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Little River Baptist Church — Jenkinsville, South Carolina

SC Picture Project  |  Fairfield County  |  Little River Baptist Church

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Little River Baptist Church

Prior to the Revolutionary War, an influential pastor by the name of Philip Mulkey settled in the Jenkinsville area of today’s Fairfield County. Partly as a result of his leadership, the Upstate, or “backcountry” as it was then called, attracted many members of the Baptist faith. In 1768 members from Reverend Mulkey’s congregation merged with another group near a stagecoach crossing called Gibson’s Ford and formed Gibson’s Meeting House, the mother church of Little River Baptist. The church was constituted in 1770.

Little River Baptist Church

Mark Clark of Winnsboro, 2013 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Gibson’s Meeting House was the site of a 1780 Revolutionary War battle in which a Patriot militia, led by Captain Richard Winn (for whom Winnsboro would later be named), attacked Loyalists who had been using the meeting house as a place to gather and plan. Eight Loyalists were killed and another sixteen captured, making the battle one of the first Patriot victories since the fall of Charleston.

Little River Baptist

Bill Fitzpatrick of Taylors © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Renamed Little River Baptist, the present church was built in 1845 near the site of the original meeting house. It was dedicated by Reverend James C. Furman, president of Furman University and son of Reverend Richard Furman, the Baptist minister who helped establish the university in 1826. The church closed after the turn of the twentieth century but reopened in 1950.

Little River Baptist Church is listed in the National Register:

The Little River Baptist Church is significant for its architecture and as one of the older Baptist churches in the South Carolina upcountry. Built ca. 1845, the church is an excellent adaptation of the meeting house plan church mixed with popular styles of the period. The church is a rectangular clapboard structure of Greek Revival design with Gothic Revival details in the front facade. The front gabled roof is supported by four octagonal columns on a raised platform. Two front doors open off of the wide portico. A lancet arch with tracery of wood and glass tops each door with a central keystone. In the center of the pediment is a semi-elliptical louvered vent.

The church was apparently constructed by a local craftsman and has many original interior features such as straight-back wooden pews, flooring, and a balcony around three sides resting on columns. There is also hand-carved woodwork including a ceiling rosette from which hangs the original brass chandelier with glass hurricane shades and prisms. In the early 1950s a wing was added to provide Sunday School rooms and kitchen facilities.

Little River Baptist Church Info

Address: 343 Little River Church Road, Jenkinsville, SC 29065
GPS Coordinates: 34.310344,-81.274921

Little River Baptist Church Map

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7 Comments about Little River Baptist Church

SC Picture Project says:
November 22nd, 2019 at 12:22 pm

Hi Martha, I wanted to respond to your wonderful comment and let you know that we are an historical repository and not affiliated with the church. However, I wanted to help you with your quest, so I was able to find a phone number for Little River Baptist Church on Facebook: 828-877-4471. I hope this contact will work for you, and that you will have a wonderful visit!

Martha Hartin Merz says:
November 20th, 2019 at 10:26 am

My father has been extensively researching our genealogy and we are planning a trip to the area December 15-17. Is there any chance we could possibly see the inside of the church or talk with someone about the history? We will not arrive until early afternoon on the 15th which puts us after the normal church hours. I have tried calling, but not sure when is a good time. I believe there is a marker at the road that is in honor of my great-great-great-grandfather. Our family names would be Hartin (Hearton) and Gibson. There may be some gravestones of interest there as well. I appreciate anything you can do to provide more information or meet with us. Thank you – have a great day!

Jan Stewart says:
October 29th, 2019 at 4:57 pm

Hello! Thank you for posting information about your church. I, too, am researching my family in your area. I was wondering if you have any church minutes, records, etc from 1768-1820? Family names include: Andrews, (Anders, Andrus), McGraw, Russell, Stearns (Starns). I know this is a lot to ask. If any of these names “ring a bell”, would you please let me know? Thank you so much! Jan Stewart, Sherman, Texas

Ralph Summer says:
February 22nd, 2019 at 9:51 pm

I think my great-great grandfather, Henry Wilson Parr, is buried in your church cemetery. My grandmother told me he was friends of Richard Furman and assisted him in establishing the SC Baptist convention. Just wondering if you could verify if she was correct and do you have any information about him.

SC Picture Project says:
December 8th, 2018 at 12:00 pm

Hello Christina and thanks for reaching out to us! While we don’t have information on them at this time, we are always researching and adding info as it pertains to areas. We will definitely keep a note of this and can let you know if we come across anything!

December 8th, 2018 at 11:14 am

I was hoping maybe you would have some history of the Little River area. My great grandfather from the late 1700s to early 1800s got land on Little River. His name is John Gwin, Sr.and had sons named John Dove Gwin, Jr. and Richard Gwin and Minor Gwin. I know this is a long shot but looking into my family history and I have landed here. Thank you for your time.

Bettina J. Allred says:
May 29th, 2015 at 12:14 am

Looking forward to visiting some family graves there and sounds like a wonderful chapel too! 🙂


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