South Carolina USA
|Cemetery notes and/or description:|
To reach Peniel Baptist Church and Cemetery take 17 -A south from Walterboro until it intersects with S. C. Highway 63, which goes due west. Travel past Sniders Cross Roads-about twelve miles-then across the Little Salkehatchie Swamp for 1.6 miles to the crest of the first hill where a road on the left leads to the church, visible from the highway.
The white building with attached Sunday School rooms, finished with asbestos siding, rests on old poles (most probably hand-hewn) under tall, majestic pine and oak trees. An old well with pump is to the left front side, and a large covered picnic shed and tables stand to the other side, the west side.
On the south side to the rear of the church is the large cemetery, enclosed with chain link fence, dotted with beautfiul trees. The oldest marked grave bears the date Sept. 24, 1880, and is that of Sarah Curtis who was born Dec. 2, 1806. It is extremely well kept and has some attractive headstones. Directly eastward from this cemetery, separated by a road lie those graves of negroes who once were members, of this church also, but who formed their church, Deep Creek Baptist Church, some miles west on this same highway. One interesting marker here is wooden, probably cypress on which is carved "Born 1879" but with no name. Another wooden marker, 1110sL unique, has the dates 1910-1941 set in with large nails, but it also is nameless. The oldest readable stone is that of Jacob Mears who died July 29, 1888. Not too far away the land slopes into the swamp.
These two cemeteries proved this church with a rather unusual history. The old church register no recording minutes for 1859 reveals that there was a certain Negro woman named Tidy Was received in the church as a candidate for baptism on, June 5, 1859. Along with her were fourteen other negroes all without surnames. In 1885, but evidently just after the War between the States, several black members given "letters of dismisson" to form a church of their own, resulting in that one called Deep Creek. Hence this negro cemetery is named Deep Creek Cemetery.
The present building is the third one to be occupied by Peniel Baptist Church, according to an article in the Dec 22, 1919 issue of the The Press and Standard, the first two being of logs, some of which, no doubt, form the foundation for this building. The first church was across the highway, and the second just back of this one.
Church records date from July, 1848, when a group of men met together to form a church.
At first there was no regular minister, different ones coming on meeting days. Sometimes more than one preacher would be there so that a committee would have to decide who would do the preaching. The church minutes give no preacher's name until Oct. 1, 1853, when appears the name of Brother Risher, and on December, 1853, that of Brother Davis. From 1874-78 the Rev. W.H. Dowling was the pastor. On May 22, 1875 a building committee was appointed to build a new church, this group consisting of Mr. Stone, W. J. Bishop, W. D. L. Yarn, H. Bishop, and G. B. Hickman. In 1948 this building was given extensive repairs, and further repairs have been made in the ensuing years toward modernization and the addition of Sunday School rooms. Life in the mid 1800's is revealed in the penalties imposed upon members for certain misdemeanors. In those early days of membership if a member failed to attend two church meetings he would be "cited." If he failed the third time he was dealt with as being "disorderly." Some were even "excluded" from membership because of their deeds. Non-attendance was classed along with intoxication, theft, drinking, using bad language and adultery as a cause for "exclusion." In the cemetery is one stone which has been defaced, but the writer was able to ascertain the fact that Winnie Martin (no. 228) was the first wife of J. P. Carson, she being buried in the Martin family lot.