Bob Powell Published

July 13, 1899: Greenbrier Co. Methodist Preacher Sam Black Dies at 86


  Methodist preacher Sam Black died on July 13, 1899, at age 86. The Greenbrier County native was a circuit riding minister who spread the gospel through Greenbrier, Clay, Fayette, Nicholas, Webster, and Kanawha counties. Affectionately known as ‘‘Uncle Sam,’’ he helped organize and build numerous churches with money earned by selling socks and deerskin gloves made by women from the congregations. Sam Black was an ordained deacon and a two-time delegate to the Methodist general conference. He also was one of the 16 charter members of the West Virginia Methodist Conference.

In 1844, the Methodist church split nationally, along North and South lines, over the issue of slavery. The two sides began competing for the hearts and minds of Methodists.

Black, who supported slavery, cast his lot with the Southern wing of the church. He supposedly won over all but two of his Western Virginia congregations to the Southern side.

A white frame structure named Sam Black Church was built in Greenbrier County in 1902 in memory of the Reverend Black. It’s listed in the National Register of Historic Places, and the community is named Sam Black Church.