Mountain Hill
Community Church​​

A home where you can Worship, Obey and Serve God.

History

1848-1849

   
Formed in 1809, Cross Roads Baptist Church was located at the intersection of Highway 11, Tugaloo Road, and Smith Road.  Cross Roads Baptist Church minutes dated October 1848 indicate the following: “Sister Jane Gosnell, having understood from a reliable source that she had joined a church on the mountain, that was not of the same faith and order with ourselves.”  The reliable source was probably her father who was serving as pastor at the time, Rev. William Lindsey.

The March 1849 minutes of Cross Roads Baptist Church state, “After reading the minutes of the Freewill or United Baptist we became satisfied that sister Jane Gosnell had joined a church of a different faith and order and excluded her from the fellowship of the church by unanimous vote.”

Jane and her husband, Morris Gosnell, owned property and lived atop Glassy Mountain during this time.

The name “Mountain Hill Church” first appears in the one acre deed mentioned below (see attached).  Perhaps the name “Glassy Mountain Church” would have been favored except that a church by that name had already been formed in 1833.  Glassy Mountain Baptist Church is still in existence and is thriving near the entrance to The Cliffs at Glassy Mountain on Highway 11.
    

Minutes from Cross Roads Baptist Church provide early indication of a church on Glassy Mountain    

Mid-1800's

   
During these times, the normal building material was logs of chestnut wood.  As shown, the logs were rectangular, hand-hewn with dovetail notched corners.  Typically, mud and moss were used to insulate between the logs.  This type of structure was well known as most homes were similar in construction.

The facility was used as a schoolhouse during the week, for church on Sundays, and a community meeting house as well.

Fortunately, we have a photograph of the teacher and student standing in front of that school in their finest.  The photo was provided by the granddaughter of a North Greenville College student by the name of Homer Fowler who was hiking through the area in the early 1900’s.  This log structure has seen many winters since its construction days.

This could be where Jane and Morris Gosnell worshipped on Glassy Mountain.

    

1869

   
In August of 1869, Glassy Mountain residents, George Burrell and Isaac Ballew deeded 1+/- acres to Mountain Hill Church.  The deed was witnessed by S.W. Barton and Joshua Pruitt per deed book (pg. 73), in April 1892.  The deed states that the property is located “around where the church now stands.”  Thus the property was near the first log school/church structure.  Therefore, it is certainly feasible to believe that the structure and property are within the boundary lines of the existing property.

In December of 1869 documents were filed with Greenville County forming the church named Mountain Hill Baptist Church.
    

   
Late 1800’s – Early 1900’s
    

   
Now that the church was deeded its own property in 1869 and population was growing per the 1882 map, construction of a new and larger church was needed.  The church was built of sawmill lumber, as depicted in the photo taken in 1902 by Thomas Dawley, during a federally funded survey of the Dark Corner.  Also obvious in the photo are Thomas’s horse and a tall white gravestone of James Howard who died in 1901.  The caption inscribed by Mr. Dawley references a horrific event which occurred in August 1891, in and around the church.  The caption reads: THE CHURCH SHOT FULL OF HOLES.

The Greenville Paper – “The Enterprise and Mountaineer” – dated September 2, 1891
includes the court record including conflicting testimony which is still debated today. 
Regrettably, both Massena and Joshua Howard were killed at the church during the time
church members were preparing for the service to be performed by Rev. Kuykendall. 
Many others have stories that are somewhat different from this court accounting. 
However, the results are the same as needless deaths and a wounded church facility
did happen.

We can accurately locate the second church by aligning the gravestones of James Howard
(1901) and Rachel Howard (1896), as shone in the 1902 photo.  Note that we can impose
the second church near the Eastern edge on our existing paved parking lot with the third
stone school/church in the background.

While this second sawmill constructed facility was primarily used as a church, it also
served the mountain as a meeting house.  The initial log structure continued use as a
schoolhouse.

There was a need for a larger second Mountain Hill Church in that the population grew
in the mid-late 1800’s as shown by Kyzer’s map of 1882, revealing some 150 homes in
Glassy Mountain Township.

Mountain and church population growth were interrupted with the coming of World War
I.  Prior to the war, Toliver Earl of Landrum was commissioned by the U.S. War Depart-
ment to lease six (6) square miles of Dark Corner property for an artillery firing range,
with Mountain Hill Baptist Church and cemetery declared “off-limits.”  The landowners
who refused to lease their lands were evicted by eminent domain.  Some Glassy riflemen
became soldiers of the 13th Division, fighting in France, and others left Glassy for
work in the early cotton mills.
    

   
Mid-1920's - Mid-1930's    

   
After eight years as Greenville County’s Superintendent of Schools, Morris Barton was displeased that one remote school district lacked comfortable quarters and adequate schooling.  Barton was aware that funds were not available from the county and that roads to Mountain Hill School were hardly accessible.  Nevertheless, he wanted to fulfill a dream of taking public education to this remote area.  The chestnut log schoolhouse and the second church were both in use but age had taken its toll.  With the help of eight Glassy Mountain families, Barton supervised the tearing down of the church and rebuilding of a new stone church/schoolhouse.  This facility was built in the early 1930’s and has been retained as an integral part of the Mountain Hill Community Church expansion, completed in 2016.  During weekends, the pews of this new stone church/schoolhouse were pushed against the walls allowing desks to be brought from the walls to form a school room using five windows for light and the same pulpit for teacher Barton.

Not enough has been written as it relates to the commitment of Morris Barton.  During his ten years on Glassy he taught pupils from age 5-23 through the 8th grade.  He had a garden in the Spring and fed his students a hot lunch each day.  Barton built a two room log structure which he used as living quarters during the week.  On Friday afternoons after school, Barton would walk some eight miles down the mountain to Old U.S. 25 where he would board a Greyhound bus for home in Greenville.  This process would be reversed on Sunday afternoons.

About the time Morris Barton retired, at age 76, the facility that he helped construct, Mountain Hill Baptist Church was conveyed to the Greenville County School District.  They would maintain the church/school building and allow the church members full use, just as before.  This conveyance occurred in January 1937 and in December of the same year I.P. Harrison sold 2+/- acres to Mountain Hill Baptist Church and the Greenville County School District for the sum of $1.00.  Some .06 acres were later traded for .58 acres providing a total acreage of 3.58, when added to the 1 acre deeded by George Burrell and Isaac Ballew in 1869.
    

1940-1960

   
Many of the Glassy Mountain residents departed due to World War I and the attraction of steady work from the cotton mills.  While church membership fluctuated, it continued to receive support from a few mountain families and Sunday School classes were added along with indoor plumbing.

Numerous pastors served the church in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s.  Notable among them were Leon Emery, older brother of Arnold, Harrison Reese, pictured with his congregation, and Joseph Prince who served for over 20 years.  Many past church families are shown with Pastor Reese along with current members of our church.  Some reports during this time indicate that attendance ran between 15-30 in Sunday School and worship, with around $25.00 in the offering plate.
    

1978

   
   
In early 1978 power poles began their way up Glassy Mountain.  For the first time, electricity was available to the church and some cabins.  Even though the church received power for lighting, water remained at the spring head.  Word has it that The Cliffs community developer provided water along with indoor plumbing as a part of the mountain water system.

August of 1978 brought disaster to the 40-year old stone church/school.  On August 8th, lightning struck a spruce tree planted during church construction, which fell crushing the church roof.  The resulting fire destroyed all but the solid stone walls of the church.  Two weeks later Homecoming was held in the church yard, just as would have been the case if no fire had occurred.  Some members wanted to remove the charred stone walls and others, including Janie Plumley, wanted them left standing.  Janie suggested that Arnold Emery bring a county inspector to certify that the walls were structurally sound.  This certification was received and the walls remained.  With sufficient funds raised by some 20 members, and utilizing mostly volunteer labor along with gifts of needed supplies, the church was again made whole.  Pews were donated by Locust Hill Baptist Church, a ministry partner that remains to this day, and electricity was installed once more.

In December 1978 the School District of Greenville County deeded the church/school house and associated properties back to Mountain Hill Baptist Church.
    
    

1980-2010

   
A longtime resident of the Upstate began dealing with mountain residents and purchasing property in the late 1980’s.  His name was Jim Anthony.  He, along with two partners, sold their first home site in 1988.  This was the beginning of a residential development plan that would foster renewed growth at Mountain Hill.  Mr. Anthony supported the church by adding a potable water system along with some additional acreage, which now provides an entrance to the new parking area.  He continues to be a special friend of the church.

During the late 80’s and early 90’s, numerous interim or
circuit pastors served the church.  Rev. Paul Manous came in the mid 90’s as a full-time pastor and served for some 14 years.  During his tenure as pastor, residential growth accelerated and church membership reached an all-time high of some 40 members.  During this period the little rock church with its Sunday School wings and newly added Fellowship Hall served the congregation well.  The mountain’s population continued to expand until the recession of 2008 caused a pause in housing startups, which subsequently led to a pause in church membership.​  
    

2010-Present

In the Fall of 2010, Rev. Lee Norris came as interim pastor and in January 2011 became the church’s full-time pastor. During the years to follow, membership and participation more than doubled and several Sundays the attendance reached triple digits.  The little rock church was no longer able to comfortably accommodate members and guests, as witnessed by some 160 attendees at the 2015 Homecoming service.

In early 2014 the church membership voted to approve a major church expansion and renovation project at a cost of three million ($3M) dollars, which was donated in full by church members and friends of Mountain Hill Church.  Expansion plans were presented to the mountain community in March 2014, with conditional approval being received by the community’s Architectural Review Committee in August 2014.  A legal dispute was raised by a small contingent of neighbors, which resulted in some setbacks and expenditures by the church and community.  Finally, Greenville County issued a building permit in June 2015 and the church celebrated its groundbreaking that same month. 

Construction began on July 1, 2015 and a dedication ceremony was held in the new church facility on November 20, 2016.