THE HISTORY OF LONG CANE A. R. P. CHURCH
BY - MISS ALMA YOUNG, FAIRFIELD HOME DEMONSTRATION CLUB
Long Cane was originally a fort, (Fort Long Cane) for the protection of settlers from the Cherokee Indians who had been pushed back beyond the mountains of North Carolina, in Pickens and Oconee counties. Then the Fort became a place where the inhabitants assembled for religious services before moving to the groves of the present church location.
Fort Long Cane, now Long Cane Church, was on the east side of Long Cane Creek and nearly a mile from the present location east of the old Andrew McCombs Mill, (now known as Bradley's Mill) and north of Davis Hill, around which the present road curves leading down to the creek. Andrew McCombs had a King's grant to the lands joining on the west side of Long Cane from the mill. Long Cane was Fort Long Cane as early as 1760 or 1761. Before going to the Flat Woods, the Calhoun settlement was on Long Cane and land laid out for some of the party is within less than two miles of the present bridge over Long Cane Creek.
Dr. Thomas Clark was the first pastor of Long Cane. He was born in Gallaway, Scotland, about 1722. He was said to be a graduate of Glasgow University and was licensed to preach in 1748. He labored in Ireland, Ballibay County, for about sixteen years. On May 10, 1764, Dr. Clark and 300 of his members set sail for America from Newry, Ireland, and landed in New York, July 28, 1764, where his congregation divided: part set out for Long Cane and Cedar Spring, Abbeville County and others, the greater part passed up the Hudson. Dr. Clark came over from Reddrum Strenboden, near Ballibay, Ireland. His wife was Elizabeth Nesbit Clark. She died December 10, 1769, and is buried in the Caleons Presbyterian Church graveyard. She was 32 years old. Robert Clark, their son, was born in 1755 and died July 10, 1762. He is buried in Ireland. Another son, Ebenezer, was born July 4, 1753; then a daughter, Elizabeth, born 1758; another son Benjamin, was born about 1760. He became a physician and lived and died in Abbeville County, S. C. His grave is unknown to us.
Dr. Clark became pastor of the first church between New York and Canada. In 1769 Dr. Clark visited the portion of his congregation that went to South Carolina. In 1782 he resigned the New York pastorate and in 1786 was installed pastor of Long Cane and Cedar Spring. Before accepting Long Cane and Cedar Spring pastorate, Dr. Clark made three, if not four, trips south preaching at various churches en route and establishing missions.
Then, after Dr. Clark's arrival here, they had a shelf built between two large oaks, (these trees are still standing, but were struck by lightning on May 26, 1931) to lay the Bible on. There was no cover over their heads except the beautiful elements. The first church was of rude logs. Another was erected during Dr. Clarks ministry and in 1856 the present church was erected. It is of wood 44x64 feet with a 10 foot porch and gallery around three sides. Long Cane has been without a pastor several times, the longest being twenty years. The shelf was standing at the time of the centennial.
There are members of Long Cane living today, who remember the shelf well. The was a small house built with a chimney at one end (near where services were held in the open) where you would go in to meet with the session if you wanted to accept Christ and become a member of the church. On the 24th day of February, 1790, Rev. Thomas Clark, M. D., Rev. Peter McMullen, Rev. John Boyes, Rev. David Bothwell and James Rogers, probationers, together with ruling elders, James McBryde and William Dunlap, met at Long Cane and organized the Associate Reformed Presbytery of the Carolinas and Georgia. To the members of the A. R. P. Church Long Cane is a Gilgal, for here our fathers camped the first night after they crossed the Jordan, and here in the language of the Holy Writ, they pitched their Monumental Stones. Dr. Clark was at one time unrighteously imprisoned at Ballibay, but while in prison he wrote letters, preached and administered Baptism. Three of the couples he married were afterwards his parishioners in Long Cane, SC. Before Dr. Clark died, with pen in hand he was writing a formal letter to his old congregation at Ballibay, "What I do thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter", his pen dropped from his hand.
The New York portion of Dr. Clarks colony went up to Stillwater, New York, in Washington County, and settled at Salem. After Dr. Clarks death, Long Cane was without a pastor for four years; then Peter McMullen was appointed as supply. He was pastor at Due West. McMullen came to Due West from Ahoghill, Ireland, in 1788. Many settlers from about Due West Came from the same part of Ireland. This community is to this day known as Hogskin. McMullen later moved near Fayettville, Tenn., where he taught and occasionally preached when urged. It is said he frequently closed his service, his face bathed in tears, with this suggestion, "Do as I say - not as I do." He was the only educated minister in that section of the state. McMullen died while in Tennessee and is buried near Fayettville.
The second pastor installed at Long Cane was Alexander Porter, April 2, 1798. Porter was the first native son of the churches. The Porters settled on the southwest side of Parsons Mountain (Little Mountain), and were neighbors to their kinsman, James Fosters family, who were on the southeast side of the same mountain. He was educated at Dickson College. In 1813 he moved to Preble County, Ohio. A colony forming a church went with him from Long Cane and Cedar Spring and organized a church in Preble County, Ohio, in the Beachwood settlement. He died in 1835 and left a son to carry on his ministerial work. Another son who was a physician also left three daughters. He died in the triumphs of faith, talking on his dying couch of death as of a familiar friend, rejoicing in hope of a glorious immortality at Gods right hand.
John T. Pressly became pastor February 28, 1828. In 1831, demitting other charges, he became professor in A. R. P. Theological Seminary at Allegheny, Penn. He was an honor for over fifteen years to our synod. He died August 13, 1870. (The bell at Troy A. R. P. Church was a gift from his daughter). From 1831 to 1837 Long Cane church was vacant again. Then W. R. Hemphill became pastor for eleven years. The next minister in charge was Rev. H. T. Sloan when he accepted in 1850. He was a brother of A. S. Sloan, sons of Cannon Creek churches, Newberry County. [The pastorate of] Rev. Sloan was a long a fruitful one. He only had one charge and for forty years he labored among his people. He tenderly bore in his arms the lambs of his flock, placing upon their brows the seal of the covenant of baptism and when these had grown to the estate of manhood and womanhood he united them in wedlock with pious admonition, and when later on the reaper came, as he so often did and with sickle keen reaped the bearded grain, in melting tones and more melting words he consigned them to their last resting place.
It was during Dr. Sloan's pastorate that the present building was erected. It is a beautiful specimen of architecture. No change has been made in the body of the handsome building since its erection, though repairs have been made from time to time. Rev. Sloan died of paralysis February 13, 1894. His monument in marble stands in front of the church at Cedar Springs.
The next pastor we take up is Rev. R. F. Bradley, whom we all know. He became pastor of Long Cane on December 5, 1891. He was born in Abbeville County September 22, 1846. In early life he had the advantage of neighboring schools and high school taught by Rev. E. L. Patton near Long Cane and was graduated from Erskine in 1869 and from Erskine again in 1872 when he was licensed by the second Presbytery the same year at its fall meeting.
First, Rev. Bradley was ordained and installed pastor of Genorestee and Concord, SC in 1837, where he labored until the fall of 1883. He was then installed the first pastor of Troy, SC in the spring of 1884. He demitted this charge in 1889 and at the meeting of Presbytery at Ebenezer, Ga. on December 5, 1891, he became pastor of Long Cane and continued [as] the honored pastor until the fall of 1930 during Presbytery at Troy, SC he resigned on account of infirmities of age.
He served faithfully for forty years. Mr. Bradley has led a busy life. In addition to the duties of the pastorate he began the publication of the Psalm Singer which continued for two years and was sold to Rev. Warrington, Beaverfalls, Pa. Rev. Bradley also proposed the famous pastoral letter issued by the A. R. Synod issued in 1882. He is descended of distinguished parentage on both sides of his ancestry and was reared in choice surroundings of early life. He was a vigorous, fearless preacher, true to every conviction at any cost, is a diligent student and an impressive speaker.
After Rev. Bradley's resignation as pastor of Long Cane it was again without a pastor, but through the efforts of the members at Long Cane they were able to secure Rev. W. C. Kerr of Abbeville, SC who is the present pastor. Long Cane has over one hundred members at present.
A number of the South's most prominent ministers of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Synod have been born in the Long Cane parish, among them being, Dr. John T. Pressly, and son Dr. Joseph Pressly, of Erie, Pa., Dr. E. E. Pressly, Dr. David Pressly, Dr. J. E. Pressly, Rev. Joseph McCreary, Rev. William Patton, L. L. D., Rev. W. W. Patton, Rev. John Hemphill, Rev. James Weed, Rev. S. P. Robinson, Rev. J. C. McDonald, Rev. R. F. Bradley, Rev. E. B. Kennedy and Rev. I. N. Kennedy.
Hundreds of infants have been presented at the alter for the christening ceremony during the century and a half of Long Canes existence. Many's the funeral procession that has wound its way to the burial ground nearby; the muffled tread and the voice of the minister, "I am the Resurrection of the Life", have been reverberated through the silent church hundreds of times. Here the humble pioneer who had finished the fight received the final tribute from the pastor, who with him, had braved the terrors of the savages in the battle for life in a new country; and with the passing of time, soldiers of a dissevered, and later, a reunited country, have made their last march to the alter, borne by reverent hands, and later consigned to the little churchyard, where their ashes now mingle with those of their patriotic ancestors. A short distance away, is the burial ground of the slaves who served their masters with a devotion unparalleled.
Long Cane church is about 4 1/2 miles northwest of Troy, SC. and is in McCormick County. Although this religious institution has existed for a century and a half, standing sentinel-like, in its grove of cedars that reckon their age with that of the church itself, strange to say, no marriage has ever been consummated therein during the century and a half of its existence until early in November in the year of 1930 when Miss Roberta Isabella Wilson (she being a member of Long Cane from childhood) and Mr. Matthew Moore Cox of Hazelwood, N. C. plighted their vows at the church's alter.