Sidney W. Oldham

Pastor FBC Hillsborough, 1916-1922
 
The call was extended to SW Oldham on January 23, 1916 and a letter was mailed to him of the church’s action.  A committee was appointed to get the parsonage ready for the pastor and his family.  The committee reported back that they felt it would be best for Oldham to rent another house in Hillsboro and for the church to rent out the parsonage to someone else.  They proposed giving the preacher an extra $100 in salary and to furnish the rental property.  On February 13, 1916, Oldham accepted the call to preach at Hillsborough, Mars Hill, and Berry’s Grove.  {Editor’s note: It was normal at this time for pastors to serve a ministry field that included two or more churches in proximity.}  No suitable rental property could be found, so the church decided to “build 2 rooms on the parsonage” and began collecting money to do so.  Lumber and brick were purchased and the house was almost ready when the Oldham family arrived in May.  During his pastorate, efforts continued to refurbish the church and parsonage.  In June 1916, a motion was made to “check with the Power and Light Co. “to see what they could get the church lited {sic} for.”  The electric work was completed in 1917 by the Durham Traction Company, the same firm that owned and operated the electric street cars in Durham.  The deacons requested that the three swing oil lamps be donated to the Efland Baptist Church.  In April, the church requested that a presbytery be formed to organize “a Baptist Church at West Hillsborough.”  The presbytery met on April 27th for this purpose.  Oldham preached for the West End Baptist Church until a pastor could be found.  From October 1918 until January 1, 1919, the church was ordered closed by the Board of Health because of the influenza epidemic.1   
 
Oldham resigned as pastor on January 22, 1922.  The church accepted and wrote a letter of appreciation that said in part, “ We have enjoyed the co-affection and good fellowship of both he and his good wife … (they) have at all times shown their most interest in life to be the Master’s workers and their every efforts are put forward for the advances of His Kingdom.”1
 
S. W. Oldham was born in Chatham County, NC, on May 31, 1871.   He studied at Olive's Chapel Preparatory School a few miles west of Apex, NC before attending Wake Forest College in 1891 to study for the ministry.2 He was ordained as a minister by Lystra Baptist Church located six miles south of Chapel Hill, NC.3 While in college, he served as a supply preacher and regular pastor for several small congregations in the vicinity.  He married Emma H (maiden name unknown) in 1898.  According to a 1920 US census, they had six children:  Mabel, Wayne and Warren (twin boys), Helen, Lois and Frances.4 This explains the need to add rooms to the parsonage.
 
Oldham pastored several small churches in the Little River Baptist Association in the early 1900s, serving pastorates in the Toisnot Township, Wilson County, NC and at Holly Springs, Wake County, NC where Mrs. Oldham taught school.2   He moved to Alamance County in 1906 to become pastor of the First Baptist Church of Graham, NC, remaining there until 1911.5   His next pastorate was at the First Baptist Church in Mount Gilead, NC.6    
 
The First World War started while the Oldham’s were in Hillsboro.  The influenza epidemic occurred in 1918. Pauline and Allen Lloyd remember that “during the flu epidemic, Rev. and Mrs. Oldham served the sick and did a wonderful job. Our home was near the Baptist Church and it was great to see a couple like these working for the Lord and mankind.”2 They were also active supporters of the American Red Cross during this time. 7
 
Oldham continued in the ministry until age 77, retiring in 1948.  He served as tax collector and town clerk for the town of Star, NC for eight years.  He died at age 91 on November 25, 1962.  Emma who was born on April 17, 1875 died on February 19, 1967.  The couple are buried in the Lystra Baptist Church Cemetery in Chatham County – his home church that ordained him as a minister.3
 
References:
  1. Minutes of First Baptist Church Hillsborough, NC from November 19, 1853 to December 2, 1953.
  2. Lloyd, Pauline O., and Lloyd, Allen A. History of the Churches of Hillsborough, N.C.: Ca. 1766-1962. Hillsborough, NC: The Author, 1963
  3. Cemetery Census, Chatham County, NC, Lystra Baptist Church.   Accessed on December 1, 2011 at: http://cemeterycensus.com/nc/chat/cem106.htm
  4. Family Search provided by the Church of Jesus Christ – Latter day Saints.  Accessed on December 1, 2011 at:  https://www.familysearch.org/search/records/index#count=20&query=%2Bgivenname%3ASidney~%20%2Bsurname%3AOldham~
  5. First Baptist Church Graham, NC.  Accessed on December 1, 2011 at: http://fbcgraham.hostcentric.com/former.htm
  6. First Baptist Church Mt. Gilead, NC.  Accessed on December 1, 2011 at:    http://www.sitemason.com/site/bwpZT2/staff
  7. Cameron, Annie S.  The Influenza Epidemic of 1918: A Record of the War Activities in Orange County,North Carolina, 1917 – 1919. Published shortly after the end of WWI.  Accessed on December 1, 2011 at:  http://www.thepastwhispers.com/OC_Influenza.html
Compiled by Reginald Carter, Historian, FBC Hillsborough
Last Updated: March 1, 2013