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Old Zion Heritage Site and Cemetery

2231 West End Rd • Chester, SC 29706 • United States • 8035811545http://ozionchest

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Old Zion Heritage Site and Worship Center

Old Zion St. Paul Halsellville Heritage Site and Cemetery Association, Chester, SC annual Reunion, Revival, Homecoming is held on the 3rd Sunday in September of each year at 3pm at the Old Zion AME Zion Church Site, 2231 West End Road, Chester, SC 29706 

9th Annual Celebration Scheduled for: September 15, 2019 


Historical Highlights

In Sacred Memory and Honor

Trustees Listed on the 1889 –90 Land Deed for this Old Zion Church Site

Nealy Walker, Captain Jaggers, Ezekiel Simpson, John Franklin, Abraham Wright

Signed by Captain Jaggers – May 17, 1890, Chester County, SC Courthouse


                                                  Historical Highlights                                        

Old Zion African Methodist Episcopal Zion (AMEZ) Church

Halsellville Community, Chester County, South Carolina 

       The Black Church has historically been the most powerful influence in the lives of Black people. The story of the          formation of the Black Church is the story of a people; a people, who just after slavery, formally organized their churches as places of worship. During slavery, black were often allowed to worship at their own locations or in separate sections of white churches. However, the Black church, along with many other institutions (businesses, schools, social organizations) were    established by former slaves and free blacks to help them cope with the complexities of life in America immediately            following the Civil War, particularly in the South.

     So it was with the beginning of the two churches in the Halsellville Community of Chester County just after slavery, Old Zion African American Episcopal (AMEZ) Church and St. Paul Baptist Church.  Both churches probably existed in some form prior to the end of slavery.  The earliest land deed for St. Paul is dated 1884 (original location).  The earliest land deed for Old Zion has not been located to date.  However, a land deed for the original cemetery (common burial ground for St. Paul and Old Zion) has a note that no land transaction could be found earlier than 1848.  Old Zion and St. Paul were first located on what is now Going Road.  The land deed for the current Old Zion Church site (West End Road) and cemetery was signed on the 17th Day of May 1890 (land acquired September 26, 1889) by Captain Jaggers ( Trustees as listed were:  Nealy    Walker, Captain Franklin Ezekiel Simpson, John Franklin, and Abraham Wright). St. Paul located to its current location in 1901 (West End).  The two churches and their people have always intermingled.  However, the focus of this sketch is to    provide some historical highlights specific to Old Zion:

· Cemetery established at the current site with the first burial being Archie Franklin, Jr. (October 1, 1933).       Cleveland Franklin (a World War I Veteran) was the second person buried at Old Zion (also 1933).  All burials prior to Archer Franklin, Jr. took place at the original cemetery on Going Road, which dates back to slavery.

· A list of about seventy (70) burials has been compiled for the current cemetery (research is continuing).  

· Mary Ann Brown was born in 1860 (born in slavery) and was buried at Old Zion on July 7, 1943.  This is the    earliest recorded birth date at the cemetery.

· The last worship services were held at Old Zion in the late 1960’s or early 1970’s.  Most of the remaining       members joined St. Paul or Brooklyn Tabernacle AME Zion Church in Chester.  Over the years, many former Old Zion members had affiliated with Brooklyn when they “moved to town.”  Also, former Old Zion members have affiliated with other churches in Chester over the years (particularly Mt. Moriah, Second Wilson, and Red Hill). Yvonne Wright Cook Davis is the one “remaining member of Old Zion” in that she has never moved her        membership to another church and she is currently active in helping to restore the church site and cemetery.

· Mrs. Alice Jaggers Franklin (Cousin Alice) and Mrs. Jannie Jaggers Simpson (Cousin Janie) were sisters and two faithful members/pillars of Old Zion until the end.

· The last remaining tower of the Old Zion Church Building crumbled in the early 1980’s.

· Some of the persons who served as Choir Leaders at Old Zion are Archie Franklin, Jr., George Simpson, Elnora Simpson, and Henry Hemphill.

· Children’s Day was held the first Sunday in July.  Visiting churches were: St. Paul, Pleasant View AMEZ, Sweet Hope, and Pine Grove.

· The Revival (“Big Meeting”) was always held the First Sunday in August.  Visiting churches were Brooklyn    Tabernacle AMEZ and Mt. Hebron AMEZ for Sunday Evening and St. Paul Baptist (H), Sweet Hope Baptist, and Pleasant View during the week.

· St. Paul was destroyed by fire on the fourth Sunday night, July 1956.  Revival Services continued at Old Zion.  Also, worship services were held at Old Zion until St. Paul decided to use the Carter School (behind St. Paul) until it returned to worship in the newly built St. Paul (5th Sunday, March 1957).

· Some common Old Zion family names: Jaggers, Franklin, Simpson, Cornwell, Hooper, Whitlock, Stokes, Clark, Wilkes, Wright, Howze, Young, Degraffenreid, Brown

     The above account is obviously a very brief caption of some aspects of the history of Old Zion AME Zion Church.  The   story of this church is the story of ordinary people who lived, struggled, worked, worshipped, loved, and reared families and    survived under extraordinary circumstances. This story deserved to be told so that the record of these amazing people will be known and continue to inspire us and succeeding generations. Therefore, the research and writing will continue until the most complete accounting possible will be recorded for the annals of time for this slice of life in the Halsellville Community,      Chester County, South Carolina


  (Compiled by: James E. Wright, Columbia, South Carolina, September 14, 2011)  (Acknowledgement: 

Willie Mae Franklin Price Smith, Virginia Beach, Virginia {former member of Old Zion and maintains

 membership at St. Paul} was instrumental in supplying  valuable information for this historical compilation).



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