In 1840, William Shivers donated three acres of land to establish a Methodist church. He was one born in 1783 in Edgecomb, North Carolina and was one of the first settlers in the Jewell area before 1810. The Rock Mill Plantation and environs included the Rock Mill Plantation House (which still stands beautifully today), a grist mill, a cotton carding mill, and support buildings.
The original location of the church is referred to as “just off the Jewell-Mayfield road” about 1 ¼ miles from Jewell. Shivers also gave the church access to water from a nearby spring. Rock Mill Methodist remained on these three acres until 1894, where it was moved to the Jewell community across the street from the Jewell Baptist church. The land for the new location in Jewell was given by Dr. Rhodes, who is buried at the Baptist church cemetery. In 1981, Mrs. Hattie Jewell Cody, the only surviving member of the family for whom the village was named – remembers that in earlier days of the community, the Methodists and Baptists worshipped together often.
Many revivals were held at the church, but the Great Revival of 1868 is known as the greatest within local church history, for the church gained forty new members that year. Both Bishop George F. Pierce and Bishop Lucius Holsey preached the gospel at Rock Mills Methodist. By 1877, a Sunday school was organized and the congregation purchased its first organ despite the protests of older members. Ten years later in 1887, the Woman’s Missionary society was organized.
In 1927, when the Jewell Mill burned, many families moved away and membership dwindled to a fraction of what it had been. The once thriving community was forced to scale back its church programs and involvement with the Methodist Conference, but stubborn members has held things together since then. Rock Mill Methodist was purchased by the current owners of Rock Mill Plantation in 2002. The church is beautifully restored and is well taken care of.
The names of the earliest members of the church – Birdsong, Brantley, Lewis to name but a few – can be seen throughout the cemetery across the street. The Jewell community town green offers a great and quiet picnic spot that serves for great family moments or solitary reflection on our shared religious history and heritage.
The interior of the church has been as meticulously restored as the exterior. Painting has been carefully re-done, which accent the wonderful trim details at the windows and wainscoting. It is hard to believe that this church, which blends in so wonderfully with the rest of Jewell, was relocated from its original location a few miles to the north. Its new location is fitting since the Baptists and Methodists in Jewell often attended each other's services and had fellowship together.
The built in pews are a unique feature to Rock Mill Methodist. The wide pine boards, which were probably originally unfinished, have been treated in a way that brings out the beautiful graining of the wood and also serves to protect the wood against stains and future wearing. Four panel doors with fluted casing and rosette corner blocks can be seen in the background.
Rosette blocks at the spring point of the Gothic arched windows match the corner blocks on the door casing. The beaded vertical clapboard and wainscot details are clearly visible here.
What a lovely and very unusual arrangement for the organ and choir. There has to be some history regarding the organ. We will try to find it.
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If you try to find this church, the GPS tells you the wrong location. It’s located on Hamburg State Park Rd. directly across from Jewell Baptist Church. Search Jewell Bapt and it’ll take you to the right place. GPS takes you to someone’s house in the woods.
Should be fixed now. Thanks for the heads up.