History

HISTORY OF PROVIDENCE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
4833 OLD STATE ROAD
PROVIDENCE COMMUNITY
HOLLY HILL, SOUTH CAROLINA 29059

Complied by Harriet Lancaster Hutto
Church Historian
Updated 2012

Less than100 years ago, Providence did not have a full-time minister. Circuit riders (preachers who rode on horseback from church to church) carried the gospel to churches. They usually traveled in pairs, because the conditions of the territory. Early records list names of circuit riders who made stops in Providence as early as 1806. The original Providence circuit extended from our area to the Cooper River. We do not know the date the first Providence Methodist Church building was constructed.

This first Providence Methodist church building was located on the present-day Vance Road which was then a main highway. It was a log building “with plenty of ventilation.” . The cemetery at that time was located behind this building and, though it is no longer used, it is still maintained by our church.

Sometime around 1810, when the route of Old State Road was altered, this church was no longer on the main highway, so Timothy G. Shuler gave four acres of land on the new Old State Road as a site for a new church building. (The deed to this property was destroyed when Orangeburg County Courthouse was burned by the troops of the Union army led by General William Tecumseh Sherman during the War Between the States.) A wooden building was constructed on this site. There were two front doors, one on each side of the sanctuary, as well as a rear door for the slaves. Even the men and women were not combined in the congregation then, and this tradition lasted until the first part of the 20th century. Lumber for the church was manufactured by a sawmill which was powered by mules or oxen.

The church was remodeled about 1855 and again in about 1890. Women of the church raised funds to buy new furniture, carpet, a chandelier that held kerosene burning lamps, and a marble-topped table. A communion set (a tall urn and two goblets), was bought at that time also. Handmade pews were used in the building. In the early 1900’s, a wood-burning heater was installed. This building, with its renovations, served the congregation for over 100 years.

In 1916, the Providence station was formed by the South Carolina Conference. Rev. P. K. Rhoad was the first preacher assigned to our community. When Rev. and Mrs. Rhoad arrived, they found a country station which had no parsonage and a rather ancient looking place of worship. A parsonage was built at that time. This 2-story wooden home was on Vance Road near where the first church had been.

In the spring of 1918, the members of Providence church began making plans to build a larger church. A brick church seemed an impossible dream due to the handicap of getting brick to the site. However, Mr. Vernon Crosby Badham, who was logging in Four Holes Swamp, came into the picture. He was consulted, and he agreed to haul all of the materials for the church to the area. In order to do this, he build a railroad spur which came to a point near the present day Ibis Pointe Road. The cornerstone was laid in 1919. In less than two years after it was begun, the church was completed and paid for.

Of particular interest are the unique methods the members used to raise money to finance a project of such magnitude. The men of the church formed a “Pig Club.” Each member of this club set gave a pig, raised it, and sold it, giving the proceeds to the church. Records indicate that thirty-two men contributed a total of $1,050.95 from the Pig Club.

The ladies of the church formed an “Egg Club.” All eggs that were laid on Sundays were set aside, and $768.18 was received from their efforts.

Other gifts from members totaled $39,669.66, and as a result of these combined efforts, receipts of $41,488.75 were recorded. New furniture was bought, the handmade pews were discarded, and new crafted pews were purchased. A Delco lighting system furnished lighting for the church. This generated its own power, since electricity was not available in the community.

RECORDED COSTS FOR BUILDING PROVIDENCE UMC

(From Facts and Figures of Providence M.E. Church South, 1920)

ItemCost
ItemCost
C. C. Wilson (architect)$1,958.00
G. W. Spencer (Contractor)$27,550.00
M. M. Dantzler (removing stumps)$20.00
V. C. Badham (freight)$140.00
Mr. Bowick (railroad)$10.00
Heating plant$3,923.00
Lighting plant$1,860.00
Engine house$100.00
Art glass (windows)$750.00
Corner stone$38.00
Church furniture$2,780.00
Piano$662.00
Carpet$685.00
Insurance$210
Miscellaneous$801.00
TOTAL COST$41,488.00

n 1937, 60 men of the church planted and harvested 47 acres of cotton. This was donated to the church committee to be ginned and sold “to keep the church in a good state of repairs.” Other members who did not participate in the cotton project donated additional money. Total membership at that time was 328.

INTERESTING FACTS

During the 1920’s, the Sunday School classrooms were used by a doctor who came from Orangeburg and set up a clinic to remove children’s tonsils. During that same era, a dentist also came to Providence from time to time to take care of dental needs of the residents here.

Another change took place in the area when Highway 176 (Old State Road) was paved in 1936-1937.

Central heat and air-conditioning units were not installed until sometime in the 1960’s.

In the spring of 1978, a church conference was held to vote on replacing the parsonage that had been built in 1916 with an updated home for our ministers. 187 votes were cast; 104 were in favor of building a new parsonage, and 83 were against.

Work began on the parsonage in mid-January of 1979. In June, the pastor moved into a new home. The final cost was $92,782.20. Between the planning stage in April 1978 and the completion in June 1979, the parsonage had been planned, built and completely paid for.

During the first part of the 20th century, Providence supplied five ministers to the S. C. Conference. These were Rev. Harry D. Shuler, Rev. Homer Lloyd Franklin Shuler, Rev. C. O. Shuler, Rev. Tom C. Shuler, and Rev. Claude Martin Shuler. In addition, two women from this church have entered the mission field, both of them serving primarily in regions of Africa. The first, Ethel Shuler Ayers, worked in that area until the late 1940’s. The second young woman to become involved in mission work, Ann Henry, married Bill Clemmer, a physician. They were able to combine medical and spiritual work among people of various regions of Africa.

Before 1908, when Rev. J. J. Stevenson served this circuit as pastor, Providence had no musical instrument of any kind. The song leader was responsible for setting the pitch and tempo for all hymns used at the worship services. At that time the people of the church purchased a small foot-powered organ. When our present day church was completed in 1920, a baby grand piano replaced the old organ. This piano still occupies a place in our sanctuary.

Records indicate that the number of members on our church roll has been greatly varied over the years. In 1902, there were 683 members on roll. This was just before black members established their own churches. In 1925, the membership had dropped to 381. In 1957, there were 345 members on roll, and today our membership stays in the range of 250.

Almost 1/3 of our membership is on Social Security; at least 20 of these are over 80 years old. So our church truly spans the ages.

Family life has always been strong here, and over the past half-century, approximately 50 couples have celebrated more than 50 years of married life together. Taking into consideration the number of residents in our community, this is an amazing number.

In 2007 Deedee and Mike Kullenberg started the process to nominate the Church for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places. 18 months later in 2009, the Church was officially listed, and the plaque was placed on the Church by the front door. Then in 2011, F. Edward Shuler donated the funds to erect a historical marker by the road in front of the church.

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MILITARY

Young men from our church have always been a part of military conflicts in which our country was involved. One veteran of the Revolutionary War, Col. Rowland Evans, is buried in our community. This grave is now in a secluded wooded area on private property. There are also about forty graves of Providence men who fought in the Confederate Army located in ten different cemeteries here:

Grave Sites
Grave Sites
Providence United Methodist Church Cemetery
Old Providence Cemetery (Vance Road)
Hutto Family Cemetery (Hutto Market Road)
Moorer Family Cemetery (5892 Old State Road)
Evans Family Cemetery (Off Old State Road)
Collier Family Cemetery (Old State Road)
Lewis Shuler Family Cemetery (Off Shuler Belt Road)
Island Cemetery (Noonie Curve Road)
Dantzler-Hart Cemetery (Bass Drive)
Bull-Dantzler Cemetery (Mt. Olive Rd.)

In 1999, a list was also complied of veterans of other military service:

ConflictVeterans
ConflictVeterans
World War I15
World War II39
Korea14
Vietnam10
Grenada1
Cuban Crisis1
Gulf War (Desert Storm)1
Peacetime8
Iraq1

Of those from our church who served their country, several suffered injuries as a result of battle. Most of them sustained no permanent disabilities. However, Archie Lee Shuler, who was wounded in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations during World War II (October 4, 1944), spent the rest of his life in a wheelchair. After being hospitalized for six months, he returned to Providence and built the first handicapped-accessible home in our area.

One from our community was a POW. David L. Evans was captured in the Alsace Lorraine territory and was imprisoned near Strasbourg, Germany for three months just prior to the end of World War II.

And, one of our young men made the ultimate sacrifice of his life when he was killed in action on Iwo Jima. Boyd F. Dantzler lost his life in conflict there on February 19, 1945.

CHURCH MEMBERS WHO HAVE SERVED IN EXECUTIVE AND LEGISLATIVE BRANCHES OF STATE GOVERNMENT

Church MemberService InTerm
Church MemberService InTerm
Thomas Middleton DantzlerS.C. House of Representatives1913-1916
David Heber DantzlerS.C. House of Representatives1931-1932
Heyward N. DantzlerS.C. House of Representatives1973-1974
Heyward N. DantzlerExecutive Assistant to Governor James B. Edwards1976-1978
G. Bryan PatrickS.C. Commissioner of Agriculture1976-1982
Thomas M. DantzlerS.C. House of Representatives1995-2008
C. Bradley HuttoS.C. Senate1996-present

 

THE CHURCH AS A SCHOOL

In the summer of 1951, a fire leveled Providence School (on property adjacent to the church). The fire began around midnight and was discovered by a motorist. There were no fire departments in the area at that time, and nothing could really be done to save the building or its contents after the blaze was discovered.

It was quickly decided that the students in grades 1-12 would begin school that fall in the church building, and the Sunday School classrooms were adapted to make them into school classrooms. Blackboards were added to each room, fluorescent lights were installed, and desks were purchased. There were 8-12 children in each grade.

In June of 1952, the class that graduated from Providence (church) was the final class to graduate from that school. In the fall of that year, grades 7-12 were consolidated with the Holly Hill School system. Grades 1-6 continued to meet classes in the church for another year, until a new elementary school could be constructed. This was built adjoining the gymnasium that was not involved in the school fire. Students attended this school until the mid-1980’s when the schools in the Orangeburg District 3 went through more consolidation and transition.

MISCELLANEOUS INFORMATION – PROPERTY PURCHASES

In the 1950’s-1960’s, the young boys of the community were very active in Little League baseball, using a ball field owned by Orangeburg County School District 3. By 1970, girls were also allowed to play on the teams. Then, changes in the school system left the community without a baseball field for some years, and the Providence team disbanded. Twenty five years later, in 2005, Providence UMC was able to purchase the baseball field from the school district, and parents became interested in forming new baseball/softball teams for the children. Additionally, the old school building and gymnasium adjoining this area were bought by the church. At this time, the church began to work toward making the ball field into a first class field. A governing board was named, and by 2006, grass sod had been planted, an irrigation system was in place, a chain link fence surrounded the area, and bleachers, dugouts and a concession stand had been built. The Providence Purple Hurricanes were a team again. In 2011, the Ken Shuler family gave land adjoining the church property, and a second ball field was built. In addition to giving an opportunity to more boys and girls, this second field enabled the church to host tournaments.

In 2010, a church member, Bart Hutto, died unexpectedly. He had made provisions to leave the church $50,000. Property to the west of the church, which had been the site of Providence Farmers Supply Company (a community store founded during World War II), was available, and the church used his gift to purchase that land and have the old store building demolished. Following this, the land was leveled, and William Bull and Matthew Bull donated centipede sod and had it planted on the lot. Now, the church is surrounded by property that it owns.

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CURRENT GUIDELINES FOR USE OF CHURCH PROPERTY

For MEMBERS, or CHILDREN AND GRANDCHILDREN OF MEMBERS: There is no charge for use of the sanctuary or Fellowship Hall with the exception of family reunions. There is a fee of $50.00 for all reunions.

For NON-MEMBERS: There is a charge of $250.00 for use of the church.

If the Fellowship Hall is used, there is an additional charge of $100.00. If the buildings are properly cleaned after use, $50.00 will be refunded. (Maximum refund is $50.00, whether one or both building are used.)

GUIDELINES FOR CHURCH CEMETERY

There is no charge to church members who choose a plot in the church cemetery. For non-members who choose a plot after the date of these guidelines (March 1, 2004), there will be a $300.00 charge per person. This charge is waived under certain conditions.

WAIVERS:

There will be NO CHARGE for:

  1. A non-member whose spouse is a member of Providence UMC

  1. Non-members to be buried in a family plot that was selected and registered with the cemetery committee prior to March 1, 2004.

  2. Non-members who made a request to the Administrative Board for a burial site before March 1, 2004.

Note: the waiver of cost does not extend to any adult children of members who are not themselves members of our church. In that situation, the $300.00 charge would be applied.

FACTS ABOUT THE CHURCH CEMETERY

As of 2012, there were 430 marked burial spots in our church cemetery. The first people to be buried there were the family of Lewis and Sophia Myers. Their infant son, Lewis Franklin Myers, was actually the first, in 1856. Four years later, in 1860, their 16-year old daughter, Sophia Harlo Myers, was buried. Then, in 1864, their 26-year old son, John William Myers, was laid to rest here after he was killed during the Battle of Port Walthall, VA. while serving in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. Sophia Myers died when she was 67 years old, and she was buried in 1877. Two years afterward, in 1879, her husband, Lewis, died. He was also 67 years old.

Their tombstones were made and signed by D. A. Walker, and his son-in-law, known only as White. These men made most of the grave markers of that era. The Orangeburg County Historical Society, which cataloged the graves in our cemetery in 1998, always notes where one of these signed stones is located.

Five additional children were buried in the Providence Cemetery during the next 15 years (1863-1878).

In 1885, Rev. John W. Kelly, a Circuit Rider of the S.C. Conference of M.E. Church South, was buried here. He was 60 years old at the time of his death, having preached 41 years, including two years as a missionary on the Pacific Coast.

So, during the first 25 years of its existence, there were less than 15 people buried in this cemetery. There were a number of family cemeteries in the community, and these were used more frequently. After 1880, the church cemetery was used more often, with one or two burials each year, for the next few years.

Note: For a comprehensive book on the history of the church and school, contact Harriet L. Hutto (803) 496-3374.