cooper and fuller Family
THE cooper LINE

England to Southern America


  Sir John Cooper, Knight and 1st Baronet m. Ann Ashley

Sir John Cooper was a 1st Baronet, an English landowner and a politician who sat in the House of Commons for a year (1628-1629).  He married Anne Ashley, daughter and sole heir of Sir Anthony Ashley, 1st Baronet of Wimborne St. Giles in Dorset England.  Anne died shortly after her father died, on 20 July 1628 leaving behind her husband John and their three children:

Philippa Cooper who married Sir Adam Brown

Anthony Ashley Cooper, 1st Earl of Shaftesbury. There have been nine baronetcies created for the Cooper surname.  Sir John Cooper was the first in England.  Upon Sir John's death, his son Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper inherited his baronetcy. See portrait to right►

George Ashley Cooper (see next generation)

Cooper married a second wife, Lady Morrison, widow of Sir Charles Morrison, but they had no children.   Sir John Cooper, 1st Baronet, died on 23 March 1630/31.


  George Ashley Cooper m. Elizabeth Oldfield

George Ashley Cooper was born on 22 July 1621 at Stratford-Upon-Avon; and died 28 January 1682.  He married Elizabeth Oldfield who was born sometime around 1625 in England.  She was the daughter of John Oldfield, Alderman of London, who was born about 1599.  George and Elizabeth married about 1649 at Stratford-On-Avon, Warwickshire, England.  They had one known son, James (see next generation).

George was the son of Sir John Cooper Baronet and George's mom was Ann Ashley who was born about 1602 and died 20 July 1628,

  James Benjamin Cooper (ENGLAND) m. Hester LNU

IMMIGRANT to Philadelphia in 1682.  Quaker/member of Society of Friends.

James Cooper was born May 16, 1661 in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England.  He was the nephew of an Earl.  Hearing of the opportunities in the new land of America as relayed by William Penn, James came to America.  He arranged with his old friend, Edward Byllynge, to obtain land in NJ. Within a few years he sold this land and moved to Pennsylvania.  He married 1)  Hester who died in 1706 after bearing James 8 children.  2) Mary Borrows in 1722; they had no children.  Mary and James Cooper died at the same time and were buried on the same day, December 4,  in Philadelphia (Pennsylvania Gazette of Dec. 7, 1732.)

James was a storekeeper at the NW corner of Arch Street and 2nd Street in Philadelphia.  He owned various properties.  And he served as a juror more than once. 

His children with Hester were: 

Esther Cooper who married Jedediah Hussey of New Castle Del in 1705.

James Cooper Jr. (who died before 1732) married Susannah Chafin at Oxford Episcopal Church near Philadelphia. 

Joseph Cooper (who died in 1720) married Mary LNU and had a daughter Elizabeth who died in 1729.

Samuel Cooper (who died in 1750) married Sarah ?Dunning? and had two children

William Cooper (who died in 1736) married Mary Groom and had several children.  One child was James (1729-1795) who had a son Judge William Cooper, who had a son James Fennimore Cooper, author of The Last of the Mohicans in Cooperstown, NY. (Source: Roy Sheldon, Ph. D. Associate Professor of English Washburn University Topeka, KS 66621).  Judge William Cooper►

BENJAMIN COOPER who married ELIZABETH KELLY in 1720 in Christ Church, Philadelphia (See next generation).

Issac Cooper lived in Moreland township (now Montgomery County, PA).  He never married and may have been an invalid.

Rebecca Cooper died in 1755. She married Ralph Hoy at the Friend's Meeting House (Quaker).  Later she married Daniel Kelly in 1735 at the Christ Church in Philadelphia.


  Benjamin Cooper m. Elizabeth Kelly

Benjamin Cooper was born in 1697 Pennsylvania.  He married Elizabeth Kelly who was born in 1700 in Philadelphia.  Benjamin died in 1776 in Bladen, NC.  In 1725 he and his son Fleet and his wife moved from Philadelphia to the Isle of Wight, VA.  Fleet was just 4 years old then.  Supposedly, Benjamin was somewhat of a visionary who "imagined that if he could leave Philadelphia and get into the great out of doors, he could soon become a great country gentleman."  He was granted lands in the Isle of Wight, VA.  Eventually he moved to Louden County, VA.  Then, he moved to NC.

Documentation from the Sons of American Revolution :

  Joseph Cooper m. Mary Gray

Joseph Cooper (Sr.) was born in 1733 in Bladen, NC, which is where he also passed away in 1799.  He married Mary Gray who was born in VA in 1730 and died in Warren County, NC in 1779, prior to Joseph's passing.  Joseph and Mary had three known children:

Benjamin Cooper born in 1750, as was Joseph Cooper (Jr.) also born in 1750.  Young Joseph died in 1828 in Orangeburg SC (See next generation), and his brother Ben died in 1784.  Another son, William Cooper was born in 1755.  Joseph Jr. married Agnes Franklin.

  Joseph Cooper m. Agnes Franklin

Joseph Cooper was born in 1750 in Halifax, NC.  He died in Orangeburg, SC in 1828.  Joseph married. Agnes Franklin and had several children together.

Agnes was born in Braintree, Essex, England and died in 1824, four years prior to Joseph, in Orangeburg. Blue pics are land plats of Joseph Cooper:

Two known children of Joseph and Agnes were:

William "Billy" Cornelius Cooper (Dec. 13, 1781 in Halifax, NC; died 1844 in Graham County, NC.   Buried Methodist Mission Cemetery in Robbinsville, Graham County, NC.  Billy married Mary Polly Banks Warner (1783 Virginia-1876 NC).

Billy and Polly's first six children who survived to adulthood were born in the Orangeburg District between 1804 and 1811. They moved to Laurens County, SC by 1814 where their sons James Campbell and Joseph Daulton were born. Billy's brother Benjamin & sister-in-law Nancy Warner (perhaps a sister or cousin of Polly) had moved their family there, too, but soon moved on the Haywood County, NC. By 1817 Billy and Polly joined them in southern Haywood County. Billy voted in the 1835 election in Haywood County, and some of his sons did some real estate buying and selling. 

Between February 1835 and March 1836, their son William Cornelius, Jr. moved west to what is now the Whittier area of Jackson County. A few families had located in Graham County (part of Cherokee County) at that time, and Billy and Polly and other family members joined them about 1839. It's likely they settled on the property just purchased by son Ben at the big Cherokee land sale in Macon County. Their new home was on Tallulah near the present town of Robbinsville. Billy soon opened a trading post.

Billy was a trader and an interpreter for the Indians, as was another William Cooper from SC a generation earlier who had come through WNC in 1730 with Sir Cummin, the English explorer, on a expedition to the Cherokee at Tellico. William may well have been Billy's uncle. 

In 1844, soon after he and Joseph Daulton aided in the Indian Removal to Oklahoma, Billy died and was buried somewhere on this hilltop. His sons Thomas and James, both Methodist ministers, may have conducted his funeral. Polly was left a widow for 32 years before she joined him.

The children of William "Billy" Cornelius and Mary "Polly" Cooper were: John Russell, Thomas Jefferson, Nathaniel Cornelius, Elizabeth, Senton Bennett, Benjamin Franklin, James Campbell, Joseph Dalton, Harriett Mariah, Abraham Davis, Charlotte Lucinda, Mary "Polly" Susannah, and Florence Amanda. There may have been additional children not yet identified or who died at birth. Several of the children moved to the Cades Cove area of Blount County, TN, just over the state line. Others remained in Western North Carolina where many descendants of Billy and Polly still reside. A few moved even further west. 


Silas Cooper (1785-1865 our line).  SEE NEXT GENERATION.


  Silas Cooper m. Margaret Rebecca "Peggy" Garvin

Silas Cooper was born May 10, 1785 in Orangeburg, SC, and passed away November 19, 1865 at the age of 80, in Salley, Aiken County, SC.  Silas was a farmer.

Margaret (Margarett) Rebecca "Peggy" Garvin was born August 27 1789 in SCOTLAND and died in November of 1873 in Wagener, Aiken County, SC.

They married around 1818 in Orangeburg, SC.

Children were ►

Joseph Daulton Cooper, son of Silas Cooper





Pvt. Daniel C. Cooper, son of Silas Cooper,
Confederate Pvt in Co. G 2 SC

  Cpl. James "Jim" Ephraim Cooper m. Mary Elizabeth Carroll

Jim Cooper was born in 1819 on the 28th of August in Orangeburg, SC.  He died on March 17 in 1887 in Salley, Aiken County, SC.

Cpl. Jim Cooper proudly served the Confederacy in the 3rd Regiment of the SC Infantry, Company E.  Starting as a Private, he rose in rank to Corporal.

Civil War Pension Index

He is buried at the Rocky Grove Baptist Church Cem.











Photo from Ancestry butchyon




Photo above from Ancestry pamingram118
Photo below from Ancestry WilliamHinson58



His wife, Mary Elizabeth Carroll (above), was born May 19, 1823 in Blackville, Barnwell District of SC.  She died October 18, 1883 at the age of 60 in Salley, Aiken County, SC.  Mary was 17 when she married James on the 18th of September in 1840. Mary is the daughter of Thomas Carroll and his wife Sarah Walker Carroll.

Jim and Mary had the following children:

Julia Ann Cooper, born 14 Mar 1842 in Orangeburg County, South Carolina. She died  on 8 May 1916 in Atlanta GA. Buried  in Westview Cemetery, Atlanta.

Elizabeth Cooper, born about 1844 in Orangeburg County, SC; died before May 1887 in Orangeburg County.

James Furman Cooper, born about 1848 in Orangeburg County.

Howell W. Cooper born January 1848 in Orangeburg County; died 1 Oct 1907 in Aiken County, SC.  Buried Rocky Grove Cem., Perry, Aiken County.

JOHN PATRICK "Pat" COOPER (our line).  See next generation.

Mary Etta Cooper born 8 July 1852 in Orangeburg County, SC. Died 3 Feb 1920 in same county; Buried in Gin Branch Cem., Orangeburg County.

Henry Garvin Cooper born 12 April 1856 in Salley, SC; died 9 May 1926 in Springfield, SC; Buried in Springfield Cem. in Springfield, Orangeburg County, SC

Rosa M. Cooper born 2 Oct 1862 in Orangeburg County; died after 1880.

Annie V. Cooper born 8 Aug 1866 in same county.

Jackson Cooper.  No other information.


  John Patrick "Pat" Cooper m. Henrietta Victoria Corbitt (1855 - 1890; married 1871) m. Laura King (1865-1945; married 1892)

John Patrick Cooper was born June 6, 1850 in Orangeburg, SC. He died April 20, 1925.  There are no dates on his gravestone which is a replacement stone at Rocky Grove Baptist Church Cemetery.  His death certificate is below.  He died of senility and Bright's Disease (Kidney disease).  He was 74 years old.  Pat had been a farmer.

John had two wives.  Of concern for this lineage is his first wife, Henrietta who was born on December 14, 1855 and died September 15, 1890.  She was the daughter of William M and Elizabeth Courtney Walker Corbitt.  Henrietta is buried at Rocky Grove Baptist Church Cemetery in Salley, Aiken County, SC.

Children of John Patrick and Henrietta Corbitt Cooper:

Charles "Charlie" Frazier Cooper born 2.18.1876 and died 6.6.1948.  Charlie married Hattie Jeffcoat and had one known son William Lee Cooper born 6 Jan 1900. Hattie died about 3 years later at the age of 19 on Sept. 17, 1903 in Swansea SC. Charlie is buried at  Mt. Pleasant Methodist Episcopal Church Cemetery in Hampton, GA.








Emma Cooper married Theodore "Thedie" Jeffcoat.  She was born 1882 and died 1935 in Atlanta, GA.  Emma and  Thedie are buried at Swansea SC Ebenezer United Methodist Church & Cemetery.

Ruby B. Cooper married Leslie Paul Livingston.  She was born Dec. 3, 1886 and died Nov 9, 1943.  Her husband was born March 20, 1873 and died July 29, 1930, 13 years approximately prior to the death of Ruby.   The are buried at Penn Branch Baptist Church Cemetery in Orangeburg, SC.

Harley J. Cooper was the last child of Henrietta and Pat Cooper.  Harley was born July 25, 1889, the year before Henrietta died; and he died February 22, 1919 and is buried at Rocky Grove Baptist Church Cemetery in Salley, SC.  His gravestone says "Brother" at the bottom. 














  John Howard Cooper m. Jennie Bruce Smith

John Howell/Howard Cooper was born on June 17, 1881 and died June 29, 1937.  His father was John Patrick Cooper and his mother was Henrietta Cooper.  John is buried at Rocky Grove Baptist Church Cemetery in Salley, Aiken County, SC.  He died of General Arteriosclerosis at Aiken County Hospital.


×Death Certificate of John H. Cooper


John married Jennie Bruce Smith  who was born on Sept. 18 in 1887 in Orangeburg County SC, and died on the 27th of May 1958 in SC.  She may have remarried after John's death and she may be buried at Oaklawn Cem. in Winnsboro, SC.

Children of John H. and Jennie Smith Cooper:

1)  Victor Clifford Cooper was born in Sept. 22, 1904 and died in Sept. 21, 1986.  Buried at Sunnyside Cemetery in Orangeburg, SC.  He married Lillie Mills and they have a shared gravestone.  Victor's says "Son of John Howell and Jennie Smith Cooper"

In the 1940 census for Winnsboro Mill, Victor lives in the house next to his brother Jack and his mom Jennie.  Victor is 35 and widowed.  Lillie, his wife died in 1936 when she was 30. 

They had a daughter Lillie M. who is 14; son Victor C. who is 13; Haywood C. who is 11; Marilyn is 8; and Victor's sister, Jenna A. at 16 is living with his family.




2)  Gertrude "Gertie" Louise Cooper was born August 15, 1908 and died 14 May 1980.  Gertie married Henry Tyler Russell of Alabama.  He was born Feb. 6, 1904 and died June 18, 1960.  He is buried at Pine Crest Cemetery in Mobile, AL, in Section 9.  Not known where she is buried or has been cremated.
3) John "Jack" W. Cooper was born in 1910 and died in 1986, the same year as his brother Victor. In the 1940 Census Jack was the head of his household which included his mom, Jennie, and two siblings, Dorothy and James Dwight (our line).  James was 13 and Dorothy 21 and single. Jack was 28 and single.  Jennie was 53 and widowed.  Jack was a doffer and Dorothy as spinner at the cotton mill in Winnsboro.  According to this census, Jack completed 3rd grade; Jennie 4th grade; Dorothy 6th grade; and James Dwight is in 3rd grade.  Some places on the web indicate that Jack may have married 3 times: Carrie Bland, Elaine Jacobs, Jessie Jacobs Pearson. 
4)  Oscar Cooper was born 10 Jul 1913 in Orangeburg and died 14 May 1998 in Chickasaw, Mobile, AL.   He married a Katherine I. Watson and had a daughter named Shelby K. Cooper.  Interestingly, Oscar lived in the house between Jack and Victor in the 1940 Census:

Per this 1940 Census, Oscar was 26 and completed 3rd grade.  Katherine was 22 and completed half of 4th grade, and Shelby is only 3 and does not yet attend school.

During WWII, Oscar Cooper was part of the United States Coast Guard.  They are buried at Pine Crest Cemetery in Mobile, AL, Section 19E.

5)  Henrietta Victoria Cooper, named after her grandmother, was born in September on the 6th, 1916 in Orangeburg.  She married Herman Gillam Raley on Sept. 29, 1932 at the Fairfield County Courthouse, in Winnsboro, SC.  Henrietta died on 30 October 1995 in Winnsboro.   She was 79.  They had two children, Jennie Louise Raley and Hermanette Raley.  Blue photo below is the obituary for Hermanette Raley Ford and includes her photo.


Henrietta's husband Herman is buried at the First Baptist Church Cemetery in Winnsboro:

Willie Lou "Tody" Cooper was born January 25, 1919 and died October 16, 1985. She is buried at First Baptist Cemetery in Winnsboro, SC.  She married Thomas Edward Wilkes.  They had three children, Earl Douglas Wilkes, Thomas Adrian Wilkes and Jack Russell Wilkes. 
Dorothy Cooper was born 1920 and died 1972.
Jennie Christine Cooper was born 21 June 1923 in Orangeburg and died on the 23rd of May in 1988 at Baptist Hospital in Columbia SC. She married Harold Eugene Douglas Jr. and had one child Brenda Louise Douglas. 

Her husband Harold was born in Winnsboro on March 12, 1922 and he died on Saturday, October 3rd 2009 with his children and grandchildren in attendance at his home in Winnsboro. He was 87.  His funeral service and burial were conducted at Gordon Memorial United Methodist Church in Winnsboro with his burial at First Baptist Church Cemetery in Winnsboro following his service where Jennie is buried.

James Dwight Cooper, Sr. (SEE NEXT GENERATION)  (1925-2010)
Emma Selenah Cooper was born June 8, 1927 and died August 9, 1994 in Winnsboro.  She married James Mack Branham.  They had one son, Jr. who died in 1986, before his father passed in 1990. 

Her second husband was Melvin Coley Boyter "Fuzz" (age 77) died in Winnsboro on 2/2/2014, where he was also born to Andy and Lois Reynolds Boyter.  Mr. Boyter is survived by a loving family including one son; David Branham of Winnsboro, one daughter; Daisy Gaddy of Winnsboro, two sisters; Ann Ramierz (Chico) of Sierra Vista, AR and Brenda Bennett (Alan) of Richburg, SC, four grandchildren; Kevin Adams, Richy Adams, Patty Gay, Jennifer Boulware, eight great-grandchildren, and family friend Becky Beasley.  In addition to his parents and loving wife, Mrs. Selenah Cooper Boyter, Mr. Boyter is predeceased by two children; Maxie James Branham and Pat Branham, two brothers; David Langford and Jimmy Boyter, and three sisters; Catherine Finger, Betty Ruth Gibson, and Vivian Boyter. 

Selenah is buried at Winnsboro's First Baptist Church Cemetery.


   James Dwight Cooper Sr. m. Alice Rebecca Collins

James Dwight Cooper (Sr.), son of John Howard Cooper, was born on December 7th in 1925 in Orangeburg, SC.  James died Thursday September 30, 2010 on September 30th at the age of 84 and is buried in Royal Pines Memorial Gardens in Winnsboro, Fairfield County, SC.  His wife Alice Rebecca Collins died approximately one year later at the age of 85.  According to his obituary (below), they were married 66 years when he died.  They were married on July 7, 1944. James Dwight Cooper Sr. served in the United States Army during World War II.

Alice Rebecca Collins was born August 7, 1926 in Fairfield County, SC and died of a stroke on the 12th of October in 2011 at the age of 85.   She is buried at Royal Pines Memorial Cemetery in Winnsboro Mills, SC and was a Mormon.  Alice retired from Uniroyal manufacturing after 35 years of service.  Her obituary:

Interesting History of Alice Collins Cooper's Parents:

Alice is the daughter of Owen Rockwell Collins and Katie Della "Curly" Wilson Collins:  NOTE:  Katie is said to be a full-blooded Cherokee Native American Indian.  Mom Katie was born on August 15, 1889 in Fairfield, SC and she died on the 10th of March in 1958 in Winnsboro, SC. Katie is the daughter of Fleming and Alice Branham Collins.  Dad Owen is the son of  Wyatt Wesley Collins and his wife Rebecca Elizabeth Hood.  Katie married Owen on January 7, 1906.

Alice's grandfather Wyatt Wesley Collins established a local Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in the Centerville, SC which began on March 19th 1895.  Wyatt was strong in his religion, which was unknown to many of the fellow townsfolk.  Wyatt was a member of the Centerville Sunday School board, many of the members of which were persecuted for their religious beliefs within the Mormon church and as a result were tarred and feathered and some were even killed.  At night groups of men would mask their identities and attack members of this local fledgling church. Wyatt was the first President of the church and the First Sunday School teacher.  He had himself been baptized prior to the official opening of the church on October 7, 1894 which was the 2nd baptism session of the Mormons.  His sisters Ella Jane and Mary Marie were also baptized then.  It is not known if Wyatt was himself tarred and feathered.

Owen and Katie survived these times and had many children, including two sets of twins.

Katie's Death Certificate:


Robert Coley Joyner, grandson of Wyatt and son of Rebecca Elizabeth Collins, wrote:

Wyatt owned a cotton gin and a corn mill combined by the road between his house and ours.  It was high off the ground on account of the gin press and wheels underneath.  The press then is not like they are now.  It worked on a large axle like an auger and the press was in the floor.  You would put the lint cotton into it and someone had to get into it to pack it.  I used to enjoy going in there, when someone was with me, big wheels turning and belts flopping.  It was run by a steam engine fired with wood and Uncle Owen Collins used to be the fireman.  He would enjoy getting me close to the engine so he could blow that whistle and scare me nearly to death.  On the end of the gin house, they used two large poles they would slide the finished bale of cotton down to keep from bursting the bands loose.  The people that the cotton belonged to would then load it on their wagons and take it to Ridgeway to sell it.  About the corn mill, by putting a belt on another wheel, they could grind corn too, but they only ran one at a time.  He didn't die in the house by the road where he lived for several years.  It was in a small house behind where Uncle "Will" Collins lived.  The house is destroyed now.  He would make his charcoal to burn in the bellow by cutting green pine poles and stock them up and put pine straw on it and also dirt, except the top, and set it afire; it would burn a day or two and then he would use the bellows to sharpen tools.  He owned about 192 acres of land in Fairfield County, S.C.  He also cut a lot of cross ties for the railroad.  Down below the gin house, he had a pasture.  They called it the goat pasture.  He always had a bunch of goats.  I never did know what he did with them.  He also had a syrup mill and I enjoyed watching them cook syrup at night with lanterns hanging all around the shed, and several old men gathered around talking about the old times.  One Saturday morning Mamma and I was over to their house and Grandpa asked me to go with him to get a load of wood, so we hitched up the mule to the wagon and went out in the woods and got the wood and came back and unloaded it.  It was the next day or a few days later he had a stroke on one side.  He had difficulty in talking but you could understand him.  He talked about me helping with the wood until he died.  I was over there to his house about every day until he passed away.  I remember someone came out on the porch and said he is dead and I went up in the woods and sit down by a pine tree and wept too.  I don't believe I will ever forget that time.


LtoR Back:  Essie Collins, Ethel Collins, Mary Elize Collins, Nina Collins
LtoR Front: Elroy Collins, Elise Collins, Howard Collins, ALICE COLLINS, Grace Collins


Following is additional information on Owen R. Collins and the Centerville SC Mormon Church establishment.

Henry Robert Easler was instrumental in bringing the Mormon faith to Centerville,

South Carolina. Having heard some Mormon Elders preach, he invited them to his

home. The following pamphlet tells the story:




The Centerville pamphlet begins with a biographical sketch of Henry Robert Easler of Civil War

fame. The treatise is a brief history of the Ridgeway Ward Church of Jesus Christ of Latter

Day Saints. Mattie B. Easler and Owen R. Collins attest to the truth and accuracy of the

document. The history contained within its pages begins in April of 1894. - A special thank you

goes to Ruth Bush Maynes who made them information available.



We of the Ridgeway Ward, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, should long

remember this man. “Old Uncle Bob,” in order to distinguish him from the younger

Uncle Bob Easler, was the son of Daniel Easler and Cealy Dawkins Easler. He was

twice married, first to Mary Reynolds Easler, who had one child, a daughter, Ella.

After the death of his first wife, he married Malinda Humphries.

A kindly gentleman, he was the one who had first heard the Elders speak in Camden,

and who had invited them to his place in Centerville Community to hold meetings. So,

after all, we can thank him for Mormonism in Centerville today!

The story is told that old Uncle Bob rode several miles horseback the day after the

birth of a nephew, born to his brother Algenon and his wife Sarah Louise Reynolds

Easler. This child, at any rate, was named Henry Robert and called Jr. to distinguish

the two. The younger Henry Robert married my own dear aunt, Mattie Branham.

We the undersigned do hereby certify that the forgoing history or the Ridgeway Ward

of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is a true and accurate history

thereof, having first-hand knowledge of the incidence recorded therein.

We do hereby sign and attest our names hereto as witnesses thereto:

Mattie B. Easler

Owen R. Collins

DEDICATION  This book, in its entirety, is dedicated with fondest and sincerest memory and love to my dear grandparents, David Wesley Branham and Kissiah Watts Branham, about whom so much could be said. These two dear souls, in addition to rearing nine children of their own, took on the responsibility of rearing five grandchildren, of which I was one. Upon hearing the Gospel and believing, they at once started into rearing their family in the same style, and fought for the preservation of Mormonism in

Centerville. As was said by Paul of old, they “had kept the faith, had fought a good

fight, and had finished the course.”

“And memory is one gift of God that death cannot destroy.” – Selected

The small, sleepy community of Centerville lies about six miles out of the town of

Ridgeway, Fairfield County, South Carolina, in a southerly direction.

To a tourist passing through, or to a stranger visiting the community, I suppose the

little community might seem dull, uninteresting, [and] sleepy. In a way I suppose

these attributes aptly suit, but the very sound of the name Centerville fills me with


I was born there some seventy-two years ago, and spent my entire childhood there.

Some of my happiest hours today are spent in reminiscing about the “good old days”

when as a child I whiled away the hours of a long, summer day up there.


I was one of five very fortunate youngsters. I was orphaned as a very small girl, as

were my brother, two sisters and a cousin of ours. In addition to raising nine children

of their very own, my dear grandparents, David W. and Kissiah W. Branham raised us.

Looking back over the years now, and thinking about the matter, I cannot help but

wonder in amazement just how they did it.

And there’s one thing most of all the folks in Centerville can boast of: they are

directly descended from, or married a direct descendant of these two fine people.

The little community, with the sound of the waters of Sawney’s Creek, as they roll

over their rocky bed, come to life and the hills and dales give up their inhabitants

when on Sunday morning Sunday School and Church time roll around. From near,

from far, from every walk of life, they come. There is but one Church in this

community – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints!

An interesting and romantic history is connected with this Church. In approximately a

half-century, the Church at home has grown from a small mission taking two years to

completely organize to a Ward today. Won’t you take a glance backward over the years?


The first any of the folks at home heard of Mormonism was back in April, 1894, when

old Uncle Bob Easler invited two of the Elders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-

Day Saints (Mormon), by the name of W.E. Cowley and James Wyatt, up to his home.

Not knowing exactly where to go, the elders came to the home of my grandfather,

David Wesley Branham, asking directions. An old colored man, who lived on the

place, by the name of John Harrison, carried these two elders to Mr. R.W. Hollis’ place,

where they spent the night, going on the next day to Uncle Bob’s. Uncle Bob Easler

had earlier that year heard these Elders in Kershaw County, and had become

interested in Mormonism.

This was the first visit. Opposition arose in the form of a mob [that] tried to stop this

meeting, but without success. Other visits followed. The elders continued coming to

the community, holding meetings at the homes of various members of the community.

Mormonism had come at last to Centerville, and despite all the opposition, looked like

it was there to stay.

The first Conference was held in August 1894, under a bowery near Uncle Bob Easler’s

place. Elias Kimbrell was President of the Southern States Mission at that time. On

Sept. 2 of that year, the first baptism was held at Bear Creek, a jester sang and

fiddled the tune of “Boil Them Cabbage Down.”

On October 7, and again on November 18, 1894, there were other baptisms, making a

total of seventeen (17) the number baptized into the Church that year.

The complete list of those baptized at these services [is] listed in the Appendix.

The first Conference was held in August 1894, under a bowery near Uncle Bob Easler’s

place. Elias Kimbrell was President of the Southern States Mission at that time. On

Sept. 2 of that year, the first baptism was held at Bear Creek, a jester sang and

fiddled the tune of “Boil Them Cabbage Down.”

On October 7, and again on November 18, 1894, there were other baptisms, making a

total of seventeen (17) the number baptized into the Church that year.


Organization of the Church (Ridgeway) was begun in 1895, on March 10, but for some

reason was not completed until January 17, 1897. On that date the Church was

completely organized with the following individuals as officers:

Brother W.W. Collins Superintendent of the Sunday School

Mattie Branham (my aunt) Secretary of the Sunday School

Assistant Secretary of the Sunday School

Mamie Collins Treasurer

Ella Collins Librarian

Preston Joyner Assistant Librarian & Clerk (of the Branch)

David Wesley Branham (my grandfather) Second Counselor to Brother Collins

Brother Collins President

With the completion of the organization of the Branch Church, the need for a church

building became apparent and more and more important. Mr. Jacob Freeman gave a

tract of land for a Church building to be erected upon. The transaction, however, was

only verbal, since no deed or title to real estate was ever issued. The location of the

building to be built was decided upon. It was to be erected on the present-day

wooded lot adjoining the Elton Moore property, but separated by a road. The [male]

members, assisted by the local elders, combined their efforts and ability and erected

our first Church. The building was of wooden construction, rectangular in shape with a

door in front and the shutter-type window on either side of the building.

The building was lighted by kerosene lamps set in sockets on the wall. The benches

were handmade out of the same lumber as was the building. The completion of the

building and the completion of the organization of the Church took place about the

same time. We were so proud of our new sanctuary, even though the people of today

might frown on it. Some of the happiest moments of my entire childhood were spent

in Church, and the very thoughts of memory itself are precious.

The joy of having a new sanctuary in which to worship was short-lived. In July 1897,

about six months after the building of the Church, our meetinghouse was burned to

the ground. How very saddened we were!

Since we were without a building, Sunday School was held at my grandfather’s home.

In summer, and when the weather permitted, the classes were held outdoors under

the shade of the trees. The members of the various Sunday School classes sat on

pieces of lumber suspended across two wooden blocks. In the winter season, and

when the weather was bad, we sat on the beds in the bedroom.

By the fall of 1898, another building, similar in size and shape to the one previously

described, had been completed just enough to use. It was located just this side of the

first one. The building was never quite completed, and in February of 1899, it also

burned. Very disappointed, but never yielding to discouragement, we then went back

to my grandfather’s home for services, where we worshipped until the first of 1906.

By this time the attendance had climbed so that the home was almost too small to

accommodate the Sunday School. It was then decided to use the old Centerville

School building. The school was near my grandfather’s home, and about one-half mile

from where the first two Churches had stood. It was convenient to the members, and

on Sundays was not used for school classes. The school was a long straight building,

made of black-heart lumber. The interior was similar to churches today, with benches

on either side and an aisle in the center. The benches were long and hard, and were

handmade of black-heart lumber, too.


The Old Centerville School served as a place of worship until around 1920, when the

third church building was erected. The building stood near the old school building,

behind the present sanctuary, on the left-hand side of the road. By this time, the

Church had grown so in membership and attendance, that it was deemed advisable to

build a sanctuary at that time. The building was of wooden frame structure, similar to

the first two, with one exception. The lumber of which the Church was constructed

was better, more refined lumber. It was not so crude.

A tornado in 1927 struck the building. Although the building was not completely

demolished, it was turned completely around and could not be used.

The fourth church building which the folks at Centerville have used was built in 1927-

1928. This building was of block-stucco construction. The building itself was of cream

color on the outside, resembling Spanish architecture. It was located just this side of

the present Church. On the front of the building was a small entrance porch. Opening

the doors, one would enter a foyer (vestibule) with coat and hat racks. On either side

of this foyer was a Sunday School room. There were rubber mats in the aisles and the

draperies were wine color, lined with a cream-colored fabric.

The building was dedicated in November 1928, and was the first church building in

which we had a piano. Uncle “Flem” Wilson, who died in 1939, was the first person

whose funeral was preached in our Church. My grandfather had succumbed in 1911

and my sister in 1918, but at that time we were without a church building.

The stucco-block building was used until 1941, when the present structure was built.


The present building gracing Centerville today (truly a testimony to all those who have

believe), is a beautiful structure of brick construction built in 1941. It is, in my

opinion, one of the most beautiful of all the present-day sanctuaries that the entire

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints can boast of.

The original building consisted of a rectangular building, with Sunday School rooms

adjacent to and on either side of the rostrum and in the back also. Entrance was

gained through a side porch. At the time of construction there were two such

porches; however, since that time, one of the porches has been taken into the

auditorium, giving room for more seats. The church was built at an approximate cost

of $8,000.

Since that time, in 1947, a recreation hall was added, at an additional cost of $6,000.

Recently, new pews have been added, and it is a consensus of opinion of various

members today that the present sanctuary, with its present furnishings would value at

the least $20,000.

The average attendance today is from 65 to 70 at each worship service. My brother,

Samuel Branham (Jr.) was the first one to have his funeral preached in this new

sanctuary in 1942.; since that time many of my family have gone on; but the building

itself still stands, stately and tall, in memoriam to all those who at one time believed,

attended, but today whose voices are heard no more down here.

The climb so far has been up-hill, not always easy, and not always reciprocated. It

has grown from a small, but humble beginning to the present-day facilities. The

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints at Ridgeway has grown in the past half century

from a small mission taking two years to complete organization to a Ward.

The Church has been taught to many, many people over this period of years, and has

sent forth numerous missionaries, elders, etc. Many descendants of my own dear

grandparents have been sent forth from this Church, and today are higher up in the

Church than ever before.

I shudder sometimes when I think of where we might be if it had not been for this

Church “at home” I grew up with, which taught me, and surely without which I could

not have done.


The climb from the days of the elders’ meeting in the various homes of the community

to the present-day status of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Ward)

has not been an easy climb. As a matter of fact, the adage “tried, but true” can aptly

be applied.

From the very beginning, in April 1894, there has always been opposition from one

source or another. The devil always would present obstacles to hinder the true Gospel

from being preached, if possible. But, not yielding to discouragement, and believing

that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it,” those who from the very beginning

began believing and raising their children in the right way today have a true and living

monument – the present sanctuary.

The very first trip any of the elders made to Centerville was tried, unsuccessfully, to

be stopped by a mob. Too, after the first church burned, Elders James A. Smith and

Robert Cleveland of Seneca shipped their machinery to Ridgeway to build (make)

bricks to build another church with. A mob met them in the road and asked them to

leave. They replied that there was no law that could make them leave. The leader of

the mob replied that he was law enough. They didn’t leave, but the plans for the

making of bricks with which to build another church fell through for some reason.

On August 7, 1897, there were ten (10) baptized into the Church. On the 17th of

August, right after the baptism, the mob came to the community looking for the

Elders. My Uncle Wylie Branham had taken them to Camden, and the mob missed

them. The mob consisted of about one hundred (100) masked men, an awful-looking

sight, you can well imagine. These men came to my grandfather’s home, but were

held in abeyance by my aunts, Sallie Branham Medlin and Mattie Branham Easler,

each of whom had obtained for themselves double-barreled shotgun apiece; and by

my oldest sister, Maggie Branham Jeffers, who was using for her protection the sledge

hammer from my grandfather’s shop.

My grandfather’s life, and the lives of all his family were threatened. If we entertained

anymore of the Elders, we were to be killed. My grandfather, firm in his convictions,

told the members of the mob he would do as he pleased; it was his place. My

grandfather prosecuted the mob. The entire expenses were paid by one member of

the mob, who at that time was a wealthy man.

Then on the night of the 20th of August, the mob went to the residence of Jim Dixon in

Kershaw County, and whipped the Elders Morris Wilson and Henry Behruan.

That was not all, either. I vividly recall the time when Elder Shunway and his partner

came to our home, after having been beaten in Lancaster. Members of the mob had

beaten them severely and had thrown rotten eggs on them. My grandfather and his

two sons, my Uncle David and Samuel Branham, Sr., washed them and cleaned them

up. We nursed them back to health. My grandfather put their celluloid collars and

cuffs, red and stained with blood, into his desk. He said these would stand as a

testimony against each member of the mob in the Day of Judgment.

Don’t by any means get the idea this was all. There were many other occasions. I

remember one time, during the summer heat, two elders stopped by a house asking

for a drink of water. The family refused them this water. Before long, the well had

gone completely dry. This same well has never, since that date, had enough water in

it for the family to use; but at one time was reported to have been one of the best

wells of the entire community.

There were many other incidents. Not only were the Elders persecuted by mobs, but

hose who entertained the Elders; those who joined the Church, too. Once, a group of

the members of the Church at Ridgeway attended a Baptismal service with dinner on

the grounds. The service would be held on a Sunday. We were up half the night

Saturday night before preparing food to take with us. You can imagine how we felt

when we left Sunday Morning Service, when we went outside to eat, and discovered

that someone had stolen every particle of food we took with us. We remained for the

Baptism service that afternoon, but returned to Centerville probably the hungriest we

had ever been in our entire lives. At least, I was.

Satan is always presenting before us as members of the Church some obstacle to

make us stray from our path. Though the way may not always be easy, it is truly a

rewarding one. May I ever live strong and firm in the way I was taught, believe, and

in my own convictions.


A. BAPTISM OF SEPT. 2, 1894 (First Baptism)

Members Baptized:

1 John Kelly

2 Mary Branham Kelly

3 Maggie Branham Jeffers (My Sister)

4 Mattie Branham (Easler) (My Aunt)

5 Amanda Freeman

6 Artemisia Parker

7 Pink Parker

8 Catherine Parker

9 Malida Humphries Easler


Members Baptized:

1 Mary Maria Collins

2 Wyatt Wesley Collins

3 Ella Jane Collins

4 Algenon Madison Easler

5 Henry Robert Easler (The Elder)


Members Baptized:

1 Henry Robert Easler (The Younger)

2 Samuel Branham, Sr. (My Uncle)

3 Mary Alice Hoopaugh Branham




Members Baptized:

1 Thomas Kelly

2 David Branham, Jr. (My Uncle)

3 Sara Jane Brigman Branham

4 Thomas Branham (My Cousin)

5 David Freeman

6 Fleming Wilson

7 Lula Cornelia Alice Branham Wilson (My Aunt)

8 Elizabeth Branham (My Cousin)

9 Kissiah Branham (My Sister)

10 Rebecca Branham (My Aunt)

These words were found written in the margin of the pamphlet:

My mother’s South Carolina Family members – Rachel Harriet Easler (Bush).



SEE:  Many were baptized by my father, Joseph Edward Bush while [he was] serving

his mission there – All very faithful to the church all of their lives – Bernice Bush



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Pat Cooper's second wife Laura King Cooper: Laura King born  January 22, 1865 and died August 6, 1945.   She is buried at West End Cemetery in St. Matthews, Calhoun County, SC. 


Wyatt Wesley Collins and Rebecca E. Collins' gravesite Sawneys Creek Baptist Church Cemetery 
Fairfield County, SC

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