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Reflections by Sammy Way: Catholic parish established in Sumter community

By SAMMY WAY
Archivist and historian
Posted 3/14/20

Reflections recognizes St. Patrick's Day and the large number of Catholic immigrants who settled in the Sumter community. The information and photos obtained for this research were taken from The Sumter Item archives. The author will reprint …

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Reflections by Sammy Way: Catholic parish established in Sumter community

Posted

Reflections recognizes St. Patrick's Day and the large number of Catholic immigrants who settled in the Sumter community. The information and photos obtained for this research were taken from The Sumter Item archives. The author will reprint detailed information taken from an article published in the 1950 edition of the Sumter Daily Item with a minimum of editing. This is part one of this two-part series.

A hundred and five years ago, the Right Rev. John England, Bishop of Charleston, established the Catholic Parish of Sumter District. The Rev. Edward Quigley was appointed its first pastor. He built a church at Providence Plantation a few miles north of Sumter. The church was blessed by Bishop England in 1838 and dedicated under the patronage of the Blessed Virgin Mary; the congregation numbered about 30 souls.

"This house of prayer was abandoned in 1848 because all the parishioners had moved, and a lot was bought in Sumter Township on West Liberty Street. The old Methodist Church was bought and remodeled as the new Catholic Church. This was dedicated by the Right Rev. Ignatius A. Reynolds in 1849 under the patronage of St. Lawrence, martyr. In 1879, the church building was rebuilt and used until shortly before it was torn down in 1906."

From that time until the completion of the present St. Anne's Church, the Catholics of Sumter were welcomed by the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy into their chapel at St. Joseph's Academy. There they held Divine Services every Sunday and weekday, as well as the many spiritually rich devotions of the church.

The Rev. Dr. Jeremiah P. O'Connell in his "Catholicity in the Carolinas and Georgia" says: "The earliest and leading Catholic families were the Sumters and Spanns. Mrs. Sumter was the daughter-in-law of the distinguished Revolutionary general of that name and after whom the district is named." He also mentions a large number of well-known Catholic citizens, among whom are: Brownfield; Poole; Hulbert; Hon. T. J. Coghlan, who was elected state senator and afterward sheriff of the county; Bogan; Patrick O'Sullivan; James and John Barrett; Feeney; Harney; O'Connor; Monoghan; Kennedy; McKain; Moran; Reardon; Tuomey; Morrisey; and Eberhart.

On May 21, 1911, the present church was dedicated under the patronage of St. Anne. It was built under the able direction of Right Rev. Monsignor Charles Dubois Woods. The new building was made possible by the generous legacies of Alice W. Poole and Ella B. Tuomey.

Other generous contributions were: Mr. and Mrs. Thomas B. Jenkins, Neil O'Donnell, John W. McKiever, George W. Epperson, Mrs. Mary Barrett, Mrs. A. A. Monaghan and family, Mr. and Mrs. H. R. Van Deventer, Mrs. Eugene Moses, Reverend Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy, Mrs. William A. Bryan, Frank O'Donnell, Rev. W. P. O'Donnell, Bultman, McHugh, McGrath, Peter and Patrick Gallagher, Schwerin, Sykes, Reardon, Morrissey, Ryan, Delgar, Allen, Moran, Teichers, Pitts and Howard Eberhart.

Among the prominent citizens of Sumter who are well known for their great public benefactions and interest in civic projects were the late Timothy J. and Ella B. Tuomey, whose generous bequests established Tuomey Hospital.

Their bequest was more than tenfold increased by the late Neill O'Donnell, who willed almost his entire fortune to this charitable institution. Miss Alice W. Poole left funds for the poor of Sumter, as did Mrs. Tuomey. The City of Sumter, as well as its citizens, has benefitted from the generous donation of land by Thomas B. Jenkins for a city recreation center. It is for him the "Jenkins Center" is named.