Thursday, November 16, 2006

Florence SC Us, Us, and UUs

Sometimes it's interesting to look at a particular location and see how so-called liberal religion takes hold (or doesn't) in a location.

Florence SC was a railroad town, founded as a station on the Manchester - Wilmington Railroad in the 1850s and named after the Railroad president's daughter. During the war, there was a prisoner of war camp there, and then after the war, a National cemetery for the soldiers who died there, and then other veterans (I note at least one chalice on the grave in the old cemetery). Henry Timrod (who probably didn't inspire Bob Dylan after all) taught school nearby.
Into the early 20th Century, Florence became a hub of transportation, partially due to it's being midway between New York City and Miami. First railroad (and before sleeper cars, they stopped at the hotels in Florence) and then highways, and now interstates.

While it is probable that D. B. Clayton did some preaching in Florence, (particuarly when he lived 30 miles away in Cash's Depot); I have yet no evidence of that.

Thanks to recent detective work by Carol Simmons, we do know that the treasurer of the North Carolina Universalist Convention, Inc. in the mid 1930s lived in Florence SC.

In 1961 and 1962, there was a short lived Unitarian Fellowship of Florence; with members in Marion and Florence. The timing is the same when the AUA was making a big effort to start Fellowships and Churches throughout the south - with surrport of money and leadership. Some of the Churches made it (in SC, like Clemson and Columbia), many did not - having got trapped in the tension of race and outsiders and politics ).

In the mid 1980s, another fellowship was started in the Florence area. I think it ran until about 1988. From what I recall it was under the leadership of a College Professor at Coker College in Hartsville, SC.

In 2001, the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Florence was founded by a couple who after a couple of years, moved to Fayetteville - and started a UU church there.
After almost 6 years, the UUCF is still alive, if small.

The mid 1930s UCoNCi treasurer and the 1961/2 congregation are pieces of the Florence puzzle that I found out within the past week! Not much significance in the big picture, but an interesting light in the little picture!

(and yes i will cross post this on the UUCF blog too, what ya expect?)

1 comment:

Carol said...


There had been a UU Fellowship in Fayetteville prior to the present fellowship. However, it would be active a while then inactive for a while as the members were mobile. Several of the members there attended intergenerational and young adult/college weekends at Shelter Neck UU Camp near Burgaw NC in the 1980 and 1990s.