Welsh Neck Baptist Church – Society Hill, South Carolina

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The area in the bend of the the Great Pee Dee River of modern-day Marlboro County was settled by Welsh Baptists in 1736 and subsequently called Welsh Neck. These settlers, who had traveled from Pennsylvania and Delaware, petitioned the colonial government for a land grant along the river. They received a large tract along both sides of the Great Pee Dee, and more settlers arrived and formed Welsh Neck Baptist Church in 1738.

Welsh Neck Baptist Church

Bill Segars of Hartsville, 2005 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Once the church was established, the settlement flourished as a community. Welsh Neck Baptist served as a mother church for other fledgling Baptist churches in the area, and the land along the Great Pee Dee soon became densely populated. However, settling by the river turned out to be a mistake, as the land was prone to serious flooding. In the late 1740s a village was developing on a bluff on the west side of the Great Pee Dee River called Long Bluff in present-day Darlington County. It became the site of a court house and trading post by the 1770s, and the settlement attracted people from the Welsh Neck area seeking higher ground.

Welsh Neck Church

Bill Segars of Hartsville, 2005 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

By 1798 the Welsh Neck settlement had dispersed to Long Bluff, which is no longer extant, and Society Hill, a new community that developed around a school – Saint David’s Academy – near Long Bluff. Saint David’s Academy and Society Hill thrived, and eventually people abandoned Long Bluff for the new community near the school. Welsh Neck Baptist Church relocated to Society Hill in 1798 and retained its name. Today the both Long Bluff and the former Welsh Neck settlement are undeveloped woods. The brick building pictured here was built in 1938 and is the church’s third structure to occupy the present site.

Welsh Neck Churchyard

Bill Segars of Hartsville, 2005 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Welsh Neck Baptist Church is listed in the National Register as part of the Welsh Neck-Long Bluff-Society Hill Historic District, which says the following:

The Welsh Neck-Long Bluff-Society Hill area is one rich in historic significance. The Welsh Neck community was an early religious center (a ca. 1738 Baptist church was established here) for the Pee Dee region, and Long Bluff served as a judicial center. The courthouse at Long Bluff, with its jail, tavern, and supporting buildings, was a center of activity for the Upper Pee Dee region during the Revolution. Few small communities have contributed more to the public in the way of culture, education and leadership than has Society Hill. It has numbered among its population outstanding leaders in religion and education, jurists, statesmen, soldiers, authors, and agriculturists.

The Society Hill Library Society was formed in 1822. This group grew out of the St. David’s Society, founded 1777 in Cheraw, which had a wide-spread influence and was a main factor in making Society Hill a center of intelligent leadership in the Pee Dee for a century and a half. This is a rural community with many fine antebellum homes in the Georgian mode. Constructed on large lots or in wooden settings, many are two-storied clapboard structures with one-story front verandas. Nineteenth century mercantile establishments still operate in unadorned frame buildings of a purely functional design. Within the entire district there are approximately 250 structures. Welsh Neck and Long Bluff, both now unoccupied wooded areas, are considered excellent potential archaeological sites.

Welsh Neck Baptist Church Info

Address: 112 Church Street, Society Hill, SC 29593

Welsh Neck Baptist Church Map

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