The Antioch Missionary Baptist Church Cemetery was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on July 8, 2010.
The Antioch Missionary Baptist Church Cemetery is the oldest extant resource in Arkansas that best documents and commemorates the settlement of the Good Hope Plantation slaves who were moved from their plantation in South Carolina to a new plantation in Arkansas in 1860. The Antioch Missionary Baptist Church Cemetery, located behind the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, became the final resting place for many of the emancipated slaves and their future descendants. The Antioch Missionary Baptist Church Cemetery is being submitted for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places with local significance under Criterion A and Criteria Consideration D, with a period of significance that spans 1885-1959, with 1885 being the date of the first burial in the cemetery and 1959 being the cutoff date for what is deemed the historic period by the National Park Service. The period of significance extends through 1959 because descendants of the Good Hope Plantation peoples are still being buried at the cemetery today, further substantiating the impact of this initial group of people on the lives of future generations and the community of Sherrill and the surrounding area.
Background Information About Good Hope Plantation
The Dulles/Heatly families had owned the Good Hope Plantation in South Carolina for many years; by 1859, ownership had passed from Joseph H. Dulles, Sr., to Joseph Heatly Dulles, Jr. The Senior Dulles’ also owned two adjacent plantations: Lang Syne and Goshen. Joseph H. Dulles, Jr., raised cotton at the Good Hope plantation located along the Santee River. He maintained his primary residence in Philadelphia using land managers to oversee production and slave labor on the plantation. By 1859, Joseph H. Dulles, Jr., had made the decision to no longer raise cotton. In the early fall of 1859, Dulles attempted to sell the entire block of 200-plus slaves to South Carolina Governor, John L. Manning. In a letter to Governor Manning’s liaison, General Augustus M. Smith, Dulles detailed his stipulations on the selling of the slaves as follows:
“…in reply to your enquiry whether I would agree to sell a part of my Negroes to Gov. Manning… although I entertain the highest respect for the gentleman and would have the fullest confidence in passing these people into his possession, it is and has been my fixed determination not to sell them with a prospect of their being separated? And while I was willing in May last to assent to your suggestion that Mr. Charles Haskell might unite with you in the purchase, it was with understanding that the Negroes would all be settled on adjacent plantations and reside in the same neighbourhood [sic.].”
In a letter written from General Smith to Governor Manning the following was stated:
“Yesterday Mr. Dulles and myself concluded the trade for his Negroes. … [Dulles] he positively refused to sell if they were to be divided. I assured him that their condition would be improved in your hands, also of your Humanity and kind treatment to the Slave, but all to no purpose… he said, he had religious scruples upon the matter and felt that he would not be doing his duty to consent to a division and that nothing would induce him to sell if they were to be divided hereafter.”
By December of 1859, it appeared as if Dulles would have to sell his work force and the tools with which they labored at a public auction. After three generations of continuity at Good Hope Plantation, during which marriage, blood, work and friendship had come to bind them, the slaves were confronted with the reality that they would possibly be divided up. However, on 30 December 1859, Augustus M. Smith, a wealthy planter and prominent citizen of Abbeville, South Carolina, purchased all 203 slaves for his personal possession.
Augustus M. Smith was a member of a family who had amassed a lot of land and wealth over the years after settling in the Abbeville area. By age thirty-one, Augustus M. Smith had become a wealthy landowner in his own right. In 1859, Smith purchased land in Jefferson County, Arkansas, on the north banks of the Arkansas River, about 12 miles from Pine Bluff, primarily in Bolivar Township. By the end of the year he had purchased nearly 5,000 acres from five individuals for $37,500.00. The landholdings in Jefferson County were only a portion of the landholdings owned by Smith. By 1860, Smith owned $200,000.00 in real estate and $250.000.00 in personal property, and an additional $75,000.00 belonged to a member of his household named George M. Smith (age 16 – relation unknown). Augustus Smith was not only a wealthy landowner but also a prominent citizen of Abbeville, South Carolina. On 22 November of 1860, approximately 3,000 people gathered at Magazine Hill (since named Secession Hill) to listen to notable speakers argue in favor of immediate succession. A 1907 interview with Robert R. Hemphill, who was present at the meeting, noted that Augustus M. Smith served as Marshall of the day.
In the midst of the political turmoil facing the country, Smith continued to manage his personal affairs. By the spring of 1860, he had moved most of the Good Hope people to Jefferson County, Arkansas, near Pine Bluff where an overseer supervised them. Smith remained in South Carolina. The following year, 1861, Smith joined The Minute-Men of Abbeville to fight for the Confederate Cause. The 33-year-old Smith was one of five Confederate Colonels; he was serving in this capacity when he was mortally wounded at the battle of Gaines Mill, 27 June 1862, in the seven days of fighting around Richmond, Virginia.
Jefferson County, Arkansas: Pre-emancipation
In 1860, Jefferson County ranked as the second largest producer of cotton in the state. Approximately half of the county’s population was made up of slaves, 7,146 of them. In 1860, Smith was Bolivar Township’s largest slave owner, although he was absentee. At the time of Smith’s death in 1862, there were 125 slaves at the Jefferson County plantation, 36 mules, 4 horses, cattle, hogs, plantation tools, one wagon, cart ox and about 540 bales of cotton. A man by the name of Gallman was in charge of the plantation (it is unknown what happened to the other 78 slaves were sold as part of the 302 and moved to Arkansas, it is possible that some of them may of comprised those slaves that were forced to move to Falls County in Texas). Gallman oversaw the slaves and the planting of and harvesting of the cotton, which grew well in the bottomlands of the Arkansas River. By 1862, the slaves had been working the Jefferson County Plantation for nearly two years. There appears to be little written about these first years other than in the form of statistics. It is assumed that this large group of slaves adapted many of their traditional practices to their new home in Arkansas as they continued to cultivate cotton and live among their neighbors and family; most of who had been together for three generations.
Smith was a secessionist who believed in the institution of slavery. Based on the information available, it appears that Smith, or those overseeing his interests, attempted to force all of the slaves to move to Texas, however, the greater faction of them resisted and remained in Arkansas in the Sherrill vicinity. At least eight slave families were moved to Falls County, Texas, along the Brazos River where many other southern landowners were moving their “property” in an effort to maintain the institution of slavery. Most of these slave owners presumed that if slavery was abolished in the Old South, perhaps it would not be done away with in Texas or that they could most likely move on to Mexico. There is conflicting information as to whether or not this revolt and migration took place before or after Smith’s death. Regardless, it is known that the majority of the slaves stayed in Jefferson County, with at least eight families making the trip to Falls County in Texas sometime during 1862 and 1863. Whereas, the Arkansas Good Hope people remained a tightly knit community residing in proximity to each other, by the 1870s the Texas Good Hope people’s homes were spread throughout the county and they were less successful in maintaining close ties of kin and community after the war.
Jefferson County, Arkansas: Post-emancipation
After emancipation, many of these freed men and women stayed in Jefferson County maintaining their close ties of kinship and community. The families homesteaded the land around what is now known as Sherrill and Pastoria; they cleared the forests so that they could use the land for cotton farming. They farmed the land as sharecroppers and tenant farmers and established a community amidst themselves. Historian Ann Cody explains that, “The persistence of a tightly knit community among the Arkansas Good Hope people after the war may have enabled them to gain access to the institutions that were available to aid the freed men and women. Without the internal support system they created, access would have been limited.”
At the time of emancipation, many of the families had spent three generations together and many were related by marriage. Some of these families included the Mazique, Butler, Williams, Dallas, Sassel, Maxwell, Jordan, Lee, Thompson, Anderson, Taylor, Jacobs, Reed, Loveless, and Taylor families (as recorded in the 1870 U.S. Census). From early on, the Good Hope people realized that in order to gain economic independence education and land were necessary. Being so geographically close to the city of Pine Bluff enabled the Good Hope people to access credit and marketing facilities and schools. However, the most important tool utilized by these people was the strong bond of family and friends, as everyone looked out for one another.
One instrumental man who aided in weaving together a religious, social, and educational network for these freed men and women was Reverend Louis Mazique. In 1868, under the guidance of Reverend Mazique, these men and women established a small congregation and built the first frame church, the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church (Pastoria Township). By 1870, forty-year-old schoolteacher Ash Thatcher was living in the Mazique household providing the first opportunity for many of these freedmen to receive an education. Having access to an on-site school teacher resulted in the education of many of the Good Hope peoples, the majority of which were men. The first schoolhouse was located in the Mazique home. The significance of the church cannot be overemphasized, as it became the center of the farming community as a place of worship, learning, baptisms, funerals, and social activities. Twenty-eight years after establishing the church the following deed was filed on 10 June 1896 and filed and recorded 10 December 1896, states as follows:
Know all men by these presents; that we M. A. Gibson and John W. Gibson, her husband, for and in consideration of the sum of twenty five dollars, cash to us in hand paid by Ranty Sherrill, Paul Maxwall, and George Loveless, Trustees, for the Antioch Colored Baptist Church, do hereby grant, bargain, sell and convey unto the said R. Sherrill, P. Maxwall and Geo. Loveless, trustees and unto their successors and assigns forever, the following lands lying in the County of Jefferson, and State of Arkansas, to-wit:
Beginning at the North West corner of the South East ¼ of Section 4, Township 4, S of Range 9 West, thence East 270 feet for a point of beginning. Thence 45 Degrees, South 297 feet, Thence 90 Degrees North 297 feet, to the North line of the said SE1/4 Thence West 420- feet to the point of beginning, containing one acre.
Some time after the construction of the church (after 1868 but prior to 1920), church members constructed a parsonage and schoolhouse on the church grounds. The schoolhouse is thought to be the first black school in Jefferson County. It was here that many of the people were taught to read and to write. The church was an anchor in this small community and served as a gathering place for those who cleared the land and were sharecroppers. According to a long-time resident of the area, “they [the AR Good Hope peoples] had their own county family doctor, Dr. Madson McBeth, who rode horseback and in a buggy to treat his patients. His home and office was northeast of the river…. his [McBeth’s] brother Hines McBeth, swerved as the County Sherriff.” The little community had a post office and general store among other things. They were a tight-knit community of sharecroppers. In 1915, church members decided to tear down the 1868 structure and replace it with a modern building. The blocks used for the present-day church were made of sand and gravel hauled from the north bank of the Arkansas River in wagons pulled by mules. Molds were made, and sand and graveled were mixed and poured into the molds on the church grounds. The new church building that was completed in 1918. The 1918 church building was listed in the Arkansas Register of Historic Places in 1994.
In Summary, Good Hope Plantation scholar Ann Cody explains the significance of this group of people best:
Among the Good Hope people who saw sale, migration, war, and freedom during a turbulent five-year period, we see many of the weapons of survival and advancement found within contemporary African-American communities. Complex households were the result of both the life cycle of families which provided shelter for young couples and efforts to aid others in migration. Kin and community were at the heart of educational opportunity and religious practice with Good Hope ministers serving in their traditional roles as conduits to the governmental and charitable institutions in greater society. Good Hope brothers, although they did not share the same last name, pooled their wealth to purchase land, and Good Hope women relied upon one another for childcare and mutual support. The continuities found over more than a century suggest that the current systems of reciprocity and obligation had their origins in the experience of African Americans under slavery and in the early years of emancipation. These weapons of survival had great generational depth and breadth, which embraced several dimensions of assistance of economic, educational and social goals.
The people who settled this area depended on each other as they were isolated by geography and tied to the land which they farmed. Early on, they had their own county doctor, Dr. Madsen McBeth and neighbors aided one another during times of need. One of the first county sheriffs was Mr. Robert Lockett. Throughout the years, several people operated small country stores in the area. During the 1910s and 1920s, some of the Good Hope people left the area to be sharecroppers elsewhere, soldiers in wars, and students at colleges and universities. They endured hardships caused by wars, the Great Flood of 1927, the Great Depression and much more. Some descendants of the original Good Hope people have remained in the surrounding area and continue to attend the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church. Although other churches came into existence in the surrounding area; it was the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church that first served these people and it is here that many of them found their final resting place in the associated cemetery adjacent to the church. The site as a whole is significant but it is the cemetery that physically marks, commemorates and celebrates the triumph over slavery that these men and women so valiantly lived and died for.
Antioch Missionary Baptist Church Cemetery
The cemetery, located behind the church, has served as the resting place for some of the original African American settlers of this community. Some of the earliest families to settle the area and build the community are buried here; such as the Mazique, Maxwell, Biggs, and Butler families among others. Some of the earliest settlers were freed slaves or first generation emancipated men and women.
The cemetery predates the existing church and is the oldest resource on-site. It represents the lives of the people who settled, cleared and farmed this land in an effort to establish a community where men and women could own land, get an education, worship, and raise their families. The earliest documented burial in the cemetery is 1885, and it is the grave of Reverenced Louis Mazique. Below is a list of those buried in the cemetery from 1868 through 1992, when the last survey was completed. The cemetery continues to be used today, although not frequently.
Although there were other churches that were established in the area after the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church; it is this church and its associated cemetery that best documents the settlement of the people who came to Arkansas to work on Smith’s Jefferson County plantation. Some of these slaves who later became freedmen are buried in the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church Cemetery which is being submitted for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places with local significance under Criterion A and under Criterion Consideration D. Despite its compromised integrity, the cemetery is the oldest existing resource in Arkansas that best represents and pays tribute to the early African American slaves, later freed men and women, from the Good Hope Plantation in South Carolina. Its significance is not limited to the earliest burials as it has continuously been important to the church and its congregation (many of which are descendants of the original Good Hope peoples) throughout the years. Some descendants of the early founders are buried here. The cemetery has been in continuous use for over 114 years; its period of significance spans 1885 to 1959.
Cody, Cheryll Ann. “Kin and Community Among the Good Hope People After Emancipation.” Ethnohistory, Volume 41, Number 1 (Winter 1993): 46-49.
Gutman, Herbert. The Black Family in Slavery and Freedom, 1750-1925. New York: Pantheon Books, 1976.
Jefferson County Arkansas, for Augustus M. Smith In Abbeville County South Carolina Estate Record , 1863, (from the personal collection of papers of researcher, Nettie Saabs).
Oosterhous, Kara. Notes from Site Visit, January 2009.
“The 110th Anniversary of the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church.” (December 3, 1978).
Wetherell, Charles. “Slave Kinship: a Case Study of the South Carolina Good Hope Plantation,
1835-1856.” Journal of Family History. Volume 6, (1981): 294-308.
Woolfolk, Eola. Personal Notes on the Antioch Baptist Church Cemetery, (date unknown).
Woolfolk, Eola. Written Correspondence to Kara Oosterhous, April 2009.
Woolfolk, Eola. Written Personal Recollections, 24 December 1992;
Woolfolk, Eola. Personal Collection of Miscellaneous Documents, Letters, and Notes.
Zollner, Patrick. “Antioch Missionary Baptist Church.” Arkansas Register Nomination (1995).
“Abbeville County.” http://www.geocities.com/srunreal/Abbeville/abbeq002.htm
“Before Skull & Bones.” http://www.smokershistory.com/before.html
“George Bush: The Unauthorized Biography The rise of the Bush dynasty and the political career of George H.W. Bush.” http://www.modernhistoryproject.org/mhp/ArticleDisplay.php?Article=BushCh07
“Goshen Plantations.” http://south-carolina-plantations.com/calhoun/goshen.html
“History of South Carolina, Volume 3, (By Yates Snowden, Harry Gardner Cutler. pgs. 190-192)” http://books.google.com/books?id=sTcVAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA192- IA1&lpg=PA190&ots=7vMjabcy8z&dq=Augustus+M.+Smith+%2B+Sarah+Wardlaw&output=text#c_top
“Jefferson County, Arkansas Jefferson County History, Geography, Demographics, Cities and Towns, and Education.” http://www.e-referencedesk.com/resources/counties/arkansas/jefferson.html
“Lang Syne Plantation.” http://south-carolina-plantations.com/calhoun
John Laurence Manning Papers [Addition], 15 and 17 Sept. 1859. http://www.sc.edu/library/socar/uscs/2000/manning.html
McCord, Louisa. “Louisa S. McCord: poems, drama, biography, letters.” (edited by Richard C. Lounsbury), Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1995. http://books.google.com/books?id=O6P9wdZmBbQC&pg =PA280&lpg=PA280&dq=Joseph+Heatly+Dulles+%2B+plantation&source=bl&ots=muWT8eCN2B&sig=KY3e7Oj1h7LPU6LSj86Q0BpjuoI&hl=en&ei=klLRSomtL6mStgfzysDFCA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=9&ved=0CCEQ6AEwCA#v=onepage&q=Joseph%20Heatly%20Dulles%20%2B%20plantation&f=false
“Men of mark in South Carolina; ideals of American life: a collection of biographies of leading men of the state” http://www.archive.org/stream/menofmarkinsouth02hemp/menofmarkinsouth02hemp_djvu.txt
“Pastoria Township, Jefferson County, AR.” http://www.city-data.com/township/Pastoria-Jefferson-AR.html
“The Abbeville Banner 1857 NEWSPAPER ABSTRACTS FROM “THE ABBEVILLE BANNER (Abbeville, South Carolina for APRIL 1857 and MAY 1857.” http://files.usgwarchives.org/sc/abbeville/ newspapers/ newspape84nw.txt
“The Great Secession Meeting.” http://www.hmdb.org/marker.asp?marker=11686
“The History of a Brigade of South Carolinians, (Known first as “Greggs,” and Subsequently McGowans Brigade by JFJ Caldwell, Philadelphia, King and Baird Printers, 1866)”.
“The Pennsylvania magazine of history and biography.” (Vol. 35, by Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Pgs. 276-280). http://books.google.com/books?pg=PA276&lpg=PA276&dq=Joseph%20Heatly%20 Dulles%20%2B% 20plantation&sig=Qu0f36yv4ef3ssXVtK0aZ5pTH8Y&ei=klLRSomtL6mStgfzys DFCA&ct=result&id= OycXAAAAIAAJ&ots=q0r7BFHTue&output=text
“Wills: Abstracts, Book 6 – Part D: 1818: Philadelphia Co, PA.”