In 1884, Mrs. F.F. Dunbar (Ogreta Brabham) and Mrs. S.E. Bates desiring to establish a Methodist Church in this community, began to solicit money for the purpose.

They went to Old Beaufort Bridge in Bamberg County, the home of their ancestors and a Methodist stronghold, to solicit aid. With this aid and funds raised in the community, Speedwell Church at Millett was built on a five acre tract of land donated by Mrs. J.H. Laffitte, who was the mother of Paul DeLacy Black and Mrs. Benjamin Willingham Peeples. The deed was signed in 1884 by Mrs. Laffitte.

The name of Speedwell was chosen because that was the name of the post office here during stage coach days, before the railroad and Millett Station were built.Mrs. S.E. Bates was the first organist, and Mrs. F.F. Dunbar was the first communion steward.

Speedwell Church was included in the Allendale Circuit at first. Then Dr. Boyd’s old home at Appleton was purchased for a parsonage and the Appleton Circuit was formed in 1907 which consisted of Cave, Gillett, Ellenton and Speedwell Churches. During Mr. C.O. Shuler’s pastorate, about 1935, the parsonage was moved to Ellenton and the Circuit became the Ellenton Circuit. The parsonage at Ellenton was taken by the Savannah River Plant and since then Speedwell Church has been served by supply preachers from Allendale There have been two church buildings on this site.

Among the members of the original church were: Mrs. F.F. Dunbar, Mrs. S.E. Bates, Mr. William Dunbar, Mr. C.B. Dunbar, Mrs. George Dunbar, Mr. and Mrs. J.H. Laffitte, Mr. Horace Cassells, Sr., Mrs. Spellman, Mrs. Jesse Griffin, Mrs. Irene Roundtree, Mr. and dMrs. W.F. Cease, Mr. and Mrs. B. W. Peeples, Mr. and Mrs. P. D. Black, Mr. E.J. Black, Mr. W.S. Snelling, Mr. and Mrs. G.D. Kirkland, Mr. and Mrs. L.P. Smith.

Some of the first pastors include: R.H. Jones, 1880-87; C.E. Wiggins, 1888-89; J.L. Sifley, 1890-92; P.F. Kistler, 1893-95; W.B. Duncan, 1890-98; A.J. Cauthen, 1898-1900. The present church building was begun about 1922. It was dedicated by Bishop William Turner Watkins on May 23,1941. The reason for delaying the dedication was the loss of church funds by bank failures during the depression.

The ladies of the church organized a Ladies Aid Society with Mrs. Idis Brabham as president, and raised funds for the furnishing of the church. The chandelier is the same one used in the original church. The church is still in possession of the original communion service and bible. The church was repaired and redecorated in 1958 largely with funds received from the parsonage in Ellenton that was sold.

Because of the moving away of some members and some of the older members not being able to attend services it was decided to call a meeting of the church members to discuss the possible merger with Swallow Savannah United Methodist Church in Allendale. This meeting was held at Speedwell in November, 1969, and the members present voted in favor of the merger. Therefore, the services at Speedwell were discontinued with the prevision that if the need arises the church will be re-opened.

By Junius Keith Peeples

Copyright ©2004 Junius Keith Peeples, all rights reserved.

Speedwelll UM Church 1885  Copyright ©SCDAH.  Thoughtfully provided by Jim Neal.

Intersection of Little Hell* and Speedwell Church Road, Millett

This church, founded in 1885, was named Speedwell for a stagecoach stop and the first post office in the vicinity, now Millett. In 1884-85 Ogreta Brabham Dunbar and Savannah Barker Bates raised funds for a new congregation, in what was then Barnwell County. In 1885 Mary Dunbar Lafitte and her husband John H. Lafitte donated a five-acre tract here for the church. / (Reverse) The first church on this site, built about 1885, was replaced by the present church, begun in 1922 during the pastorate of Rev. W.R. Jones. It remained unfinished during the Depression but was dedicated in 1941 during the pastorate of Rev. J.A. Graham. Attendance declined in the 1960s, and regular services ended by 1970. Homecoming are still occasionally held here. Source: SCDDAH

Thoughtfully provided by Jim Neal.

*Little Hell is so named because river-boat captains considered it to be "a hell of a job" to land here. The water is swift, and many underwater rocks abound, resembling granite and some as large as a house are along the banks. Some of these large rocks are visible at low water. A good, flowing well is located at Little Hell. Source: Names in South Carolina Vol. 19, P. 51, USC.  Thoughtfully provided by Jim Neal.

Link to Speedwell Methodist Church page on the Historic Millett web site (off site)

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