High Hills Baptist Church, also known as High Hills of Santee Baptist Church, was founded in 1770. Its current building was constructed in 1848 by William Sanders, replacing an earlier house of worship that was constructed in 1803. Richard Furman served as the church’s first pastor shortly after converting to the Baptist denomination and deserting his Anglican roots.
Furman was converted by a local pastor, Joseph Reese, after his family relocated to the High Hills (Stateburg) area from New York state. Many Baptist churches emerged in the area and throughout South Carolina a result of Reverend Furman’s influence. Furman University in Greenville was established in 1826, the year after Furman’s death, and is named for the noted Baptist minister.
Contributor James Jenkins says, “Historical markers indicate the High Hills Baptist Church was established on land given by Dr. Joseph Howard. It was moved to land purchased from Gen. Thomas Sumter (the present site). Pastor John M. Roberts (in 1799) opened Roberts Academy, the first Baptist Educational Institution in the state. Furman University later followed in 1826 and later the Southern Baptist Seminary. The church is fenced and should be respected if you visit the site.”
High Hills Baptist Church is listed in the National Register as part of the Stateburg Historic District, which says the following about the area:
Stateburg derives part of its historical significance from its connection with Revolutionary General Thomas Sumter, who founded the town in 1783 and named it in hopes that it would be chosen as the new state capital. It missed this distinction in 1786 by only a few votes. The town was also the site of Revolutionary War activity. Both Generals Cornwallis and Greene camped in the area and Sumter’s home was destroyed by Colonel Tarleton. Although original plans to construct water transportation routes to facilitate trade with other parts of the state never materialized, Stateburg developed into an important South Carolina antebellum residential area. From 1783 to 1800 it was county seat for Claremont County, and until the Civil War, was a thriving town.
Cynthia M. Putman says
Where are the church records kept? I would like to find out if any Hiltons were members there in the early 1800s.
Beautiful! Thank you for posting!
William F. Sanders, Jr. says
Richard Furman is my 5x great grandfather, my dad’s father is Elijah Sanders and his mom’s name is Martha Hattie Sanders.
WILLIAM A. JAMES says
I WENT TO HIGH HILLS BAPTIST CHURCH AS A BOY WITH MY PARENTS WILLIE & ANNIE JAMES OF REMBERT, SC. I REMEMBER MR. ELIJA & MRS SANDERS ATTENDING CHURCH THERE. MY PARENTS & I USED TO VISIT THEM AT THEIR HOME FROM TIME TO TIME. I THINK MR. ELIJA WAS THE TENDER AT THE LOCAL FIRE TOWER. I ALSO REMEMBER HIM BEING BLIND IN ONE EYE. RIP.
Mike Jones says
My great-grandmother went to Statesburg High School but classes were held right here at High Hills Baptist church from 1900-1904. She then went on to St. Joseph's Academy for college and graduated in 1908.
Tom Evans says
This is a beautiful landmark and I hope everyone will respect it and keep it the way its suppose to be.
williamf.sanders jr says
Felicia Furman I think we are related then.
williamf.sanders jr says
I am related to Mr Richard Furman and William Marion Sanders.
Felicia Furman says
I’m a descendant of Richard Furman and hope to travel to the High Hills of Santee to see the church do some other research. Does any know where any of the property of the Furman’s might be. I assume all of the plantation houses have been destroyed. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
Mary R. Gulledge says