From the Archives

History, documents, and photos

A Hundred Years Ago in the Advocate

Written By: Phillip Stone - Oct•23•17

This was my column for the October 2017 edition of the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate

South Carolina’s Methodists were well aware of world affairs a hundred years ago this month.  With American entry into World War I, one Advocate columnist predicted that American entry would tip the balance in favour of the Allies.  Another South Carolina missionary in Brazil wrote about his work there.  And Methodists celebrated their community at the annual Indian Fields camp meeting.  Here are some of the stories from the Advocate of October 1917.

Dr. David Duncan Wallace writes:  The longer the war goes on the more evident it becomes that those German authorities were correct who had preached before the outbreak of the conflict that Germany’s hope for victory in the war would be in an overwhelming assault at the front. When this plan failed because of the unexpected resisting power of France and the invaluable aid rendered by the small British contingent that did not know how to be defeated, the German hope of victory was really scuttled. The British drive now on in Flanders is accompanied by a barrage fire beyond anything in intensity, constancy and effectiveness that either side has ever seen.

If Russia had stood firm, the end of the war would have been immensely hastened. With the advent of great American armies next summer, the end it is all together reasonable to anticipate will be brought about inside of that year.

Cyrus B. Dawsey, a South Carolina missionary in Brazil, wrote this letter to the Advocate’s editor: 

My dear Dr. Stackhouse: we were delighted to get your letter written just after the Wofford commencement.

A few days ago I returned from our annual conference in Rio de Janeiro. Bishop Mouzon is not with us.  However we had a splendid conference. The reports of both native and missionaries are the finest in all the history of our Brazilian work. Even though the times have been hard on account of the war, yet our financial reports were excellent. Our Sunday school gain was more than three times the gain of 1915-1916.  Our Epworth league also made a forward step.  In fact, all of our work was greatly advance during the year. I believe it all points toward a great of a day for Brazil. Those of us who are here are glad that we have a part in this change for the better.

My territory is all new. So many times do I preach to people who have never before heard the Gospel. Next Sunday I shall receive into the church a man who had never attended a Protestant service until he moved here some months ago.

Finally, this report summarized the annual camp meeting at Indian Fields, which is still going strong a century later.

Indian Fields camp meeting closed Sunday which was the biggest day of the camp and a number of people from Charleston drove up in machines [automobiles] to spend the day. From Summerville to the camp there was a continuous stream of vehicles from the high powered motor car to the old farm wagon pulled by a mule.

The camp meeting is held every year and is one of several held in the state, the next one being in about three weeks time at Cypress. The roads to the camp were in good condition, this being another attraction for a Sunday afternoon drive, and machines were in evidence from every part of the state. A number of machines were advertising the Orangeburg County fair, showing that Orangeburg was well represented. The campgrounds are situated on a beautiful site about 3 miles from St. George, well shaded by large pine trees. The tabernacle is in the center of a large tract of land, full of stately pines and surrounded by a number of small houses called tents by the campers.

Thomas Carlisle Montgomery’s Letters

Written By: Phillip Stone - Oct•20•17

A member of Wofford’s class of 1909, Thomas Carlisle Montgomery came to Wofford from Marion, South Carolina. He was a member of Kappa Alpha and the Calhoun Literary Society. His father, W. J. Montgomery, was a member of the Class of 1875.

Following his graduation, he served in the Allied Expeditionary Forces during World War I. Recently, one of his family members shared a link to a collection of letters that T. C. Montgomery wrote home to his mother during the war. He’s posting letters 100 years after they were originally written. He let me share the link here, and I hope others will enjoy seeing what a Wofford alum wrote home during the First World War.

https://montyatwar.com/

We have a World War One: At Home and Abroad exhibit underway in the library gallery this fall, also recognizing the centennial of American involvement in the war and its impact on the Wofford campus.

Founder’s Day

Written By: Phillip Stone - Oct•19•17

Today is October 19, which at Wofford means it’s Founder’s Day  237 years ago today, on a small farm in Spartanburg County, Benjamin Wofford was born.

That day in 1780 was a lot like any other day in the early 1780s in Spartanburg, and with a war raging along the frontier settlements, the birth of a baby boy to a local militia captain and his wife probably didn’t get much notice.  Coming only a few weeks after a major Patriot victory at Kings Mountain, and three months before another major Patriot victory at the nearby Cowpens, there were much more dramatic events taking place and gaining attention.

Yet for many of us, the events of that day had a major impact.  For Benjamin Wofford grew up, had a religious conversion, became a Methodist minister, and married the only child of one of the wealthiest landowners in lower Spartanburg County.  He counted both church and society among his interests, and though he gave up the active ministry before his fortieth birthday, he worked for the improvement of his home district all of his life.

We have little record of his education, though he did own some books – some of them are in the college archives – so it’s probably safe to say he was largely self-educated.  But he realized its importance.  In the last decade of his life, he and his second wife, Maria Scott Barron Wofford, evidently thought about education a great deal.  They considered buying land near the Limestone Springs, in the part of Spartanburg District that later became Gaffney, and establishing a college, but believed the Methodist Conference not interested.  By 1849, when his friend the Rev. Hugh Andrew Crawford Walker, an agent of the American Bible Society, came to visit, he was clearly thinking about what to do with his fortune.  “Why not found a college?” asked Brother Walker, a fateful question indeed.  Assured by Walker that the Methodist Conference did indeed want a college “for literary, classical, and scientific education,” Benjamin Wofford had his lawyer draft language in his will leaving a small fortune – $100,000 – to found and endow a college.

We don’t entirely know what to make of Benjamin Wofford today.  His portrait makes him look like a fairly severe figure.  His reputation in town, at least according to the written accounts of him, was that he was an exacting, thrifty businessman.  And of course, like most every wealthy individual of his day, he owned slaves.  There’s no heroic end in that part of his story – his will bequeathed his slaves to others, it did not manumit them.  History is sometimes cold and unsatisfying that way.

I don’t know what Ben would make of us today.  I hope that wherever he is, he somehow knows that the college that he established in his will, that he never saw chartered, built, or opened, has educated probably in the neighborhood of 20,000 individuals in its 163 years of existence.  I hope he’d be proud that some families have five or now six generations of family members who have attended.  He’d probably be shocked to see the diversity in the student body and faculty and staff.  I hope that after the shock wore off, he’d be happy to know that the college he inaugurated took a leading role in desegregating private higher education in the South.  I’m sure that like anyone from the 19th century, he’d be amazed by the technological changes that the college and community have witnessed, that students who study at his college can travel all around the world, that students and faculty come from all over the world to study in his home town.

But above all else, I hope he’d be proud that we’re still here, 167 years after his death, on our original campus, with 5 original buildings in daily use, “increasing in power and goodness through the ages as they come.”

Gerald D. Sanders: Wofford’s War Poet

Written By: Phillip Stone - Oct•17•17

One of Wofford’s 1918 graduates, Gerald D. Sanders had written regularly for the Journal while a student. Shortly before his graduation, he found himself on the way to France as a member of the Allied Expeditionary Forces. He wrote several poems while overseas, and they wound up being published in the Journal the next year.

Sanders later earned his PhD in English and taught at Michigan State Normal College, Cornell, and the University of Arizona. He lived in Spartanburg in retirement, and the archives has a small collection of his papers. He was the author of Chief Modern Poets of Britain and America, and Unified English Composition, among other works. He died in 1983.

Here are a few of his poems. You can see other material that is part of our World War One At Home and Abroad exhibit in the Sandor Teszler Library Gallery this fall.

World War One: At Home and Abroad

Written By: Phillip Stone - Oct•13•17

This fall, the Sandor Teszler Library has an exhibit on World War One at Home and Abroad in the library gallery. Most of the items in the exhibit come from the College’s Special Collections and Archives. The exhibit will be in our gallery until December, so if you are here for a football game or for Homecoming, please drop by and see what we have on display.

In addition to recognizing the 17 students and alumni who gave their lives in the war, one of the display cases has a list of all Wofford students and alumni who the college had recorded as serving in the war. The list came from a 1919 College Bulletin, and includes over 400 names. Considering that the college rarely had more than 400 students enrolled at any point before World War I, this is a substantial proportion of the college’s alums. Had American involvement in the war lasted longer than 19 months, this number would doubtless have been higher.

Below are copies of the pages indicating the names, arranged by class, of everyone who served in some capacity in the war.

Louise Best: Missionary in Brazil

Written By: Phillip Stone - Jul•11•17

One of the South Carolina Conference’s many contributions to the Methodist Church’s mission work was Miss Louise Best, who served for some 37 years as an educator in Brazil.

The daughter of Rev. Albert H. Best and Lillie Andrews Best, Louise Best grew up in a Methodist parsonage.  She was born while her father was serving at Mars Bluff, and grew up in Clyde, Gourdine, Sumter, Greer, Campobello, Newberry, and McCormick, among other places.  She attended Lander College (it was a Methodist college in those days) and Scarritt Bible and Training College in Kansas City.  Scarritt was known for its work in training women for the mission field.

Louise Best went to Brazil in the early 1920s, where she was sent, along with Miss Eunice Andrews, to help found a school in the city of Santa Maria, in the southernmost Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul.  That part of Brazil was fairly remote, and was influenced by the Gaucho culture of Argentina.

The school, Colegio Centenario, opened with 7 students in March 1922.  They chose that name, which in English would be Centenary College, because 1922 was the centennial of Brazilian independence.  The school was largely supported by the Women’s Society of Christian Service.  It was originally a school for girls, and it started in a cottage.  Over the next thirty years, it grew to include four large buildings, and encompassed a primary school, a high school, and junior college classes as well.  For much of her time in Brazil, Louise Best was the principal of Colegio Centenario.

Except for her first six months spent near Rio, Louise Best spent the entirety of her 37 years in the mission field in Santa Maria, Brazil.  Some of her letters appeared on the Woman’s Society of Christian Service pages in The Advocate.  Some of her letters speak of the vastness of Brazil’s countryside – it took 4 days by train to get to conferences in Rio.  Other letters speak of construction projects – building the primary school, her hopes for a chapel – and of the support the mission had received from home.  In later years, she wrote of the work that the college’s alumnae had undertaken to raise needed funds.  As she neared retirement, the city of Santa Maria made her an honorary citizen, which was noted as a nice honor considering how the locals were a little suspicious of this Methodist mission in its early days.  By the time she retired and returned to South Carolina, Miss Best noted, the school had as many Catholic as Protestant students.

Following her retirement in 1958, she settled in Spartanburg, where one of her younger brothers lived.  She spoke regularly in churches around the conference about her life and mission work.  Part of her reason for speaking was no doubt to encourage others to enter the field, for as she told a reporter, “The need for missionaries far exceeds the number making applications and this is tragic.”  She was attending a reunion of a handful of missionaries at the home of a minister in North Carolina when she died in July 1966.

From the Archives: Methodism and Slavery

Written By: Phillip Stone - May•01•17

For nearly 100 years, the Methodist Episcopal Church was divided into northern and southern wings. Sixteen years before the Southern states seceded, the Annual Conferences in the South withdrew from the denomination and formed the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. What could have caused this split?

The short and answer is, the inability to find a compromise on the issue of slavery. From our earliest days, Methodists talked about slavery. John Wesley was a strong opponent, and as early as 1743, he had prohibited his followers from buying or selling the bodies and souls of men, women, and children with an intention to enslave them.

The 1784 Christmas Conference listed slaveholding as an offense for which one could be expelled. However, in a sign that the church would face conflicts over this issue, the 1785 General Conference suspended it. Methodists in SC and other states evangelized among the slaves, eventually appointing ministers to serve on the plantations. By 1795, according to Conference historian Dr. A.V. Huff, a number of South Carolina and Virginia ministers signed covenants not to hold slaves in any state where the law would allow them to manumit them, on pain of forfeiting their honor and their place in the itinerancy. If the state would not allow manumission, they agreed to pay the slave for his or her labor.

But Methodists struggled with how to square their denomination’s opposition to the peculiar institution in a country where slavery was legal, and in some parts of the country, widely supported. And after 1792, slavery began to grow more popular in the Deep South. The invention of the cotton gin suddenly made growing upland cotton more profitable, and it made more South Carolina farmers want more slaves to grow more cotton. The backcountry famers that the church wanted to attract suddenly became more supportive of the practice of slavery. As the church was hoping for emancipation, the society was growing more committed to slavery.

When copies of the General Conference’s 1800 “Affectionate Address on the Evils of Slavery” arrived in Charleston, a storm erupted. John Harper, who gave out copies, suddenly found himself targeted for spreading abolitionist propaganda. He escaped, but his colleague George Dougherty was nearly drowned under a pump. Asbury himself made a personal compromise. If it came to evangelizing the South or upholding the Wesleyan antislavery position, anti-slavery had to go. In 1804, he would not allow General Conference to take a stronger anti-slavery position. He allowed the printing of two Disciplines that year – one with the portion on slavery omitted for South Carolina.  It was at the 1804 General Conference that Asbury reportedly said, “I am called to suffer for Christ’s sake, not for slavery.”

Several General Conferences struggled with the issue, first pressing traveling elders to emancipate their slaves, then suspending those rules in states where the laws did not permit manumission. By 1808, General Conference threw up its hands, finding the subject unmanageable, and gave each Annual Conference the right to enact its own rules relative to slaveholding.

The denomination remained divided on the subject of slavery, with some northern Methodists becoming more convinced of slavery’s evil and some southern Methodists more convinced that it was a positive good. Other southerners felt that any denunciation of slaveholding by Methodists would damage the church in the South. They were caught, in effect, between church rules and state laws. Eventually, the northern and southern branches of the denomination found they could no longer live together, and the church split, a schism that took almost a century to repair.

Methodists and World War I

Written By: Phillip Stone - Apr•13•17

This was my column for the April edition of the SC United Methodist Advocate

This month marks the centennial of American entry into the First World War. On April 2, President Woodrow Wilson asked Congress for a special session to declare war on Germany, and on April 6, Congress passed a declaration of war.

The Great War, as people of that generation called it, had been raging in Europe and elsewhere for nearly three years when the United States entered the conflict. Stories of war had been on American front pages throughout that time, and Americans had been profiting from European countries’ needs to purchase manufactured goods here. South Carolinians were, in the words of Wofford history professor Dr. David Duncan Wallace, “gloating over nineteen cents cotton.”

Wallace had a regular column in the Advocate, and on April 12, 1917, he wrote, “As President Wilson so eloquently expressed it, this is a war between absolutely irreconcilable principles … those of military autocracy and democratic freedom,” and “America does not want to live in a world in which a nation with a submarine soul and with a submarine way of getting what it wants shall be accorded any right to say what the world shall be like.” Wallace, using the word “submarine,” was no doubt playing on the German campaign of unrestricted submarine warfare that was part of America’s reason for entering the war.

The war, for Wallace and for several other academics, was about the question of “whether free democratic communities, organized for peace, can defend themselves against military oligarchies.” Wallace had actually been critical of the United States for standing by for so long, noting, “The sorry spectacle has at last ended of this land of freedom standing ‘neutral’ by drinking its streams of gold, while other free nations defended with their streams of blood our and our children’s freedom against the mightiest and most infamous conspiracy of modern times.”

However, Wallace hastened to separate criticism of the German government from criticism of German people, or of Americans of German descent: “Everyone should use his or her influence to suppress absurd and cruel slanders against our fellow citizens of German blood. It is true that the country is full of German spies, but that is no reason for listening to wild rumors about persons whom you have known for years as good and true men.”

Wallace noted the next week that “the first task of the United States will be to supply the Allies with money and food.” And it was certainly true that the British and French were suffering mightily in the spring of 1917 from shortages of food and arms.

So how did South Carolina Methodists react to the country’s declaration of war? The Advocate said almost nothing editorially about the outbreak of war. Perhaps by April 1917, they had already said all they wanted to say. One guest writer, on April 26, wrote a long opinion piece about the desire for world domination among Germany’s leaders. He cited articles by German military leaders but, like Wallace, hastened to separate the American war against Germany from a war on the German people.

The next two years would be dominated by war, and South Carolina’s Methodists would be focused on family members who were sent to fight in Europe and on mission work in the state and throughout the world.

Fraternity Houses, the 1897 version

Written By: Phillip Stone - Mar•31•17

I found this gem in the October 1897 issue of the Wofford College Journal:

Four of Wofford’s Greek-letter fraternities are now installed in convenient chapter houses.  The Kappa Sigmas and Kappa Alphas occupy their old quarters in the Cleveland cottages.  The S. A. E.’s have obtained the Archer house for their use and the Chi Phis have the first one of the new cottages.  We do not think four neater or more pretentious chapter houses can be found in the State.  The Chi Phis and P. K. A’s have well-furnished halls in the business portion of the City.  There is absolutely no friction between fraternities and non-fraternities at Wofford, and we think this is a tribute to the broadmindedness and fellow feeling of the whole body of students, “frats” and “non-frats.”

 

Spartanburg’s Centennial Pageant

Written By: Phillip Stone - Dec•09•16

I recently acquired this program, from the 1931 pageant commemorating the centennial of Spartanburg’s incorporation as a village.  My student assistant digitized it recently and I’ve added it to Wofford’s digital repository.

http://digitalcommons.wofford.edu/localhist/11/

The program contains lists of all of the area high schools as of 1931 and the names of each individual from each high school that participated in the pageant.

What’s especially interesting is the topics, or historical scenes the author of the pageant chose to feature.  The Dawn of Things Created, In Indian Days, The Hampton Massacre, and In Colonial Days were the first four vignettes.  The Battle of Cowpens, featuring Cowpens High School, appropriately enough, came fifth.  The Good Old Times of 1810 came next, followed by a vision for Wofford College, featuring students, alumni, and friends of Wofford.  After that came Cedar Springs, The Minute Men of 1860, Reconstruction Days, Converse College, and “Over There,” no doubt a tribute to World War I.

We don’t have the script – which might be both instructive and painful to read – but you can download the full program to look at names and some of the songs written for the festivities.  And you can read the menu for the dinner as well.

Spartanburg's Centennial Pageant Program

Spartanburg’s Centennial Pageant Program

 

WOFFORD COLLEGE
429 North Church Street, Spartanburg, SC 29303-3663
864-597-4000 | RSS Feed | Login