First United Methodist Church of Marion, South Carolina
Tuesday, September 26, 2017
Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors

Uncle Charley's Hut

Uncle Charley Haynes

 

Charles Haynes was born on a small farm in Charles City County, VA on Christmas Day 1855. His father was killed in an early battle of the Civil War and his mother died soon after the end of the war. An uncle reared him until he was 15. His uncle was a harsh man who would not allow him to attend school. When conditions became unbearable, he stole one of his uncle’s boats and traveled down the James River, landing at a sawmill where he obtained employment. After saving his earnings he went to Norfolk, VA and found work as a deck hand on a coastwise steamer. He worked his way up to assistant cook and then head cook. With the money he saved from this job he bought a merry-go-round and joined a carnival. After a short time he lost the merry-go-round because he had never received a legal title to it. He stayed with the carnival and sold hot dogs.

The carnival disbanded in Marion, SC and Charley stayed and opened a hot dog stand on Harlee St. Not making much money at this location he moved to Darlington where he worked in a café for about a year. After working as a cook in cafes in Darlington and Florence, he returned to Marion and opened a hot dog stand and shooting range just north of 217 N. Main St.

He joined the Methodist’s Men’s Bible Class when Dr. D.M. McLeod was the teacher. At the time, “Uncle Charley” as he was affectionately called, was not a member of any church. His parents had been Baptists and he had gone to church with them. But when he joined the carnival he quit attending church. At a revival in a warehouse in Marion he was converted. The following Sunday he was sitting on a bench near the monument on the public square, listening to the singing coming from the Baptist church. M. W. (Buff) Davis, who was on his way to Sunday School at the First Methodist Church, stopped and invited Charley to come to the Men’s Bible Study. He explained there was a contest going on for bringing new members. Charley accepted the invitation and became a permanent member of the class – never missing a Sunday unless he was sick or out of town.

At this time both the men’s and lady’s classes were held in the Sunday School Department of the church building but the space was too small. When the congregation was asked to raise money for a Ladies’ Sunday School “hut” Uncle Charlie was the first to pledge money for the venture. The Men’s class had no piano and since Uncle Charley liked music, he offered to provide one. It is reported that he told the piano saleslady “Missus, I want the best piano there is in the house, the price don’t make no difference.”

When his health began to fail he shut down the hot dog stand but continued to operate the shooting range. He stated he wanted to leave his money in a way that would continue to serve a good cause after he was gone. He decided that he wanted his money used to build a men’s hut for Sunday School classes. He never left Marion again until he was taken to the Mullins Hospital where he died on December 21, 1932. The Rev. McCoy pastor of the First Methodist Church conducted his funeral and he was laid to rest in the spot he had requested in the cemetery behind the Methodist Church, on December 22, 1932. “Uncle Charley’s Hut”, where the Men’s Bible Study continues to meet to this day, was built just across from Charley’s burial place.

Uncle Charley’s life exemplified a man who lived hard, worked hard and desired that his money live on and work on after he was gone.

 
 

Based on an article from The Marion Star dated 2/19/48 and conversations with members of the Men’s Bible Class.