The History of Sandy Plain Methodist Church


When Mrs. Freddie Gryder Vaught wrote her short history of Sandy Plain Church in 1967, she dedicated it to the memory of Mrs. Mary Lewis Stevenson and Mr. Will Lewis since the inspiration and most of the information came from them.

Her final wish was that someone would keep the history up to date. To honor her wishes, Hattie Best Polk and Pressley Dorn Best, in 2008, added to and completed the history of Sandy Plain Church.


In the early 1870's the people of the community east of Galivants Ferry Post Office all went to the Rehobeth or Zion Methodist Church to Sunday School and preaching.

One day, Mrs. Stanley David Barnhill was “spending the day” with her friend Mrs. Daniel Lewis. Their conversation turned to the difficulty they were having every Sunday morning getting their large families off to services at Zion. Preaching services were held only once a month, but Sunday School was every Sunday. Another problem was how to get the families there. Neither family had any way except the farm wagon.

After discussing the problem for a time, Mrs. Stanley David Barnhill, who was the school teacher for the neighborhood school, proposed that they start a Sunday School in the school house. After discussing this with others in the community, an organizational meeting was called. Mr. Stanley David Barnhill was elected the first superintendent. Mrs. Stanley David Barnhill was the teacher for the Bible class. They called it “Wayside” Sunday School. This old school house stood on the Barnhill Plantation near Mr. Stanley David Barnhill's cotton gin.

Mr. Joseph William Holliday (father of George J. Holliday) and Mr. Daniel Lewis both had large families so they decided to establish the school half-way between their homes.

A group of men started from each house and “stepped off” the distance and, when they met, Dr. Bennett Jordan, a dentist who was along, said, “Twill be here on this sandy plain you'll establish your school.” The school house at Mr. Barnhill's was moved on rollers and another small room was added. After the school was moved it was called “Sandy Plain”, and so the community acquired a name.

At the time the move was made, the land where it was built was part of property ownd by Sheriff Abijah Hollingsworth Skipper. He gladly gave permission for the school house to be placed on a corner of his property. Later when Captain Henry B. Cook bought the Skipper property, he learned that the school had no deed for the land so he gave a deed, good for as long as there was a school there.

In 1936, when the new church (our present church) was to be built where the old school house had been, it was discovered that there was no longer a legal deed for the land (since the school was no longer there) and the land had reverted back to the current owners. However, Mrs. Thomas A. Vaught and her family, the new owners, re-issued the deed to the Church Trustees.

When the school house was moved to the Skipper property the Sunday School continued to flourish. Just how long it continued there we do not know, but finally it was decided to organize a church. The Reverend B. G. Jones was sent in 1880 to organize a new Methodist church, South. There were 21 charter members. That day he took for his text Jeremiah 31:12: “Their souls shall be as a watered garden”. A missionary society was organized and Bible plays were put on to benefit the society.

The church continued to hold services in the school house for some time, but finally it was decided to build a church building. It was built on part of the land given for the school. This was between 1885 and 1890. A head carpenter was hired and volunteer labor built the church. This church stood on the west corner of the present Sandy Plain Cemetery.

The Reverend W.W. Jones preached the first sermon in the new church. At that time the building had not been completed. There were no window shutters or a door. The day was very cold, but the Reverend Jones did not preach long and the service was soon over.

At first, Sandy Plain was on a circuit with Floyds, Magnolia, Rehobeth, and Zoan. Through the years, it was changed from one circuit to another.

During the Reverend I. N. Stone's second appointment on the circuit in 1900, he helped build a parsonage next to the church at Sandy Plain. (This parsonage was built on the west side of the church, later becoming the home of Robert and Vie Bryan.) In 1916, during the pastorate of the Reverend W.H. Perry, the Aynor Church was organized and the parsonage was moved to Aynor. At this time, Aynor, Rehobeth, Sandy Plain, and Zoan were put on a circuit.

The following is a partial list of the charter members:

Mr. and Mrs. Stanley David Barnhill
Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Lewis
Mr. Bunyon Lewis
Mrs. Mary Lewis Stevenson
Mrs. Kate Lewis Altman
Mr. Will Lewis
Miss Mae Barnhill
Mr. Ivy Barnhill
Mr. Carona Barnhill
Mrs. Thomas C. Vaught
Miss Isabella Vaught
Mr. and Mrs. A. L. Lewis
Mr. and Mrs. Frank Lane
Mr. and Mrs. William Valentine Best
Mr. and Mrs. George Johnson

The first person to be buried in the cemetery was Walter Lewis, the infant son of Mr. and Mrs. A. L. Lewis.

In 1936-37, a new church (our present church) was built during the pastorate of The Reverend J. P. Campbell. The church was built by Mr. Dayton Crawford of Aynor with the help of Mr. Robert Bryan and other church members.

The last person to be buried from the old church was Mr. A. L. Lewis on January 10, 1937. His wife, Mrs. Sally Gaskins Lewis, was the first person buried from the new church on June 6, 1937.

The pastors known to have served are:

The Reverend B. G. Jones, organizer
The Reverend W. W. Jones
The Reverend I. N. Stone
The Reverend Sojourner
The Reverend I. N. Stone (second time)
The Reverend Gatlin
The Reverend Wright
The Reverend J. S. Abercrombie 1908-9
The Reverend W. C. Kelly 1909-11
The Reverend D. H. Everett 1911-13
The Reverend W. H. Shealy 1913-15
The Reverend W. H. Perry 1915-17
The Reverend W. H. Richardson 1918-19
The Reverend Atterway
The Reverend Morris
The Reverend E. K. Garrison 1921-23
The Reverend Jessie Fergerson 1923-27
The Reverend Sanders 1927-29
The Reverend Prosser 1929-30
The Reverend German 1930-31
The Reverend Collier 1931-33
The Reverend J. F. Campbell 1933-37
The Reverend Hucks 1937-39
The Reverend John H. Eaddy 1939-43
The Reverend Floyd Jordan 1943-44
The Reverend Charles Polk 1944-47
The Reverend Robert Wells 1947-52
The Reverend Bryan Young 1952-53
The Reverend Jack Parrish 1953-57
The Reverend B. B. Brown 1957-60
The Reverend J. B. Watson 1960-66
The Reverend W. D. Davis 1966-69
The Reverend James P. Rush 1970-73
The Reverend William L. Edwards 1974-79
The Reverend H. Shedron Suggs 1980-1991

The new parsonage was built by the Reverend Charles Polk in 1946-47.

The first superintendent of the Sunday School was Mr. Stanley David Barnhill. Others who served as superintendent were:

Mr. William Valentine Best
Mr. A. L. Lewis
Mr. D. Frank Lane
Mr. Julius Albert Altman
Mr. B. B. Bryan
Mr. R. W. Bryan
Mr. Jamie M. Best, Sr.
Mr. Vernie Hoyt Altman
Mr. Jamie M. Best, Jr.
Mr. James E. Gerrald

In the spring of 1988, the people of the church decided to discontinue regular worship services at Sandy Plain due to limited active membership effective June 1988. The heritage of Sandy Plain will live on in the hearts of the many fine Christian men and women who have gone out from this church into other churches to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ in our world.

In 2007, Allison Best, who is the great, great granddaughter of two of the founding families of Sandy Plain Church (Stanley David Barnhill & Louisa Beaty Cooper Barnhill and Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Lewis) challenged us to restore the Sandy Plain Church which had been closed in 1988. She offered to pay the cost for a new roof if we could raise the additional funds to paint, repair, and complete other minor necessary items. Hattie Best Polk and Pressley Dorn Best accepted her challenge and contacted all family members, former church members, and relatives of those buried in the church cemetery. The response was heart warming. Money was raised and work was begun in early February, 2008 and on March 17, 2008 , the work was completed.

It has been an honor and pleasure to update the history of Sandy Plain Church begun by Mrs. Freddie Gryder Vaught. Hattie Best Polk and Pressley Dorn Best would like to dedicate this updated history to our great grandparents, Stanley David Barnhill and Louisa Beaty Cooper Barnhill, and to our grandparents, William Valentine Best and Harriet Lucretia Barnhill Best.