Born: August 9, 1813 Darlington County South Carolina near Ebenezer
Died: April 12, 1882 at “Harmony Hall,” his wife’s home place
Family: Wife - Jane Lide, granddaughter of Rev. Evan Pugh. They had seven children and two sons became ministers. His son E. C. was a well-known professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a prolific author of theological books.Education: Entered Furman Theological Institute at High Hills of the Santee but not able to finish
Churches: Black Creek ( Darlington) forty years; Cheraw; Darlington First; Camden; Society Hill; Mineral Springs; Clio
Other service: Board of Trustees – Furman University and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; Vice President of South Carolina Baptist Convention; General Agent of South Carolina Baptist Convention 1866 – July 1868; assisted with organization of Pee Dee association; active in other associations where he served
Questions were many and troubling. How would South Carolina recover from the Civil War devastation? In the middle and lower part of the state, destruction of homes, farms and livestock, businesses, churches, schools and more was the standard. Returning soldiers found very little when they got home. Confederate currency was worthless; crops were failing and the prospect of famine was upon the state. It was an easy time to be discouraged but when South Carolina Baptists met in 1866, they believed it was time to take a bold step.
The 1866 Convention employed J. O. B. Dargan, a Darlington/Hartsville area pastor, as first General Agent or State Evangelist for South Carolina Baptists. He would represent the Convention to associations and churches and coordinate work of State Missions as well as domestic (home) and foreign mission work of the Southern Baptist Convention. Little did he
realize that one of his major tasks that first year would be food distribution. Relief societies in New York, Kentucky and Missouri sent almost 2,500 bushels of corn to help feed citizens of South Carolina. Bible and tract societies sent books, Bibles and testaments to replace those lost during the war. It did not look like a promising time financially for the Convention to take a bold new step but faith and a vision for what God wanted to do in South Carolina and the world led them forward.
Dargan, in agricultural terms, “plowed the field” preparing South Carolina Baptists for work they needed to do to bring all South Carolinians into a relationship with Jesus Christ. Dargan was particularly aware of needs of newly freed slaves and education for their ministers was included in the Convention’s ministry. Dargan’s 1867 report to the Convention states, “The prospect is, that without earnest and sanctified effort, purified by affliction, a large portion of South Carolina . . . may become missionary ground.” People had very few resources but Dargan pressed the need for vision beyond current circumstances and said many members of Baptist churches had yet to learn “the grace of giving.”
The work was difficult but there were signs of hope as church members challenged with the urgency of presenting the Gospel to all people responded with what they had. Dargan worked as General Agent for another year before returning to the pastorate. His work broke ground, plowed the field and left a legacy which continues today. Dargan’s words in his 1868 report resound for us. “”Encouraged by past success, let us press forward with renewed interest and sanctified energies in the great work before us; . . . trusting, with unwavering confidence, in the promises of our Divine Master, for present support and ultimate success.”