Friday, June 26, 2015

Days of Terror in Laurens County, SC

Our series on Laurens County, SC, during Reconstruction continues, with a description of the days of terror in the wake of the Laurens, SC, Riot of 1870.

The Laurens Riot took place October 20, 1870, the day after the general election, and racial and political tensions in post-War South Carolina were bound to boil over somewhere. The account of the Laurens Riot is found here, but the aftermath was even darker. Here is the story:

By nightfall the whole thing seemed to be over, that is until riders from surrounding counties and outlying areas came into Laurens and into the barrooms in Clinton,[1] having heard the rumors flying of race war. However, Leland says, “as to the number of these armed men thus assembled, there has been much exaggeration. It can be safely asserted that no time after the row, were there more than three hundred nonresidents in the town, at one and the same time. Most of these, as soon as they saw that their services were not needed, quietly turned their horses' heads the way they had come.[2] Nevertheless, Laurens resident J.N. Wright and carpetbagger Erastus W. Everson claim that by eleven o'clock that evening there were 4,000‑5,000 mounted men all around town from the surrounding area.[3] The whites tore Joe Crews' office on the courthouse square to pieces.
            "Volney Powell, a handsome young white carpetbagger constable from Ohio, who had been elected Probate Judge the day before, and Bill Riley (Reily), a prominent negro Republican, set out for Newberry in the direction taken by a company of United States regulars" who had left Laurens at four that morning. They intended to bring them back to Laurens to enforce the peace. Armed men caught Powell and Riley three miles from Laurens at Milam's (or Milton's) trestle and buckshot them to death.
            Two Negroes were found shot to death in the Rocky Springs community. Black state representative Wade Perrin (R), re-elected the day before to the SC House, was indeed assassinated below Martin's Depot (Joanna) near the railroad and county line. His body lay in the road a day later as many Republicans fled toward Columbia. On his way to Newberry, Everson saw Rep. Wade Perrin’s body in the road with his pockets turned out. They stopped in at Dr. Francis’ medical practice and asked him to call the coroner.[4]
            Meanwhile in Laurens the two thousand or more mounted men, in search of a good time since they had ridden so far, turned the riot "into a negro chase." "By every highway approaching the village they could be heard riding and yelling all night long. . . It was two or three days before they [the negroes] began to steal out of the woods and swamps."[5]Four miles west of Laurens a man considered an obnoxious negro was taken from a cabin where he had sought refuge and was "so maltreated that he died a few days later. The body of another negro was found, stark and stiff, on the side of the public road [near Clinton], with no indication to show the manner of his death."[6] The Laurens citizens were outraged at the armed men from the other counties intent on punishing the blacks. Leland calls them a "handful of ruffians," and insists "there is no evidence that they even belonged to the county."[7]

[1]Leland, p. 61.
[2]Leland, p. 62.
[3]J.N. Wright, "Some Recollections of 1870, 1871, and 1872," (Unpublished, June 21, 1918), p. 2. "Colonel T.W. Woodward of Fairfield who was a terror to the ruling powers, kept his club of 100 mounted men in their saddles at Winnsboro waiting to see if they would be needed.", Everson Testimony, Ku Klux Report, 346.
[4] Ku Klux Report, 330-349; 1307.
[5]Ball, A Boy's, p. 4.
[6]Jacobs, Life, pp. 88‑89; Leland, pp. 62‑ 63; Ball, A Boy's, pp. 3‑4; Daily Phoenix, October 25, 1870. The Phoenix estimates the mounties at 2,000 to 2,500 men. Leland tells of speculation that the great number of murders occurring on the highway next to the railroad may have been done by one party going home to Newberry County, and they may have been searching for Crews who would have fled in the direction of his friends in Columbia.
[7]Leland, pp. 62‑63. He continues: "And even if they did [belong to the county], what county is there, north, south, east or west, which cannot furnish rowdies enough to perpetrate all that was done in Laurens, in a time, too, of excitement the most intense?"

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Laurens, SC, Riot

Laurens, SC, Courthouse viewed from the direction of Tin Pot Alley
Our series on Laurens County, SC, during Reconstruction continues, as the 1870 Election sparks a major riot on the Square in Laurens.
             It was rainy the morning after the election,[1] Wednesday, October 20, 1870. Court was in session, and Wednesday being the great court day, a large group of whites and blacks were on the square as everyone attended court in those days.[2] Some number of blacks had come to "receive their rewards" from Joseph Crews and his cronies for their election work.
            About eleven that morning on the Courthouse Square, a fist fight began near Tin Pot Alley, Joe Crews’ politico-military compound. According to later testimony presented before the Grand Jury, the fight started when a white Republican constable apparently called a citizen Democrat named Johnson "a tallow‑faced son‑of‑a‑

Saturday, June 06, 2015

Laurens County, SC's most corrupt election

Laurens County Courthouse built 1838
Our series on Laurens County, SC, during Reconstruction continues with an account of the corrupt and violent 1870 election in Laurens County, SC. 

 As the 1870 fall election season got fully underway, Laurens County chairman of the Radical Republican Party, Joseph Crews, continued making election speeches across the county, and the more he talked, the more ridiculous his speeches became. 
He told black voters that they possessed the State government and must keep it or die, that it was necessary to their liberty and safety that he be elected to the SC House, that he had given them arms and bullets and they must use them, that they had the torch and matches were cheap, that everyone over fifteen years old could vote – he had passed the law himself. On top of it all, Crews consolidated his election machine in an old, dilapidated building called

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Clinton, SC, Riot of 1870

The Clinton, SC, Square.
Our series on Laurens County, SC, during Reconstruction continues, with 1870 election tensions building to a race riot in Clinton.

In Laurens County and throughout South Carolina, as the 1870 fall election season approached, tensions continued to increase, fomented by outside political influences and internal racial fears. 

On a dark night in mid-August, Dr. William P. Jacobs of Clinton, SC, was in for a real surprise on his way home from Cross Hill after marrying a couple.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Black militias in the 1870 Laurens County, SC, election

Our series on Laurens County, SC, during Reconstruction continues, concerning black militias in the 1870 election.
A postbellum SC Black militia (Source:
Joe Crews "was the moving spirit behind the organization of a Negro militia troop in Laurens. . . . After organizing the unit, he assumed active command and in so doing became a target for the bitter hatred of the local Conservatives."[1]  Black militia units were organized to uphold the Republican government and in response to Negro demands for protection against the white harassment of the late 1860's in the Upstate.[2]

The carpetbagger South Carolina Governor Robert K . Scott of Pennsylvania[3]  had armed the Negro troops as the 1870 election came around. Scott was a bluecoat colonel during the war, and former assistant commissioner of the Freedmen's Bureau.  Five or six companies of negro militia were stationed in Laurens County.[4]  They themselves terrified whites and

Monday, March 09, 2015

The Infamous Joseph Crews

Our series on Laurens County, SC, during Reconstruction continues, acquainting us with the notorious Joseph Crews
Joseph Crews' grave in
Laurens (SC) City Cemetery,
not with the rest of the family

Post-war racial tensions in Laurens County, SC, were exacerbated by the tense political atmosphere and the organizing of independent groups determined to keep freed slaves in their place. During the election of 1868, the Ku Klux Klan first organized in the upstate in Abbeville County and was thought to be connected to similar organizations in Edgefield and Laurens dedicated to the destruction of the Radical party and the killing or banishment of its leaders.  

In Laurens, Union, York, and lower Greenville counties, disguised men visited voters to warn against voting Republican. Newberry had bands of persons with false faces and white sheets riding at night and threatening and abusing Negroes. Anderson was more organized. Edgefield was so strong "that it had everything its way."  York County, SC, organized to protect the whites. The whites supposedly stopped it after the election.[1]  The Democrats won in Laurens in 1868, but the Republicans claimed they had not been ready and that there were more Negro votes in the county than white.[2] 

Enter Joseph Crews, the most colorful character of the period.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Emerging Black Leadership in Reconstruction-era Laurens County, SC

Fleming Cain Colored School, Laurens County, SC
Our series on Laurens County, SC, during Reconstruction continues, exploring the emerging African-American leadership in Laurens County.
War’s end and the beginning of Radical Reconstruction brought massive social change. In Laurens County, freedom brought opportunities for local former slaves to develop as community and political leaders. Most whites did not hate the freed blacks. They just wanted them to stay in the same condition as before the war.  However, some freedmen did not fit the prescribed mold. Here are a few you might like to know:

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Farm Labor and Freed Slaves in Reconstruction-era Laurens County, SC

Rendering lard in Laurens County, SC
Our series on Laurens County, SC, during Reconstruction continues, describing the adjustments of whites and blacks to a world where slaves were freed.
For whites, the freeing of the slaves was a fearful dilemma. African-Americans, free at last, were in shock at their newfound freedom. This brave new, free world was a confusing thing to everyone involved. Laurens resident William Watts Ball gives his white perspective:

Monday, February 02, 2015

Reconstruction Clinton, SC: Liquor and Temperance

Clinton, SC, early 20th century
Part of a series on Reconstruction-era Laurens County, SC
Clinton, South Carolina, in the early years was "like many western railroad camps, . . . and did a big business in cotton." Until the Charleston to Spartanburg railroad was built, Clinton was the embarking point for most of the Upstate of South Carolina.  Because of that, Clinton was also a place to misbehave while away from home for those with some extra cash in their pocket. William P. Jacobs describes Clinton this way:

Friday, January 23, 2015

Post-bellum Laurens County, SC, smaller towns

Part of a series on Reconstruction-era Laurens County, SC
Cross Hill Township was founded at the crossing of Indian trails on the high ridge from about Chappells to about Greenville and the North‑South path from the fish dams on the Broad River to the dams on the Savannah River. Cross Hill was nine miles of the "most fertile farming land in the county" with springs and Mudlick and Cane Creeks making dairy farming profitable.  Years later Cross Hill would bloom as a railroad town with

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Reconstruction-era Clinton, SC

 According to Dr. William P. Jacobs, the first building in Clinton was erected in 1852, in the middle of a mud hole or stagnant pool of water, at the corner of Broad and Pitts Streets.  The words 'BARROOM' were painted on its side.  A log from the doorway to terra‑firma was the way of approach and many an unlucky fellow who walked straight in, walked out so crooked, that he would topple over to the pool below.[1] Other little wooden shanties and homes were put up, but by 1864

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

No railroad to Laurensville

Laurens Railroad station in later years
Part of a series on Reconstruction-era Laurens County, SC
At the end of the War Between the States, Laurens County’s link with the outside world, the Laurens Railroad, was no longer in business.  The Laurens County boys had ridden this very track off to fight the Yankees in '61.  Many would never return from the battlefields.[1] The railroad had reached Five Points (later called Clinton)[2] in 1850, and passengers used gangplanks to board because of the flat, marshy ground.[3]  The first train whistle was heard in Laurens in 1854, and by December 1863, there was a

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The economy in post-War Laurens County, SC

Map of South Carolina highlighting Laurens County
Laurens County in South Carolina (Wikipedia)
Let’s begin by looking at the realities of Laurens County’s economy and generalities of life at the end of the War for Southern Independence.  

The poverty which the post-bellum Confederate was to know was first of all a direct result of the North's hatred and blatant destruction of the South. But there was an element of the poverty that the slave owner brought upon himself.  Before the war, men would live not much better than their slaves in order to

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Reconstruction-era Laurens County, SC

A new series on Sunday in the South . . .
Old Laurens County, SC, Courthouse
Of the most fascinating and colorful periods of the history of Laurens County, SC, the Reconstruction years after the War Between the States were brilliantly radiant, desperately dark, and foundationally formative.  By the end of the Late Unpleasantness of the War, Laurens County had lost or seen crippled one half of her white male population from battle or disease. Several million dollars in capital evaporated with the end of the “peculiar institution of slavery.”  What she gained were

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Acts 6:1-7 - The Affirmation of Ordination

My dad being ordained as a deacon
at Beaverdam Baptist Church in Mountville, SC
What guidance does the Bible offer in the important matter of setting men apart for Christian ministry, and in our case today, of deacons?
Some Baptists have totally rejected ordination because they do not think it squares with our church polity. Dwight L. Moody refused ordination. Hopefully ordination is not what C.H. Spurgeon called it: the “placing of idle hands on empty heads.” Most Baptists, however, have practiced ordination, seeing several positives.
1.   Protecting the church from

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Great Prayer Meeting Revival

On July 1, 1857, a quiet businessman, Jeremiah Lanphier, was appointed a city missionary at the North Dutch Reformed Church on Fulton Street, Lower Manhattan. In September, Jeremiah decided to start a noonday prayer meeting once a week, and he began to pass out flyers to advertise the meeting. On the first day, Sept. 23, six men gathered to pray. 

The second week of October, the stock market crashed. On October 17, twenty gathered in what was now a daily noon prayer meeting. The prayer meetings grew, and six months later,

Sunday, September 07, 2014

The Second Great Awakening 1800-1820

After the Revolutionary War, spiritual darkness descended over America. Sin and immorality was rampant. Christianity was mocked on college and university campuses so much that the handful of believers were forced to keep their faith secret. But something was about to change. In 1784, a significant chain of events began, which directly contributed to

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Shalom and society

English: "shalom" in Hebrew. type-fa...
Shalom. The Hebrew word for peace (shalom) is found over 200 times in the Old Testament. In the narrative books, like Joshua, Kings, and Chronicles, it usually is used to describe simply an absence of hostility or strife. 

In the Psalms and the Prophets the meaning goes beyond that. It expresses a basic and vital biblical idea of not just a condition without war, but goes further to suggest

Monday, August 11, 2014

The King will pour out the Spirit of Righteousness

When there is no revival and repentance in the hearts of God's people, there will always be complacency and carnality, pride and prejudice. When there is no revival, no one thinks they need the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Churches are self-run, or personality-driven, or deacon-possessed, not Holy Spirit-led.

Isaiah gives us a picture of revival in chapter 32 of his prophecy. He says that God's judgments are the precursors to revival. They are meant to shake us out of our complacency (Isa. 32:9-14; note the similarities between Isaiah 32:1-20 and Isaiah 3:1-4:6). Perhaps the judgments we are seeing are God's answering prayers and intercession for revival and spiritual awakening.

When revival begins, complacency is replaced by

Thursday, August 07, 2014

The King will reign in righteousness

There is coming a day when the Lord is going to right the wrongs in this world. 

He sees the employee that gets away with stealing and then gets promoted. He sees the children who are beaten and molested every day. He hears the cries of the victims of cancer and genetic diseases.  He hears the cry of the blood coming from the ground from aborted children. 

He sees the corruption in our government. He hears the cries for help from victims of human trafficking. He hears the pleadings of the persecuted church. He knows about

Monday, August 04, 2014

Giving, squandering, and missions

Poor giving and churches squandering Kingdom resources has consequences. Missions suffers.

Eighty-five cents of every dollar given in a church offering stays at that church.That might not be so bad, especially if they are using it to minister to their community. But what follows is not good.

In 2000, 97 dollars of every 100 of the entire income ($269.61B) of all Christian organizations was spent on, and primarily benefited, other Christians at home or abroad. 

Church spending on ministering to already-evangelized non-Christians was $2.90 of every $100 ($7.8B). 

We spent 3 cents ($0.81B) of every $100 on unevangelized non-Christians. [1] In 2010 that spending dropped to 2 cents per $100.[2] (Where did the other 7 cents go?)

Is this a focus on investing in missions? I think we can do better.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Your only hope

Bush River Church, est. 1771
When I was seven years old, Mr. Thomas Daum, the pastor at Bush River Baptist Church, came to see me. I had been asking a lot of questions about the Lord and salvation, and my folks felt it was time I talked with the pastor. He sat in a straight back chair in the den and asked me a long list of questions while I sat on the hearth and answered them. 

I don’t remember the questions, but I knew one important thing.

Monday, March 10, 2014

What will the redeemed do in the New Heaven and New Earth?

English: Binkley Chapel at the Southeastern Ba...
Binkley Chapel at the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC. (Wikipedia)
(Part of a series on death and the hereafter)

What will we do in heaven? The Revelation affirms that we will (1) rest (Rev 14:13), (2) worship (Rev 15:2-4), and (3) serve (Rev 22:3) God and others. We may be given (4) stewardship over the new creation as we were the old one. Could that be part of ruling and reigning with him? 

If God had given up when Adam and Eve failed at the cultural mandate (Gen 1:28), why did he repeat the command with Noah after the flood (Gen 9:1)? What God-honoring works of art, technology, building, even sports might we develop? Remember, the Lord created us in His image, and He is a creator. If we can create and solve mysteries and cure diseases in our current sinful, depraved minds and bodies, what could we create and develop in a creation without sin? 

Friday, March 07, 2014

How the Bible describes the New Heaven

(Part of a series on death and the hereafter)

How does the Bible describe the New Heaven and New Earth? Despite the fact that no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him, He has revealed it to us by his Spirit (1 Cor. 2:9). We can get a glimpse of what heaven is like. Here are a few images that Scripture supplies:

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

A New Heaven and New Earth

(Part of a series on death and the hereafter)

Most cultures have a belief in the afterlife, but our contemporary culture has more than ever lost any real vision for heaven. John Lennon urged people to imagine there is no heaven. The Christian music group MercyMe even says, “I can only imagine,” underscoring the deep need for the teaching of a living, powerful, Biblical, and passionate doctrine of heaven.We have lost sight of the wonder and glory of heaven, and we cannot imagine life much better than we have it here. 

We in the West have a joyless view of heaven. Perhaps we have lost the sense of the transcendence of God and therefore heaven. Perhaps we are so self-absorbed and wealthy in the West that we honestly cannot imagine

Monday, March 03, 2014

What is Heaven like? (Part 2)

The Transfiguration Lodovico Carracci 1594
The Transfiguration Lodovico Carracci 1594 (Wikipedia)
(Part of a series on death and the hereafter)

Do people have intermediate bodies in the present heaven? God and angels are in essence spirits (John 4:24; Heb 1:14), but human beings are by nature both spiritual and physical (Gen 2:7). God did not create Adam as a spirit and place him in a body. He first created a body and then breathed into a spirit. We cannot, it seems, be fully human without a both a spirit and a body. 

We don’t know for sure, but between our bodily death and our bodily resurrection, God may give us some