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Near Rhems in Williamsburg County, South Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)
 

Black Mingo – Willtown / Black Mingo Baptist Church

 
 
Black Mingo – Willtown Face of Marker image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, February 21, 2009
1. Black Mingo – Willtown Face of Marker
Inscription.
Black Mingo – Willtown
By 1760, Charles Woodmason had established a store near here, following a 1745 Act of the General Assembly that provided for clearing of the watercourses at the head of Black Mingo Creek. Soon thereafter, schooners carried local products to Charlestown; by the early 1760s Black Mingo Settlement, later known as Willtown, had developed on the creek.

Black Mingo Baptist Church
By 1804 Black Mingo stage stop had a tavern and approximately twelve wooden houses. About 1843, local merchant Cleland Belin built on his own land the Black Mingo Baptist Church. Now listed in the National Register of Historic Places, this church is all that remains of the early inland settlement.
 
Erected 1981 by Three Rivers Historical Society. (Marker Number 45-6.)
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the South Carolina, Williamsburg County, Three Rivers Historical Society marker series.
 
Location. 33° 37.017′ N, 79° 26.117′ W. Marker is near Rhems, South Carolina, in Williamsburg County. Marker is on County Line Road (State Highway 51) 1.5 miles north of Browns Ferry Road, on the left when traveling north. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Nesmith SC 29580, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers.
Black Mingo Baptist Church Face of Marker image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, February 21, 2009
2. Black Mingo Baptist Church Face of Marker
At least 10 other markers are within 11 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Black Mingo Creek: (approx. 0.4 miles away); Skirmish At Black Mingo Creek (approx. 0.4 miles away); Black Mingo Presbyterian Meeting House (approx. 1.1 miles away); Birthplace of Jeremiah John Snow / China Grove Plantation (approx. 1.7 miles away); Benjamin Britton Chandler (1854–1925) (approx. 4.9 miles away); Pleasant Hill School (approx. 5.9 miles away); Pleasant Hill Baptist Church (approx. 5.9 miles away); Prince George Winyah Parish / Prince Frederick’s Parish (approx. 6.2 miles away); Dissenter Meeting House and Cemetery (approx. 9.4 miles away); Early Settlers / Potatoe Ferry (approx. 10.4 miles away).
 
More about this marker. Marker is on the Williamsburg County side of County Line Road. Georgetown County is on the other side of the road.
 
Also see . . .
1. Wikipedia entry for Black Mingo Creek. Black Mingo Creek is a tributary to the Black River in coastal South Carolina. (Submitted on February 3, 2010, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.) 

2. Willtown: Past and Present. A description of Willtown is included in this Maritime Research Division, South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of South Carolina study. (Submitted on February 3, 2010, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.)
View Southbound image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, February 21, 2009
3. View Southbound
 

3. Black Mingo Baptist Church. Black Mingo Baptist Church, a meeting house type church building constructed ca. 1843, is a significant example of a local interpretation of the Greek Revival style. Once entered in the National Register of Historic Places, it was removed from the Register on March 15, 2000. (Submitted on February 3, 2010, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.) 

4. Historic American Building Survey Record for the Black Mingo Baptist Church. The HABS record for the Black Mingo Baptist Church contains a dozen b/w photos of the church circa 1981, as well as a half dozen pages of notes and historical context. Paticularly interesting from a more modern perpsective is the section of Cleland Belin's (the church's builder) 1867 will on Page 9 of the HABS notes that bequeathes the church to his executors on the explicitly expressed condition that the "Church is not to be controlled and managed by its coloured members at any time hereafter". (Submitted on March 14, 2009.) 
 
Additional comments.
1. Black Mingo Baptist Church (removed from the National Register March 15, 2000)
Black Mingo Baptist Church, located in Williamsburg County approximately three miles southeast of Nesmith, South Carolina, was constructed
View Northbound image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, February 21, 2009
4. View Northbound
ca. 1843 with funds provided by Cleland Belin. An example of the meeting house form of church building. Black Mingo Baptist Church also features elements which reflect a local interpretation of the Greek Revival style.

Exterior: A two-story rectangular block, the church is set on low brick piers. Pier brickwork is American Common bond. The frame building is sheathed with weatherboard and has a low-pitched gable roof. Presently, the roof is covered with modern composition shingles, although the original wood shingled roof is intact beneath. A wide, beaded entablature with a deep, plain boxed cornice extends unbroken around the perimeter of the roofline. An unfluted, two-story pilaster distinguishes each corner of the building. Round headed windows with intersecting tracery are featured on all elevations. The central bay of the facade {northwest elevation} and the northeast and southwest elevations have narrow, three-paneled double doors with a semi-circular transom with intersecting tracery.

The facade is divided into three evenly spaced bays; the first story features a central doorway flanked at right and left by a 9 over 6 window and the second story features three 6 over 6 windows. This elevation is characterized by a deep, boxed pediment created by the gable end. The three-bay door and window arrangement of the facade is repeated on both side elevations
Black Mingo Baptist Church image. Click for full size.
By Hunter Clarkson, March 1981
5. Black Mingo Baptist Church
From the Historic American Building Survey link, provided above.
with the exception that the bays are more widely spaced. A large 30 over 30 window dominates the central bay of both stories of the southeast elevation. It is flanked by 6 over 6 windows on the first story level. The deep, boxed pediment of the facade gable end is repeated on the rear elevation.

The church is distinguished by several elements reflective of the Greek Revival style, including: the two-story unfluted corner pilasters; the wide headed entablature; and the deep, boxed pediments. Also of note are the scriptural quotations on panels mounted in the center of the frieze on the northwest and southwest elevations.

Interior: The building has a rectangular floor plan. A second-story slave gallery on three sides with dado paneling to the balcony rail, is supported by elongated wooden columns. A double-run stairway located to the left of the front entrance leads to the gallery. Basically unaltered since its construction, the church features original fabric throughout, including: wide board floors; wide horizontal board wainscoting and wide vertical board walls above and the vaulted lath and plaster ceiling of the nave. Of particular note are the original pews and the scriptural quotations painted on the front of the pulpit, over the rear window and front door, and on the frieze below the slave gallery.

Surroundings: Black Mingo Baptist
Black Mingo Baptist Church - Interior image. Click for full size.
Sacred Places of the Lowcountry by William P. Baldwin (2002), 1981
6. Black Mingo Baptist Church - Interior
It is said that the pulpit was higher. The inscription, which only the pastor could see, was a warning from Ezekiel that the minister take stock of himself before preaching to the wicked.
Church is located in a rural setting and is encircled by wooded land. South Carolina secondary road 162 bounds the property to the northwest and southwest. Included in the nominated acreage is a cemetery which surrounds the church and includes graves of Cleland Belin and other early members of the congregation. Because of the isolation of the site and the threat of vandalism, a high chain link fence has been erected around the property.

Significance
Black Mingo Baptist Church located in Williamsburg County approximately three miles southeast of Nesmith, South Carolina near the site of the deserted town of Willtown, was built ca. 1843 with funds donated by Cleland Belin. The meeting house type church features characteristics which reflect a local interpretation of the Greek Revival style. The building is historically significant because of its association with the development of the Baptist denomination in the Will town area and with an individual prominent in the history of the region.

According to local tradition Cleland Belin, who was a descendant of William Screven, founder of the Baptist Church in the South, came to Willtown ca. 1810 to live with his uncle John Screven. The tradition continues that Belin became a Baptist, and a meeting house was constructed near Willtown ca. 1820. However, the first primary record of a Baptist Church in the vicinity of Willtown is a reference in the 1840s to Black Mingo Baptist Church.

Willtown was located on the banks of Black Mingo Creek, and Cleland Belin became one of the most prosperous and prominent residents of the area as a merchant and owner of flat bottom boats. He built the Black Mingo Baptist Church ca. 1843 near his residence approximately one half mile from the village of Willtown. The Black Mingo congregation became a member of the Welsh Neck Baptist Association ca. 1845. At this time the church had twelve white and six black members and was supplied by the association with a missionary minister. During the nineteenth century the group grew slowly. However, by the 1920s the congregation had disbanded and Black Mingo Baptist Church was abandoned. In 1936 finding the building in need of repair and threatened by abuse, the congregation of nearby Nesmith Baptist Church resolved to "preserve the property and keep it in repair" and to hold worship services in the church not less than four times a year. Today Black Mingo Baptist Church continues to be maintained and services are held in the church on the fifth Sunday of each month that has a fifth Sunday.

Architecture: Black Mingo Baptist Church, a meeting house type building is a significant example of a local interpretation of the Greek Revival style. In addition, the church has been maintained and is virtually unaltered except for the roof covering. Notable architectural features include: the round headed window and door openings with intersecting tracery; the two-story, unfluted corner pilasters; the wide beaded entablature; the deep-boxed pediments; and, the slave gallery supported by elongated columns. (Source: National Register nomination form.)
    — Submitted February 5, 2010, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.

2. The Baptist Black Mingo Church
by Elaine Y. Eaddy

Built with slave labor by Cleland Belin on his own land, Black Mingo Baptist Church is all that remains of the settlement called in the early 1760's Black Mingo and later Willtown. The church was erected in 1843. Services are held there each fifth Sunday of the month.

Belin was a descendant of Elisha Screven who laid out the town of Georgetown, from which place Cleland Belin came to Willtown as a boy. He lived there the rest of his life, becoming a wealthy merchant. He married Sarah Margaret McFadden; of this marriage there were thirteen children, eleven of whom died before the age of five years. The two who survived were Sarah Jane who married Dr. S. D. M. Byrd and Rebecca Ann who married George J. Graham.

Belin died September 13, 1868. His will, somewhat pious and melancholy in tone, devises the church and two acres of land to "such Trustees as may be elected by the votes of the white members of the said church." And in the same clause, "The said church is not to be controlled and managed by its colored members at any time hereafter." Despite his piety, Belin was not a saint. His name appears in the criminal records; he was "had up" for assault and battery. He begged to be excused from jury duty because of hemorrhoids. It was twenty-five years after his death before his estate was settled, perhaps because of the chaotic conditions prevailing after the Civil War.

The church, on which he surely lavished much love and attention, is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. It was chosen last spring for the Historic Buildings Survey and was the subject of an exhaustive documentary history, large format photographs, a definitive architectural description, and precise measured drawings. Only one site in the entire U.S. is so chosen from the National Register each year. The completed drawings, documentary history, photographs and description are preserved in the Library of Congress and are available for use and reproduction by the public.

According to the National Register nomination, "this church is a significant example of a local interpretation of the Greek Revival style. The church has been maintained and is virtually unaltered except for the roof covering. Notable architectural features are: the round window and door openings with intersecting tracery; the two-story unfluted corner pilasters; the wide beaded entablature; the deep, boxed pediments; and the slave gallery supported by elongated columns." The Puritan influence can be seen in the choice of Scripture painted on the friezes. Interior West, for instance, quotes, "The angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, and cast them into the furnace of fire; there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth." Baptist doctrine shines through the quotation on a wooden plaque above the rostrum: "God knows thy thoughts. Verily, verily, I say unto thee; except a man be born of water, and of the spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."

Unfortunately, this fine landmark was burned to the ground by vandals in 1992.
    — Submitted February 3, 2010, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.

3. Records
Where there any records from Belin Church that showed who the Africans were that sat in the upper section of the church?

I would like to find out if there were any records for the slaves that were members of Black Mingo Baptist Church and if so, how could I research them?

Editor's Note: We are not affiliated with this church, so regrettably cannot directly assist with your request. Perhaps someone reading this can assist with information provided as separate commentary below.
    — Submitted April 1, 2012, by Sarah E Symmons of Columbia, South Carolina.

 
Categories. Churches, Etc.Settlements & SettlersWaterways & Vessels
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by J. J. Prats of Springfield, Virginia. This page has been viewed 3,448 times since then and 271 times this year. This page was the Marker of the Week Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on , by J. J. Prats of Springfield, Virginia.   5. submitted on .   6. submitted on , by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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