MOLLIE S. WATERS/THE GREENVILLE STANDARD
Walter Parmer was the guest speaker at the quarterly meeting of the Butler County Historical Society (BCHS) on Sunday. His lecture topic was “Greenville’s Early Churches.”
Parmer said Greenville’s earliest church gatherings occurred right outside of Fort Dale in the 1810s and 1820s.
“First the Baptists, then the Methodists began to meet outside near Fort Dale for protection,” said Parmer. “The churches at Fort Dale continued to serve even after Greenville became the county seat of Butler County.”
In the city of Greenville, a community church was built on the corner of South Pine and Dunklin Streets adjacent to what is now the Pioneer Cemetery.
“The churches rotated meetings at the community church,” explained Parmer.
Parmer went on to briefly discuss the history of First Presbyterian Church, First United Methodist Church, St. Thomas Episcopal Church, First Baptist Church and St. Elizabeth Catholic Church. He also shared some surprising facts about each one.
According to his research, Parmer said First Presbyterian Church was originally named Hopewell, and when constructing the church, the congregation spent $12.50 on the bell, which is believed to be the same one the church uses today.
First Presbyterian also served as a dead house for the Union Army during the Civil War when Greenville was occupied by Federal troops.
At one time, the First United Methodist Church had a finishing school for young ladies on the second floor of what is now the fellowship hall.
The current location for the First Baptist Church has had several structures on it, but at least one building was torn down to make way for a larger sanctuary to accommodate a growing congregation.
Parmer also shared how many Episcopalians moved into Greenville during the Civil War.
“The Civil War triggered a migration of people from Pensacola who sought sanctuary in Greenville,” said Parmer. “That included many Episcopalians.”
St. Elizabeth’s Catholic Church came to Greenville as a mission in the early 1900s. Parmer said the stained glass windows in the church were made in Germany.
The next meeting for the BCHS will be in April.
For those interested in finding out more about Butler County history, they can visit the BCHS room in the Greenville-Butler County Library on Tuesdays when staff is available.