Memories of Appleby Church
A History of Appleby Church
by Gavin Appleby & Yvonne Maxey
by Dr. Gavin Appleby and Yvonne Maxey
From Memories of Appleby Church
by Mrs. Berry McAlhany
All articles included in the Benjamin Franklin Appleby story
by Forrest Appleby Shavers and Ralph Appleby
A History of Appleby Church
Appleby Church was originally known as the "Methodist Meeting House" and was first described in the
deed of the land from James Herberson to Edward Connor and others. In that deed two and one-half acres were deeded to these men as trustees for the Methodist Meeting House. The date of that deed was August 7, 1787. The Meeting House appears again on a plot of land owned by James P. Appleby in 1799, in the same location. A small drawing depicts the front of the meeting house just as it appears today, with a notation that it is the Methodist Meeting House. It is assumed that the present structure was built about the same time because there is no history of it having burned or having been destroyed or replaced by a later structure.
A wooden frame building measuring fifty by thirty feet was erected from local heart pine boards. The interior was sealed with wide, hand planed boards. The pews, pulpits, and interior furniture all constructed on the grounds. Two front doors were installed because it was the custom then for the women and children to sit on one side of the single center aisle and for the men to sit together on the other side. Interestingly, the courting couples could sit together on the women's side.
The pulpit was built between the doors with a railing on the floor in front of it. Two small sections of pews were placed against the side walls facing the pulpit. On one side the more elderly women sat and on the other the more elderly men. They were commonly known as the "Amen seats" and their occupants said "Amen" when in agreement with the sermon and scuffed their feet audibly in disagreement. The other pews formed lines across the building completely to the rear wall with a wide aisle down the center. Three-fourths of the way to the rear, a waist high partition runs across the church, one half of which still stands. Behind this line the slaves sat. In 1829, a system of plantation services was inaugurated by the South Carolina Methodist Conference and few were seen thereafter in Appleby's Church.
Family graves were staked out on the grounds near the periphery of the property and many tombstones still stand. The original congregation consisted of forty-eight and rose to many more before gradually dwindling to a mere few when the church was closed in 1939. In it's early day, the congregation depended on local lay ministers and circuit riders. In 1880, the records show the congregation paid a Preacher's salary of $25.oo and presiding elders salary of $5.oo.
Early records, also, show that the grounds were used as a "mustering ground" for Company C of the 24th Regiment of the South Carolina Volunteers of the Confederate Army. This company was composed of men from the surrounding area who fought against Sherman's Army many times, from Chattanooga to Atlanta.
The Church is no longer in use but kept in good repair by some of the descendants of the original members, and is used occasionally for memorial services to keep it's contribution to the religious heritage of it's part of South Carolina.
Hagerman's graveyard is almost on the bank of the Edisto River, near the Old Wire Road. Dorchester County, (South Carolina). It is so old, I really doubt if anyone can tell its age. It was used as a burying ground for both master and slave back in slavery days, but the white folks were buried in a separate section encircled by a very deep ditch or canal. All of this section contained many graves and the ditch is still intact, though sadly neglected. It is very interesting to visit this section and try to read what is on the headstones...names we scarcely remember hearing our parents talk about. I am past seventy-four years of age and Hagerman was an old story told to me when I was a child.
The main part of Hagerman is a very large cemetery and is still used by the colored people of the
community, with so many familiar names on the tombstones. (In May 1980 we visited the cemetery and
there had just been a colored burial. (F. S.) It is time well spent to visit this old historic cemetery, just to remind us of the days gone by, old days when the Master loved his slaves and even wanted them to be buried in the same old burying grounds.
I am sure it was never neglected in those days, both the master and the slaves saw to that. The slaves
loved their masters and mistresses very much. It was told to me when the white section had only room
left for one more grave, it had to be used by a member of the family, and there were two that wanted to be
buried there. It was decided that the one to die first was to buried at Hagerman's. I think the man preceded the woman in death, so he rests at Hagterman's and she sleeps in Appleby Church yard. They
were not man and wife. Now we are happy to say that this old cemetery has been cleaned up and we hope it is never, again, neglected.
*(In 1880, Appleby's Church lists a membership of fifty-eight. Twenty are Applebys. (F.S.) )
Appleby Church & Cemetery
From Memories of Appleby Church
by Mrs. Berry McAlhany
I was born in 1895 and Appleby Church was then very old, having been built in slavery days. Behind
the church are many graves of negro slaves, for as I was told, the slaves were buried where their Masters wanted to put them.
There was--and I think it still is--a post on each side of the aisle in Appleby Church to divide the
negroes from the whites for preaching services. The pulpit and altar are between the two front doors.
There is a back door used by the slaves and handy for anyone to leave the church quietly.
As a child, I remember my parents going to that old altar and kneeling for prayer. When the preacher
called for "mourners", around that altar would be crowded, everyone on their knees. Oh, the "Old Time
Religion" was in that dear old church. We had no instrument for singing, but I can still hear the
singing as someone, usually the preacher, would "raise" the tune and lead those beloved old hymns,
sung from from a small thick hymnal with no notes for music. The "benches" as we called the pews,
were straight and hard, but we children knew we must be quiet and still. The cemetery almost
surrounds the church and it's interesting to walk around and look at the brick enclosures and large
old time monuments of men and women of long ago.
This old church could tell us something about the old folks that worshipped here within its walls, but the
past cannot be recalled now and the old church feels forsaken, and we should feel guilty of broken faith
with our parents.
What I remember could be more modern history compared to the real story of the life of old Appleby
Church, but that story now is known only by the pitiful old silent church as it stands guard over the ones
who expected us to take care of it, but we hurry by in our cars ..... searching.
I was told there are many slaves buried behind the church, no sign now to show that a grave was ever
there, just a memory. I forgot to say we did have revivals and we enjoyed the morning services and the
night ones, too, very, very much. Revival week was a big event in our summers, as we did not have a
It was told to me by the old folks, that one of the Appleby men died just before dinner time on a Christmas
Day (I think) and as he had missed dinner his wife prepared a nice dinner and put in on his grave and the
next day the dinner was gone when she went to get the dishes. This continued until the dead man's son
watched the grave. He caught a young negro eating the dinner. So ends the tale of the dinner eating
ghost. This happened in slavery days and is said to be true.
My mother told me the names of all the Appleby families and where each one lived but through the years
I have just about forgotten all of them. If I had only jotted down the things she told me about some people
and places, I could have written a book.