History of Willow Springs United Methodist Church

by Miriam Page Tucker


[This history is dedicated to our ancestors who had the desire for a place of worship in their community. This church has made it a good place in which to grow up and has promoted a sense of security in those people who have lived and are living here now.--22 October 1990]

Willow Springs United Methodist Church is located on the Kates Bay Road about two miles south of Conway, SC. It was dedicated in 1903 as a Methodist Episcopal Church South.

The people of what is now the Willow Springs Community attended Union Methodist Church on the old Georgetown-Port Harrelson Road. This distance was too far for the children to go, so Sunday school was held in the little schoolhouse that stood down and across the road from the present church. The school was called Serenity School. Mr. Jim P. Johnson was teaching there and it was through his influence that enough money was raised to build a church in this community. J. E. Dusenbury and his heirs sold for $1.00 and good will an acre of land in the fork of the Pauley Swamp and Kates Bay Roads. The deed is dated November 12, 1903. It was named Willow Springs because there was a spring beside the church with an old willow tree growing over it. There were springs beside the school (now the property of Thelbert Bellamy and Beulah Johnson Woodle) and behind the church. Julia Hucks Woodle remembers that there were springs everywhere.

The trees for the church were donated and the logs were transported by log cart to Lem Hodges' sawmill where they were sawed into lumber. The sawmill was located on the Kates Bay Road about two miles west of the chosen site. It was on a curve and across the road from the Foley Dew property. J. R. Tucker, Jr., remembers that every time he and his daddy passed by the sawdust pile, he was told, "Boy, that's where the lumber for the church was sawed."

At one time there was a sawmill owned by Wilburn Williams behind the church and some of the lumber could have been sawed there. Ira B. Hucks remembers the sawmill and J. R. Tucker, Jr., remembers the sawdust pile.

Some of the men and their families were instrumental in getting the church organized and built were Gus Burroughs, Jehu Causey, J. E. Dusenbury, J. Alton Eason, John Eason, Sam Gasque, Eddie Harrison, Patrick Hucks, W. E. Hucks, J.P. Johnson, Lewis P. Roberts, and J. R. Tucker. There were probably others, but records have not been found to support this fact.

The original church was a plain, unpainted, rectangular wooden frame building (45 x 25) with two front entrances, and steps extending from door to door. It was heated by a woodburning stove in the center of the room and lighted with kerosene lamps which were pulled down from the ceiling to be lit. Gus Burroughs made the pews and altar rail. The seating capacity was 150 and the value was estimated to be $1,500. Music was provided by a pump organ.

There have been changes to the building over the years. There were classrooms added; electricity was installed (1939 or 1940); a porch and new steps were added with the doors being moved to a double center door; the pulpit furniture was given by the children of John and Beulah Woodle, Mrs. Mattie Cherry Medlin donated the first carpet in 1957. Central heat and air conditioning have been added.

It was a dream come true when the recreation hall with a kitchen and bathrooms was built in the early 1970s. This was later enlarged.

Willow Spring(s) first appeared in the MINUTES or JOURNAL of the South Carolina Conference in the December 1902 meeting of the SC Annual Conference as part of the Bucksville Mission of the Marion District. Frank Emory Hodges was the minister for the Bucksville Mission and Ellie Preston Taylor was the presiding elder (District Superintendent).

In December, 1903, Willow Spring(s) was a part of the Bucksville Circuit with F. E. Hodges as minister and E. P. Taylor as the presiding elder. There were 22 lay members, a Methodist Society (became Woman's Society in 1914), and a Sunday School. There was ot a building.

At the 1904 SC Annual Conference, there were 26 lay members, one Methodist Society and one church building. (Either there wasn't a Sunday school or it wasn't reported.) Henry Lee Singleton was the minister.

Rev. George Pierce Penny reported 30 lay members, one Methodist Society, one church building and one Sunday school in 1906.

There were no statistics until the 1935 Conference, when the Rev. William Thomas Bedenbaugh reported a total for the year of $895. In 1937 there were 79 members. In 1945 the grand total reported was $1881. There was a Woman's Society until the late 1960s. In 1987 this group was revived as a Charge Society.

Until recent years a minister often would go from house to house to collect his salary. He might be paid in vegetables, eggs, chickens, hams, etc., and sometimes cash.

When Willow Springs became a part of the Bucksville Circuit, the parsonage was across the road from Hebron Church at Bucksville. At a later date the Hebron, Union and Willow Springs parsonage was moved to Pearl Street in Jamestown (South Conway). It was moved during the ministry of Rev. H. T. Morrison because it was too far from the other churches and too far from the schools. He had two sons, Leland and Willie. In 1964 a new parsonage was built beside Union Methodist Church. When Union went station (i.e., got a minister of its own), the parsonage was sold and Willow Springs doesn't have a parsonage at this time.

At various times during the years Willow Springs has shared a minister with Union, El Bethel, Hebron, and Poplar Methodist churches. Now Willow Springs, El Bethel and Hebron share a minister.

Having lived with grandparents who were charter members, I was born and bred on Willow Springs Church. I have waited from someone to write this history, but I have finally had to do it myself. It has been a joy talking with older and former members while gathering this material. Through this work I have gained a greater appreciation for my family, church, and community. I hope that you enjoy the result of efforts.

If any of you have additional material, please share it with me.

INTERESTING TIDBITS GATHERED WHILE WRITING THIS ESSAY

1. Julia Woodle remembers seeing the old Serenity School building. It was made of logs. Students had to pick cotton, so school didn't open until after the cotton was picked. There were not many students.
2. J.R. (Joe) Tucker, Sr. and Henry Woodward attended Serenity School.
3. The schoolhouse was torn down and some of the materials were used in the house where BeulahWoodle lives.
4. Lawson Sellers was the main carpenter when the classrooms were added.
5. Kelly Fleming (Vivian Smith's father) remodeled the altar and pulpit the second time.
6. Dan and "Miss Jo" Harrison lived on the Kates Bay Road on the hill where Richard Anderson now lives. Her two sons were named Eddie and Ben. The Carey Woodle family lived here when they first moved to the community.
7. B. A. (Berry) Hardee, father of Iola Tucker and Florrie (Aunt Babe) Hucks, lived on the Kates Bay Road in the same house that is the Lawrence Anderson home. He taught at Serenity School.
8. Earthquake of 1886. Florence Sarvis Pinher told Flossie S. Morris that there were creaking sounds before the tremors. J.R. (Joe) Tucker, St., said that you could hear the rumbles coming and going through the woods. Joe and Nathan (hisbrother), ages 8 and 10, were playing with corncobs on the floor. Mary Jane Todd Tucker was shelling corn when everything in the house began to rattle. Mary Jane called, "Boyd, are you trying to tear the house down?" People gathered at the school and prayed. Joe Tucker said that you could hear people in the neighborhood praying.
9. Eddie Harrison (Monk's daddy) lived in the house where Jim Johnson later lived.
10. George Hucks first attended Willow Springs Church in 1918.
11. The doors were moved to center double doors at the suggestion of Heyward Goldfinch, funeral director.

PASTORS WHO HAVE SERVED WILLOW SPRINGS UNITED METHODIST CHURCH

F. E. Hodges 1903 Blanton Doggett 1943
H. L. Singleton 1905 G.A. Teasley 1945
G. P. Penny 1907 P.B. McLeod 1947
O. N. Roun(d)tree 1909 A.H. Sarrio 1948
W. R. Barnes 1912 R.M. Tucker 1950
W. A. Youngblood 1915 M.B. Stokes 1954
W. H. Perry 1918 Ferol W. Lee 1961
W. L. Parker 1919 Van Bullock 1962
W. I. Guy 1922 ? Griffith 1964
L. W. Shealy 1923 Van Bullock 1965
W. L. Staley 1924 R.M. Kimery 1966
W. H. Morrison 1925 Zack Farmer 1969
J. L. Mullinix 1928 W.B. Love, III 1973
W. S. Heath 1929 Clarke Hughes 1977
J. R. Sojourner 1930 Ernie & Rosemarie Nevins 1980
Thomas Kemmerlin 1932 Julian Weisner 1982
W. T. Bedenbaugh 1935 Jim Franklin 1984
Fred Conley 1938 Wilbert Waters 1985
R. A. Berry 1939 Hart Rist 1986
J. H. Eaddy 1940 Carl Hunsucker 1987

RESOURCES

Minutes of the South Carolina Annual Conference.
WPA Survey of State and Local Historical Records, 1936.

Thanks to:
Lee Tucker Bellamy
George Hucks
Herbert Hucks, Jr., Archivist, Wofford College
Ira B. Hucks
Teena Martin Hucks
Ruby Tucker Hucks
Flossie Sarvis Morris
J. R. Tucker, Jr.
Beulah Johnson Woodle
Julia Hucks Woodle
Many thanks to "Gofer" Marion Page Tucker.

The Independent Republic Quarterly
Vol.25 Winter 1991, pp 20-22

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