1875… Arnold Taft come from Oxford, Massachusetts in the late 1700s He purchased land from the Tar River going straight inland, including the whole Chicod Township.  Through the years his place was called Taft’s Landing. He built a large store, cotton gin and sawmill. His home was built on Tucker Road, about middle way between Hwy #33 and McDonald Street (Black-Jack-Simpson Road) in Simpson. He decided his ten children and other children that wanted to attend school needed a place to meet. He built a one room schoolhouse about a quarter of a mile beyond Winfield Tucker’s old home. (Beyond railroad tracks on Black-Jack Simpson Road.) This was known as Taft’s School House.

After Arnold Taft’s death in 1844, all his holdings were inherited by his son, Holston Taft. He and his wife, Catherine and her two sisters, Annie Hoover and Mrs. W. H. Horne lived in the Taft homeplace. Since the three sisters had no place to worship, nearer than Greenville, they with the help of W. H. Horne decided to organize a Sunday school in the one room schoolhouse. Being the daughters of a Methodist minister, they were strong in their efforts to make this Sunday school a success.

In the Methodist Conference at this time was a noted Methodist preacher by the name of William Closs, who feared neither man nor devil to carry on his Master’s work.  He being a personal friend of these sisters was called on to help them out. Whenever he could get a Sunday or weekday or night off from his regular charge, he would come and hold services at Taft School House.

Reverend L. L. Nash, the Pastor of Jarvis Memorial Methodist Church, was invited to hold a revival at the school. The crowd was so large, a bush shelter was constructed across the road, suggested by William Wright Tucker. There was a great awakening of the need of a church building. Several joined AND THE CHURCH WAS ORGANIZED.

1879… Jarvis Memorial Methodist Church decided to build a new, larger and nicer church. This church was then named St. Paul Church. Members decided to give this building to the Methodist in Simpson. It was described as a “modest 40 x 60-foot chapel simply constructed without adornments”. The building was dis-assembled and moved by raft down the Tar River to the Taft Landing. Then hauled by mule or horse and cart across land located near Juniper Landing. Probably a mile from Taft’s School House on Black-Jack Simpson Rd. The land was donated to the church by Mary Tucker Campbell. (This land was owned by the Snodie Arnold family for many years and is now being sub-divided into a subdivision). This was our first church building, and we named it Salem Church.

I have more stories about this first church and the love shared by it’s members.  Does anyone know how we got the name Salem?  I also want to write about Salem’s part in World War 1 and World War 11, and all the years before and after.  I thank all the Church Historians before me, that kept these records.

– Joyce McRoy, Church Historian