Rev, Martin, Hwy 97, Chester, SC

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\”My hearers,\” he said, in his broad Scotch-Irish dialect— \”talk and angry words will do no good. We must fight!\”

Highway 97 in York and Chester counties was part of the New Acquisition District during the revolutionary war.  We find stories of valor and intrigue dotting the various communities along that holy thoroughfare.  Reverend William Martin preached a sermon at the Covenenter Meeting house in 1780 that was considered a rallying cry to the locals to rise up against the British occupation.  Coming on the heals of the massacre of Col. Buford in the Waxhaws on May 29, 1780 by British Col. Tarleton, Reverend Martin gave a sermon to a large and angry crowd,

 \”As your pastor—in preparing a discourse suited to this time of trial—I have sought for all light, examined the Scriptures and other helps in ancient and modern history, and have considered especially the controversy between the United Colonies and the mother country. Sorely have our countrymen been dealt with, till forced to the declaration of their independence—and the pledge of their lives and sacred honor to support it. Our forefathers in Scotland made a similar one, and maintained that declaration with their lives; it is now our turn, brethren, to maintain this at all hazards.\”

With eloquence and intellect mixed with a fire brand of emotion he stretched out his hand toward the Waxhaws and continued,

\”Go see,\” he cried— \”the tender mercies of Great Britain! In that church you may find men, though still alive, hacked out of the very semblance of humanity: some deprived of their arms—mutilated trunks: some with one arm or leg, and some with both legs cut off. Is not this cruelty a parallel to the history of our Scottish fathers, driven from their conventicles, hunted like wild beasts? Behold the godly youth, James Nesbit—chased for days by the British for the crime of being seen on his knees upon the Sabbath morning!\” 

 from The Women of the American Revolution. v.3 by EF Ellet (1848).(1)

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Lord Rawdon dispatched some cavalry to the community, killed a number of local militia and burned the Reverend’s house.  Reverend Martin was arrested and imprisoned.  Released later by General Cornwallis, he died in 1806. (2)

This story of the patriotic zeal is memorialized off of Highway 97 just east of I-77.  The Covenenter Meeting House Granite Marker and the Catholic Presbyterian Church are silent monuments to the story of Freedom.  Freedom Reigns!



(1) http://clydesburn.blogspot.com/2016/11/rev-william-martin-sermon-extract-south.html

(2)Parker’s Guide to the Revolutionary War in South Carolina. P 150, by John C. Parker, Jr. (2013)

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