"About 1769 Mr. Jerimiah Dargan visited the present Stateburg section, "this wicked neighborhood, this wild place," "to no purpose except provoking them to outrage." The same year Mr. Reese preached in the same place to the alarming of many. Several were baptised and in 1770 the people of the community erected a meeting house thirty by twenty-four feet about three miles north of Stateburg on a four acre lot given by Dr. Joseph Howard for the use of all denominations, though it almost immediatley became a Baptist church. A revival soon rewarded Mr. Reese's work. Among his converts were Dr. Joseph Howard and Thomas Neal, a deacon who kept together the new Baptist flock by their exhortations; Lewis Collins, long pastor of Swift Creek [Baptist] Church and Richard Furman, later the greatest Baptist minister in South Carolina.
The congregation at the High Hills remained a branch of Congaree Church until January 4, 1775, when it was organized as a independent church of about seventy families. Though poor and without a pastor, the membership had so increased with occasional help from Mr. Reese as to necessitate a large building.
Richard Furman was ordained on May 16, 1774 and in November, he took charge of High Hills Church. Mr. Furman was quite vocal in his thoughts about the American cause. He enlisted in 1775, marched to Charleston and wrote an address that struck Colonel Richardson as so stirring and patriotic that he had copies of it spread among the people as his army advanced.
Mr. Furman returned to the High Hills Church in 1782 and under his influence, branches were established at the Upper Fork of Lynches River (Flat Creek), Ebenezer (Jeffrerys Creek), Second Lynches Creek (Bethel), Swift Creek, Camden, and Calvary.
Mr. Furman accepted a call to Charleston in 1787
and the High Hills Church was without a paster until 1799 when Rev.
John M. Roberts became the first regular minister since 1787. Rev.
Amos DuBose was his assistant.
Thomas Avett (Abbott) and Sarah Avett (Thomas Abbott land on Dry Swamp and Beech Creek near or touching land of Elias Ward and Wood Furman in 1762 and 1774)
Dr. Joseph Howard(200 acres on Cadoes Lake between Santee and Black Rivers 1759, 250 acres northeast of thte South Fork of Black River 1771, 100 acres on Rocky Creek of Broad River 1772)
George Brown (250 acres south side of Wateree in the High Hills of Santee, 1770)
Frederick Jones (250 acres on the southwest side of Wateree on waters of Santee, 1765)
Ann Freeman (Mary- 200 acres on Bear Branch of Wateree in 1768 and there is a James Freeman listed as on the High Hills of Santee in 1771)
Thomas Neal (100 acres on Jumping Run 1757, 50 acres on Stevens Creek 1763, 150 acres near High Hills of Santee on both sides of Long Branch of Black River 1767, and 150 acres in 1772)
Mason Greening and wife (150 acres on north side Wateree, 1770 and 200 acres on High Hills of Santee 1773)
Zachariah Harrell (350 acres on east side of Wateree both sides Gum Swamp)
Nathaniel Dodd and wife (150 acres on north side of Wateree touching Thomas Knighten)
Sherwood James (Sherwood James, Jr. on High Hills of Santee touching Thomas Knighten)
Mary Pitts(Henry Pitts is mentioned in a plat of Isaac Knight on High Hills of Santee touching Joseph Howard in 1771)
Thomas Lenoir and wife (100 acres on east side of Wateree 1761 and 100 acres on Cedar Creek northeast side of Broad 1761)
Lewis Collins and wife (150 acres on Wateree Creek of Wateree River 1763, 200 acres on High Hills of Santee 1770)
James McCormick and wife (50 acres on High Hills of Santee 1762, 100 acres on Stevens Creek 176, 150 acres north side of Wateree on Joseph Howard in 1771, 100 acres on Long Branch waters of Black River 1770, 150 acres on Pole Bridge Branch of Black River on Frederick Jones, 1772)
Peter Robertons (100 acres at head of Gills Creek, 1769)
Tabitha Bates (Bates had land on Rafting Creek in 1761 and on the southside of the Wateree in 1763)
James Mills (700 acres on Santee or Savannah in 1758)
Martha Scott (Scots are in the area between 1769 and 1773)
Milly Hart and widowed mother (William Hart at Raifords Creek 1750)
Joseph Paine (150 acres in Fredricksburg Township between Town Creek and Swift Creek in 1755)
Elizabeth Westberry (John Westberry with 200 acres in Wateree Swamp 1765 and 100 acres on Bush Branch of Black River on Josiah Furman 1774)
John Knighton (An Issac, Moses, and Thomas Knighton appear in High Hills area in 1771, 1762, and 1757)
Anthony Lee and wife (100 acres on wathers of Santee adjoining Benjamin Stone)
Hope Ridgeway and wife (500 acres on Beaverdam Branch of Horne Swamp waters of Scape Whore)
John Roberts (150 acres in 1756 on Halfway Swamp waters of Santee River)
Elias Ward and wife, daugthers Mary and Sarh (100 acres in 1774 on Beech Creek on Wood Furman, Thomas Abbott, Etc.)
Ann Rive (may be Rice)
Located on Nasty Branch, a tributary of the Black River, Bethel Baptist Church is located about eight miles south of the city of Sumter. It is not known exactly how long Bethel existed as a branch of High Hills. Bethel was organized in 1780 and entered the Charleston Association in1782. Although the church was disbanded for a time around 1800, it was revived in 1810. The first building was built on land belonging to either Hezikiah or Jesse Nettles.
From 1780 to 1854, records of nine pastors can be found: Rev. Solomon Thompson, Rev. Washington Belcher, Rev. James Denson, Rev. L. Compeer, Rev. R. Mussledine, Rev. James B. Cook, Rev. James DuPre, Rev. N. Graham, and Rev. S. Furman. Other pastors who served from 1855 - 1955 include: Rev. Isaac Nicholes, Rev. W.E. Hugson, REv. B.C. Lampley, Rev. E.e. Ayers, Rev. R.P. Galphin, Rev. G.G. Covington, REv. B.C. Lampley, Rev. D.W. Hiott, Rev. E.A. Wyman, Rev. G.T. Graham, Rev. J.I. Ayers, Rev. L.J. Bristow, Rev. T.P. Lide, Rev. C.A. Westbrook, Rev. J.G. Newton, Rev. O.D. Davis, Rev. Paul Kok, Rev. Loyd O. Brunson.