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Association History

The Thickety Mountain Educational and Missionary Baptist Association of Cherokee County, S. C., has a long and glorious heritage of which all of the Black Baptists of this county, as well as the state and nation, can be proud. The tasks performed by our fore parents can certainly be looked upon with dignity and pride. They used what they had and accomplished much with their little because they gave of their best to the Master. They believed that God could and would utilize their efforts to promulgate His cause and to enrich and enhance the lives of the followers of Christ.

Fresh from the bondage of slavery and with the pressing desire and vivid memory of oppression still etched in their minds, our Association was organized. Some of the charter churches were: Suck Creek, Mt. Zion, Limestone, and Island Creek. While record keeping was at a minimum among Black Churches, bits of history have filtered down through the years to establish the fact that one may have shackles around his wrist and ankles to physically bind him but one’s soul, mind, and heart can be free to soar to yonder’s heights and to aspire for greater goals.

Photo of the Cherokee Normal Industrial Institute that was founded in 1906.
The Cherokee Normal Industrial Institute was founded in 1906. It was owned and financed by the Thickety Mountain Baptist Association, and was the first state chartered public school for Blacks in Cherokee County. The students roomed and boarded at this school; that is, they slept and ate upstairs and went to School downstairs. Many students went home on the weekends.

One of the earliest recorded documented acts of this Association was the establishing of a school for Black children and having it incorporated under the name of “Cherokee Normal Industrial Institute of the Thickety Mountain Baptist Association” May 26, 1906. The astute and progressive church leaders at that time were; Revs. E. L. Beaty, A. E. Wright, and C. F. Whittenburg and Deacons S. J. Lipscomb, Augustus Black, and A. L. Richards. This historical document attested to the fact that the early fathers of Baptist work in Cherokee County were believers in Christian Education and the total involvement of the outreach of the church.

Another outstanding accomplishment was the publishing of a newspaper known as “The Gaffney Bee.” This was a weekly paper which began publication about 1925. There is a documented copy of this paper that was printed in 1927, dated November 4, published in the interest of “The Colored People” of this County.

Many and varied activities such as the ones mentioned have marked the “footprints” of the march of Thickety Mountain Baptist Association in the sands of more than a century of work. One of the outstanding moderators of the Association was the Rev. W. S. Smith who continued to give needed leadership to the Baptists of Cherokee County. The highlight of his accomplishment was the erection of the Thickety Mountain Baptist Assembly Building. This building was located on Highway 29 and served multiple purposes. (This building is currently Pastor Caroline Allen – Jones’ Church.)

Rev. W. S. Smith
Rev. & Mrs. E. L. Beaty

Former Moderator, Dr. J. W. Sanders forged a unification program for the associa­tional field and under his leadership the Association and its auxiliaries experienced greater success and more involvement of total church membership than ever before. The outreach of the Association was more inclusive and inspiring than ever. Missions and Christian Education were considered high priorities and all college students throughout the Associa­tion were given financial aid.  In addition, three pre-dominantly Black Baptist Colleges in the state of South Caro­lina (Benedict College, Morris College, and the former Friendship College) received financial donations annually.

The legacy of Thickety Mountain Baptist Association is very rich and rewarding and its leadership and members are continually striving to use that legacy to catapult into higher orbits of service. We cherish the memories of the work of our forebearers and we look forward to a greater destiny.

Much of this history was taken from “The Thickety Mountain Educational and Missionary Baptist Association Centennial Program Booklet”, (published September/October 1977).

On the left, the SC State Charter of the Cherokee County Normal and Industrial Institute, Incorporated May 1906.

On the right, The Gaffney Bee – A newspaper published by the Thickety Mountain Baptist Educational and Missionary Association.  It was published in the interest of “The Colored People of this County”. Publication began in 1925 (referenced in the Historical Sketch).

The first Thickety Mountain Baptist Educational and Missionary Convention Building replacing the two-story building – The Cherokee Normal and Industrial Institute…often referred to as just, THE INSTITUTE! The brick building was dedicated with a week-long program MARCH 27, 28, 29, & 31. 1957.

Historical sketch provided courtesy of TMBA Historian, Dr. Mary Knuckles Jones.

How can I support the Association?

– By praying for the ministry of the Association and those who serve in various leadership roles.

– By giving regularly to your church budget.

– By encouraging your church to give liberally to the work of the Association.

– By volunteering to work in one or more of the ministries of the Association.

– By sharing your expertise in a particular area of ministry with other churches in the Association.