Continuing with my exploration of old and abandoned church graveyards, one of the most surprising and upsetting finds was the graveyard of Fellowship Church. Located at the intersection of Fork Shoals Road and Georgia Road, the graveyard is abandoned and trash laden. The plot is now bounded by a Dollar General to the east and a mobile home park to the north.
I first visited the site in November of 2019. GNIS showed the cemetery location across the street, near a gas station. I parked at the Dollar General and walked across the street. It just took a couple of minutes to see that this was probably not the place.
The open lot at the corner had to be the location. It was separated from the Dollar General by a wooden fence.
I walked right around the fence, and right into an impromptu garbage dump.
The graves were situated at the back of the lot. The whole place was covered with trash. It looked like there were several family plots as well as individual graves. All of these were very much overgrown.
Today I decided to head back to the graveyard to see if it was more accessible. There were some briars at the entrance, but for the most part the vegetation had died back for the winter. Sadly, the trash was just as bad as ever.
A pile of beer cans made me wonder if folks were just dumping trash, or if they were holding drinking parties out here. The mobile home park was visible behind and there was a path worn through the vegetation through here.
I found a fire ring, which looked suspiciously like it had been made from granite. I hope whoever made it didn’t move field stones or destroy headstones just to build a fire. I also began to wonder if this had been a homeless encampment at one time just based on the distribution of trash and the presence of the fire ring.
I wandered over the lot, trying to imagine where the old church might have been. As I got closer to the Fork Shoals Road border I looked up a ridge and spotted more headstones. I had missed these on my 2019 visit.
The shoulders of the road had been cleared and now a set of several graves was much more visible.
I made my way back to the car. Across the road from the Dollar General yet another development was going in, eating up what had been farmland back when I visited in 2019.
Finding information on Fellowship Church proved more difficult than with Salem Methodist. Salem is still there, but Fellowship is long gone. Even its name caused some confusion. Find-a-Grave has it listed as “Fellowship Community Church.” Old maps list it as simply “Fellowship Church.” It wasn’t until after much digging that I found that it was a Methodist church.
Find-a-Grave has 24 interments listed, but I’m sure there were much more. The surnames most prominent were Griffin, Willimon, Jenkins, and Wallace. While these were the names I found, they were not the names that played the most prominent roles in the church, according to my research. More on that in a bit.
First I turned to maps. This 1957 topographic map shows the location of the church, possibly where the Dollar General is located now. That’s unclear, though, because churches are usually indicated with a cross on topo maps. The label for the cemetery is on the southeast corner of the intersection, which added to the idea that it was across the road from its actual location.
A larger scale 1954 map of Greenville labels this as “Fellowship Crossroads.”
On both of these maps “Huff Creek” appears to the west of the intersection. The bridge across the Reedy River on West Georgia Road is known as “Huff Bridge.” An 1882 township map of Greenville County shows the extent of the Huff Family holdings in the area. In addition to the creek and bridge there is Huff’s Mill and several Huff residences. Fellowship Church is also labeled on the map.
The Huff Family moved from Virginia to the Rehoboth section of Greenville County in the early 1800s. According to the 1930 “A History of Greenville County” by James Richardson, Pascal Dacus Huff was born on the banks of the Reedy River in 1838. He fought in the Civil War and returned to the area to establish a large farm.
However, that wasn’t his only endeavor. According to Richardson…
Throughout his life Mr. Huff was· always deeply interested in promoting the welfare of his community and took a prominent part in all movements having that as their object. He was instrumental in the establishment of the St. Albans school; for many years he was postmaster of a “Star route” post office established at his home largely through his efforts; the Fellowship Methodist Church, of which he was an active member, is the outgrowth of his work to secure a church in his community. Although Mr. Huff never sought political office he was always interested in securing the best available men for public positions. For a number of years he was a magistrate by appointment. He was a Mason, and assisted in establishing a Lodge of that order in his community.A History of Greenville County, James Richardson
So P. D. Huff helped establish St. Alban’s School, St. Alban’s Post Office (where he was the only postmaster during its existence from 1880 until 1904), as well as helping to establish Fellowship Methodist. He did all of that while maintaining a farm. His farm was passed to him by his father-in-law, James Moon Cureton. The original Cureton-Huff farmhouse built in 1820 still stands less than a half mile west of the church, and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Huff Family continued to be an influential part of the church and community. Descendants of the Huffs still own the one hundred acre farm and the property once occupied by the church. Given the surname, I reached out to my friend, Dr. A. V. Huff, history professor emeritus of Furman. Dr. Huff has written his own excellent history of Greenville County, so I hoped he might have some additional information about the church, as well as a connection to the family.
Sadly, Dr. Huff said that his family originated in the Orangeburg area and had no connection to these Huffs. He did recommend that I contact Dr. Phillip Porter, archivist for the United Methodist Church at Wofford College. Dr. Porter said that little information exists in the archives regarding the church. The records show that the church was founded circa 1879 and was on the Fork Shoals, Fountain Inn, and Simpsonville Circuits during most of its existence. The 1893 Annual Conference Minutes show that Fellowship had 81 members, as well as showing the other churches in that circuit.
I found several references to Fellowship Church in The Greenville News. Most of these were obituaries and tidbits of social news.
The St. Alban’s School was located about a mile north of Fellowship Church. The two entities enjoyed a close relationship, due in no small part to their connection to the Huff family. This news article from 1917 promotes an oyster supper at the school to raise funds for repairs of the church. It doesn’t say what needed repairing.
During the 1930s the church struggled to maintain its membership. In 1933 the congregation met to consider consolidation with other churches in the area.
Dr. Porter said that the Wofford records indicate that the church “…continued up through 1941, but in 1942, the Upper SC Conference discontinued the church. It put its property under the Simpsonville Quarterly Conference. In 1943, it was reopened, but it seems to have struggled even then, and it does not show up in 1944, 1945, or 1946….In 1982 and 2003, the church is listed on the abandoned church property report, so as of 2003, it appears that it may still have been in the Conference’s hands.”
I was able to find a January 1944 announcement of the church’s reopening. Preaching services were held only on the first Sunday of every month at 3:30 pm.
The current owner of the Fellowship property, Penelope Hawthorne, was kind enough to provide me with the final chapter of the church, via Facebook. Penelope is a member of the Huff Family.
…a wind storm hit the church into 1940’s and they torn [sic] it down. I own the cemetery lot now my great aunt owned after it was gone and she has passed it down past years. My dad cleaned it up and then people trashed it…
I tried to find a record of the storm and demolition of the church, but was unable to do so. I wish I had a photo of the church, or even just a description of the building, but I’ve been unable to find one.
Fellowship Church Cemetery is definitely an orphaned graveyard. The church building is long gone, the cemetery is trashed and overgrown, and the property is no longer in the hands of the parent denomination.
One curious thing I noticed was that on my visits I could find no headstones with the Huff surname. Even Find-a-Grave has no listings for the Huff Family for the cemetery. At first it seemed that the most prominent family of the church had also been lost in the cemetery. However, I was able to find the graves of Pascal Dacus Huff and other members of the Huff Family in the Cureton Family Cemetery on the nearby Cureton-Huff Farm.
My sincere thanks to Dr. A. V. Huff, Dr. Phillip Porter, and Penelope Huff Hawthorne providing additional information for this article.