Unveiling of the Reddick Pierce Monument

This information came from a homemade, handwritten booklet located by Ken Frink, kenfrink@treco.net, who kindly transcribed it for posting to this page. Thank you, Ken!

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Friday, August 17th, 1900, at the Old Stroman cemetery on Rocky Swamp, in the Western part of Orangeburg County about four miles from Springfield, quiet a large company of people from the surrounding county gathered to witness the unveiling of the monument recently erected by the Orangeburg District Conference at the grave of Rev. Reddick Pierce.

Rev. H.B. Browne, presiding elder of the Orangeburg District was present and presided & the following order of services was observed:

'Jesus Lover of My Soul' was sung by the congregation, after which Rev. B.D. Moys of Norway, S.C. opened the services with an earnest prayer, in which he offered thanks to God for the gift of such a life to this community, & prayed under the blessings of God the coming generations may do honor to the influences of such a life lived among us.

A few stanzas of "How Firm a Foundation" was sung & Rev. H.B. Browne, after apropriate remarks on the influences of a great & good life, read the memoirs of Rev. Reddick Pierce contained in the S.C. annual conference held in Columbia S.C. in Dec. 1860. "Coronation" was sung & Rev. G. Edwin Stokes of the Denmark circuit read a paper prepared by Dr. S.H. Tindal of Denmark S.C. Some reminiscences of Father Pierce.

An open conference was called for & those present were requested to relate any incidents in the life of Father Pierce as he is affectionately called through that community. Under this call, Mr. Joseph Corbet of Rocky Swamp Church paid a high tribute to the itinerant Methodist preachers of the time of Father Pierce, a time when it meant something to be an Methodist preacher. He remembered well the last sermon preached by Father Pierce at Rocky Swamp Church. It was the afternoon service of a basket meeting. The church being at that time untenable, the services were held under a bush arbor. Father Pierce though very feeble had great liberty & preached a sermon of great force and power. Mr. Charles Stroman of Dean Swamp, a son of Capt. Jacob Stroman, at whose house Father Pierce found a home in later years, said he was intimately associated with Father Pierce during his latter years, and found him most companionable. Father Pierce was a great reader and was well informed upon almost any subject. He took great interest in matters political & was strikingly safe in his prognostications concerning political events. He was greatly interested in the agitation of that day which culminated soon after his death in the late War Between the States.

A short while before his death, he had a remarkable dream in which he saw clearly the coming contest as well as the final outcome--This dream he told to Mr. Stroman, who said he had been greatly impressed by the accuracy of it's verification in after events. Father Pierce was very deaf in the latter part of his life, so deaf in fact, that it was extremely difficult to converse with him. Mr. Stroman said he was accustomed to write on a paper any subject he wished to have him talk upon.

On one occasion, the Father Pierce was standing on the front piazza a thunder storm came up. & two oak trees in front of the steps were struck & torn to pieces & a dog under the piazza, immediately under where the old man was standing was killed while he was unhurt. He turned to Mr. Stroman & said "I saw the flash but heard no thunder."

It is told of him on one occasion at Binaker's campmeeting he was put to share a bed with a good brother who was famed for his loud snoring. They were soon in bed & sound asleep. The snoring brother was soon at his loudest preventing everyone else in the tent from sleeping. Father Pierce was seen to get up & go to the door looking at the sky from every side. Directly he returned saying, "Brethern I can see no clouds, but we will have a bad storm directly, for I have not heard thunder before in 40 years." Rev. B.D. Noys said thought I was only about seven years of age when I last saw him, I can see the old man to day as he stood in the pulpit at old Rocky Swamp, the Bible open before him, & his red handerkerchief lying through the middle of it. The funeral & burial of Jim Frederick, a negro slave of Capt Stroman is said to have been the last public religious of Father Pierce- He frequently visited this old negro during his last illness.

Allen Frederick, colored, a son of this old slave was present and spoke feelingly of the Christian character of Father Pierce. He remembered him well. His father died on April 29th 1860 & Father Pierce died July 24th 1860-

He quoted the text, correctly, of Father Pierce the last time he preached at Rocky Swamp at the basket meeting mentioned above- It was he said, "For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world & lose his own soul- or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul"- Several present remembered this was the text on that occasion. Some one remembered that on that day that Father Pierce was not at all well. After dinner Capt. Stroman went to him and said, Father Pierce, you must not preache to day you are not able. His reply was "I must preach for it may be the least message I shall ever bring to these people." Mr. William Wenningham of Springfield remembered him well as two or three times a week he stopped in at his fathers on his way to or from Blackville where he went for the mail. At first he rode in a gig, but the community, having purchased a fine colt for him he trained it to the saddle & ever after rode horseback. He took great pride in his beast as he called his horse, & always kept it in fine condition, nor would he ever ride faster than a walk.

Father Pierce built the Blackville church & was active in raising funds to rebuild Rocky Swamp.

The congregation standing sang "Rock of Ages" after which Rev. E.Z. James of the Boiling Springs Circuit being introduced said that he had received an inspiration from the exercises, he had been impressed with the far-reaching results of a life given in earnest purpose to the present as this principle seems to be illustrated in the life of Rev. Reddick Pierce.

Rev. R.C. McRoy of the Springfield circuit said that he had been impressed as never before that the larger priviledges & the larger field of vision which we enjoy today is due to the fact that we stand on the shoulder of such men as Reddick Pierce. The vine & the fig tree under which we rest, have their roots in the grave of such men.

Rev. J.D. Frierson of the South Branchville Circuit said the life of Rev. Reddick Pierce impressed him with the fact that he was a man of large faith that took no denial & that he expected immediate results. This is illustrated by an incident told him since he had come upon the grounds on one occasion, because of the protracted drought in the community. The people were called together at the church to pray for rain. The services were closed with prayer by Rev. Reddick Pierce. As simply as a child he told God what he wanted. When he got up from his knees, he said "Brethern, it is going to rain. You had best hurry home or you will be wet." When the congregation came out of the church there were no indications of rain & some were inclined to make light of the matter, but before the nearest of the congregation reached home a heavy rain was upon them & many of them were thoroughly drenched. Further his life illustrates his willingness & readiness anywhere & everywhere to labour for the salvation of souls. This is seen in his labors among the negro slaves but more especially in an incident which he had heard Rev. James T. Rilgo relate concerning this worthy man of God. At one of the sessions of the S.C. Conference, owing to much sickness in the low country, the preachers on every hand were urgently requesting the Bishop to send them to the up country. No one wanted to go to the low country & therewas quite a stir upon the conference floor. Seeing that something out of the usual was agitating the brethern he asked what was the matter. Learning the cause of the commotion, he walked to the front of the chancel, faced the bishop & drew himself up to his full height, said "Bishop the God whom I serve is the God of the swamps as well as the God of the mountains. Send me to the low country." The effect on the preacher was electrical. From every side those who had been most urgent for a move were springing up withdrawing such requests, while many others requested to be send there. The church a terrific thunderstorm came upon them & the carriage horses becoming frantic because of the lightning & thunder became almost unmanageable. Sampson the negro driver called to those in the carriage that he could not hold the horses. Father Pierce replied "Never mind Sampson the God that sent the rain can take care of the horses." Three times Sampson gave the same warning & received the same reply. Then Sampson answered "I know dat boss, but I ain't want yes to nebber pray fer no mo' sich rain es dis year."

Rev. H.B. Browne said that he was ordained elder by Bishop George F. Pierce, a nephew of Rev. Reddick Pierce at the session of the S.C. conference held at Union, S.C. The congragation sand "In the Sweet Bye & Bye" and was dismissed with a short prayer & the benediction by Rev. O.A. Jeffcoat of the Wagener mission.

In a short while dinner was announced & in spite of the extremely hot dry weather everyone seemed to enjoy himself very much.

After dinner it was learned that George Baxter the negro that nursed Father Pierce in his last sickness was present & would like to say something. Rev. B.D. Moss called the people together & introduced George. He said "It was my business to wait on Father Pierce & I nursed him in his last sickness & I can say he was a good Christian man. I never knew him to get mad or speak a cross word all the years I waited on him." Referring to the narrow escape of Father Pierce from death by lightning he said "God would not let the lightning kill so good a man." Speaking of Father Pierce's labors he said that his regular appontment once a month at Rocky Swamp was never on any account permitted to go unfulfilled & during the last big meeting at that led by old uncle Jack Bradley of the S.C. conference. The cemetery is situate on the brow of a hill, about half mile from the Stroman home on the south side of the Charleston & Aikin public road. It is surrounded with a grove of magnificent red oaks. The graves are enclosed by a brick wall, with a gate in the northern side facing the road. Just in this gate & on the left is Father Pierce's grave & marking this spot - the monument has been erected. The monument is of dark marble consisting of a base, a die & a shaft the whole being around five feet high. The inscription is in raised letters arranged on the four sides of the shaft as follows

On the west. In memory of Rev. Reddick Pierce. Born in Halifax Co N.C. Sept 26th 1782. died in Orangeburg July 24th 1860. On the South side - Fifty five years a faithful Methodist preacher. On the each side. Erected by Orangeburg District Conference May 1900. On the north side. Joined S.C. Conference in 1805. The monument is the work of the Epworth Orphanage marble yard & is a handsome piece of work. The freight was paid & the monument set up by the good people of Springfield. Br. Joseph A. Fanning built a substantial stone foundation for it to rest upon.

G. Edwin Stokes Secretery.

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Reddick was born on the Roanoke River in Halifax Co. NC on 26 Sep. 1782, married 2 Oct 1809 to Rebecca Arthur, he died 24 Jul. 1860 in Orangeburg Co. SC. and is buried near Springfield. The Pierce's had seven children: Elizabeth K., Mary Ann Arthur, Louisa Arthur, Lovick Warren, William Hargrove, John Wesley, and Sarah Arthur.

Bill Smith, bsmith@ci.pasadena.tx.us, descends through Lovick Warren Pierce, and would be glad to correspond with others researching this family.

 

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