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The History of Historic Taw Caw


Before being freed from the bondage of slavery, African-Americans were not allowed to worship together. African-Americans were punished, even killed, if they were caught in groups. While White Americans attended their own worship service, they often feared their slaves would escape; therefore, to ease their fears, they brought their slaves to church and seated them in the balcony of the church during church service.


After the Civil War and the freeing of slaves, African-Americans were given the opportunity to worship as they pleased. The ex-slaves of Summerton, South Carolina started their first church under what was called a "Bush Arbor." Services continued under the "Bush Arbor" until the owners of the White Baptist Church of Summerton, South Carolina sold their church and land to the ex-slaves of Summerton for $400.00 on March 23, 1885. This purchase date was not recorded in the Courthouse of Clarendon County until May 6, 1885. After the purchase of Taw Caw Baptist Church by the African-Americans, the first pastor of Taw Caw Baptist Church was Pastor Lowman.


Taw Caw Baptist Church building dates back to 1859. The building was of rectangular frame. The main church was 44ft x 36ft with front dimensions of 12ft x 28 ft., and back dimensions of 20ft x 12 ft.   Large towers were located on each of the front corners of the church and a large upstairs balcony overlooked and surrounded the ground floor.  The church pews were dark brown and squared shape.


Over the years, a number of changes have been made. Initially, the front entrance faced Nelson Ferry Road with a road leading up to the front entrance. In the late teens or early twenties, under the leadership of Pastor Hannahan, the church was remodeled. The building was enlarged, the front entrance was changed to face the north, a pulpit was built, and an indoor baptismal pool was installed. Before the church was remodeled, the baptismal pool was in the back yard of the church. Additional renovations were made under the leadership of Pastor N. F. Butler which included construction of the educational building onto the rear of the church equipping it with a kitchen, dining room, and restrooms.


Under the leadership of Pastor J. B. Haile from 1977 to 1981, further renovations were added to include:

  • Placement of vestibule in the front of the church;

  • A completely remodeled pulpit;

  • Modern light fixtures and Plexiglas windows installed throughout the sanctuary.

  • Modern baptismal pool  constructed  behind the choir loft

  • Multiple purpose spaces and addition of  class rooms added

  • Addition of  a dining area onto the education  building

  • Plexiglass windows installed in all windows


Under the leadership of our current pastor of Dr. W. T. Johnson, 1982 to present, new renovations have included

  • Installation of wall to wall carpeting with matching padded church pews

  • Installation of central heating & air for the sanctuary 

  • Landscaping the cemetery to the church legal boundary line.

  • Installation of  hand rails to church stair entrances and balcony

  • Purchase of a fifteen passenger van and a twenty five passenger bus for TCBC

  • Construction of  garage for van storage;

  •  Filing of tax exemption status for TCBC  

  • Completion of a spacious and modern Community Outreach Center.  


Through the vision of church members, the following goals were achieved:

  • Mother Louise Sampson— addition of a formal dining room and dining room furniture

  • Sister Ruby Gaters—pavement of the east entrance parking lot

  • Deacon John Canty—Taw Caw Baptist Church received a historical landmark in South Carolina.


The present day Taw Caw Baptist church is deeply rooted in resilience, endurance and the obedience of our ancestors to services of the past. Even though all the historical facts of Taw Caw will never be known, we are proud of the fragmented history told by our ancestors. The historical foundation of TCBC sets the stage for continuing development in our community. As Taw Caw Baptist Church continues to move forward, it will always carry the legacy of the past, strive for the manifestation of the Holy Spirit, and walk in in the blessings of the present and hope for the future.

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