Statement of Historical Significance
The Lower Long Cane Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (1) and Cemetery is associated with early settlement in the colonial and Revolutionary-era South Carolina backcountry and with the nineteenth-century establishment, decline, and revitalization of not only a single congregation, but also of the entire Associate Reformed Presbyterian denomination as a separate sect in the Presbyterian tradition. Its sanctuary, designed by William Henry Jones of Atlanta and dedicated in 1856, is an outstanding example of the Greek Revival style as applied to the simple meeting house form, while its cemetery of more than 500 graves includes the burials of several charter members of Long Cane Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church from the period 1790-1856, when this church was exceptionally significant in the formation, growth, and development of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church as a whole.
Long Cane's origins date to 1771, when the church was established as an Associate Presbyterian congregation, one of several fostered before the American Revolution by Dr. Thomas Clark (d. 1792). Clark and one hundred families had emigrated from Ireland in 1764, and had settled in Stillwater, and then Salem, New York; several families soon moved south, settling near Long Cane Creek, near what was then called "the Calhoun settlement" in the South Carolina backcountry. Dr. Clark himself moved to South Carolina in 1782 and served as minister of the Long Cane, Cedar Creek (later Cedar Springs), and Little Run (or Little River) congregations until he returned to the North in mid-1783, but returned to the Long Cane and Cedar Creek settlement shortly after the American Revolution, remaining here until his death.
In 1785 the Long Cane, Cedar Springs, and Little Run congregations petitioned to the General Synod of the newly-established Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (created in 1782 by a union of the Associate Presbyterian Church and the Reformed Presbyterian Church) for formal affiliation with that new domination. Long Cane soon took a leading role in the growth and development of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, hosting the meeting to organize the Associate Reformed Presbytery of the Carolinas and Georgia-one of only two presbyteries in the new denomination-on 24 February 1790. Long Cane and her sister congregation at Cedar Springs, led by a single minister and with one bench of elders, were the leading churches in the region, and by the turn of the nineteenth century boasted more than 260 families and more than 520 communicants between them. The Second Presbytery of the Carolinas and Georgia was organized at Cedar Springs in 1801.(2)
In 1813 Rev. Alexander Porter (d. 1835), a former minister of Long Cane and Cedar Springs, left South Carolina with members of these and other Associate Reformed Presbyterian congregations in Chester and Fairfield Districts, for Preble County, Ohio, where they founded Hopewell Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. This was one of several significant emigrations of Associate Reformed Presbyterians from Long Cane and Cedar Springs to the north and west from ca. 1800 up to the Civil War, emigrations fueled primarily by a widespread opposition to slavery among church leaders and members who preferred to settle in free states. Such A.R.P. congregations founded in whole or in part by former members of Long Cane and Cedar Springs during this period included several in Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. Other South Carolina congregations established by Long Cane and Cedar Springs included Ora (1790), Generostee (1790), Due West (1794), Concord (1796), Providence (1838), Mt. Carmel (1875), Woodruff (1879), Troy (1882), Abbeville (1889), Iva (1894), Spartanburg (1912), Young Memorial, in Anderson (1914), Greenwood (1914), Greenville (1914), and Pressly Memorial (1919); congregations elsewhere included Camden, Alabama (1890); Ebenezer (1842) and New Albany (1904), Mississippi; and Lovelady, Texas (1879).(3)
Long Cane and Cedar Springs also have a long tradition as leaders in the organization of church government in the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church and as "mother churches" in the denomination. Leaders of the combined congregation were instrumental in founding the Associate Reformed Synod of the Carolinas, organized in 1803 along with the Synods of Pennsylvania, New York, and Scioto. After a series of disputes over the centralization of the church government in Philadelphia, the Synod of Scioto became an independent synod in 1820, followed in 1822 by the Synod of the Carolinas, which then changed its name to the Associate Reformed Synod of the South. When Northern congregations merged with the United Presbyterian Church in 1858, on the eve of the Civil War, the Associate Reformed Synod of the South dropped the phrase "of the South" and became the only surviving synod of the original Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. As denomination historian Ray A. King has observed, "The present-day Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church denomination is the successor in an unbroken line of the original Associate Reformed ecclesiastical organization in the South called 'The Presbytery of the Carolinas and Georgia.'"(4) As such, the denomination, characterized by one historian of Southern religion as "a rather old, quite small, and historically Southern denomination [and] . . . a distant cousin to other Calvinist bodies in the region," has continued to be most active in South Carolina and North Carolina.(5) In 1999 South and North Carolina boast 68 and 58 congregations, respectively, or 126 congregations-more than fifty percent of the total number of congregations in the denomination.(6)
During the antebellum years the ministers, elders, and laymen of Long Cane and Cedar Springs were also instrumental in fostering educational institutions affiliated with the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. Academies at Monticello, in Fairfield District, and Ebenezer, in York District, were operating in the first half of the nineteenth century. In 1825 Revs. John Hemphill (1761-1832), minister at Hopewell 1796-1830, in the First Presbytery of the Carolinas and Georgia, and John Taylor Pressly (1795-1870), minister at Cedar Springs 1817-28 and minister of both Long Cane and Cedar Springs 1828-31, in the Second Presbytery of the Carolinas and Georgia, were appointed to teach theology in addition to their pastoral duties, operating a sort of fledgling "seminary" out of their homes. These academies were, however, more primary schools than colleges or even seminaries, and the only real alternatives for young men wanting to enter the Associate Reformed Presbyterian ministry were schools in the North or the Midwest such as Jefferson College or Miami University. Long Cane hosted an annual meeting of the Associated Reformed Presbyterian Synod of the South in March 1831, at which Revs. Samuel P. Pressly, a teacher at Union Academy in Abbeville, and Ebenezer Erskine Pressly (1808-1860), minister at Due West and Generostee, were appointed to investigate the possibility of establishing a seminary to train prospective ministers.
Growing sectional tensions between North and South, meanwhile, prompted an 1834 resolution by the Synod of the South stating in part, "it is prejudicial to the Southern church to send our young men to the North or West, either to college or to a theological seminary." When the leaders of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church looked to Columbia and South Carolina College (now the University of South Carolina), they were appalled at the public pronouncements and policies of Thomas Cooper, who, as president of the college, was an outspoken critic of Christianity, the Bible, and the clergy, and particularly of church-affiliated education.(7) In 1822 Cooper called "the systematic hostility of the clergy" to any institution they did not control the single most significant obstacle to the success of South Carolina College, and many clergymen and laymen alike reacted to such remarks with equal force, calling Cooper's words an "illiberal, unrighteous, and sweeping charge" and appealing "to the candor and good sense of the Christian commonwealth" in South Carolina.(8) Resolutions in the General Assembly calling for Cooper's removal from the presidency accomplished nothing, though he did eventually resign first from the presidency and then from teaching altogether at the college by 1834.
Such dissatisfaction with the state of education, particularly theological education, in the Carolinas backcountry contributed to the establishment of Clark and Erskine Seminary, at Due West, in what is now Abbeville County, in 1837 Two years later Clark and Erskine Seminary, with an expanded curriculum and additional faculty, became a college as well as a seminary, the first denominational college of any kind in South Carolina. It was renamed Erskine College in 1843.(9)
Long Cane went through periods of decline as an active congregation throughout the first half of the nineteenth century, most often when it was without a minister, and most notably in 1803-28 and 1832-37. It was, however, more fortunate for the second half of the century and for the first third of the twentieth century, as it was served by two devoted ministers whose combined tenures lasted for an eighty-year period from November 1850 to October 1930.
Rev. Henry Thompson Sloan (1823-1894), who became minister here and at Cedar Springs in late 1850, served both congregations for forty years, and it was during his tenure that the present sanctuary at Long Cane was built in 1856. Designed and constructed by architect and contractor William Henry Jones, an Atlantan who married into a prominent family of old Abbeville District, this sanctuary is one of several buildings in this portion of the South Carolina backcountry attributed to Jones.(10)
Rev. Sloan, who also organized the first Sunday School at Long Cane and served as its superintendent for many years, later served as a chaplain in the 1st South Carolina Rifles (Orr's Rifles) in the Confederate States Army in 1861-62. After the Civil War, he helped organize Associate Reformed Presbyterian churches at Lodimont (1875), Troy (1882), and Bradley (1887). Sloan, in failing health, resigned his post sometime in 1890. He was succeeded in late 1891 by Rev. Robert Foster Bradley (1846-1932), who served both Long Cane and Cedar Springs until 1892, when the Cedar Springs and Bradley congregations became one charge and Long Cane became an independent charge; Rev. Bradley served Long Cane for almost forty years, until his own resignation due to "the infirmities of age" in October 1930. He died 8 March 1932 and is buried in the church cemetery-the first minister of Long Cane to be buried there.(11)
(1) Often called simply Long Cane Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, this congregation has also been designated Lower Long Cane to differentiate it from the Long Cane Presbyterian Church, sometimes called Upper Long Cane Presbyterian Church and not affiliated with the Associate Reformed Presbyterian denomination-established in 1784-85 near Abbeville. It will hereafter be called Long Cane in the body of this document.
(2) Nora Marshall Davis, An Historical Sketch of the Long Cane Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Greenwood, S.C.: The Greenwood Index-Journal Company, 1941), pp. 5-7; William May Hunter, et al, The Centennial History of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, 1803-1903. Prepared and Published by order of the Synod. (Charleston, S.C.: Presses of Walker, Evans and Cogswell Co., 1905), pp. 1-3, 27-29, 507-09; Robert Lathan, History of the Associate Reformed Synod of the South, to Which is Prefixed a History of the Associate Presbyterian and Reformed Presbyterian Churches (Harrisburg, Pa.: Published for the Author, 1882), pp. 188-89, 270-71.
(3) Paul Leonard Sherrill, et al, Bicentennial Supplement [to Lowry Ware and James W. Gettys, The Second Century - A History of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church 1882-1982 (Greenville, S.C.: Associate Reformed Presbyterian Center, 1982)], Greenville, S.C.: Associate Reformed Presbyterian Center, 1982
(4) Ray A. King, A History of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, The Covenant Life Curriculum (Charlotte, N.C.: The Board of Christian Education of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, 1966), p. 81.
(5) "Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church," in Samuel S. Hill, ed., Encyclopedia of Religion in the South (Macon, Ga.: Mercer University Press, 1984), p. 76.
(6) There are at present (July 1999) 242 Associate Reformed Presbyterian congregations in the United States, 6 in Canada, and 1 in Argentina, according to "Associate Reformed Presbyterian Churches," a list on the WorldWideWeb page of the General Synod of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church [http://www.arpsynod.org/chlist.html], July 1999.
(7) Rev. E.B. Kennedy, "Associate Reformed Presbyterianism and Education," in Hunter, et al, Centennial History, p. 667.
(8) Quoted in Ibid., p. 668.
(9) Lathan, pp. 370-72.
(10) Other area buildings attributed to Jones include Eden Hall, a ca. 1854 Greek Revival residence with Egyptian influences, near McCormick; the Calhoun-Gibert House, a ca. 1856 Greek Revival residence, in Willington; and the Dr. John Albert Gibert House, a ca. 1867 I-house with Greek Revival influences, near McCormick, all in McCormick County and listed in the National Register in 1980, 1993, and 1996, respectively.
(11) Davis, pp. 11-16.
Dr. J. Tracy Power
South Carolina Department of Archives and History