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Jun 03, 2020

Wayne OBryant Tells of His Family’s Relationship with Rev. Simon Miller (1819-1875)

Blog 131 Image 1

If you have been following along, you have seen that I recently wrote about Rev. Simon Miller in Rev. Simon Miller (1819-1875), a Presiding Elder and a Freeman, Served His Community. I commenting at the end of the article, “I could not believe it. Rev. Simon Miller was right under my nose all these years. From Cokesbury, SC, to being a Presiding Elder of Abbeville District, to founding Miller Chapel AME Church in Newberry, to presenting the land to the Columbia Annual Conference for Payne Institute. I am so glad to know him now.” Well last week, Wayne OBryant, left a comment on the Facebook post of the article. It turns out that his great grandmother’s maternal line, the Snowden’s lived in dwellings 213 and 214 on the 1870 US Census, and Rev. Simon Miller lived with his wife and in-laws in dwelling 216. Rev. Miller was listed as “Sam.”

Blog 131 Image 1
“United States Census, 1870,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 13 June 2019), South Carolina > Newberry > Newberry Township, Newberry > image 23 of 72; citing NARA microfilm publication M593 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

I have always believed we need community to come together to share what they remember about our history and genealogy. As I sit here in Fayetteville, NC writing about Rev. Simon Miller and only having a feeling about his importance, once again someone from the community in Charleston, SC living in North Augusta, SC has helped. We have lost a lot of history, but with community we can recapture quite a bit. I think about what we have captured here: freeman, education, the trade of carpentry, a legislator, AME Church, preacher. 

Wayne OBryant has brought more out for us to consider:

“Rev. Miller came to Newberry from Columbia at the request of black Methodists in Newberry in 1867. He established a “Free School” first and then Miller Chapel AME Church. Both were on Caldwell Street in the “Graveltown” section. My great-grandmother’s maternal line was the Snowden’s and her paternal line was the Rutherford’s. The 1870 census lists the Snowden’s in dwellings 213 and 214. Dwelling 216 is Joseph Boston, his wife and children and his in-laws. He is listed as “Sam” who is Simon Miller and his wife Marinda. I have the “Free School” records from 1868-1870. My great-great grandmother, Annis Snowden, is a student. Joe Boston (a State Representative) is a teacher and Simon Miller is the principal. Note: The school’s name was later changed to “Hoge School.” Annis Snowden eventually married Joseph Rutherford who had been trained as a carpenter while in slavery.”

“Joseph built the Miller Chapel sanctuary in 1869 and their family home at 406 Caldwell St (two houses down from the church). The decision to create Payne Institute which would later become Allen University was made on July 29, 1870 at the Columbia District Conference in session at Newberry in the Miller Chapel AME Sanctuary. The street that my Snowden forebears and Rev. Miller lived on is named Snowden Circle after the family. The only stories that we heard from the family was that our forebears were participants in the conference that founded “our school” and that my great-great-grandfather built the sanctuary where the conference was held (the current Miller Chapel AME Church). My great grandmother, Joseph’s and Annis’ baby girl, born in 1895, was a 1912 graduate of Allen. She helped raise me and lived until I was 19 years old. Many of my older Newberry relatives graduated from Allen.”

I would like to personally thank Wayne OBryant for responding to the article I wrote on Rev. Simon Miller. I would also like to thank him for giving us this history.  

Sharpen the Saw

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