Allendale County, South Carolina on the Savannah River, Welcome!

Smyrna Baptist Chruch was organized in 1827 as Kirkland Church.  The name was changed in 1836 to Smyrna Baptist Church.  Title to the site was conveyed in 1849 by William I. Mixon.  Additional land was given by Thomas H. Willingham in 1882 to extend the church property to the Matthews Bluff Road.  The historical marker was erected by descendants of the organizers and early leaders in 1962. (Hist. Marker 3-1)

(taken from South Carolina Highway Historical Marker Guide, published by the South Carolina Department of Archives and History, 1998, modified by Dr. Frank O. Clark).

Pictures of Smyrna Baptist Church

Historic Smyrna Baptist Church

Sketch of Smyrna Baptist Church

History of Smyrna Baptist Church (courtesy of, and thanks to, who else, Judy Canant!)

Historic Smyrna Baptist Church
(From One Hundred and Thirty-Sixth Association Minutes)
From book: "Allendale on the Savannah"
(Name of the Author of this Article was not given)

Smyrna Baptist Church, near Allendale, is gradually pushing into its second century in age, the forerunner having been known as Kirkland's Chapel, and prior to that its original nucleus is said to have been the traditional "bush arbor."

Kirkland's Chapel, organized in 1815, was named for the minister, Rev. KIRKLAND, whose influence was partially responsible for the institution. The KIRKLAND family were prominent within this area as well as in the Carolina Low Country.

From minutes of the One hundred and thirty-sixth Annual Savannah River Baptist Association, material for this article was gleaned -- consequently this data should not be questionable.

Kirkland's Chapel of 1815 remained as such until its membership outgrew the facilities, and the present building replaced the chapel.

The church was situated in an area populated with prominent families, whose vast plantations and handsome homes bore testimony to affluence, wealth, and high standards of living.

Among the families of that era and area were: KIRKLANDs, LAFITTEs, WILLINGHAMs, SMARTs, GRAYs, LAWTONs, COLDINGs, MIXONs, REEVES, and others. Some of these names are found among the markers in the churchyard cemetery.

The architecture of the Smyrna Church edifice follows lines of the ante-bellum, adhering in general to the simple. A large Paladian window occupies a conspicuous position in the front of the building, the pattern of which is repeated in side-flanking windows, between two balancing entrance doors. This is a simplified duplicate of more pretentious buildings of the period.

Handsome hardwood pews, the original organ, an antique settee; the tremendous Bible, hanging kerosene lamps (since electrified as a matter of convenience) hang from the high ceiling. Massive doors with heavy wrought-iron locks, complete the building. The locks were made by Rev. C B REEVES.

Among the pastors serving this historic church, we find:

Joseph J LAWTON, Joseph A LAWTON (grandfather of Camille Cunningham SHARPE), B W WHILDEN, Calder BAYNARD, Charles Benefield REEVES (grandfather of Mrs S J WILSON, Otis REEVES, and Carroll Edwin Reeves), who served the church for 32 years. The pastors named further served chronologically: E D ESTES 1870-72; W E WELL 1872-75; ______ 1874-76; J W BOSTICK 1876-77; W B CARSON 1878 -; W W WHILDEN 1884; B A BAYNARD 1884-87; Joseph A LAWTON 1888-91; John G WILLIAMS 1892; Rev. BISHOP 1893-94; John F MORRALL 1895-1903 (note by Judy Canant: This was the Rev. John Fripp MOREL, CSA, b: August 04, 1828 d: October 15, 1909 in NC. A monument to him stands at Swallow Savannah Cemetery. He married Carrie B\\ b: February 13, 1841 d: July 02 1906); S P HAIR 1904-5; J D HUGGINS 1906-08; W M NUNGAZER 1909-10; J R CULLUM 1911-12; A E BEMIER 1913-16; J E CULLOM 1916-21; Wendell WHITE 1922; H E FITTS 1923-24; F M HOOKS 1924-27; A C McGEE 1928-29; No pastor 1930-32; J W MIDDLETON 1932-36; Among more recent pastors are the Rev. Julian STRONG, R E CORDER and C W JONES.

The Missionary Society was organized in 1904 with the Rev. HAIR. Mrs J J WALKER (nee Mattie FLOWERS) President, who remained active for many ensuing years; through the efforts of Mrs. Anna GRAY, Mrs Eldred BRUNSON, the society remained active for a number of years.

Very active in church life of Smyrna thoughout their lives, were the late Mr and Mrs Eldred BRUNSON, having served as deacon and as church organist, respectively.

It is recorded that a part of the tract of land upon which the church now stands was given by the late Thomas F WILLINGHAM, whose palatial home occupied the grove in which the nearby Elizabeth FURSE home now stands. Also, three other WILLINGHAM brothers lived within this vicinity. John C WILLINGHAM lived near the Iverson Brooks LAWTON home; Benjamin lived at Gravel Hill (home of the W Z BRYAN family for almost a century), H G lived on what is now known as Butterfield Plantation, near the river. Several acres of the church tract were also bought from a Mr MIXON.

Quoting from church history of 1936 by a Mr THOMAS we find: "Smyrna Church was organized by a group of well-to-do planters, generally educated aristocrats. The congregation of Smyrna was generally made of aristocratic people. these good people represented a segment of happy living in the greatest of ease -- a happy, home-loving, independent people. No one could wish to live among a better people," stated Mr THOMAS, historian. "They are said to be of Scotch-Irish descent."

Surrounding plantations in close proximity to the church is said to have been "Old Allendale," so called because of the fact that with the coming of C&W C Railway several miles away, centers of trade, and consequently population shifted up the new area.

Among the earliest grave stones in Smyrna Churchyard Cemetery is one erected in memory of Margaret MOORE who was born in 1770 and died in 1855 at the age of 85 years. (note from Judy Canant: M Margaret DEWEES b: March 05, 1770 Charleston, SC d: September 17, 1855 in Barnwell Co (now Allendale), the daughter of Cornelius DEWEES, II and his second wife, Mrs Sarah MINORS [see the DEWEES family history attached to Allendale Genweb] married William A MOORE b: ca 1755 in (probably) NC d: ca December 1810 in Barnwell Co, SC, son of Thomas MOORE, Jr and Sarah\\.) This stone placed there 114 years ago, is somewhat near the rear of Smyrna Church.

As little is known today of a MOORE family living within that area, it is natural to suppose that Margaret MOORE could well have been a member of the MOORE Family for whom MOORE's Cross Roads (currently known as REEVES Cross Roads), was named. . (note from Judy Canant: The family of Thomas MOORE seems to have come from the area of Craven Co, NC [or the surrounding counties that were formed] about the same time - 1774 - as the families of William and Simon BRYAN arrived from Craven Co, each of whom was married to a daughter of Thomas MOORE. We are still finding the proof of their residence in NC, bit by bit. There were many MOORE families in that area.)

Directions to find the cemetery.
Cemetery Marker:
Daughter of Charles H FLOWERS and Elizabeth HUMPHREYS . Born SC. Married 28 Nov 1844 in Barnwell, SC, William Blanchard FLOWERS b: 1824 SC, son of William Wallace FLOWERS and Jennet Bryan COLDING.

Cemetery grave markers (this is on the Barnwell web site, use your back arrow to return)

Does anyone know who has control over (i.e., the keys to) Smyrna Church. I am interested in getting it restored, and have an engineer willing to look at it.  John Culbertson 29 Sept. 2003

Please Email any additions, errors,or corrections to the county coordinator.

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