The records of Antioch Baptist Church exist in several formats. First, the church appears to have kept the records in a bound volume. Where this volume is or if it still exists, I do not know. However, at some point it was photo copied as well as copied to microfiche. There is also a short book written about the history of the church which includes some of the pages from the church record. The microfiche is available for viewing in the Camden Archives. It is a single roll and appears to contain every page of the record starting with the church’s founding. I cannot recall the end date of the record, but it was quite late – early 20th century? Someone sat down with the photo copy at some point and made notes from it. These notes are now attached to the photo copy and also available in the Camden Archives. However, there are pages missing from the photocopy. The microfiche has a considerable number of pages that are too blurry to read due to poor work by the person transferring them to microfiche. This is established by comparing them to the photocopy, in which the pages are clear. However, pages that are blurry on the microfiche, and missing from the photocopy, leave us without any clear copy of the page. With all of that in mind, the church record is basically organized this way: There is a record of the organization of the church, including who was there and involved. Then each month the church met and conducted business. These meetings are recorded in brief paragraphs that are dated. Once a year (although they don’t appear each year) a list was made of the membership. Sometimes notes were made next to members’ names indicating that they had died, transferred membership, were excommunicated and in some cases restored. Membership rolls are divided into males, females, and blacks. Here are all the records we could find related to Thomas and Sarah Bradley. The images will be attached to their page. Here I only note them.
Oct 10 1828 – Thomas and Sarah are listed as members. They are both noted as “excomm” and both relisted at the bottom as “Restored”. Sarah is twice listed as restored. Other Bradleys in membership at this time are: Samuel Bradley and Mary Bradley. Since ages and relationships are provided, we have no way of speculating whether or not Samuel and Mary are married, and in what relation they might stand to Thomas.
Oct 10 1848 – Thomas and Sarah have disappeared from the roll until this point. Thomas never reappears. Sarah is here listed.
Sarah appears on all of the membership records that follow, which includes: 1849-51, 1853, 1855, and 1858. On the 1858 membership list she is marked “dead”. This roll was recorded in November and the next roll was recorded in Nov 1858 and she is not on it. So this Sarah died between November of 1858 and November of 1859.
These rolls are consistent with what we believe to be the narrative of Thomas and Sarah. Having had James Banks in Kershaw Co, they appear on the census there through 1830. However, based on James Banks’ children’s birth places, it is clear that JB moved his family to Alabama between 1831 and 1834. It also appears in the 1840 Alabama census as though his father Thomas is right next door with his wife and children. However, sometime between 1841 and 1843, James Banks moved his family back to SC. Shortly afterward Sarah rejoined Antioch Baptist Church. So this Thomas and Sarah fit quite well. Additionally, Antioch Baptist Church sits near the Kershaw-Sumter Co line. From land records and census records, it is clear that our people lived near and on both sides of this county line. So the church was located near their homes.
There are two further matters of interest in the record. Thomas Bradley appears in the record with a Sarah Turner. It is very difficult to make out, but this is my best attempt to transcribe:
“Oct (7th?), 1827 The Antioch Church met agreeable to appointment and after Divine Service the church formed herself and a door was opened to receive experience of grace. Thomas Bradley came forth and Sarah Turner also came forth and (was received also on Sunday?) Bryant Spradley (and was received and?) baptized (?). John Barnet, Pastor”
It is difficult to tell if this is a record of Thomas’ baptism, or simply of his being received into the church. The Sarah Turner is surely not our Sarah. James Banks was 11 years old by this date, and it is difficult to see why they would have used a maiden name for Sarah after being married for that long.
There is also the matter of the excommunication. Here are the records transcribed in recorded order:
“Saturday before the past Lord’s Day in January 1829 the church met agreeable to appointment and after service formed in church order a door was opened to receive experience of grace. Gatsy Davis came forward and was received was moved and that Brother Spradley and Sister (?) Marsh come under censure of the church for attending a Night Frolick second & past it was moved that Brother B Paine and Brother T Bradley come under a church censure for having transgressed against each other and refusing to talk with each other Second and past. J Barnet Moderator, D Scarborough Clerk.”
“Saturday before the first Lord’s Day in April, 1829 the church met agreeable to appointment and after prayer was offered the church formed in order moved that the censure of Brother T Bradley and Brother Paine be continued moved that Brother Samuel Bradley be laid under censure with Sister Bradley. Moved and past that Brother John Barnet and Brother Joshua Davis and Brother Scarborough be appointed a committee to with Sister Bradley and Brother Bradley [ed - this is the Samuel and spouse mentioned immediately above, not Thomas and Sarah] and report next meeting. Brother Barnet Moderator of the day. D Scarborough Clerk”
“Saturday before the first Lord’s Day in May 1829 met agreeable to appointment and after Service the church formed in order for business and and Brother Benjm Paine was excommunicated Brother Thomas Bradley Restored the committee report that they attended to the case Sister Bradley and Brother Bradley and that a reconciliation was made between them and a full satisfaction was given to the committee so they were both restored also Sister Sarah Bradley and Sister Paine was laid under censure for not fellowshipping the precedance of the church on that day. Brother Barnet Moderator. D Scarborough, Clerk.”
“Saturday before the first Lord’s Day in June 1829 Brother Barnet moderator Sister Sarah Bradley and Sister Rebecca Paine was excommunicated. D Scarborough Clerk.”
What we have in these paragraphs is the record of a disagreement between Benjamin Paine and Thomas Bradley – what the “transgression” between them was is not stated. They are censured. Paine is eventually excommunicated. Thomas is restored. It is not clear that Thomas was excommunicated from these minutes, but he is marked as such on the membership roll. In any case, he was restored. However, in this same meeting, his wife Sarah and the wife of Mr. Paine are now not fellowshipping and so they are both brought under censure. In June they are excommunicated. I did not find any record of Sarah being restored, but the membership roll indicates that she was and she continued on the roll.
This is everything I was able to find in the Antioch Baptist Church records for Thomas and Sarah Bradley. There is a Sarah Ann Bradley that appears on the membership roll beginning in 1850 and continues beyond the Sarah Bradley who is married to Thomas. It is not at all clear who she is or if there is any relation.
Next up are the land records discovered in Sumter Co, SC.