The Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend seems to be the perfect time for exploration. Leaves are gone from the trees so you can see hidden buildings better. In our area, usually the weather is cool, but mild. More importantly, some of my fellow explorers are off work and able to join me. Even before I retired, this became one of our weekends to ramble. Often it was with my brother, Houston, or fellow explorer Alan. This time, for 2015, it was both.
Alan has been trying to track down family history through his great-great-grandfather’s diary. David Wyatt Aiken was a Confederate veteran, and later served as a US Congressman. Aiken was born in Winnsboro, so we decided that would be one of our stops on this ramble. We also found several old churches and schools along the way through Newberry and Fairfield Counties – plenty to keep us and our cameras busy.
I picked up Alan, then we drove down to Prosperity to rendezvous with Houston, who had driven over from Athens. We headed eastward, first driving through the community of Pomaria. It looked like an interesting place to stop and take photos, but there was lots of business activity – more than I expected. Three guys wandering around with cameras would be in the way. We continued on.
St. John’s Lutheran Church and School
Next stop was St. John’s Lutheran Church. I’ve visited this location many times, but it was a first for Houston and Alan. The church is on the National Register of Historic Places. The current church building is a brick structure across the road, but on the grounds with the cemetery are the original white frame structure built in 1809 and the small school, also a white frame structure.
After walking around the buildings and taking photos we started to explore the cemetery. There was a mix of modern and old stones. However, what struck me was the number of last names that were also common English words – Stuck, Lever, Counts, Sweet, Free, Summer, Slice, Bush, and Beam, among many others.
There were lots of Stucks. We had to resist jokes about being Stuck in a cemetery, but of course, we didn’t.
One of the creepiest stones was one of the Stucks, Vandora Edwin Stucks, to be exact. Edwin was enroute to Germany in 1918 during WWI and was killed on a transport. He was buried in France, but this memorial was raised locally for him. What makes the stone creepy is that it has an early photograph of the soldier embedded in the stone. It’s amazing that it’s lasted this long.
There were several odd after-market add-ons scattered around the cemetery. These were usually little angel sculptures. One particular cherub was really creepy, with a distorted neck position and prominently defined buttocks. The head position was so exaggerated that at first I thought it might be a gargoyle.
In the back corner of the cemetery was another marker, indicating where the church had originally stood prior to the 1809 building. Some of the oldest stones were clustered around this site.
The morning was rapidly getting away from us, so it was time to move on.
Hope Rosenwald School
Just up the road from St. John’s is the Hope Rosenwald School. The school has been renovated and restored as a community center. Jay Hope, a colleague of mine in the tech field, invited me to the school’s dedication in 2009, which I was happy to attend. As with St. John’s, the school is on the National Register. The school now stands as a model for community involvement and restoration of these historic buildings.
We paused for a few photos, but didn’t linger.
Peak Railroad Trestle
The next stop was the town of Peak. On the way in we spotted the dramatic railroad trestle that is now part of the Palmetto Trail. This isn’t the grand trestle that spans the Broad River, but one over a smaller creek that has its own charm. We stopped to explore.
We drove on into town. It always amazes me how many cars are parked right at the center of town, as if there’s lots going on. We didn’t stop to explore more of the town. The three of us had explored the larger trestle that crosses the Broad River when we kayaked from the other side a couple of years ago. We drove on around the little horseshoe bend in the road circled on out.
We crossed the Broad River on into Fairfield County. We were still on territory that was familiar to me, but not so much to Houston and Alan. I was willing to revisit a couple of place I thought would be of interest to them. We passed the V. C. Sumner Nuclear station and found ourselves approaching Jenkinsville. I decided to head down toward the town, proper.
Just before reaching Jenkinsville Post Office, on the east side of the road there are some ruins. These are the remains of the Jenkinsville High School. We pulled on down onto the property and decided to explore a bit. However, I’m going to leave the details of that stop for the next post.
When we left the Jenkinsville School we headed south a bit and stopped at what I had always assumed to be Jenkinsville Methodist Church. Now I’m not so sure. On Google Earth GNIS data has this listed as “Shiloh Church.” I’m not even sure if the church is still in use.
I tried to use my GoPro to get some interior shots. These didn’t turn out as well as I might have liked. It’s hard to tell if the church is still in use from these photos or not.
We checked out the cemetery, but I didn’t take any shots there.
Old Brick Church
We continued on toward Winnsboro on Highway 213, but we had a couple more stops before we got there. We saw the signs for Little River Baptist Church, but didn’t turn in. I kind of regret that now. The church is on the National Register, and it was founded by none other than Richard Furman. It would have been a great stop, but it would also have taken even more time away from our explorations, and we had precious little of that as it was.
We did, however, take time to stop at Ebenezer ARP Church, AKA “The Old Brick Church.” This brick meeting house style church was built in 1788. It, too, is on the National Register.
As soon as we parked the car I noticed an unusual stump. What made it unusual was a jar in the middle of the stump. I recognized it at once as a geocache, and when we picked it up, it was confirmed. It just seemed a bit weird that it was out in the open for anyone to see. I logged the find in my phone app.
The church is ring with a low wall of flat stones. These are chunks of Winnsboro Blue Granite mined from the Anderson Quarry nearby. The cemetery contained within this low wall is full of historic headstones.
Houston opened an iron gate, then stopped in his tracks. His question to me was, “What was that rhyme about coral snakes?” Turns out it was “Red touch yellow, kill a fellow.” The little snake he had come upon was a very annoyed, but non-venomous king snake.
Of the historic stones we saw, there were some new signature stones that we’d not seen before. There were the usual suspects, namely the Whites and Walkers, although there were some first names of this group I’d not seen…
The new ones I’d seen were McNinch, Brown, Boyne & Sprawl, and some others that were difficult to make out.
The church was shuttered, so there was no way to get an image from the inside. However, there were transom lights above the doors that had no shutters. I managed to get a couple of interior shots, albeit not as good as I might have liked.
Here’s a map of where we visited so far. The day was just getting started.