SOUTH CAROLINIANA LIBRARY
UNIVERSITY SOUTH CAROLINIANA SOCIETY
John DeWitt McCollough Papers
1824-1900 and Undated
John DeWitt McCollough (1822-1902) was born in the Pee Dee section of South Carolina at Society Hill in 1822. His parents were John Lane McCollough and Sarah Ervin DeWitt. Prior to entering South Carolina College in 1838, McCollough studied at St. David's Academy under the Rev. Ulysses M. Wheeler, his stepfather. McCollough graduated from South Carolina College in 1840.
The earliest correspondence and papers in this collection of two hundred twenty-five manuscripts concern the career of Ulysses Wheeler, who was apparently a native of New Jersey. The oldest document in the collection attests that Wheeler had been enrolled in Canandaigua Academy where he "has been distinguished for his good scholarship and correct deportment, and is recommended to the Government of Hamilton College" (5 October 1824). A member of the junior class in 1825, Wheeler left Hamilton "in good standing...at his own request" (21 June 1825). A little over a year later, he graduated from Geneva College at the institution's first commencement. A newspaper clipping dated 10 January 1827 announced the opening of "The Academic School" attached to Geneva College, with Ulysses Wheeler serving as principal. In June 1829 Wheeler received a diploma from the General Theological Seminary of the Protestant Episcopal Church, New York. In September 1830 he was appointed "a Domestic Missionary" by the church's Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society. For the next five years, Wheeler served various churches in Mississippi and Louisiana. There are two letters in 1830 (3 January and 6 December) in which Wheeler was informed of his election as rector of St. John's Church, Port Gibson, and Christ Church, Jefferson County, Miss. During the year the death of his sister prompted Wheeler to compose "Thoughts upon the Death of my Sister Eliza, who deceased August 15 (Sunday) 1830—aged 23 years" (27 August 1830) which was published the following month in The Sunday Visiter; and Sunday School Magazine.
As a domestic missionary on the frontier, Wheeler made periodic reports to the church's Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society. From Pleasant Hill, Jefferson County, Miss., 12 January 1832, Wheeler detailed his activities in the parish of Jefferson County, attributed the meager contributions to the "great deficiency the past year in the staple and sole production of these parts sent to market," advised that the operation of an academy "w[oul]d be too much confinement for my health and preclude itineracy so necessary here for our cause" as he was the only "officiating" Episcopal clergyman in Mississippi, and expressed a willingness to return for another year if the Society could provide him a stipend—"I am disposed to remain in the country for I know it is essential to Episcopacy that its advocates be here. Beside a full am[oun]t of labourers to combat the spread of irreligion cannot with safety to the cause of God be dispensed with." In June 1832 Wheeler sent his report from New Orleans and explained that he remained there rather than attending to his regular duties—"acc[or]d[i]ng to my private judgment and the belief of friends...this portion of the Vineyard was in more need than the portion where I had been previously ministering." Wheeler also cited the need for a Protestant presence in the city.
Later that year, 14 November 1832, Wheeler was back in Mississippi at Pleasant Hill where he reported on his ministry in Woodville, Pinckneyville, and Jefferson County. The number of Episcopal clergy in Mississippi had risen by one. A third, the Rev. James Fox, resided with his family in New Orleans. His February 1833 report, composed at Woodville, provides a thorough summary of his itinerant ministry. He explained that he had not visited Pinckneyville since October 1832—"So much travelling as at first, performed on horseback, was too fatiguing except for a short period...," related his services to Christ Church and St. Paul's, and reported that his health for the previous two months "has been very indifferent, I may say, bad." Wheeler apparently left Mississippi in 1835 or 1836. In a letter of 26 October 1835, the wardens of St. John's Church accepted his resignation as rector and referred to "circumstances [that] have arisen, to terminate, thus suddenly and prematurely, a connection from which so much mutual good and benefit had been anticipated."
The following year Wheeler moved to South Carolina to become rector of Trinity Church, Society Hill. A marriage certificate dated 18 September 1836, Wadesboro, Anson County, N.C., documents his marriage to widow Sarah Ervin McCollough. Ill health forced his resignation as rector in 1838; Wheeler died in 1841.
Wheeler's widow administered the estate. There are accounts with Caleb Coker & Brother, a physician, a dentist, a blacksmith, and a record of Negroes hired by Wheeler. The estate accounts and other business papers for 1841-1846 indicate that Mrs. Wheeler and her son John D. McCollough continued to farm. Shortly before her husband's death, 2 June 1841, Chesterfield District, her father, John DeWitt, gave his daughter a five-hundred-acre plantation in Marlboro District and ninety-six acres in Chesterfield District.
John DeWitt McCollough located in Columbia in 1847 to prepare for ministry in the Episcopal Church, and in January 1848 he moved to Glenn Springs in Spartanburg District to become principal of Glenn Springs Academy. He also ministered to congregations in Glenn Springs and Spartanburg and thus began a ministry of over a half century in many locations in upstate South Carolina. In addition to Advent, Spartanburg, and Calvary, Glenn Springs, McCollough served the Church of the Nativity, Union, St. John's, Walhalla, St. Stephen's, Ridgeway, St. John's, Winnsboro, and several others. He also designed and prepared plans for a number of upstate churches.
The principal documentation of McCollough's lengthy ministry are seventeen sermons. The earliest is dated 20 January 1849 and was delivered at Glenn Springs. As he did with most of his sermons, McCollough recorded each time he preached the sermon. The sermon first delivered on 20 January was preached on six occasions in 1849 and 1850 and again at St. John's, Winnsboro, on 27 December 1857. There are two other antebellum sermons and one Civil War-period sermon. The other sermons date principally from the 1870s to the 1890s, the last one being "Immortal Life" (December 1900).
Upon the outbreak of the Civil War, John D. McCollough joined Holcombe's Legion as chaplain. His son John Lane served in the same unit. From Camp Cain, near Charleston, McCollough informed his wife in Unionville, 14 December 1861, of the fire in Charleston the previous night. Although she could read accounts in the newspapers, "you will scarcely form an adequate conception of the desolation." The owner of the building where the fire started attributed it to arson, but others blamed it on "the carelessness of his employees." Many citizens who remained in Charleston were critical of those who fled the coast and the few "timid" people who left Charleston—"this has excited the indignation of the more stouthearted, who think that the men who cry before they are hurt, ought to be dressed in old women's clothes." In a letter of 24 January 1862, Camp Walsh, McCollough gave his wife an account of an expedition of 200 men who had been sent to Edisto Island "to scour the island & capture all the negroes who may remain upon it." McCollough noted that a few of the Negroes on the island were armed—"...about twenty five attacked a picket...firing upon it, but doing no harm. The return fire killed one negro." The party returned with fifty-two and more on the way—"I have been questioning an intelligent old fellow, who professes to be very innocent & glad to get away, but I doubt him." McCollough wrote "Dear Hatty" on 17 February 1862, Camp Blair, to report details of camp life, the weather, and health of the soldiers. He noted that Maj. Palmer was leading an expedition of sixty men to Edisto to dislodge the enemy and observed—"War is an evil, a scourge sent for some wise purpose. Many of us have hardly felt it, few have realized it[s] hardships. And certainly it is wise, to say the least, to submit with cheerfulness to mere privations, & withal to profit by such a measure of correction as we have endured." A week later on the 23rd, he told of an almost deserted camp "because nearly all of our men are on the water's edge, & two companies over on Jehossee looking out for Yankees." McCollough related a visit to Col. Jenkins' plantation and his ride over the area made more pleasant by the aroma of yellow jasmine. In a letter of 6 March, McCollough informed his wife of Gen. Lee's departure for Virginia—"the papers say to become Secty of War, but I hope not, unless Gen Gregg could take his place." He preached for the Rev. John Elliott at Wiltown and found the experience "very refreshing to retreat to this quiet little ch[urch], as much like an old English Parish Ch[urch] yard as possible, surrounded with venerable tombs & moss covered trees." He asked his wife to inform Mrs. Dawkins that he and Maj. Garlington planned "to take a ride in search of magnolias. If we succeed I hope to send some soon." A contemporary copy of a four-page letter of 30 March 1862, of F.G. Palmer to Col. P.F. Stevens gives a detailed account of the Holcombe Legion's movements and engagements with Federal forces on Edisto Island.
The collection contains a single letter, 17 May , of John Lane McCollough to his mother. He characterized camp life as "monotonous and wearisome," reported that his father had acquired "a beautiful little marsh tackey" which had changed his opinion of this animal, and informed her that he had been selected as one of thirty marksmen "chosen out of the Legion, to shoot at officers." McCollough expressed disappointment with the leadership provided by President Davis and observed—"We prided ourselves too much on our spirit & bravery perhaps, & we must be taught a lesson. Still no sane person can doubt the end." The following letter dated 26 September 1862, Baltimore, was written by a college classmate of John Lane McCollough. Arthur Brown began his letter, "trust[ing] that it has not fallen to my lot to be the first to convey to you the sad intelligence of the death of your son...." Brown related how he had recognized his old friend among Confederate wounded, told of arranging his transfer to another hospital and of his visits with him, gave details of the engagement in which he was wounded, and concluded—"I am well aware that there is little consolation which an utter stranger can offer; but I trust that these few particulars will afford some degree of comfort to you & to his Mother."
The bulk of the collection after the Civil War consists of land papers for property owned by McCollough in Walhalla and the town of Saluda, N.C. There is an interesting typescript by Sally M. Carson entitled "Reminiscences of the Church of the Advent." The ancestry of John D. McCollough and connections with the DeWitt and other families in the Pee Dee section is traced in a twenty-five-page manuscript booklet.
Among the important visual materials are an ambrotype of Edward Heron, half brother of Harriet Bell Hart McCollough, posing with a dog, and a miniature on ivory, identified as Revolutionary War Major Benjamin Hart.
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