Siloam Baptist Church
Like Fellowship Baptist, Siloam is one of the oldest churches in the area. Unlike Fellowship, the congregation is still very active. This church is the final resting place of my grandparents, William Thomas and Annie Elizabeth Smith Ellenberg.
I always have a difficult time finding my grandparents’ graves. One reason is that the headstones apparently face the opposite direction from all the others. I did locate them, though.
I did know my Grandma Ellenberg. She died when I was 14 and had lived with us for awhile in her declining years.
I remember visiting her house, which sat at the corner just up from Siloam. It was a large farmhouse and the farm extended beyond Siloam and down to Wilson Creek.
My grandfather died when my mother was just 14, so I didn’t know him at all.
I had already mentioned that the Smiths and Ellenbergs appeared in the society columns of the local news. I found another article that mentions my grandfather. He was a farmer, but he was also in some law enforcement capacity. I didn’t really know anything about that second job, whether he was a deputy, security, or what. In this article from the Greenwood Index Journal he is listed as one of the arresting officers in a murder case involving a local doctor.
I don’t know if he was deputized just for this manhunt or if he really was an officer of some sort. I know he had a badge and I have his gun holster (with no gun.)
UPDATE: In our family photo archives I did find a photograph of my grandfather wearing a portion of a uniform. This is just a hat and badge. I still have questions.
Back to Siloam…
The church cemetery contains interments from the mid-1800s to the present. It is still very much an active graveyard and part of the church. There is even a signature headstone from Thomas M. White, but this is from Anderson and not one of the Charleston Whites.
The church itself is much older than the headstones might suggest. A historical marker states that the church was organized in 1799 and it appears on Robert Mills’ 1825 map as “Sylome” Meeting House. The farm marked “Forshe” on the map is approximately where my grandparents house was, and might even be the same house.
As a child I remember visiting the old church sanctuary. It was a wood frame building with an upper slave gallery. It was the first time I’d heard that such things existed.
Sadly, the old sanctuary was torn down sometime in the 1970s and replaced with the current brick building. I wish that they had been able to save it for its historical significance.
I paused at the corner of Siloam Baptist Church Road and old Highway 246, reflecting on the farmhouse that once stood here. Now the entire area is overgrown and wooded.
At least it seems that the 170+ acre Ellenberg farm is still intact with a single owner, according to the Greenwood County GIS site.
I made a couple of other stops on this excursion. I swung by the Ninety Six Historical Society, the Greenwood County Museum, and the Greenwood County Library. Sadly, none were able to provide any more information about the old churches in question. The genealogy room at the library is staffed by volunteers and was closed due to COVID. The Greenwood Museum has some nice displays, but nothing really available for researchers.
One last thing I noticed on this trip was the mill villages in Greenwood and Ninety Six. I’m used to seeing mill village houses in Upstate communities, usually collections of simple wood frame houses. These villages were made of sturdier brick homes. They were still small, but looked much more substantial.
This area is so rich in our family’s history that I don’t think I’ll ever exhaust the exploration possibilities. I know I’ll be making more trips down here.