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Religious Information
Scots-Irish Background

A genealogical study of my Cathcart heritage is very much wrapped up in the history of the Presbyterian Church.  In order to understand the religious motivations of my ancestors, one must go back in time and try to decipher the meanings of various historical events, doctrinal and/or political disputes and resultant schisms—all of which impacted the Church's members.

I found this to be particularly true with respect to the Presbyterian Church's positions and actions regarding the institution of slavery in the early years in the United States.

As I was not raised as a Presbyterian, I am by no means an expert in the historical and doctrinal details of the Presbyterian Church.  However, a genealogical study of the Cathcart family not be complete without at least trying to understand the basics.



Covenanters Time Line

-- The Scottish Church 1528 -- 1690





1555- 6





































History of the Reformed Presbyterians (Covenanters) in America

South Carolina

CHESTER DISTRICT. In the latter part of the seventeenth century a few banished Covenanters settled at Port Royal and in the vicinity of Charleston, but on account of the unhealthy condition of the country they either migrated to Chester District or returned to Scotland. Soon Chester District became the stronghold of Covenanterism in the South. In 1750, soon after the removal of the Rev. Alexander Craighead to the South, a few members of the "Craighead Society" at Octorara, Pennsylvania, and other Covenanters from Virginia and North Carolina, settled in this region. Among these were Hugh and John McDonald. They settled along the Rocky Creek and were the pioneers of Chester.* John McDonald and his wife were both killed by the Cherokee Indians in 1761, and their children were made prisoners. In 1755, emigrants from Ireland began to settle up the country, and among these were many Covenanter families. They built a union church and the Rev. William Richardson, of Waxhaws, became the preacher. The church was called "Catholic," because Presbyterians generally worshipped there, and this general meeting house was situated on the Rocky Mount road, some fifteen miles south-east of the town of Chester. In 1770, the Covenanters separated from the others and held society meetings. They then wrote to Ireland for a preacher and made every effort to obtain a minister. In accordance with their wishes, the Rev. William Martin, of Ballymoney, Ireland, came with a colony of his people in 1772, and settled along the Rocky Creek. No imaginary picture has been drawn when a description of the manners and customs of these patriotic Covenanters is given by Mrs. E. F. Ellet in her "Domestic History of the American Revolution," and written by Mr. Daniel G. Stinson, whose father was a member of this colony. This chapter of interesting Covenanter history will here be inserted:

An interesting glimpse into the life and character of the Scotch-Irish patriots of South Carolina at the period of the Revolution is afforded in the history of Mrs. Green, daughter of Robert Stephenson (or Stinson,) a native of Scotland, who was born in the County Antrim, Ireland, in 1750. The family was reared in the strictest tenets of the Covenanter faith, in the vicinity of Ballymoney, under the pastoral care of the Rev. William Martin, who, in 1772, emigrated to America, and settled on the Rocky Creek, South Carolina. Many of the congregation quitted their country with him, and followed their pastor under impulse of the same desire of the "freedom to worship God." Among these emigrants were James, William and Elizabeth Stinson, and their brother-in-law, William Anderson, who married Nancy Stinson before the sailing of the ship. Her wedded life thus commenced with a voluntary renunciation of home and the society of early friends, to seek a new country and to encounter unforeseen privation and difficulties. Bounty lands had been bestowed by the government as inducements to emigration, and those who received such warrants, upon their arrival took great care to fix their location as near as possible to a central point, where a meeting house might be built. Their spirit was that of the ancient patriarch, who first built an altar. The spot selected for this purpose was the dividing ridge between Great and Little Rocky Creeks. Here, in the summer of 1773, these pious Covenanters might be seen from day to day, felling trees and clearing a space of ground upon which they reared a large meeting house, many of them living in tents at home, till a place was provided in which they could assemble for religious service. A number of log cabins soon rose in the neighborhood, each with a patch of ground in which Indian corn was planted. The Irish emigrants were ignorant of the manner of cultivating this grain; but the first settlers, or "countryborns" were ready to offer assistance and took pains to instruct them in its culture. The wants of small families were supplied with small crops, for corn was only then used for making bread, the woods affording abundant supplies of grass cane and wild pea vines to serve their horses and cattle for provender the whole year round. The streams abounded in shad and various other fish in their season, and the trusty rifle that hung upon the rack over the door, was never brought back with out having performed its duty in slaying the deer, or whatever small game might be sought in the forest. Often have the old men who lived in that day spoken of the abundance that prevailed; a good hunter, when he chose, could make five dollars a day in deer skins and hams, while, if generous, he might give away the remainder of the venison to the poor. The hams and skins were sent to Charleston and exchanged for powder, lead, and other necessary articles. The wealth of these primitive Covenanters consisted in stock, their labors in tilling the earth, felling the woods and fencing their fields, while they were disturbed by none of the wants or cares created by a more advanced state of civilization. Such was the condition of the Covenanters, who had left their native Ireland, for the religious liberty found in the wilds of America. During seven years after their settlement in the woods, they enjoyed a life in which nothing of earthly comfort was wanting. Year after year the patch enlarged, the field becoming to the respectable dimensions of ten acres, and then a good clearing for a farm. Every Sabbath morning the parents, in their "Sunday clothes," with their neatly dressed and well-behaved little ones, might be seen at the big meeting-house; their pocket Bibles containing the old Psalms in their hands, and, turning over the leaves, they would follow the preacher in all the passages of Scripture cited by him, as he commented upon the verses. Their simple, trustful piety caused the wilderness to rejoice. But this happiness could not be lasting. The rumour of war which had gone over the land, was heard even in this remote section, and those refugees who had found peace could not but sympathize with their oppressed brethren. Some, it is true, from the vicinity, had been out in what was called the "Snow Campaign," an expedition undertaken towards the close of 1775 against the fierce Cherokee Indians and certain loyalists in the upper regions; and some had been present at the attack on Sullivan's Islands in 1776, and brought a report to those remaining at home. The desolation that raged in the North ere long took its way Southward, and the families which were now unmolested, and had enjoyed the pure ordinances of the gospel, were now disturbed. This immunity was of short duration. John McClure, of Fishing Creek, came home and brought the intelligence of the surrender of Charleston, and his own defeat at Monk's Corner. Still worse news came from across the river—of the inhuman massacre of Buford's command by Tarleton's corps at Waxhaws. This event gave a more sanguinary character to the war. Directly after this appalling announcement, spread the rumour that a strong party of British was posted at Rocky Mount, that the people of Wateree were flocking to take protection as loyal subjects, and that the conquerors were sending forces in every direction to reduce the Province to subjection. Such was the aspect of affairs up to a certain Sabbath in June, 1780. On the morning of this memorable Sabbath, the different paths leading up to the log meeting house were unusually crowded. The old country folk were dressed with their usual neatness, especially the women, whose braw garments, brought from Ireland, were carefully preserved, not merely from thrift, but as a memorial of the green isle of their birth. Their dresses of silk, chintz, or Irish calico—fixed each wearer with marvelous neatness, and the collars or ruffles of linen, white as snow, and the high-heeled shoes. They wore fur hats with narrow rims and large feathers; their hair neatly braided, hanging over the shoulders or fastened by the black ribbon band around their heads, comprised their holiday attire. It was always a mystery to the dames, who had spent their lives or many years in the country, how the gowns of the late comers could be made to fit so admirable; their own, in spite of every effort, showing a sad deficiency in this respect. The men, on their part, appeared not less adorned in their coats of fine broadcloth, with their breeches, large knee buckles of pure silver, and hose of various colors. They wore shoes fastened with a large strap secured with a buckle, or white topped boots, leaving exposed three or four inches of the hose from the knee downward. It must be acknowledged that these people, so strict in their religious principles, were somewhat remarkable in their fondness for dress. They considered it highly irreverent to appear at church not clad in their best clothes, and though when engaged in labor during the week, they conformed to the customs of their neighbors, wearing the coarse homespun of their own manufacture, and on the Sabbath it was astonishing to see how much of decent pride there was in the exhibition of the fine clothes brought from beyond the seas. As the years rolled on many of the dresses and coats began to show marks of decay; but careful repairing preserved the hoarded garments, linked with such endeared associations, and only a few, who had married with the "countryborn," had made any alteration in them. The peculiarity of dress gave the congregation, assembled for worship in that rude sanctuary, a strange and motely appearance—European finery being contrasted with the homespun gowns, hunting shirts and moccasins of the country people. It was always insisted upon as a point of duty by Covenanters, that children should be brought to church with parents. The little ones sat between the elders, that they might be kept quiet during Divine service, and also to be ready at the appointed hour to say the Catechism. The strict deportment and piety of this people had already done much to change the customs formerly prevalent. Men and women who used to hunt or fish upon the Sabbath day, now went regularly to meeting, and some notorious ones whose misconduct had been a nuisance to the community, now left the neighborhood. The Stroudes, Kitchens and Morrisses, formerly regarded as the Philistines of the land, were regular in their attendance upon Divine service. Upon this particular Sabbath, the whole neighborhood seemed to have turned out, and every face wore an expression of anxiety. Groups of men might be seen gathered together under shade trees in every direction, talking in loud and earnest tones, some laying down plans for the assent of their friends; some pale with alarm and listened to others telling the news; and some, transported with indignation, stamped the ground and gesticulated vehemently as they spoke. Everywhere the women mingled with the different groups, and appeared to bear an active part in what was going on. At eleven o'clock, precisely, the venerable form of William Martin, the preacher, came in sight. He was about sixty years of age, and had a high reputation for learning and eloquence. He was a large and powerful man, with a voice that might have been heard at the distance of half a mile. As he walked from the place where he hitched his horse, towards the stand (it being customary when the congregation was too large to be accommodated in the meetinghouse, to have the service in the open air), the loud and angry words of the speakers must have reached his ears. The voices ceased as he approached, and the congregation was soon seated in silence upon the logs surrounding the stand. When he arose to speak every eye was fixed upon him. Those who had been most noisy expected a reproof for their desecration of the Sabbath, for their faithful pastor was never known to fail of rebuking those whose deportment was unsuited to the solemnity of the day. But at this time he also seemed absorbed with the great subject that agitated every bosom. "My hearers," he said, in his broad, distinct Irish dialect, "talk and angry words will do no good. We must fight! As your pastor, in preparing a discourse suited to this time of trial, I have sought for all light; I have examined the Scriptures and other helps in ancient and modern history, and have especially considered the controversy between the United Colonies and the mother country. Sorely have our countrymen been dealt with, till forced to their declaration of independence. Our forefathers in Scotland made a similar one, and maintained that declaration with their lives. It is now our turn, brethren, to maintain this at all hazards." After the prayer, and singing of the Psalms, he calmly opened his discourse. He cited many passages of Scripture to show that a people may lawfully resist wicked rulers; pointed to historical examples of princes trampling upon the rights of the people; painted in vivid colors the rise and progress of the Reformation in Scotland; and finally applied the subject by fairly stating the merits of the revolutionary controversy. Giving a brief sketch of the events of the war, from the first shedding of blood at Lexington, and warming with the subject as he proceeded, his address became eloquent with the fiery energy of a Demosthenes. In a voice like thunder, frequently striking with his clenched fist the clapboard pulpit, he appealed to the excited concourse, exhorting them to fight valiantly in defence of their liberties. As he dwelt upon the recent horrid tragedy—the butchery of Buford's men, cut down by the British dragoons while crying out for mercy—his indignation reached its height. Stretching out his hand toward Waxhaws—"Go see," he cried, "the tender mercies of Great Britain! In that church you may find men, though still alive, hacked out of the very semblance of humanity; some deprived of their arms, some with one arm or leg, some with both legs cut off, and others with mutilated trunks. Is not this cruelty a parallel to the history of our Scottish forefathers, driven from their conventicles, and hunted as beasts of the forest? Behold the godly youth, James Nesbit, chased for days by the British for the crime of being seen on his knees upon the Sabbath morning, etc!" To this stirring sermon the whole assembly responded. Hands were clenched and teeth set in the intensity of feeling; every uplifted face expressed the same determination, and even the women were filled with the spirit that threatened vengeance upon the invaders. During the interval of Divine worship, they went about professing their resolution to do their part in the approaching contest; to plough the fields, and gather the crops in the absence of the men, aye, to fight themselves rather than submit. In the afternoon the subject was resumed and discussed with renewed energy, while the appeals of the preacher were answered by even more energetic demonstrations of feeling. When the worship was concluded, and the congregation separated to return homeward, the manly form of Captain Ben Land was seen walking among the people, shaking hands with every neighbor, and whispering in his ear the summons to the next day's work. As the minister quitted his stand, William Stroud stepped up to him. This man, with his sons, was noted for strength and bravery. They were so tall in stature, that like Saul, they overlooked the rest of the congregation. "He doubted not," he said, "that Mr. Martin had heard of his ‘whipping the pets.'" "I rather think," he continued, "some people will be a little on their guard how they go to Rocky Mount for ‘tection papers! Yesterday I was down at old deaf Lot's still house, and who do you think was there? John and Dick Featherston. John said that he had been to Rocky Mount to see the fine fellows, and they were so good to him as to give him ‘tection. "Do, John, tell me what that is," I asked. He said "it was a paper, and whoever had one was safe; not a horse, cow or hog would the British take without paying two prices for it. So John, says I, I know now who told the British about James Stinson's large stock of cows which they drove off yesterday—knocking down Mrs. Stinson for putting up old brindle in the horse stable, so as to keep one cow to give milk for the children! Now, John, as you have British ‘tection, I will give you Whig ‘tection." "With that I knocked him down. Dick came running up, and I just give him a kick and doubled him up. John got up and ran, and Dick begged like a whipped boy. I told him he might carry the news that ‘tection paper men should be whipped, and have their cows taken from them to pay James Stinson for his. I think this is what you call the law of Moses. And as for these Britishers, if I don't make old Nelly take in their ears, and be dad to them!" "Excuse me for swearing this time, if you please. Now, Mr. Martin, here is old Bill—that is two, then here is young Will, Tom, Jack, Hamp, Erby, Ransom and Hardy." The manner in which this characteristic speech was delivered may be imagined. Mr. Martin showed his acceptance of the proffered help by taking William's hand and introducing him to Captain Land. As they passed away from the stand, and on their way home from the meeting, one of the sturdy Covenanters, William Anderson, was unusually silent, as if some weighty matter engaged his thoughts. His wife spoke first, after reflecting. "I think, William, little Lizzie and I can finish the crop, and gather it in if need be, as well as take care of the stock." "I am glad of that, Nancy," was the reply. "I was silent, for I did na ken how to let you know it, but to-morrow morning I leave home. The way is now clear; the Word of God approves, and it shall never be said that the Covenanters, the followers of the Reformers of Scotland, would na lend a helpin' hand to the renewal of the Covenant in the land of America! Now, Nancy, Captain Land will be out before day, giving notice that up at the cross roads hard by, he will drill the men who are willing to fight; this was agreed upon as I left meeting." They journeyed home and ate their dinner. As they arose from the table, Mrs. Anderson said, "William, were you out at the Kirk in Ballymoney, upon that Sabbath when Mary Martin, our minister's first wife, lay a corpse in his house? No one thought he could attend to preaching in his sure distress, but precisely at the striking of the hour, he was seen walking down the long aisle to the pulpit. I never shall forget the sermon! There was not a dry eye in the whole congregation, old men and women fairly cried out. I thought of that to-day when, after the sermon, old Stroud went up to him as if he had been one of the elders. Did you not see the man of God clap Stroud on the shoulder? Our minister is a wonderful man; he can persuade people to almost anything." Mr. Anderson looked up quietly and asked, "Did he persuade you to marry him, Nancy, when he went to your father's a courting?" "Na, indeed, William, I could na think of an old man when I had you fairly in my net. But I did a good turn in letting him know that Jenny Cheny was setting her cap for him, and sure enough he took my advice and they married." The Sabbath evening wore away amid the accustomed religious services, but the conversation frequently turned upon the war. Early upon Monday morning, the plough was left standing in the furrow, and the best horse was bridled and saddled and left standing at the food. Mrs. Anderson had been up since a little after midnight, making hoe cakes upon the hoe, and corn dodger in the oven, and while the cooking of meats was going on, she was busily plying the needle sewing up sacks and bags to hold provisions for man and horse upon a long journey. As soon as he had taken his breakfast, William bade his wife farewell, mounted and rode off. The effect of Mr. Martin's eloquence was speedily apparent. At an early hour upon Monday morning, many of the conscientious Covenanters were seen drilling on the muster-ground seven miles from Rocky Mount, under the brave Captain Ben Land, while two miles above this, at the shop of a negro blacksmith, half a dozen more were getting their horses shod. Those at the muster-ground were charged upon by a party of British dragoons, having no previous notice of their approach, and were dispersed. The man who carried to the enemy the tidings of Mr. Martin's sermon and the meeting of the Covenanters to drill, did not die in his bed. Their Captain being overtaken and surrounded by the dragoons, who attacked him with their broad swords, defended himself with his sword to the last, and wounded severely several of his enemies before he fell. The party at the blacksmith shop was also surprised, and one man killed. The dragoons then crossed Rocky Creek, and soon found their way to the rude stone hut which was the dwelling of Mr. Martin. They found the old divine in his study preparing a sermon, which was to be a second blow, and made him their prisoner, and carried him like a felon to Rocky Mount. There he and Thomas Walker were bound to the flood in one of the log huts. The enemy knew well what reason they had to dread the effect of Martin's stirring eloquence.

This colony expected to settle down close together, but the situation necessitated them to select lands at a distance from one another. Among those who came with Mr. Martin in this first colony were Andrew and James Stevenson (Stinson); William Anderson and his wife Nancy; Alexander Brady and his wife Elizabeth; the several families of the Linns and Kells, and others. They took up bounty land which entitled them to one hundred acres for each head of the family, and fifty for each member thereof. Mr. Martin bought a plantation one mile square of six hundred and forty acres, upon which he built a stone house. The first log church erected by Covenanters was in the spring of 1774, and was situated on the same road as the "Catholic" church, and two miles east of it. It was burned by the Tories in 1780. The hands and hearts of the Covenanters were in the trying scenes of the Revolution. The men shouldered the musket and went to the defence of the country, while the women remained at home and attended to the farms. Mr. Martin was their leader, and did much for the cause of the country in arousing all the inhabitants of Chester to their duty as citizens. As a zealous Whig, and an eloquent preacher, Mr. Martin threw all his influence on the side of the Colonists, for which he was apprehended in June, 1780, and imprisoned at Rocky Mount and Camden by the British. Here he was confined for over six months. In December, 1780, and on the day of his trial before Lord Cornwallis at Winnsboro, he stood before him erect, with his grey locks uncovered, his eyes fixed upon his lordship, his countenance marked with frankness and benevolence. "You are charged," said Lord Cornwallis, "with preaching rebellion from the pulpit. You, an old man, and a minister of the gospel of peace, are charged with advocating rebellion against your lawful sovereign King George the III. What have you to say in your defence?" Nothing daunting, Mr. Martin replied, "I am happy to appear before you. For many months I have been held in chains for preaching what I believe to be the truth. As to King George I owe him nothing but good will. I am not unacquainted with his private character. I was raised in Scotland; educated in her literary and theological schools; settled in Ireland, effectively where I spent the prime of my days, and came to this country some eight years ago. As a King, he was bound to protect his subjects in the enjoyment of their rights. Protection and allegiance go together, and when the one fails, the other cannot be exacted. The Declaration of Independence is but a reiteration of a principle which our Covenanter fathers have always maintained, and have lead this nation to adopt. I am thankful you have given me liberty to speak, and will abide your pleasure whatever it may be." After his release by Lord Cornwallis, Mr. Martin went over to Mecklenberg, North Carolina, where he preached for some time. It was here he baptized Isaac Grier, the first Presbyterian minister born in Georgia and the grandfather of William Moffat Grier, President of Erskine College, Due West, South Carolina. When the news came to him that the British had evacuated Charleston, Mr. Martin carried the word to the neighborhood, adding the comment, "the British have taken shipping, and may the d—l go with them."  In the Fairfield District there lived one John Phillips, who was a man of wealth and talent. During the war, however, he became a rank Tory and was called "Tory Colonel Phillips." He betrayed the cause of the Covenanters, and those who had often saved his life when he cast himself upon the mercy of the Whigs.  He accompanied Tarleton to Little Rocky Creek, where he took Archibald McClurkin from his bed, where he was lying at the point of death from small-pox, and hanged him to a tree by the roadside.  This barbarous act so aroused the righteous indignation of the Covenanters, that their military aid in behalf of the Colonists was thereby greatly increased. Many cold blooded deeds were attributed to this traitor Phillips. After the war he returned to Ireland, but was not there safe from the vengeance he had provoked in South Carolina. He was shot on the street in Ballymoney by one of McClurkin's brothers, but not fatally injured. He lived in constant fear of the avenger of blood and died a drunkard, himself in despair, and his family wholly destitute.

In 1781, Mr. Martin returned to Rocky Creek and resumed his labors among the Covenanters, preaching in the "Catholic" meeting house. He was dismissed for intemperate habits, in 1783, but did not cease preaching. He frequently preached at the house of Edward McDaniel, at Jackson's Creek, in Fairfield District, at the house of Richard Gladney, and across the Catawba river, at the house of William Hicklin. A small society built him a church, two miles east of the site of the one burnt by the Tories, and he continued to preach there for many years. In 1804, his stone house was burnt, and the rest of his days he lived in a log cabin. He continued his intemperate habits and died in 1806. In the summer of 1789, the Rev. James Reid, of Scotland, came on a missionary tour to America, and visited the societies in South Carolina. He set in order the affairs of the Church as the representative of the Scottish Presbytery, and dispensed the sacraments. At that time he also organized the Rocky Creek congregation, and the elders were Samuel Loughridge, Adam Edgar, John Wyatt, Thomas Morton and James McQuiston. Soon afterwards, John Kell, David Stormont, John Rock, Robert Hemphill, Hugh McMillan and Archibald Coulter were added to the session. They represented the different societies in Chester, York and Fairfield Districts. In 1791, the Rev. James McGarragh was sent out by the Reformed Presbytery of Ireland, and some members came with him. He settled in the Beaver Dam society, a branch of the Rocky Creek congregation. In 1792, the Rev. William King arrived, having been sent out by the Scottish Presbytery. After an extended tour through the North and East, he settled on the south side of the Beaver Dam, near the Mount Prospect church. In 1793, Revs. McGarragh and King constituted a Committee to judicially manage the affairs of the Church in America. They restored Mr. Martin and the affairs of the Church began to wear a regular appearance. The membership was large and scattered, and required all the time of the three ministers. The majority of the Covenanters in America were settling in the South, as the lands were cheap and adapted to farming and grazing. Mr. McGarragh had fallen into intemperate habits, and was suspended by the Committee in 1795. Mr. King died in August, 1798, and Mr. Martin was again left alone in the exercise of the ministry. In the spring of 1798, the Reformed Presbytery was re-organized in America, at Philadelphia, and the Revs. James McKinney and S. B. Wylie were sent upon a commission to South Carolina to rectify disorders, and to banish slaveholders from the pale of the Covenanter Church. This commission was constituted at the Rocky Creek meeting house, (widow Edgar's) January 28, 1801, by Revs. James McKinney and S. B. Wylie, with Mr. Thomas Donnelly, licentiate, who had been preaching here for over a year, and elders John Kell and David Stormont. During the sittings of this court, Thomas Donnelly was ordained and installed pastor of the societies; S. B. Wylie was called as his colleague; William Martin was deposed for holding slaves and becoming habitually intemperate; James McGarragh's suspension was continued, and James Harbison, Alexander Martin, Hugh McQuiston, John Cunningham, David Smith, John McNinch, John Cooper, William Edgar, James Montgomery and Robert Black were chosen ruling elders. At this time the communion was dispensed, of which all the Covenanters partook. Mr. Wylie declined the call, and Mr. Donnelly entered upon the work of supplying all the societies as best he could. In 1802, the Rev. James McKinney was translated from Galway, New York, and took charge of the "Brick Church" society. He died in a few months after his settlement. Mr. Donnelly was again left alone to minister to the scattered societies. He bought a farm, on the north side of the Big Rocky Creek, from Stephen Harman, and for eleven years was the sole Covenanter minister exercising his functions in South Carolina.

In 1813, Mr. Donnelly received assistance in the settlement of the Rev. John Reilly over the Little Rocky Creek and Beaver Dam congregations. Mr. Reilly died in 1820. For two years Mr. Donnelly was again left alone, and his congregation was divided. In June, 1822, the Rev. Campbell Madden was ordained and installed pastor of the Richmond society and also preached at the tent of John Orr, and taught a school at Glendon's Grove. At the same time, the Rev. Hugh McMillan took charge of the Brick Church, in which he also conducted a classical school. Dr. Madden died in August, 1828, and Hugh McMillan emigrated to Ohio with many of his congregation. About this time emigration to the northern free States set in, and during the next ten years the cause in the South became very weak on account of the prevalence of human slavery. Mr. Donnelly remained and preached to the scattered societies until his death in November, 1847. He was the last Covenanter minister in the South, and soon the cause became extinct.

At one time there were over five hundred Covenanters in South Carolina, and they composed the congregations of Rocky Creek, Big Rocky Creek, Little Rocky Creek, Beaver Dam and Bethesda. Among the names, not heretofore mentioned as members of the Church in South Carolina, are the different families by the names of McMillan, Cooper, McKelvy, Hemphill, Woodbourne, Montford, Nesbit, and others of the Brick Church; those of Ewin, McHenry, Erwin, Todd, Kell, Rock, Linn, Little, McFadden, McClurkin and Simpson, of the Beaver Dam congregation; those of Martin, Dunn, Wright, Hood, Sproull, Henry, Stormont, Cathcart, Robinson, McMillin and Richmond, of the Richmond or Big Rocky Creek Church; those of McNinch and Crawford dwelt at the McNinch meeting house; those of Smith, Faris, McDonald, Coulter, Wright, Willson, Orr, Wylie, Black, Henkle, Hunter, Boyd, Neil and McDill at the Little Rocky Creek congregation. In the old Brick Church graveyard lie the remains of the Revs. William King, James McKinney, John Reilly and Thomas Donnelly.

Rev. Dr. Campbell Madden was buried at Winnsboro, James McGarragh in Paul's graveyard, and William Martin in a private burying ground near his humble abode. The inscriptions upon some of the tombstones which mark these sacred graves are here inserted, that the names of these worthy fathers may be kept in remembrance.

It is understood that the inscriptions on the stones of Revs. King, McKinney,
Reilly and Madden were prepared by Mr. Donnelly.

Memory of the Rev'd.
WILLIAM KING; who departed
this life Aug'st 24th, A. D. 1798, aged
about 50 years.
Within this humble tomb pale Death has laid
A King who mortal sceptre never swayed,
But he himself did rule by Jesus' laws;
In grace and Holy life a pattern was.
In love to God and man he shone conspicuously.
And walked with God in deep humility.
In faithfulness and zeal for Jesus' cause
Few of his fellows to him equal was,
But zeal in him so mixed with moderation,
Made even foes him view with admiration.
Tho' deeply skilled in human learning, he
Taught truths divine with great simplicity,
That perfect God might make his saints thereby,
And through his means Christ's body edify.
The Pastor's, Husband's, Parent's care he shew'd,
While he in earthly house did make abode.
His loss by all bewail'd, tho' felt by none
So much as by this people left alone.
His clay here lies, his soul to heaven is fled;
His people he left on God for to be fed.
Sacred to the
Memory of
Who departed this life Sept. 16th,
A. D. 1802, aged about 45 years.
Death's hand, tho' cold, strikes a most certain blow
In wafting Zion's sons from toil below,
To place them in the Father's house above,
To see him in the fullness of his love.
Ecclesia wails her noble champion laid,
In this low tomb to Death his tribute's paid,
A husband kind, a tender parent he,
To friend and foes a friend he wish'd to be.
Tho' few in letters, human or divine,
Or grace or nature's gifts did so much shine,
Yet, hated by unworthy world, he
By God was thought above its company;
Amidst its threats his clay in quiet lies,
While his immortal part has reach'd the skies.
Truth's foes rejoiced to see her Hero fall,
That to their idols they may join withal.
Spare boasts, truth's foes, the' whirling winds to heaven
Elijah bore, Elisha soon was given,
By him who in the greatest love can raise
Another champion in McKinney's place.
Sacred to the memory of
Who departed this life
25th August, 1820,
Aged 50 years.
This tomb contains his dust; no more
His voice is heard where it was heard before.
His wife, his people, mourn his labors' end,
And friendly neighbors a departed friend.
His gain their loss, his life by death secure
In endless mansions, where joys are pure.
Ye mourners look to Zion's sovereign Lord,
Who can to you another guide afford.
Sacred to the Memory of
Who departed this life August 12, 1828,
Aged 33 years.
Insatiate death! thou sparest none;
To thy vast kingdom all must come.
Didst thou regard the widow's tears,
The orphans' helpless state and years;
Didst thou respect a lettered mind,
Formed to benefit mankind;
Didst thou regard a temper meek,
By grace refined his God to seek;
Didst thou regard Mount Sion's peace
Her cries to God for gospel grace;—
Our Madden had with us remained,
And peace and joy to us proclaimed.
What hast thou done? thou wast his friend;
Him to his Father's house didst send,
Where he will sing to endless days
The triumph and the Saviour's praise.
His family, his flock, his friend,
To heavenly grace he did commend.
In the Chief Shepherd's hand they're safe
As long as they do live by faith.
In Memory of
Who departed this life
The 28th November, 1847,
In the 76th year of his age,
And the 46th of his ministry.
He was a native of Ireland,
And for many years
Pastor of the Reformed Presbyterian Church
In this vicinity.
"For him to live was Christ—
To die, gain."

The descendants of the South Carolina Covenanters are now generally found in Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, whither they migrated, and are in connection with both branches of the Church. The few who lived in the South after the death of the Rev. Thomas Donnelly, went into the Associate Reformed and Presbyterian Churches. To Covenanters, South Carolina is sacred ground; and within her borders are the sepulchers of many worthy fathers. Chester District and Rocky Creek, where many a patriotic Covenanter fought for the preservation of his home and country, and maintained a faithful testimony for the rights of King Jesus, are places fraught with both tender and sad associations. Those Covenanter fathers either voluntarily forsook comforts beyond the ocean or were compelled to "flee to the land of the free, and the home of the brave" for their civil and religious liberty, and attained it at any cost. They maintained the purity of the Church, and left the comforts of the South on account of the evil influence of slavery. Rather than give up their principles they gave up their homes; and while not a single Covenanter is found in that country to-day, "they being dead" yet speak from the scores of flourishing congregations of the North-West where their works have followed them, and where their children rise up and call them blessed.

South Carolina congregations


Illinois congregations

The Old Bethel, Bethel, Church Hill, and Elkhorn congregations are so closely related in their history and members, that the names are grouped together as representative families of the Covenanter Church in Southern Illinois.  Among these are Samuel Little, William Edgar, John Thomas and James McClurkin, James Monford, Archibald Hood, John and Thomas Donnelly, Thomas G Armour, John Hunter, William Kennedy, Alexander Moore ,John G and Charles R Miller, William and John Weir, John M Sloane, James Coulter, Joseph Patton, James and Hugh Matthews, Andrew Todd, John Robinson, AJ and RS Edgar, John Steele, WA Stevenson, MK Mawhinney, David H Coulter, James Beall ,James and Thomas Finley, WB Whittaker, John Houston, John and JM Wylie, WJS Cathcart, Robert H Sinclair, Daniel Dickey, Samuel McCloy, William and Samuel Woodside, Robert McAfee, Robert Ramsey, Francis Torrens, DF McClurkin, AW Hunter, JD Flder, John E Willson, LM Patterson, RG McLean, RK Wisely, JR Keady, and others.
History of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in America; pages 345-346.


Indiana congregations


  1. Sketch by D. G. Stinson per R. B. Elder, Guthriesville, S. C.
  2. Howe's History of the Presbyterian Church in South Carolina.
  3. Mrs. Ellet's "Women of the Revolution.
  4. Sketch by Rev. D. S. Faris, in R. P. & C., 1876, p. 51.
  5. Historical part of Testimony.
  6. Minutes of Reformed Presbytery.