From the Archives

History, documents, and photos

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.

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


A Hundred Years ago, in November 1916

Written By: Phillip Stone - Dec•08•16

This was my November 2016 column in the SC United Methodist Advocate


I occasionally like to look back and see what South Carolina Methodists were talking about in the pages of the Advocate at points in the past.  A hundred years ago this November, they were preparing for Annual Conference, discussing national politics, and celebrating our colleges.

November 1916 saw President Woodrow Wilson’s re-election.  The Advocate wrote:  “Mr. Woodrow Wilson has been reelected President of the United States for another four years.  Nearly every reader of this paper rejoices over this happy event.  The administration justified itself in the eyes of the voters by a four years’ record of patriotic and honorable service.  The present government has been democratic in the best sense and progressive.  The strongest opposition to Mr. Wilson was centered in those states where the money powers rule…  His reelection is due to the South and to the West, where the people are the freest to express their own will and judgment.  We are happy in feeling that our country will not, under Mr. Wilson, go to war against any people in the world except under the extremest provocation.”

South Carolina Methodists were strong supporters of prohibition, and the Advocate carried this piece:  “Last year the United States brewers and rum makers shipped 20,000,000 gallons of rum, whiskey, wine, gin, and beer to the countries where we send foreign missionaries. If we could have complete prohibition of the sale of liquors in this country, there would be very much reduction of the need or home missions here. Let every home mission worker stand by any effort to get Federal prohibition laws.  In line with the above it is meet that we call attention to the fact that consideration of the National Constitutional Prohibition amendment is expected soon after Congress convenes in December. Letters written by voters are said to have special weight, therefore, get your husbands, sons and brothers, each to write the representative from his congressional district and both the senators, asking for favorable consideration.

Members of the conferences mourned the accidental death of the son of one clergy member.  “News has been received of a sad accident at Ruffin, near Walterboro, where an Atlantic Coast Line engine ran over and killed the two and one-half year old son of the Rev. J. B. Bell of Bethel Circuit. The child ran upon the tracks, falling under the moving engine. A flagman made a heroic, but vain effort to rescue the child, narrowly escaping injury to himself.

Members of the Columbia College Club enjoyed a meeting last Wednesday with Mrs. Arch Bethea.  Her home was decorated with dahlias and ferns.  Mrs. Bethea was assisted in receiving by her sister, Mrs. J. Stephen Bethea of Prescott, Arizona, who was a former member of the club.  The committees in charge of the Book Day Club celebration reported 110 books sent on to the college library.  Miss Major was asked to read Miss Omega Ellerbe’s “History of the Columbia College Club” and Mrs. Hayes read a paper on “Our Present Work.”  Mrs. W. W. Daniel gave the history of the alumnae association.  After a discussion, it was decided to concentrate the efforts of the club upon furnishing the College Library, and a group agreed to raise $50 before Christmas to buy another library table.”

Finally, Rev. Thomas G. Herbert shared some information about the arrangements for the upcoming Annual Conference in Florence, including asking how many of the brethren intended on bringing their “machines” – i. e. their automobiles – to Conference as a few families who wanted to host members were too far to walk to from Central Church, where Conference would be held.

And that is just a snippet of South Carolina Methodism a century ago.

Food Riots

Written By: Phillip Stone - Oct•25•16

Now, I’m not sharing this bit of Wofford’s history to encourage anyone, especially today’s students, to do anything in particular.  In fact, let me say this at the outset: please don’t start a food fight in Burwell or anywhere else if you read this.  Or as they say on TV, don’t try this at home.

So, with that disclaimer, we begin.  I came across an article in the files today about a food fight in Burwell from 1970.  There’s a lot of legends about food fights in the cafeteria in the 1960s – but this article helps untangle some of them.  It’s from the Old Gold and Black of Feb. 27, 1970.

It began at 5:25 pm Wednesday [February 25] with the harsh clank of knife against tray in the dining hall as an unusually large group of students sat down to enjoy steak night.

Suddenly a piece of bread flew through the air, then it was joined by grapefruit, potatoes, and then by glasses, plates, and trays

It was over as quickly as it had begun, but not before nearly $1,000 worth of damage had been done and a tremendous mess had been made.  One student had a minor injury but was treated and released at General Hospital [now Spartanburg Medical Center].

And as of Wednesday night, the administration was out looking for the instigators of the fracas, the first real dining hall difficulty at Wofford since the Great Food Riot of 1965.

At that time, Wofford students made national news by a spectacular food throwing exhibition and later proceeded to Converse only to be turned back by police dogs.

Unlike that riot, which appeared to be a spontaneous reaction to a bad meal, this one was obviously preplanned and seemed to merely reflect the desire for students to let off steam.  It also ended very quickly when the crackle of broken glass was heard.

“There didn’t seem to be as much an attitude of anger as there was of just plain horseplay,” one student said.  “It started out as just a way to end boredom but it got out of hand.  Nobody will condone the vandalism that came right at the end of the food-throwing.”

The story made the local paper as well, with much the same description, and comparisons to the 1965 food riot, which the paper noted had “made Walter Cronkite” before it was turned back by the police dogs of the SPD.  And it concluded with the line “They just don’t make food riots like they used to.”

A Methodist Missionary in Brazil

Written By: Phillip Stone - Sep•12•16

This letter from the September 10, 1936 issue of the Advocate tells of the work of a South Carolina Methodist missionary in Brazil.  Some of you may know that Brazil and South Carolina have some long connections, and South Carolina’s own Cyrus B. Dawsey served as a Bishop of the Methodist Church in Brazil for a time.  The writer was Miss Clyde Varn, who was supported by the Charleston District.  Her parents lived at Islandton, S. C., and her home church was Wesley Chapel.

Bello Horigonta, Brazil,

July 11, 1936

My dear friends in the U. S. A.:

On the fourth of July, two years ago, I courageously attended an all day picnic at Wesley Chapel Church, and as the day ended, folded my tents and slipped away as gaily as the circumstances permitted. However, my “tents” consisted of two large trunks, a box of books, a Pullman bag, five suitcases, a hatbox, and a badly used but faithful Corona portable. Two years ago on the 7th I bade farewell to New Orleans, setting sail in a tub I scarcely considered seaworthy, but which landed me in Rio on schedule, July 25. I am beginning the third year of my second term.

Some of you have read my letter in the Press and Standard last year. The building I then called home has been razed to the ground, and home for me now is one of the two rooms of the former laundry, stuck off on a corner of the yard. Only a thin partition separates me from the church janitor and his garrulous wife. (I could give some of you wives points in successful henpecking.)  Cement tanks attached to the walls of this room when used for laundry purposes have caused it to have a very damp climate. In order to keep my books, shoes and other articles of leather from being ruined, a hole had to be opened in the roof of the porch to let in the blessed sunshine. The drying process has gone on rapidly, so that by the time the rainy season arrives, I shall be able to put the lid on the roof again.

And, oh, that something could be done to bring it on! (The rain, I mean, not the roof.) We have had no rain at all since March and expect none before October. How hard one works here to keep his shoes polished! And when it begins to rain, it’s just as bad; for then it is the season of white shoes.

Some of you probably saw Allie Cobb the first of the year.  She went to the States on her summer vacation. My month was well worthwhile. I went out into the interior of the State of Sao Paulo to visit the Dawseys (formerly of S. C.) in the little city of Morilia. It is a great coffee region. The country is new and is progressing rapidly. It was a great experience for me, for I had never been in that section. It took considerable sitting to get there but never more than sixteen hours on a stretch.

There have been many changes since the beginning of the year. We have a new principal, the other having returned to the States for rest. The present principal is Miss Mary Sue Brown of Texas, recently returned from the States and full of enthusiasm and plans for our school. She and I were co-laborers in Porto Alegre for four years.

We are badly in need of new buildings. These antediluvian structures just double our work. Miss Brown has plans for the new property, but we can’t build there until we sell here and we can’t sell here until we build there. We are trying to sell the least needed portions of this place (we have practically a city block in the city center) for a sufficient sum to put up enough of the new building to house us until we can complete our plans. But even the possibility of this seems distant, for the new property is not unencumbered. Soon a big bank building will be going up in our very yard. Across the street we have two lotteries, two bars and a billiard room. Often we are awakened by the sounds of fights and even shooting.

But before I close, I might suggest that if any of you are thinking of what present you might give to a missionary friend, ask her if she can use a Hectograph. A Sunday school class of Beaufort gave me this one and it has been a joy-the most useful present I ever received.  Useful not only to me but to the school and Sunday school.  It is grand for taking off worship programs, music, and outlining maps. (It never gets enough rest between times. I don’t know how long one lasts, but this has been in constant use and is going strong.

Note:  This was my September 2016 column in the S. C. United Methodist Advocate

When did we start having class on Labor Day?

Written By: Phillip Stone - Sep•05•16

Every year, as fall semester classes begin, students and faculty ask this question: Why do we start on Labor Day?  Sometimes the answer that comes back is, we’ve always started on Labor Day!

But that’s not completely true.  In 2015, for example, Labor Day was September 7, and waiting to start classes on Sept. 7 would have meant we’d have been in session until December 18, which somebody must have thought was awfully late, so we started on Monday, August 31 instead.  The following Monday was Labor Day, and we had classes that day.  This year, we “stepped back” the calendar a week, starting on Monday, September 5.

Over the past fifty years, the first day of class in the fall semester has gradually shifted back from Thursday to Monday, and it has ranged between as late as Sept. 12 and as early as August 31.  And that’s not counting orientation, move-in days, pre-session meetings, and the like, all of which precede the first day of classes.

Before World War II, the date of first class meetings in the college catalogue was often vague.  The catalogue notes which days freshmen were supposed to report, and the day that upperclassmen were supposed to report, but doesn’t say when instruction begins.  After World War II, the dates are more precise.

Through the 1966-67 academic year, the first semester began in September, and continued into January, with first semester exams happening after Christmas.  The second semester ran from February to early June.  All that changed in 1967-68 with the implementation of Interim, which brought first semester exams back into December, but also meant that classes needed to start slightly earlier to get a 15-week semester complete before Christmas Break.  And to be honest, that’s probably the main reason we’ve wound up starting on Labor Day for most of the past 20 years – because that’s about when you have to begin to get 15 weeks of class in before Christmas.

Start of Class – selected dates from 1946-66 and each year thereafter.
1946 Thursday, Sept. 19
1950 Saturday, Sept. 16
1951 Saturday, Sept. 15
1955 Friday, Sept. 16
1956 Tuesday, Sept. 18
1961 Saturday, Sept. 16
1966 Saturday, Sept. 17

(Interim begins in 1967-68 academic year)
1967 Thursday, Sept. 7
1968 Thursday, Sept. 5
1969 Thursday, Sept. 4
1970 Thursday, Sept. 3*Before Labor Day
1971 Thursday, Sept. 9
1972 Thursday, Sept. 7
1973 Thursday, Sept. 6
1974 Thursday, Sept. 12 (Exams ended Dec. 20)
1975 Thursday, Sept. 11
1976 Thursday, Sept. 9
1977 Thursday, Sept. 8
1978 Thursday, Sept. 7
1979 Wednesday, Sept. 5
1980 Wednesday, Sept. 10
1981 Wednesday, Sept. 9
1982 Wednesday, Sept. 8
1983 Wednesday, Sept. 7
1984 Wednesday, Sept. 5
1985 Wednesday, Sept. 4
1986 Wednesday, Sept. 3
1987 Wednesday, Sept. 2 *Before Labor Day
1988 Wednesday, Sept. 7
1989 Tuesday, Sept. 5
1990 Tuesday, Sept. 4
1991 Tuesday, Sept. 3
1992 Tuesday, Sept. 1 *Before Labor Day
1993 Tuesday, Aug. 31 *Before Labor Day, first time in August
1994 Tuesday, Sept. 6
1995 Tuesday, Sept. 5
1996 Tuesday, Sept. 3
1997 Tuesday, Sept. 2
1998 Tuesday, Sept. 1 *Before Labor Day
1999 Monday, Sept. 6 Labor Day
2000 Monday, Sept. 4 Labor Day
2001 Monday, Sept. 3 Labor Day
2002 Monday, Sept. 2 Labor Day
2003 Monday, Sept. 1 Labor Day
2004 Monday, Sept. 6 Labor Day
2005 Monday, Sept. 5 Labor Day
2006 Monday, Sept. 4 Labor Day
2007 Monday, Sept. 3 Labor Day
2008 Monday, Sept. 1 Labor Day
2009 Monday, Sept. 7 Labor Day
2010 Monday, Sept. 6 Labor Day
2011 Monday, Sept. 5 Labor Day
2012 Monday, Sept. 3 Labor Day
2013 Monday, Sept. 2 Labor Day
2014 Monday, Sept. 1 Labor Day
2015 Monday, Aug. 31 *Before Labor Day
2016 Monday, Sept. 5 Labor Day

The Campus Club Cookbook

Written By: Phillip Stone - Aug•01•16

Recently a friend asked me if I had a copy of the Campus Club cookbook.  The archives has a couple of copies, so I asked my student assistant to scan a copy and have added it to our digital repository.

What is the Campus Club?  I don’t think it has existed for a number of years, but it was, for a generation or more, the organization of faculty wives.  This makes more sense when you recall that through the 1970s, the faculty was almost all male.  The campus club planned a number of social events throughout the school year.  In 1979, they published a cookbook.  Printed and bound by nearby Altman Printing, the club had some 1,000 copies to give out.

If you want to read our copy online, you can follow this link:

Campus Club Cookbook


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