[Copied with permission from a clipping in the papers of King Maner, now in the possession of his son Lawton Maner. This article appeared on page 8 of the "Savannah Morning News" on May 10, 1942.]
Historic Black Swamp Church Is Scene Of Family
GARNETT, S.C., May 9.
Black Swamp Church, which is located near Garnett, S.C. in lower Hampton County, and is one of America's first Methodist Episcopal churches, was the scene recently of a large and unique gathering of the Maners, Lawtons, Martins and of their family connections. The occasion was the dedication of a handsome steel fence, which had been donated by he Hon. Benjamin Martin of Muskogee, Okla., in memory of his father and mother, the late Capt. Benjamin Martin and Catherine Maner Martin, both originally of the Black Swamp community.
The fence encloses the church, which was established in 1790, but is no longer used for regular services, and the churchyard, said to be one of the best kept cemeteries in this section.
The day was the hundredth anniversary of Mr. Martin's father's birthday, and many gathered in honor of the occasion. Among related families present were the following names, Maner, Lawton, Martin, Tison, Bostick, Smith, Richardson, Robert, Garnett, Sams, Fraser, Baxtor, Marshall, Clark, Wade, and others. There were also many friends of the above families present, and the entire neighborhood co-operated in making the occasion one to be pleasantly remembered.
The memorial exercises were held in the church. Albert Lawton of Jacksonville, Fla., presiding, and the program was well planned and conducted to suit the occasion. After the hymn, "Faith of Our Fathers", and an opening prayer by the Rev. L. E. Wiggins of Anderson, Mr. Lawton introduced Benjamin Martin by reading a paper which had been prepared by Thomas C. Lawton of Garnett, S.C. Mr. Martin's history was briefly sketched, beginning with his life in the community as a boy and on out to Oklahoma, where he has established himself in public as well as private life.
Mr. Martin, with well chosen words, presented the fence as a memorial to his parents, who lie buried within its bounds. He also expressed the hopes that the grounds would be continually cared for and beautified.
Maj. Maner Martin of Clemson College, a brother of Benjamin Martin, then gave an historical sketch of the church and of the families who settled the community, telling of the occasion when Bishop Francis Asbury held services at Black Swamp on February 3, 1793, and giving many interesting accounts of happenings in the past. He included in his address a paper, written by Miss Anna Maner of Garnett in which she described some of the early customs and activities of the church and its people, and events which have added color to its history. She told of the time when it was used as a "shelter for Sherman's army, who no doubt thought best not to apply the torch, as at the time it was serving as a roof over their heads."
Garnett Lawton of Jacksonville, Fla., next presented copies of the Maner-Lawton family tree, and suggested that plans be made to have family gatherings every five years.
The poem, "Backward, Turn Backward O Time in Your Flight" by Allen, was read by Miss Gladys Lawton of Edgefield, and another poem written for the occasion by Mrs. Berrien Sanders of Ritter, entitled "Black Swamp," was read by Mrs. Sanders. Mrs. Thomas O. Lawton and Mrs. Clifford Baxter, both of Garnett, sang a duet, "The Church in the Wildwood," and Mrs. Geothe sang as a solo, "The Beautiful Garden."
The exercises closed with the hymn "Blest Be the Tie That Binds," after which the Rev. J. C. Inabinet of Estill offered a prayer and pronounced the benediction.
Lunch was served at the Garnett high school, the entire community assisting. States represented included South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Virginia and Oklahoma, and the registration book included several hundred names.