David Ethan Frierson (1818-1896) and his son William Henry (1854-1932) are the family members who are represented chiefly in this collection of forty-one manuscripts and five photographs. The Rev. David Frierson began his “Autobiographical notes” on 1 September 1859 while he was serving Hopewell Presbyterian Church in Marion District. He was the second of eight sons of Daniel and Martha Jane McIntosh Frierson. His father was a ruling elder of the Presbyterian church in Kingstree, and young David joined the church at age eleven at the Brewington camp meeting. He recalled that when questioned by the session, “I remember shedding tears....I approached the Lord’s table for the first time with a vague feeling of solemnity but without any distinct knowledge of myself or of my new position.”
Frierson achieved second distinction in his South Carolina College class of 1839 and moved on to the Columbia Theological Seminary which he left in 1841 on account of his health. Licensed by the Harmony Presbytery at Bishopville in October 1841, Frierson was sent as a domestic missionary to Marion, Little Pee Dee, and Reedy Creek churches. In November 1842 he married Rebecca Ellen Crosland of Bennettsville.
Frierson’s ministerial assignments were in the Pee Dee section prior to the Civil War. In January 1845 he purchased a two hundred-acre plantation for $500. In 1849 he left the ministry to become headmaster of the Bennettsville Academy at a salary considerably above what he was paid as a minister. But that same year he was approached by the Committee on Domestic Missions of Harmony Presbytery to resume serving the congregations at Marion and Little Pee Dee for which he received a salary of $800. He sold his plantation and one slave and acquired twenty-two acres of land in the village of Marion where he remained until 1858 when he was invited to Hopewell church. At Hopewell he organized a “sabbath school...among both black and white children” and “gathered between 130 and 140 negro children into my class.” His wife had been in poor health and upon her death on 16 August 1859, Frierson noted that she “left me at the call of her God...for his higher power and happier service on high.” After his wife’s death Frierson’s autobiographical notes became an occasional journal which he continued until June 1861.
Frierson struggled with his wife’s death, which left him a single parent, and with tobacco, the use of which he renounced on 3 October 1859. He considered it “a constant disturber of the nervous system, a constant inconvenience in the company of friends, a constant bad example; a constant interference with ministerial dignity, a constant expense, and a constant sin.” His resolve did not last for on 19 December he noted that “I have slided again into the regular use of tobacco. Insinuating, deceitful, insatiable little tyrant!” He considered it a poor example to his children—“Why should they catch from their parent a useless, and undignified habit.” Once again, he resolved—“By God’s help I will no longer use it, unless I find its disuse an injury to me.”
Frierson’s journal concluded on 25 June 1861 with his sole reference to the sectional conflict between North and South—“The political storm which began to mutter last December, is now in full tide in the firmament.” In the spring of the year, 24 April 1861, Frierson married Adeline Allsobrook McIntyre. Frierson was the father of fifteen children: seven by his first wife and eight by his second.
In 1871 Frierson moved to Anderson to become pastor of the First Presbyterian Church. The collection contains one sermon that he preached there, “The Lord reigneth,” on 21 December 1880.
One of Frierson’s children, William Henry (1854-1932), was a distinguished lawyer, jurist, and frequent contributor to the local newspapers. Among his writings in the collection are “The Prohibitionist’s Prayer,” “The Consistent Prohibitionist,” “The Negro Exodus,” and “My Town.” “The Negro Exodus,” although undated, was probably written in response to the post-World War I exodus; “My Town” relates the building of the Anderson Cotton Mills and other developments and is written on the premise that “There never was a town where a small group could assume to speak in the name of the town, and, by cornering on all the patriotism and public spirit work its people for a put over, and profit by it, like Anderson.”