heard of Cokesbury – it’s an especially Methodist name – but I’m not talking about the publishing house.  I’m talking about the village in Greenwood County.  That’s correct; we have our very own Cokesbury right here in South Carolina.

CokesburyCollI suppose you can be forgiven for having not heard of it.  After all, it’s not even an official town, but the government recognizes it as a census area, and as of 2000, the census counted some 279 people living there.  Though it might be small, Cokesbury has a long history, and most of it is related to South Carolina Methodism.

In the 1820s, in perhaps an early real estate maneuver, the citizens of the nearby Methodist community called Tabernacle decided they wanted to move their town to higher, more pleasant ground.  The Tabernacle Society had developed perhaps before 1788, making it a fairly early Methodist community.  The town already had a school for boys, but they wanted both their town and their school to grow.  They laid out a new village along a high ridge, with lots of some 20 to 25 acres, large enough for small farms, making it one of the state’s earliest planned communities.  At first they called their new town Mount Ariel, but in 1834, they changed the name to honor Bishops Thomas Coke and Francis Asbury.  In that same year, the Annual Conference decided it needed a preparatory-type school for boys, and it quickly decided to offer to purchase the Tabernacle Academy.  It was named the Dougherty Manual Labor School, in honor of an early clergyman, though it was commonly called the Cokesbury Conference School almost from the beginning.  Revs. William Wightman and William Capers, both future bishops, were on its first board of trustees.  The village became a center of Methodism and education, and soon, the Cokesbury Methodist Church was built

In addition to the school for boys, a Masonic Female College opened around 1854, and the village also had a school for children under 12.  The Female College built a three story, Greek Revival building, with a chapel on the second floor and recitation rooms on the first floor.  The Female College operated in the building for some twenty years, at which point the Annual Conference purchased it and made it the home of the Cokesbury Conference School.  The school was coeducational under Methodist operation from 1882 to 1918, at which point it became a public school.  It reverted to Methodist hands in the 1950s, and most of Cokesbury became a National Historic District in 1970, but more recently, it has been operated by the Cokesubry Historical and Recreational Commission.

The Commission on Archives and History once again seeks applications and nominations for the Herbert Hucks Awards, which will be presented at Annual Conference in 2015.  Local churches that have undertaken the work of preserving and interpreting Methodist history in their congregation.  The commission also gives an award to an individual that has, over a lifetime, made significant contributions to Methodist history beyond the local church, and to a publication that also makes a contribution to the understanding of Methodist history beyond the local church.  For more information about applying or nominating a church, individual, or publication, visit the Archives and History website.  http://www.wofford.edu/library/archives/hucks-award.aspx.  Applications and nominations are due Feb. 6, 2015.

Daniel A. DuPre – a lifetime at Wofford

Written By: Phillip Stone - Nov•28•14

DuPreDAThe DuPré name shows up to this day on campus, but I don’t know how many people around today know the role that three generations of DuPrés had in Wofford’s first century.

The middle of the three DuPrés was Daniel Allston DuPré, who was born in 1848 in Eagles Point, Virginia. The son of Warren DuPré, he came to South Carolina as a small child when his father became the head of a women’s academy in Newberry. At age six, he moved to the Wofford campus, where his father had become a member of the college’s original faculty.

Though he was only 12 at the outbreak of the Civil War, one biography notes that he volunteered at 15 for Confederate service. At age 17, he entered Wofford College (which must not have been a hard commute since he lived in the home next door to Main Building), and he graduated with the class of 1869. He followed in his father’s footsteps, becoming a teacher in schools in Asheville and Georgetown. In 1873, he returned to be the co-principal, with the son of the president at the time, of the preparatory department at Wofford. Less than 4 years later, his father was called to the presidency of a college in Virginia, and the trustees selected Daniel DuPré to take his father’s professorship in natural sciences.

DuPreclassroomDuPré left for a year to study in Edinburgh, but returned in 1877 to take up his faculty duties, moving into the home just west of Main Building in which he had grown up. He also assumed the duties of treasurer of the college – in these days, with no administration, the faculty handled the duties of registrar, treasurer, and others in addition to their teaching duties. He remained the college’s treasurer until 1920, when the college hired its first full-time treasurer and business manager. He taught chemistry, physics, and geology until around 1902, and physics and geology after that until the 1920s. Geology was his favorite subject, and he continued to teach that until 1930, the year of his death. With the exception of a few years, he essentially lived in the same house on the Wofford campus all of his life.

Interestingly enough, and perhaps symbolic of the broad academic and social interests of Wofford faculty members, Professor DuPré was a founding member and longtime president of the Spartanburg Musical Association, which he and a number of other community leaders and members organized in the winter of 1885. That group performed its first concert in May 1885, and several years later, was succeeded by the Spartanburg Festival Association. The latter organization sponsored a major annual musical festival each spring and organized two large choral groups – an adult and a children’s choir.

He was also a member of the local library board of trustees and an active member of nearby Central Methodist Church.
It’s said that in class, as he was asking questions of his students, he had the habit of twiddling his thumbs, generally in one direction. But, if the student started to answer a question incorrectly, he would reverse the direction of his thumb twiddling, and an observant student could correct himself quickly.

The DuPré family had deep roots in South Carolina. His wife, Helen Stevens DuPré, was a granddaughter of Methodist Bishop William Capers. They had four children, a son, Fayssoux DuPré, who was a star baseball team member who had a legendary curve ball, and three daughters, artist Grace DuPré, Spartanburg Postmaster Helen DuPré Moseley, and college librarian Mary Sydnor DuPré.

From the Archives: A hundred years ago

Written By: Phillip Stone - Nov•25•14

What were our ancestors in South Carolina Methodism talking about a hundred years ago this fall? Looking through the pages of the Advocate for November 1914 shows that they were talking about football, war, and conference politics.

The Advocate was part of the conversation about dividing the Annual Conference into upper and lower conferences – an action that had been authorized at General Conference the previous summer. I wrote about this action in the June 2014 Advocate. It was a controversial issue, and writers took strong stands in letters about the proposals.

An issue of the Advocate just before Annual Conference met listed all of the members of the conference and where they would be staying when Conference met in Sumter. Most of the attendees were the guests of the members of the various Methodist congregations in Sumter. Imagine going to Annual Conference and staying in a local home rather than a hotel! 

The superintendent of Epworth Orphanage wrote on November 12 to remind churches to send in their collections for the Labor Day appeal as quickly as possible. The orphanage had experienced a few cases of typhoid and as a result, had asked the city of Columbia to extend the sewer line to the campus, which had added to the home’s expenses. He also reported that the orphanage was full, with some 250 children on campus, and he described the studies and work they were undertaking. 

The outbreak of what we now call World War I in Europe in the summer of 1914 was definitely on the minds of South Carolina Methodists. Wofford President Henry Nelson Snyder’s piece “War and Religion” appeared on November 5, where he lamented that “nothing was more hideous than the war now going on in Europe.” 

Methodists were somewhat critical of football in the early 20th century, and the Conference even managed to get Wofford to stop playing intercollegiate football for several years. In November 1914, they wrote “The papers of last Thursday carried this news item from Columbia: After putting up a stubborn fight, Wofford College was defeated by Newberry College by a score of 36-0. Swanton, left half for Newberry, broke his leg and was rushed to the hospital. Wofford lost the game but apparently did not have any member killed or maimed… We are told that when Wofford played in Greenville some time ago that practically every member of the team carried off bloody faces.” “It is difficult to understand,” the Advocate wrote, “how any parent can give consent for his or her son to engage in games that so often result in death or broken limbs. The fatalities are nearly as great as in war. They call it ‘college spirit!’ Deliver us from such! How long will it be before some mother’s son in South Carolina will be carried from a glorious game of football a mangled corpse to the mother’s embrace?” 

It’s interesting to see the issues that were in the minds of South Carolina Methodists and the work that our conference institutions were doing a century ago, and to know that many of these continue to be with us today.

This item was my November column in the SC United Methodist Advocate

The Isle of Tranquility in an Age of Turbulence

Written By: Phillip Stone - Oct•31•14

This morning I posted a student honors thesis from 1981 to our digital repository.  It’s a study of student life at Wofford in the 1960s and 1970s by David Morgan, who went on to a distinguished career as a professor of French at Furman.

The title “The Isle of Tranquility” was apparently coined by President Charles Marsh to describe Wofford’s stability in a tumultuous era, but some students in that era found the concept fairly unexciting.

The honors thesis, which runs about 34 pages, was one of our summer scanning projects, and if you are curious, you can download and read it from our digital repository.

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