Clergyman. Rosemond was born as Jim on February 1, 1820, the son of Abraham and Peggy, slaves belonging to Waddy Thompson, Jr., of Greenville. When Jim was six, his parents were sent to Alabama as a wedding present with one of Thompson’s sons. Jim remained in Greenville and was sold to Vardry McBee, the largest landowner and entrepreneur in the area. Known as Jim McBee, he lived with a family of white Methodists under whose influence he was baptized in 1844. The following year he was appointed a class leader in the Greenville Methodist Episcopal Church, South. He became an exhorter, and in 1851 the church granted him permission to travel with Gabriel Poole, a black Baptist minister. On September 12, 1854, Jim was licensed to preach and delivered his first sermon at Salem Church near the Saluda River. He was a regular preacher at Sharon Church in Anderson District, and the congregation collected $500 to purchase his freedom. However, Jim’s owner set the price at $800, and he remained in bondage.
Emancipated after the Civil War, Jim took the name of James R. Rosemond, and he gathered a group of black Methodists to establish a separate congregation in Greenville. At first the group paid the Greenville church $100 annually to worship there, but when the Freedmen’s Bureau school opened under the leadership of Charles Hopkins, a black missionary of the northern Methodist Episcopal Church, the congregation moved to the school. In 1866 the Methodist Episcopal Church purchased a lot, and in 1869 the Silver Hill Church (now John Wesley Church) opened. Meanwhile, in 1867 Rosemond entered the Baker Theological Institute in Charleston, and after one term he was ordained a deacon.
Rosemond returned to the upstate and began to establish churches. In 1868 he was ordained an elder, and he eventually established fifty churches in the area stretching from Oconee to York Counties. Recognized as one of the pioneers of the Methodist Episcopal Church in South Carolina, he was commonly referred to as Father Rosemond. He died in 1902 was buried at St. Matthew Church near Greenville.
Huff, A. V., Jr. “A History of South Carolina United Methodism.” In United Methodist Ministers in South Carolina. Columbia: South Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church, 1984.
Tolbert, James A. Christ in Black, or the Life and Times of Rev. James R. Rosemond. Greenville, S.C.: Shannon, 1902.