From the Archives

History, documents, and photos

Methodist Reunification

Written By: Phillip Stone - Nov•07•13

A few months ago, I wrote about the division of the Methodist Episcopal Church into northern and southern branches.  Since we’re members of the United Methodist Church today, we know that at some point, we got back together.  When did that happen?

The northern and southern branches of the Methodist Episcopal Church, along with the Methodist Protestant Church, joined together to create The Methodist Church in 1939 at a uniting General Conference in Kansas City, Missouri.  Reunification came about after two generations of movement in that direction, and several South Carolina Methodists were instrumental in that movement.  Dr. Henry Nelson Snyder, Wofford’s president from 1902 to 1942, was a member of the reunification commission that first convened in 1916.

The division in the church had occurred in the generation before the American Civil War, and in the generation following the war, Methodists on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line began reaching out to each other.  They recognized that they shared a common tradition and knew that good relations between the two denominations would have to grow before any further steps toward cooperation might ever happen.  Beginning in the late 1870s, some sixty years before formal union, the two churches were sending fraternal delegates to each other’s General Conference.  By the 1890s, the two churches were willing to create a joint commission on federation, though they were still far from any plan of union.  The joint commission looked for and found areas where the two denominations could work together, such as on publishing and on foreign missions.  Tensions still existed, however, as both churches were seeking new members in the western states. At a major conference in 1910, delegates from all three denominations agreed to study a union of the churches, not simply a federation.

The thorny American problem of race relations, however, reared its head, and a proposal coming out of this group would have placed all of the African-American members of the new denomination into a separate “Quadrennial Conference” as the regional bodies we now know as jurisdictions were tentatively named.

By 1916, the commission on federation became a joint commission on unification, with a goal of creating a new denomination.  It met some six times in the next 3 years to perfect a plan of union.  Still, the role and treatment of African-American members was of primary concern to the southern delegates.  And, the churches early on decided on the need for an independent judicial council, for whereas the southern church relied on the college of bishops as the final arbiter of the church constitution, the northern church relied on the General Conference to hold that role. By 1920, a new constitution had been proposed, both General Conferences had considered it, and in 1924, both General Conferences approved it and submitted it to the annual conferences for approval.  It required a ¾ vote of all of the southern annual conferences to go into effect.

However, many southern Methodists objected to unification in the mid-1920s, fearing integration, social liberalism, loss of control of the church, loss of identity, and even that northern ministers would come South and take all of the better appointments!  When the votes of the annual conferences were tallied, a majority had approved, but nowhere near the ¾ majority required.

This proved to be only a temporary setback.  Several powerful bishops had opposed the plan, as had many members of the laity.  But, Methodist young people were strong supporters of church union.  By 1935, all three denominations were using the same hymnal, one that the three denominations had worked to develop.  The churches agreed on the jurisdictional system as the basis for uniting the church, and they also agreed on the need for equal representation of the laity and clergy in each annual conference.  In 1936, the General Conferences of the Methodist Protestant and Methodist Episcopal churches approved the plan of union, and their annual conferences moved quickly to ratify.  In the South, the annual conferences acted first, and about 86% of the members of the conferences approved.  Approval of the southern General Conference was almost a foregone conclusion in 1938.  The Uniting General Conference convened on April 26, 1939.

Reunification, however, brought about some unwelcome compromises.  African-American Methodists were placed into a segregated Central Jurisdiction, and as such, the South Carolina Conference (1866) became the South Carolina Conference, Central Jurisdiction, with bishops elected by that jurisdiction.  The jurisdictional conference itself was the compromise that brought about reunification, as many southerners wanted bishops to be selected within each region.  The Central Jurisdiction existed until it was abolished in 1968, which was the same time that the United Methodist Church was created.

Taken to the Cleaners…

Written By: Phillip Stone - Oct•08•13

Whenever I get a reference question that causes me to pull an old volume of the Old Gold and Black from the shelf, I know I’ll find something interesting or funny to write about.  Today I was looking up a sports score from 1942 (as an aside, it was not a good season for Terrier football that year, as evidenced by the lead sentence “Coach Petoskey’s victory-starved Terriers will make their fourth bid for their first gridiron triumph of the season…”) when I came across an amusing article complaining about something.

Yeah, I know, students complaining about something at the college in the page of the student newspaper.  That never happens.

In this case, they were complaining about the laundry service on campus.  Yes, laundry service.

I quote from the article:

“Seeking to secure campus opinion on some subject of current interest, the Old Gold and Black sent out a writer to interview a representative number of boarding students on the following question: “What is your opinion of the present laundry system?”

“The current laundry system is a drastic change from that of last year in which more than one laundry was represented in the halls by students. This year the entire business has been centralized and placed under the management of one student, with full .and obstructed rights to all laundry and dry-cleaning business collected in the halls.”

Of the students polled, 76% were opposed, 19% were indifferent, and 5% were in favor.  Opposition centered on the creation of a monopoly for one service, and some suggested this had actually reduced the quality of service.  Some students said that it was “a one day service last year and a one week service this year.”  Others thought the service was no different or even better.  Some of those who supported the change thought that the lack of transportation around the city (this was the first year of World War II) made consolidating the service understandable.

What do we make of this?  First, remember, this is the 1940s and I’m guessing a lot of people had to send their clothes out to be laundered.  The campus dorms would not have had washing machines.  Also, people didn’t have closets full of clothes at this point, so being without a large chunk of your wardrobe for several days could be a bigger problem than you might think.  And finally, and maybe most importantly: students don’t like change.

What do we do with all of those papers?

Written By: Phillip Stone - Oct•03•13

Occasionally the question comes up when I’m talking with someone about what I do in the archives.  “So what do you do with all of those papers, files, books, and stuff?  How do you catalog them or index everything?”

That’s a good question.  When we get a collection, whether it’s a closed church’s records, the files of a conference agency, or the personal papers of an individual, it can take a lot of work to transform it from an unorganized pile of boxes and file folders into something a researcher can use.

Generally, the first thing we have to do is survey the collection.  That means that we look through the files and papers, see what topics they cover and what kind of materials are there.  From that, we begin to arrange the collection into groups – we archivists call them series – of like materials.  Is there correspondence?  Do we find biographical materials, or sermons, or financial records?  Are there files that record the subject’s community service work, or church work?  Generally, after looking through the boxes, an order begins to appear.  If we can find some method to the way the person kept their files, we try to keep that – we respect the original order whenever possible.

As we gather like materials into useful groupings, we often will place the letters, photographs, and other documents into new, acid-free folders for better preservation.  Once we have arranged the materials, we try to describe what’s in the groupings.  Depending on how much time an archivist has to devote to the collection, describing it can get very detailed.  Usually we make a list of all of the folders.  We box everything up, label the boxes, and put them on the shelf.  We write a guide to the collection – we call it a finding aid – that helps a researcher know what subjects might be covered in the collection, what’s in each series, any especially interesting items that are there, and then we add a list of all of the folder labels.  That goes on our website, so researchers near and far can find it.

Some people wonder if we’re going to “just scan it all” or “digitize everything.”  That’d be wonderful, but it would cost a fortune.  We are digitizing more and more content, and we have a new software package that we’ve launched this month that will help us manage more electronic files.  We should soon have all of our old Conference Historical Society addresses available for reading and downloading, and later, hopefully all of our ministerial directories, published histories, and conference journals.  We already have photos of clergy from 1901 to 1961 on our website.  What takes time is keeping track of all the digital files – you have to be able to find it once you scan it!

Agency and local church files are usually smaller collections than some of our personal paper collections.  We’re looking to keep the things that are permanently valuable.  For a closed church, that’s the membership records, the church council and charge conference minutes, and historical information about the church.  For a board or commission, we’ll look for the minutes, reports, and materials that document their programs and activities.  Often there’s correspondence and other related information, too.  The process of arranging and describing work the same.  We’re always looking to add to the collection of board and commission records.

We’ve had several large personal paper donations in recent years.  A few years back, the Medlock Family donated the personal papers of the Rev. Melvin K. Medlock, a longtime clergy member of this conference.  More recently, the Holler family donated the papers of the Rev. Adlai C. Holler, a former conference secretary.  The Rev. Luther Rickenbaker, a retired member of the conference who volunteers in the archives, and I spent the better part of a year working on those files, because it seemed like the Rev. Holler kept everything.  Even more recently, the Taylor family donated the papers of the Rev. Eben Taylor.  That collection is quite large, and it’s going to take a while to work through, but it will be a great addition to the archives.  All of these personal paper collections contain a mixture of sermons, correspondence, and materials that document these ministers’ conference service and ministry.

So, what do we do with all of those papers?  We try, as efficiently as possible, to turn them into something that a researcher can use to help tell the story of Methodism in our conference and state, so that people in our future will be able to look back and understand their past.

(This was my Advocate column for October)

Shipp Hall at 50

Written By: Phillip Stone - Sep•11•13

About this time last year, I wrote a post about the 50th anniversary of DuPre Residence Hall.  DuPre and its close relative, Shipp Residence Hall, were both built as part of a campus expansion plan developed in the late 1950s.  This plan included the construction of Milliken Science Hall, the renovation of Main Building, the opening of the Black Music-Art Building, and two new residence halls.

A. M. Shipp Hall, opened in September 1963, represented the culmination of this plan.  Built to house 168 students, it was slightly larger than its sibling across the lawn.  It included a nice lounge area that has been a popular meeting place, an apartment for a house mother, and two interior courtyards.  As in DuPre, students were housed in rooms with individual sleeping and studying rooms, which students came to call “cubes.”

The Board of Trustees decided to follow a tradition just before the dorm opened and name it in honor of a former president of the college, in this case, the college’s second president, Albert Micajah Shipp.  President Shipp served from 1859 to 1875.  When the residence hall was formally opened in October 1963, several of his grandchildren were in attendance.

Shipp is special to me personally since I lived there for three years.  In 1991, with the opening of the dorm that is now known as Carlisle Hall (the New Dorm for those of us 1990s alums), most of the women in the senior and junior classes decamped from Shipp.  That made Shipp available for junior and senior men, and in my case, the occasional sophomore.  I never lived anywhere else.  And, though it may be a stereotype that women take better care of their residence halls than men, in this case, it was probably accurate.  Having been the home of women students for years, Shipp was in really good shape.  I did notice that after three years, it was looking a little less so.

Along with DuPre, Shipp was thoroughly renovated a few summers ago, and continues to serve another generation of students.

Photos – a Shipp postcard, construction photos, the dedication program.

Seamus Heaney at Wofford

Written By: Phillip Stone - Sep•03•13

I’ve been digging in the files today for photos or clippings about Seamus Heaney’s visits to Wofford.  The Nobel laureate in literature and arguably Ireland’s most famous literary figure of the present day died recently.

Heaney spoke at Wofford on two occasions.  This poster is from his 1984 visit to the campus.

Poster from Heaney’s 1984 lecture

Heaney’s visits came about through his connections with Dr. Dennis Dooley, professor of English and founding director of the Wofford Writer’s Series.


Annual Conferences of a century ago

Written By: Phillip Stone - Jun•13•13

This was my column in the Advocate for June.  We just concluded the South Carolina United Methodist Annual Conference this week.

As we gather for Annual Conference, it’s worth remembering that we Methodists have been conferencing since the days of John Wesley.  South Carolina Methodists have been gathering annually since around 1785.  Now we meet in the late spring or early summer in a large convention center and stay in nearby hotels.  That hasn’t always been the case.  In the 19th and early 20th centuries, Conference met in the late fall – probably reflecting our days as a primarily agricultural society.  It generally met in local churches, and members would stay not in hotels, but in the homes of members of the community.  The week before Conference, the Advocate published a directory telling everyone in whose home each clergy and lay member of the conference would be staying.

St. John’s UMC, Rock Hill, the site of the 1913 South Carolina Conference.

The annual conferences that met a century ago, in 1913, were a lot smaller than we are today.  The historically white conference – known as the 1785 Conference – met that year at St. John’s Methodist Church in Rock Hill from November 26 to December 1.  Bishop Alpheus W. Wilson presided.  Bishops Collins Denny and John W. Kilgo were in attendance, and 215 clergy were joined by 37 lay members at the conference.

Among the actions taken by the conference, they supported the idea of building a South Carolina headquarters at the new Southern Assembly grounds at Lake Junaluska, they proposed appointing a commissioner of education to help raise funds to support the state’s Methodist colleges, they adopted the Textile Industrial Institute as a conference institution, and they voted to split the conference into two Annual Conferences, one for the upcountry and one for the lowcountry, pending approval by the General Conference.

A week later, the Advocate noted that 47% of the ministers in the conference were moving to new appointments.  Moving day came very quickly after conference, and that churches would have new ministers just in time for Christmas.  The Advocate also noted that churches should pay their new ministers quickly, because the expense of moving would make it tough on them financially right before Christmas.

The Advocate also expressed gratitude to St. John’s Church and the people of Rock Hill for hosting them very graciously and to Winthrop College for hosting a reception for the conference.

Of course, a second Annual Conference of South Carolina Methodism met that fall.  The historically African-American conference, colloquially called the 1866 conference, met in Orangeburg on Wednesday, November 19, 1913, with Bishop Frederick D. Leete presiding.  That conference, which lasted for five days, met at Trinity Methodist Church in Orangeburg, with 162 members of the conference in attendance.

Claflin University President L. M. Dunton invited the members of the conference to dinner at Claflin University on the first day of the conference, and they were also invited to participate in the dedication of a women’s residence hall.  Considering the close relationship between Claflin and the members of the Conference, this must have been something like a homecoming.

Although the two conferences met less than a week apart, there’s not much evidence that they took official notice of each other.  The Rev. Watson B. Duncan of the 1785 conference did bring greetings to the conference meeting in Orangeburg, which they acknowledged, but that act isn’t recorded in the 1785 conference minutes the next week.

So, for those of us who will be going to Annual Conference this year, remember that you are part of something that has a long history and a deep connection to South Carolinians and Methodists who have long since joined the church triumphant.  I know that’s what I’ll be thinking about when we’re singing “And Are We Yet Alive.”

Bishop William Wallace Duncan

Written By: Phillip Stone - May•23•13

This article appeared in the April edition of the SC United Methodist Advocate.

One of South Carolina’s contributions to the Methodist episcopacy, William Wallace Duncan spent much of his life serving the Methodist Church.

Bishop William Wallace Duncan

When his father, David Duncan, joined the original Wofford College faculty in 1854, the 15-year old future bishop transferred from Randolph-Macon College.  Graduating from Wofford in 1858, Duncan returned to Virginia and entered the Methodist ministry.  He served churches in Virginia for sixteen years, and was also a Confederate chaplain.  Duncan returned to Wofford in January 1876 as Professor of Mental and Moral Philosophy, and he took on the additional duty of being the college’s financial agent, or chief fund-raiser.  Over the next ten years, Duncan traveled throughout South Carolina, speaking to Methodist churches in an attempt to raise the college’s endowment.  Duncan was active in Methodist circles, representing South Carolina in three successive General Conferences.  In 1881, he represented the Methodist Episcopal Church, South at the first Methodist Ecumenical Conference in London.  His work on Wofford’s behalf brought him increased attention throughout the region, and as a result, the 1886 General Conference elected him a bishop.

Though his elevation to the episcopacy meant he had to resign from the Wofford faculty, it did not end his relationship with the college.  He became a member of the Wofford board of trustees, and for the last nineteen years of his life, the bishop was the chairman of the board.  When he and his fellow trustees elected Henry Nelson Snyder to be the College’s fourth president, Duncan presented Snyder as president of “our” college, with emphasis, Snyder later remembered, on the word “our.”  Snyder later wrote of Duncan, “he looked more like a bishop than any other man I have ever known.”

In those days, the denomination had more annual conferences than bishops, and the bishops presided over multiple annual conferences each year. They did not necessarily preside over the same annual conference in consecutive years, either.  As such, Bishop Duncan served a number of different Annual Conferences across the South as bishop, and even had to travel to the far west as he presided over the Oregon Annual Conference six times.  When opening one annual conference, Duncan reportedly said, “I am glad to meet and greet you. I expect to be glad all the time I am with you, and possibly I may be glad when I leave you.”

Conferences did not provide episcopal residences for the bishops, and so Bishop Duncan made his office and residence in Spartanburg.  Around 1885, he started building a large home midway between the Wofford campus and downtown Spartanburg.  When he became a bishop, he altered some of the plans to accommodate many of the large meetings he might expect to host.  The house was the first in the city to have inside bathrooms with running water.  Wofford’s literary magazine reported in February 1889 that “Bishop Duncan’s handsome residence on North Church Street, second lot from the [Central] Methodist Church, is completed.  It is of English architecture with coat of arms on front.  The Bishop has been spending some time at home.”

At one point, North Church Street in Spartanburg must have been one of the most Methodist areas in the country – for Central Methodist Church, the Central parsonage, the Spartanburg District parsonage, the bishop’s residence, and Wofford sat all in a row. You have to feel a little sorry for Central’s ministers of the day, with their bishop and presiding elder both living on the same block.  From his home, Bishop Duncan could keep an eye on events at Wofford while he handled his responsibilities to the far-flung conferences he was serving.

The home remained in the bishop’s family after his death in 1908 and remained on the same site until 1999, when it was moved to make way for Spartanburg’s downtown Marriott.  The house now sits on a site between the city’s Magnolia Cemetery and the Carolinas campus of the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine, which is restoring the house.

The Class of 1963

Written By: Phillip Stone - May•21•13

Each year for the past decade, our fifty-year class returns and escorts the graduating class to the Commencement exercises.  Here are a few thoughts about life at Wofford during the Class of 1963’s years here.

Wofford opened the 1962-63 school year with the largest enrollment in its history – 833 students were enrolled.  569 were living on campus.

The 215 freshmen that arrived in the fall of their senior year made up the largest entering class ever.

DuPre Hall opened in the fall of 1962, and the OG&B called it “one of the most functional, luxuriant dormitories in the southeast.”  Mrs. Anne Daniel (known as Mama D) was the residence hall supervisor for DuPre

Ten new faculty members arrived in the fall of 1962, their senior year.  Among these were Dr. James Seegars in psychology and Mrs. Constance Armitage – later Antonsen – in Art History.

Milliken Science Hall was completed and opened during the Class of 1963’s freshman year.  Their freshman year also saw the college’s basketball team set a record of 25-6.

William F. Buckley spoke on campus in October 1962, on the subject “The Decline of the Intellectual”.

Students frequently complained in the newspaper about the lack of light on campus at night.

The football team record in the fall of 1962 was 2-8.  There’s not much to say about that.

Apparently there was a big argument about whether students should wear ties, or coats and ties, to class.  The student government endorsed it, and those favoring it argued that it made students more serious, distinguished them from high school, and they’d have to wear a tie every day after college anyway.  Detractors thought it took more than a coat and tie to make someone a gentleman, that it wasn’t hard to tell the difference between a Wofford student and a high schooler, and having to wear a tie after college was no justification.  The proposal went nowhere.

Speaking of going nowhere, students were again debating an honor system.  But in February 1963, the committee reached an impasse, “feeling that the [student body] vote would be unequivocally opposed to an honor system now.”

The Drifters and the Declarados played for the Homecoming Dance.  The Glenn Miller Orchestra performed for the Winter Ball.

Placement Office notes appear regularly in the paper.  One issue had job announcements for the Boy Scouts, the IRS, and Sears, Roebuck.

One editorial, noting all of the new buildings on campus, paid special mention to the bomb shelter. That same editorial, in talking about the nice facilities, lamented the cost, saying that it “would soon reach the elite circle of the $2000 school.”

A committee was to meet with food service director W. E. Buice to discuss why students were dis-satisfied with the food in the cafeteria.

In February 1963, Edward Greene joined the college staff as director of development – he soon moved into the business office and kept the college solvent for 30 years.

President Marsh announced in March a new cooperative program between Wofford and Converse “designed to further strengthen curricular offerings at both institutions.”  “It was stressed that neither institution would lose its identity or sacrifice any of its tradition.”  The program would allow students, primarily juniors and seniors, to take courses at the other college, no more than 1 per semester, and grades would transfer as if they had been earned at the home institution.


Commencement Season

Written By: Phillip Stone - May•10•13

It’s getting close to Commencement again here at Wofford, and in just a few days, we’ll send another class off into the world.  I like to show some of our Commencement-related artifacts and documents each year around this time.  Today, I’ve got a program from the 1859 ceremony, complete with the names of all of the speeches that members of the senior class had to give.

From the Journal: The Changes in College

Written By: Phillip Stone - Apr•25•13

An anonymous alumnus, possibly a member of the Class of 1884, wrote this in an early issue of the Wofford College Journal, the student literary magazine that began in 1889.  The Journal, which is still published today, also contained campus news in those early years.  These were the reminiscences of that alum about his student days.  He was a student in the preparatory department before becoming a college student.  The facilities he describes were a bit rough!

I entered college, or rather “Prep,” as the Preparatory’ Department was then called, so young that I, with two others, formed what one teacher, now professor, called his “barefoot class,” because we, like the famous Kansas statesman, went without the usual foot protectors.

An early Main Building photo

The college, as I first remember it, was a plain brick building. No steps led up to the front piazza. Two buttresses jutting out from either side alone told where the old wooden steps had been. The wings were stained a peculiar shade of pink, while the towers and portico were painted a different hue. No garden, laid off in drives and walks, reached up to the very base of the building, but all in front was simply a field in which the boys played ball, the “home base” being near where’ the old oak tree now stands.

Inside, there have been as great, if not greater changes. The chapel was without plastering overhead, and on looking upward the lathes looked down on you in derision. Going from there to the recitation rooms you find,

“Within the master’s desk is seen,
Deep scarred by raps official,
The warping floor, battered seats,
The jack knife carved initial.

The charcoal frescoe on its wall,
Its doors worn sill betraying,
The feet that creeping slow to school
Went storming out to playing.”

There have been great changes both in faculty and in courses of study. The only professor here now that was teaching then is the President, who was then Professor of Mathematics.

The five professors, who had been teaching in the college for twelve years and were destined to teach for two more, at the time I entered “Prep,” were, Rev. A. M. Shipp, D. D., Whitefoord Smith, D. D., Warren DuPre, LL.D., James H. Carlisle, LL.D., and Professor David Duncan. Professor Lester resigned the year I entered.

The class of 1884

When I entered college proper, 1880, they changed from the old collegiate classes to the university plan. According to this plan a young man might enter any class for which he was prepared, provided the hours in that class did not conflict with the hours of any other to which he belonged. So you might find the phenomenon of a man, who combined in one person, all the dignity of the Senior, all the learning of the Junior, all the self esteem of a “Soph,” and all the pomposity of a “Fresh.” What a wonderful person that must have been!

Besides changing the plan of study they also changed the names of the classes to Junior, Intermediate and Senior. Ah! well do I remember how it puzzled the boys to understand how it would take four years to graduate when there were but three classes. As neither the plan nor the names seemed to work well, in five years, they returned to the same old system and called the classes by their former names.

In 1875, they discontinued the Preparatory department, and substituted the Introductory and sub-introductory classes. How the “Ducs.”‘ (Introductories) resented being classed with the “Subs” (Sub-Introductories,) and how indignant were both at being called ‘Preps,” any old student of those times knows.

The [Literary] Societies are now the pride of the college, but to enumerate the changes that have taken place within them would make this paper too long.



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