Robert Brice was the fourth pastor of Hopewell Church in Chester Co., South Carolina. His term of service was near 28 years, May 31, 1850 to March 14, 1878. He was born and reared in the New Hope congregation, which is in Fairfield Co., South Carolina.
From "The Centennial History of the Associated Reformed Presbyterian Church"
"Rev. Robert Wilson Brice was born at the home of his father, Robert Brice, near New Hope Church in Fairfield Co., South Carolina, July 2nd, 1826. His ancestors were all Scotch-Irish. His grandfather, James Brice, came from County Antrim, Ireland, about 1780, and settled on Little River. He married Jane Wilson, the daughter of Robert Wilson, on of the leaders of the Whigs in his neighborhoo, during the Revolutionary War.
The mother of Robert Wilson Brice was Margaret Simonton, the daughter of John Simonton and Jeannette Strong. On both sides the parents of Mr. Brice were intelligent and pious, thrifty and industrious. His grandfather, James Brice, gave the land on which the New Hope Church stands, and his father, Robert Brice, was for many years an elder in the congregation. His grandfather, John Simonton, was also an elder in New Hope.
When a boy, R.W. Brice attended the schools near his home, and was prepared for college by John McClurkin, who for many years taught the school at New Hope.
In the fall of 1840 he entered Erskine College, graduating in 1844. Even as a boy and young man, those noble traits of character which were displayed in his life afterwards, were plainly manifested, and he always exerted a good influence over his associates. He connected with the church while a student in college, and in Dec. 1844, when only a boy of eighteen, he began the study of Theology under his brother-in-law, Rev. L. McDonald, then pastor of Union Church in Chester Co.
The session of 1845-1846, he spent in the A.R. Seminary at Allegheny, Pa., then presided over by Dr. John T. Pressly. On returning to the home of his father in the spring of 1846, he taught school for a time at New Hope, and then went to the Seminary at Due West, where he completed his course in the spring of 1848. He was received as a student by the First Presbytery in 1847, and was licensed in April, 1848. After supplying some of the vacancies in the First Presbytery, he was sent to Kentucky in 1848, to supply some of the vacancies in that state. In the winter of 1849-50 he received a call from Hickston, Ky., and in Jan. 1850, he also received a call to Hopewell, Chester Co., S.C. and this latter call he accepted, and on May 31st, 1850, he was ordained and installed as pastor of Hopewell, and there spent te remainder of his life, as the beloved pastor of this people. On March 4th, 1850, he was happily married to Anna Maria, the daughter of Rev. John and Jane C. Steele, of Kentucky, who proved to be to him a helpmate indeed, and a model pastor's wife. To them was born a large family of children, all of whom have proved worthy children of a noble pair. As a pastor, Mr. Brice was greatly beloved by his congregation. His people placed implicit confidence and trust in him, for they found him to be a man without guile and without hypocrisy. He possess a clear intellect, sound judgement and rare common sense. His sermons were plain, expository and practical, and more than ordinarily interesting and instructive. Dr. R. Lathan, who was raised in Hopewell, says: "He never preached a poor srmon - never an unstudied one." His custom was, during the winter months, to explain a Psalm and preach a sermon, and during the summer months to lecture on some Book of the Bible, selected in regular order, and then after a short interval to preach a sermon. In this way he explained the whole book of Psalms, and his lectures covered a good portion of the books of the New Testament. In his time Hopewell was literally a school house in which the Bible was taught. Thee faithful labors, together with regular pastoral visitation and catechizing were blessed to the edification of his congregation. In 1866 or 1867, Mr. Brice began to preach one third of his time at old Purity, two miles south of Chester, and there in 1869 he organized the present A.R.P. Church at Chester. He continued to minister to this new organization for one third of his time until October, 1875.
From the first to the last, Mr. Brice took an active interest in everything that pertained tohe welfare of his denomination. He was constant in his attendance at Presbytery and Synod, and was an influential member of both these courts. He was Moderator of Synod at Sardis, N.C. in 1862, and at Hopewell, TN in 1874, and he was Treasurer of Synod's Home Mission funds from 1854 to 1878. In summing up the character of Mr. Brice, Dr. Lathan, who was in early life a member of his congregation, and for a while a student in his home, says in his history of Hopewell and its Pastors: "He was in the strictest sense of the word a model man. Nature had bestowed on him some rare gifts. His disposition was that of a high-toned Christian gentleman. In his nature there was nothing wild and fanciful. He was by every instinct of his being a matter of fact man. His passions were kept under perfect control. No man, so far as we know, ever saw him violently angry, nor did anyone ever hear him utter a hasty or rash sentence. All his convictions were reached calmly and conscientiously. Amid all the vicissitudes of life, he was, as near as mortal man can be, the same. His manners were plain but always gentlemanly.
No man was better adapted to make himself friends, and no man was better fitted to retain them when made. Nature designed him to govern others, in that he was granted power to govern himself."
With the close of the year 1877, the actual labors of Mr. Brice came to an end. On the last Sabbath of that years, he preached at Hopewell his last sermon. As the sun went down on the 14th of March 1878, he peacefully passed from earth saying: "For me to live is Christ and to die is gain." On th 16th of March he was buried at Hopewell amid the tears of a sorrowing family and congregation. He left surviving him his beloved wife and ten children, three sons and seven daughters. Robert
was born at South Carolina
on 2 July 1826. He was the son of Robert Brice
and Margaret Simonton
. He married Anna Maria Steele
on 19 March 1850. Robert died on 14 March 1878 at age 51. His body was interred on 16 March 1878 at Chester Co., South Carolina
, at Hopewell ARP Cemetery.