Hopewell Methodist Church
The Liles Church
Oconee County, South Carolina
go to Lyles Churches | go to the Wm A. Liles page | modified Jan. 31, 2000 | jrlyles@nwrain.com
Journal of Hopewell Church 1865-66
Class books of Hopewell Church

Joseph Liles (Sr.), a trustee of Salem Methodist Church in 1844, was also a leader of Hopewell Methodist Church in the 1850s, and he is buried at the church cemetery. Coleman Fowler, who donated the land for Salem Church in 1844, was one of the earliest preachers at Hopewell Church about 1839. His daughters Sarah Fowler and Nancy Fowler Whitten--who may have been sisters of Mary Fowler Lyles--lie in the church cemetery. Peninah Lyles Harbert, a sister of Joseph Liles, was an early member. Zillah Liles, Hugh Isham Liles (the younger), James M. Liles, Martha Liles, Nancy Liles, and Samuel Liles also belonged to Hopewell Church.

So entwined was Hopewell Church with the Liles family that in the mid-1850s it was known as the Liles Church. It was also closely connected in ways that we haven't figured out yet with Salem Methodist Church on Choestoe Creek in the mid-1840s to perhaps the early 1850s. William Albert Lyles, who was also a leader of Salem Church in 1844, was not apparently involved with Hopewell Church before he moved up to Mountain Rest and helped build Double Springs Union Church.

 
Mary Jenkins Hart has written an account of the church's early days in her "History of Hopewell Methodist Church 1830 - 1966":
 
The first church, organized where Hopewell Cemetery now is located, was known as the Liles Church. This was probably due to the fact that Mr. Joseph Liles was the principal leader in this organization. The services were held in private homes on week days or at night until a building could be erected.
 
In or about the year 1830, a building was erected of huge hewn logs with a stick and clay chimney. This building was used for both church and day school for some time. It was known as the "Methodist Society" at that time and was in the North Carolina Conference.
 
About the year 1855, a frame building was built primarily by Joseph Liles and Thomas Jenkins. It continued to go by the name of the "Liles Church" until 1857. At this time, Reverend Fletcher Smith, the preacher in charge, gave it the name of "Hopewell." This second building was in use until 1879 when it was destroyed by fire.
 
Hart gives a list of members from June 19, 1857, to March 6, 1867:
Male Members
 
1. Joseph Liles
2. John Brown
3. Thomas Jenkins
4. T.S. Miller
5. E. Travis Brown
6. William H. Jenkins
7. James M. Liles
8. G.F.M. Brown
9. James M. Spencer
10. Thomas Brown
11. Samuel Brown
12. G.W. Mason

Female Members

1. [Z]illa Liles
2. Mary A. Jenkins
3. Mary Brown
4. Peni[n]ah [Liles] Harbert
5. Manda Brown
6. Lucinda Brown
7. Martha Liles
8. Nancy Liles
9. Martha Jenkins
10. Emily Jenkins
11. M.H. Miller
12. Martha Elizabeth Brown
13. Eliza King
Hart also adds the names of members "in the army or who had died in the service: William H. Jenkins, Samuel Liles, G.W. Mason, Robert E. McWhorter, E.T. Brown (died in Virginia on September 24, 1862), Hugh Isham Liles (died while in camp), Arch Jenkins, Charles B. Jones, and William A. McWhorter."
 
Hart goes on to chronicle the church's misfortunes with fires:
 
In the year 1879, a church building was erected to replace the one destroyed by fire. Reverend R.A. Gilmer was the architect and chief superintendent of the work. Hamp Crosby and R.H. Waters were head carpenters. Thomas Jenkins gave the land and all the lumber for the church, also six hundred hours of labor. Reverend Gilmer and Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Jenkins are buried in the church cemetery.
 
In those days there was an abundance of virgin timber, and the best was used in erecting this building. It is said that the sills were twenty-four inches square and were hand-hewn from choice heart logs. The church was eighty feet by ninety feet and would comfortably seat five hundred people.
 
This third building was in use until March 18, 1939. Around 11:30 in the morning, funeral services were being held for Mr. Laurence McGuffin when someone discovered fire on the roof. The fire started on the east side. The wind was from the west, so the fire burned slowly. The large crowd attending the funeral could have extinguished the fire if there had been any equipment available. There was no ladder and no water, and the roof was very high. Those attending the funeral hastily carried out all the furnishings, including windows and sashes. The pews and windows were put to use in a very comfortable but smaller building until 1965. The deceased had said that if he were taken into a church for his funeral he hoped the church would burn down. . . .
 
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Polly Jenkins Lyles (Mrs. Paul Lyles) has told us that her mother, who was playing the organ during McGuffin's service, had gotten so wrapped up in making music that she didn't notice the smoke and at last had to be fetched from her seat at the organ by Polly's father.
 
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Hart's history gives a list of preachers at Hopewell from 1837 to 1966, including these earlier preachers (apparently in chronological order):
 
Rev. William Lively
Rev. J.E. Mauldin
Rev. Coleman Fowler
Rev. H.H. Penn
Rev. John Zimmerman
Rev. J.T. McElhany
Rev. R.M. Harrison
Rev. S. Miller 1842
Rev. A. Broiles 1843
Rev. M.E. Edie 1844
Rev. Munson
Rev. Stump
Rev. Joseph Parker
Rev. Bob Franks
Rev. John Finger
Rev. Clark
Rev. J.J. McCurry
Rev. Fletcher Smith 1[8]57
Rev. J.H. Gleason 1858
Rev. R.J. Boyd 1[8]57-58
Rev. U. McSwain 1859
Rev. A. B. McGilvary 1859
Rev. E.F. Thwing 1860