Church interior photos courtesy Junius Keith Peeples
HISTORY OF SPEEDWELL METHODIST CHURCH
MILLETT, SOUTH CAROLINA
In 1884, Mrs. F.F. Dunbar (Ogreta Brabham) and Mrs. S.E. Bates, desiring to establish a Methodist Church in this community, began to solicit money for the purpose.
They went to Old Beaufort Bridge in Bamberg County, the home of their ancestors and a Methodist stronghold, to solicit aid. With this aid and funds raised in this community, Speedwell Church at Millett was built on a five acre tract of land donated by Mrs. J.H. Laffitte, who was the mother of Paul Delacy Black and Mrs. Benjamin Willingham Peeples. The deed was signed in 1884 by Mrs. Laffitte.
The name of Speedwell was chosen because that was the name of the post office here during stagecoach days, before the railroad and Millett Station were built.
Mrs. S.E. Bates was the first organist, and Mrs. F.F. Dunbar was the first communion steward.
Speedwell Church was included in the Allendale Circuit at first. Then Dr. Boydís old home at Appleton was purchased for a parsonage and the Appleton Circuit was formed in 1907 which consisted of Cave, Gillett, Ellenton and Speedwell Churches. During Mr. C.O. Shulerís pastorate, about 1935, the parsonage was moved to Ellenton and the Circuit became the Ellenton Circuit. The parsonage at Ellenton was taken by the Savannah River Plant and since then Speedwell Church has been served by supply preachers from Allendale. There have been two church buildings on this site.
Among the members of the original church were: Mrs. F.F. Dunbar, Mrs. S.E. Bates, Mr. William Dunbar, who became a minister, serving in North Georgia Conference, Mr. C.B. Dunbar, who was the first member to join after the church was organized, and a steward until his death, Mr. George Dunbar, Mr. and Mrs. J.H. Laffitte, (the three Dunbars were brothers and Mrs. Laffitte was their sister, who was Alice Dunbar), also Mr. Horace Cassells, Sr., Mrs. Spelman, Mrs. Jesse Griffin, Mrs. Irene Roundtree, Mr. and Mrs. W.F. Cease, Mr. and Mrs. B. W. Peeples, Mr. and Mrs. P. D. Black, Mr. and Mrs. Idis Brabham, Miss Minnie Brabham, Mrs. Vernie K. Duncan, Miss Kate D. Kirkland, Mr. and Mrs. G. D. Kirkland, Mr. and Mrs. J. B. Kirkland, Mr. and Mrs. J. J. Walker, Mr. W. S. Snelling, Mr. and Mrs. S. E. Dunbar, Mr. and Mrs. C. W. Dunbar, Mr. and Mrs. L. P. Smith, Mr. L. J. Smith, and Mr. E. J. Black.
Some of the first pastors include: R.H. Jones, 1886-87; C.E. Wiggins, 1888-89; J.L. Sifley, 1890-92; P.F. Kistler, 1893-95; W.B. Duncan, 1896-98; A.J. Cauthen, 1898-1900, C. W. Creighton, 1901-02; W. C. Kirkland, 1903; J. T. Peeler, 1910; E. Z. James, and J. A. Graham, who returned for a second time in 1941; Mr. Sojourner, 1916; Dr. Kirby, M.D.; Mr. Weight, Mr. Prosser and Mr. Johnson; W. R. Jones, in the early 1920ís; Peter Stokes, 1932; C.O. Shuler, 1934; Mr. Phillips, 1938; Mr. Rone, 1938; Carl Parker, 1940; Thomas Kemmerlin, 1945; James F. Trammell, 1949; Clyde Hendrix, 1952; S. R. Graves, 1956; Laurie W. Smith, 1963; Henry M. Thomson, 1967.
The present church building was begun about 1922. It was dedicated by Bishop William Turner Watkins on May 23,1941; Mr. Graham was pastor. The reason for delayed dedication was the loss of church funds by bank failures during the depression. The present church was built during the pastorate of Mr. W. R. Jones.
The stewards who promoted the building were: Mr. Idis Brabham, Mr. C. B. Dunbar, Mr. J. J. Walker, and Mr. G. D. Kirkland.
The ladies of the church organized a Ladies Aid Society with Mrs. Idis Brabham as president, and raised funds for the furnishings of the church. The chandelier is the same one used in the original church. It was given by Mr. and Mrs. Idis Brabham. The church is still in possession of the original communion service and Bible. The light fixtures in the present church were given by James H. Black as a memorial to Miss Kate D. Kirkland.
Among those who have served as stewards are: B. W. Peeples, Paul D. Black, J. J. Snelling, W. M. Terry, Sr., W. D. Cease, J. B. Kirkland, C. W. Dunbar, and G. R. Peeples. Mrs. P. D. Black succeeded Mrs. F. F. Dunbar as communion steward.
Some of the Sunday School superintendents include; B. W. Peeples, C. B. Dunbar, J. Vince Dunbar, Miss Kate D. Kirkland, Ellett Walker, Mrs. Antonio Dunbar Ussery, Miss Catherine Terry, and W. M. Terry, Jr.
Stewards when Mr. Graves came in 1956 were: J. J. Snelling, W. M. Terry, Sr., Mrs. R. A. Ellis, W. D. Cease, Miss Leize Black, and W. M. Terry, Jr. Members of the Official Board were: W. M. Terry, Sr., Chairman, Mrs. P. O. Morris, Secretary, Mrs. J. J. Snelling, Treasurer, Mrs. R. A. Ellis, Pianist, Mrs. W. M. Terry, Jr., songleader, and Miss Leize Black, Communion Steward.
Trustees were: C. L. Dunbar, J. J. Snelling, and W. M. Terry, Sr.; Lay Leader, W. D. Cease; Sunday School Superintendent, W. M. Terry, Jr., and Pastor S. Robert Graves, 1956.
Officers in 1961 were: J. J. Snelling, Steward and Trustee; C. L. Dunbar, Trustee, W. D. Cease, Steward and Trustee; W. M. Terry, Jr., Steward and Sunday School Superintendent; Wade C. Smith, Steward; Mrs. Wade C. Smith, Steward and Treasurer; Mrs. R. A. Ellis, Steward and Organist; Mrs. Leize B. Kearse, Communion Steward.
The church was repaired and redecorated in 1958 largely with funds received from the parsonage in Ellenton that was sold when the Savannah River Plant took over. Rev. C. O. Shuler contributed both money and labor to build the parsonage in Ellenton, so we are indebted to him in a measure for the appearance of our church today.
The Rev. S. R. Graves served as pastor until 1963. The first homecoming was held in October 1961.
The Rev. Laurie W. Smith was the next pastor, serving until 1967. The second homecoming was in October 1966.
In July, 1967, the Rev. Henry M. Thomson was assigned to serve Speedwell. In the spring of 1969, the inside and outside of the church was painted.
Because of the moving away of some members and some of the older members not being able to attend services because of infirmities, it was decided to call a meeting of the church members to discuss the possible merger with Swallow Savannah United Methodist Church in Allendale. This meeting was held at Speedwell in November, 1969, and the members present voted in favor of the merger. Therefore, the services at Speedwell were discontinued with the prevision that if the need arises the church will be re-opened.
We are deeply indebted to Mrs. Victor Kearse (Leize Black) for this history of Speedwell Church.
SPEEDWELL METHODIST CHURCH
In looking back through the history of this church I found that the land was given by Mrs. M. A. Laffitte, wife of John H. Laffitte. This land was deeded to the church with the following as the trustees: Lawrence G. Richardson, James S. Calhoun, and Joseph B. Bates. This land was in the Bennett Springs township which is now known as Millett. The deed was drawn up in 1884, executed Feb. 6, 1884. The deed was recorded Feb. 24, 1885.
Speedwell Methodist Church was first listed in the Journal of the South Carolina Methodist Conference published in 1885. It was first listed as Millett. Then in 1886 it was changed to Speedwell and listed as a part of the Allendale Charge. In 1885 the salary set for the pastor was $45.00, World Service $2.00. In 1886, the pastorís salary was listed as $65.00, paid $59.60: World Service, $7.00; paid $5.00. The membership was listed as 17 members. In 1890, which was seventy-five years ago, there were 19 members. The pastorís salary was $75.00, World Service, $10.00.
In 1906 when the Appleton Charge was formed, Speedwell was transferred to the Appleton Charge. The Rev. J. T. Peeler was appointed as the first pastor of that charge. Fifty years ago (1915) the salary for the charge was $100.00, World Service $135.00. Twenty-five years ago (1940) the salary for the pastor was set at $165.00, World Service $50.00. In 1965 the pastor was paid $500.00 and World Service $115.00 with 30 members.
- Laurie W. Smith, pastor 1966
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