History of White Oak
PSALM 1:3 - A MIGHTY TREE
“In 1830, several families, descendants of the Scots-Irish from Counties Down and Antrim, Ireland, came first to Abbeville, Newberry and Laurens Districts in South Carolina, and, from there, migrated to the White Oak community. These families were Psalm-singing Presbyterians. For several years, these families worshipped at the Newnan Presbyterian Church, but due to the distance and hardship of traveling, they desired a place of worship closer to their community.
In 1836, the Associate Reformed Presbyterians of the White Oak settlement bought a log church named Smyrna from the Methodists. At that time, the church could not be supplied with a pastor of their own denomination. On Saturday, October 21, 1837, the White Oak congregation assembled after the morning sermon and adopted the Westminister Confession of Faith of the Presbyterian Church and consented to receive its doctrines and to be governed by its disciplines, and were, by prayers, solemnly set apart and consitituted into a church called White Oak Presbyterian Church. Robert Russell and James Thompson were installed as ruling elders in this new church. The Reverend Joseph Young Alexander was the Presbyterian minister appointed by the Flint River Presbytery to organize the White Oak Presbyterian church and was its pastor for the next several years.”*
Tradition has it that the organization of this church took place under the shed of the old Bowers’ cotton gin. Among the founding families were Young, Bowers, Walthall, Leslie, Stewart, Hunter, Tolbert, Bryson, Chalmers, Russell, Johnson and Carmichael.
*This brief historical sketch of White Oak ARP was derived from Mr. Ralph L. Bowers, Jr.’s work “A History of White Oak Associate Reform Presbyterian Church”