For most of the seventeen hundreds and to the mid eighteen hundred, many cemeteries were private or family. Among them were the Anderson and Massey graveyards, located about one mile from the present Antioch Church and near the Enoree River.
On August 12, 1843, the Clerk of Session, Nazareth Church, was advised to make certificates for, and affectionately dismiss to Antioch Church some twelve miles distant, twenty-three of its members who desired a place of worship more conveniently located. These charter members bore the names Pearson, Blakely, Anderson, Leonard, Wakefield, Peden, Westmoreland, Coan, and Bennett.
Denny Anderson, youngest son of William and Rebecca Denny Anderson, donated for a church and burial ground ten acres of land, some say seventeen, with the stipulation that when it ceased to be used for the purpose indicated, it should revert to his heirs. When the church was moved to Reidville in 1884, the land was returned to the Denny Anderson family. During the summer of 1904, Old Antioch was reorganized and the Denny Anderson family gave back to the church three acres of the original tract for the church and cemetery.
This charter member, Denny Anderson (1763-1832), is the only Revolutionary War soldier buried in the cemetery. In 1957, the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) chapters of Joyce Scott, Greer, SC, and of the Alamo of San Antonio, TX, removed the original markers of Denny and Elizabeth Massey Anderson from the Anderson Family Graveyard, embedded them in cement, and placed them near the gate at the front entrance of the cemetery at Antioch.
There are a few who remember that the cemetery was originally enclosed with a heavy iron fence and made secure with an equally heavy iron gate. During the years of the Great Depression of the 1930s, the Work Progress Administration (WPA) built a wall of native stones extending from the church wall to the end of the property. This work was supervised by Belton Boiter. At a much later date, a chain link fence, purchased from Sears, Roebuck, and Co., was erected around the cemetery. Vehicles entered by a large iron gate to the side. In 1964, a small iron gate was installed at the front entrance to the cemetery.
The Session agreed to place all cemetery plot transactions in the hands of the Cemetery Committee. In 1960, the members, by common consent, voted to charge one dollar per church member for a plot and twenty-five dollars for each non member, the funds thus received to be put in a cemetery maintenance fund. In 1969, the fee was increased, and yet again in 1975, the Session honored a motion to elevate the fee to five dollars per grave plot for members and one hundred dollars per grave plot for non members.
At a Congregational Meeting on November 27, 1960, a motion was made to have all undesirable undergrowth in the pine trees cut, to clean up the area behind the church building all the way to the cemetery fence and the lower property line, and to level the ground and sow it in grass. This action was taken to increase the size of the cemetery.
The first Antioch Session Book, dated 1843-1904, recorded the reception of a number of “colored members” into the church. Following is a list of those members as the record of their membership appeared in the Session Book:
- Page 44 – September 3, 1848: Lewis, examined and received, belonging to Joseph Garrett.
- Page 44 – August 18, 1849: Matilda, belonging to Alfred Dean, received on examination.
- Page 46 – November, 1849: Clarissa, belonging to Samuel Gaston, received by examination.
- Page 19 – April 15, 1860: Jeff Anderson, colored member.
- Page 71 – September 1, 1860: Patsy, servant of John Anderson, received by examination.
- Page 71 – September 18, 1865: Cate, servant of John Anderson, received by examination.
- Page 79 – October 19, 1871: Received one colored woman.
- Page 19 – October 21, 1871: Received one colored woman, Avaline Pearson, by examination. Died 1872.
In a 1924 history of the church, written by Mrs. Mag Boyd, she stated that she remembered Patsy Anderson, Susan Bennett, and Matilda Dean and that they came to the Communion Table just after the white members and were served in the same manner.
All the above lie buried in the church cemetery. No one can be certain how many others are there because the markers, now gone, were field stones with no names on them. Some have been told by members, now deceased, that there were Indian graves also in this section of the cemetery.
Over the years, soil taken from graves had been dumped by undertakers at the edge of the woods. An unsightly mound of soil steadily grew. At the same time, sunken places over the graves in the “Negro and Indian” section of the cemetery had appeared. While the manse was under construction, brothers Belton and William Johnson used some of this soil to restore the sunken graves. The remainder was spread over the area below the cemetery.
In the mid 1950s, interest was aroused among members of the Cemetery Committee as well as among other members of the church to remember the individuals buried in the “Negro and Indian” section of the cemetery with an appropriate monument in that part of the cemetery which belongs to them. In 1959, Joe H. Kilgore, Sr. discussed with Mrs. Helen Kilgore the need for such a monument and in 1960, both he and Mack Carlton talked with Mrs. Goldie Kilgore. As a result of the two contacts, the first contributions toward making this a reality came from Mrs. Helen Kilgore on May 31, 1959 and from Mrs. Goldie Kilgore on January 10, 1960. At a later date, other contributions began coming in from members of the church and from friends who were also interested.
Beginning in the fall of 1985 and into 1986, the officers of the church were busy with the work of purchasing, of design, and of proper wording to be used on the monument. A three ton obelisk of Georgia granite was erected. At the base of the stone, the word NEGRO is engraved on two opposing sides and the word INDIAN on the other two opposing sides. Centered above this is the following inscription engraved on all four sides:
This stone is dedicated in memory of
The Unknown buried here who served
the Lord alongside our forefathers.
Plans were made by the Session to invite visitors along with members to a light lunch in the Fellowship Hall following morning Worship Services, the monument dedication to begin at two o’clock in the cemetery on August 17, 1986. Written invitations were mailed to Nazareth, Reidville, Center Point, Walker’s Chapel, Allen Methodist, Community Grove, and Old Pilgrim Churches. A good number of friends, including the members of local predominantly African-American churches, joined the congregation for the dedication ceremony. Following special music, a sermon was preached by the Reverend Samuel W. Farr, Sr., pastor of the New Bethel Church in Woodruff, SC. The dedication service was conducted by the Reverend John D. Love, pastor of Center Point Presbyterian Church in Moore, SC. Following a prayer of dedication, the congregation and visitors joined in singing the hymn, “Blest Be the Tie That Binds.”
Following is a quotation from the will of church member Dr. Mary Anderson Leonard, deceased August 29, 1930, concerning the cemetery at Antioch:
“In memory of my parents, William Denny and Martha Stoddard Leonard, I will the Elders and Deacons of Antioch Presbyterian Church near Cashville, as Trustees, One Thousand Dollars for safe investment. One third the annual income from this fund shall be used to help keep in decent condition the Antioch Cemetery, including that for Negroes. The balance shall be expended annually for the support and maintenance of said church.” Item VIII.
When the estate was settled, Agnew W. Leonard, executor, turned the bequest over to the church officers who invested it in U.S. War Bonds sometime in the early 1940s. During the 1950s, at the suggestion of the pastor, the Reverend Marshall B. Dendy, the funds were reinvested in AT&T stock. In the early 1980s, AT&T received stock in other operating companies and at the same time retained ownership of AT&T. The church investment remains with this company and the dividends continue to be used as designated in Dr. Mary Anderson Leonard’s will.
At a meeting on March 5, 1989, Session agreed to elect William A. Leonard to manage the Mary A. Leonard Trust fund. Session also agreed that he be elected as the person to have access to the safe deposit box, located at the United Carolina Bank in Duncan, SC, which contained the shares of AT&T stock; that the alternate to have access to this box be James E. Brown; and that other names formerly listed be deleted.
In September of 1989, the above committee of two, upon the advice of knowledgeable brokers, sold all telephone stocks except Bell South and Bell Atlantic. The sale price of these two stocks at the time was $11,290.21. The officers have placed all the above transactions in the church deposit box in United Carolina Bank in Duncan, SC. Since that time, the value of this stock has increased substantially, and the funds are reserved for use in maintenance of the cemetery.
The cemetery remains active, with burials conducted as recently as 2020 and plots designated for current and former members of the church still living. Due to limited remaining space in the cemetery, plots are currently being reserved for members and their immediate families.
Antioch Presbyterian Church Cemetery Committeemen
- S. Ernest Carlton: 1933 – 1956
- Joe H. Kilgore, Sr.: 1933 – 1965
- Agnew W. Leonard: 1933 – 1966
- V. Reid Hudson: 1956 – 1960
- U.Z. Leopard: 1960 – 1962
- William H. Johnson: 1962 – ??
- Harold D. Leonard: 1965 – 1974
- Frank E. Hughes: 1966 – 1986
- Gary Pearson: 1985 – 1985
- John Starnes: 1985 – 1985
- T. Mack Carlton: 1985 – ??
- Brian S. Leonard: 1985 – 1995
- Thomas Bennett: 1989 – 1993
- A. William Leonard, II: 1989 – ??