Cooper’s Academy/Bethesda Methodist Church Cooper’s Academy is an excellent example and depiction of African American parents wanting their children to get an education after slavery and the remnants of slavery, and taking the necessary steps to make it happen.
Inscription: Cooper’s Academy, built in 1905-06, was a private boarding school for the black children of this community until 1927, and a public school 1927-1958. Founded by Moses Cooper, H.J. Cooper, and Ada E. Martin, it was first called Cooper’s Academy, Normal and Industrial Institute for Colored Youth. The school closed in 1958 when black schools at Battery Park and Cades were consolidated.
Bethesda Methodist Church, founded in 1879, was organized in a brush arbor. Its first permanent church, a one-room sanctuary built about 1884, stood 1/4 mi. W. The congregation bought a two-acre site here in 1893, and soon built a one-room frame church. The church was rebuilt in 1971, during the pastorate of Rev. J.B. Bowen.
The Historical Marker was erected in 2009 by Cooper Academy/Bethesda Methodist Church History Committee. The Marker Number is 45-15 with the GIS location: 33° 45.72′ N, 79° 40.379′ W and is near Lake City and Kingstree at 2000 Cade Road, Lake City. The writer attended the dedication and unveiling ceremony.
Cooper’s Academy/ Bethesda Methodist Marker (reverse)
Inscription: Bethesda United Methodist Church and the Cooper’s Academy Historical Committee dedicated and unveiled the South Carolina Historical Marker on Oct. 3. The ewrit (Submitted on February 9, 2011, by Brian Scott of Anderson)
2. Church Unveils Historical Marker in Cades. Maggie Glover said when you don’t know whence you’ve come, it’s extremely difficult to move forward. (Submitted on February 9, 2011, by Brian Scott of Anderson)
McCollum-Murray House, also known as the C.E. Murray House, is a historic home located at Greeleyville, Williamsburg County. It was built about 1906, and is an example of transitional folk Victorian and Classical Revival residential architecture. The house was originally a two-story, T-shaped dwelling that featured a wraparound one-story porch. It has a single-story rear gabled addition, with another single-story shed-roofed addition built in the 1950s. This home of African-American educator Dr. Charles Edward Murray was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2006.
The McCollum Story: The house was built at the turn of the 20th century for a successful African American couple, Edward J. and Margaret McCollum, by an African American builder, George Whack. Edward and Margaret moved to Greeleyville around 1900 seeking employment with the Mallard Lumber Company, a timber logging enterprise managed and operated by T. Walker Boyle. Oral history says that McCollum himself crafted much of the house’s interior.
The couple had no children so when Charles E. Murray‘s father died; they brought Charles to live with them.
The Charles E. Murray Story: Dr. Charles E. Murray was born October 22, 1901 and his father passed when he was 12 years old. After moving in with the McCollums, they sent him to high school at the SC State Academy in Orangeburg, where he graduated with honors.
He received his BA in 1930 from the Colored Normal Industrial Agricultural and Mechanical College, now SCSU. He began teaching at Tomlinson High School at the age of 19 and later enlisted in the US Army in 1942.
After leaving the army, he returned to Tomlinson and received his MSA degree from SC State in 1959. In 1960, he became principal of the Williamsburg County Training (WCT) School in Greeleyville. He received an honorary doctorate from Claflin University in 1979. WCT was renamed C.E. Murray High School in his honor on November 19, 1972. Dr. Murray died in an auto accident in 1999.
The Foundation: The Greeleyville Town Council, on September 10, 2001, gave German Glasscho, a staff member, authorization to pursue acquisition of the McCollum property and application for 501©3 non-profit status. A meeting of concerned citizens was held on November 27, 2001, to discuss the future of the C. E. Murray property and the legacy of Dr. Murray. On December 11, 2001 the Dr. Charles E. Murray Historical Foundation of Greeleyville was formed and received charitable status from the State of South Carolina on December 18, 2001. On March 1, 2001, the foundation received non-profit status 501©3 from the IRS. In May of 2005, the serious solicitation of funds began with letters mailed to graduates of WCT and C.E. Murray High School, and area churches. Additionally, solicitations continued with a pledge drive that resulted in pledges of $125,000 over a period of five years. Pledges were received from six corporations, local businesses and nine local citizens. On August 2005, the first fundraising banquet was held. On July 11, 2006, the McCollum-Murray House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The process to begin restoration of the house began in December 2006. In August 2009, the foundation transferred the property to the town of Greeleyville in anticipation of receiving grants for a library.
The town received a Community Development Block Grant for $227,000 for the parking lot and landscaping in November 2008. In January 2010, the town received a federal/state grant for $90,000 to renovate the inside of the house.
In January 2011, the McCollum-Murray House ownership was transferred over to the Williamsburg County Library system (50-year lease) to be used as the Dr. Charles E. Murray Branch Library.
Dr. Murray was highly respected and admired by the students and staff at WCT and C.E. Murray High School, the community, throughout the county and the state of South Carolina. He taught manners and etiquette, and expected his students to perform to their abilities. His infamous quote that everyone remembers is, “People will do according to their understanding,” makes so much sense when trying to justify a person’s actions and behaviors. If you have a Dr. C. E. Murray story or experience, please contact Cassandra Williams Rush at (803) 397-1859 or email@example.com to get it documented and printed.
The McCollum photos are in the Jackson Davis Collection of African American Educational Photographs at the University of Virginia.
References: Green Book of SC, Wikipedia, Brian Scott of Anderson.