Pictured are the ruins of Old Jackson Creek Church and cemetery located on the north side of Old Airport Road about seven miles west of Winnsboro in Fairfield County, South Carolina. The footprint of the building appears to be approximately twenty-five feet wide by fifty feet long. The mortar on some parts of the remaining walls was probably added to stabilize the structure and limit further damage. To the right side of the church is the cemetery which includes several graves dating to the earliest decades of the nineteenth century. The white obelisk to the left of the ruins marks an engraved stone with an illegible inscription.
Jackson Creek Church was founded circa 1775 and began worshipping in the homes of members until a log meeting house was constructed. At some point before 1800 a new church was built with local stone to replace the log building. In 1814, the membership is known to have been 120, which seems a reasonable size for the congregation to attend worship with some comfort. As the years passed, the members moved their residences from the vicinity of Old Jackson Church and the building fell into disrepair as the masonry deteriorated sufficiently to make use of the building dangerous. The congregation decided to construct a new building but it would be relocated to a property closer to the center of where the people lived.
In 1893, the new church was built on its current acreage and it is believed that about that time the church was renamed Lebanon Presbyterian. The Lebanon Church is situated northwest of the intersection of South Carolina Highway 34 (Newberry Road) and Jackson Creek Road, which is about four miles from the ruins of Old Jackson Creek Church. The building burned in 1910, so it was replaced the next year with another new structure on the same property. The brick building shown in the photograph was built according to its cornerstone in 1934. To the right of the building is the entrance to the cemetery. Though the sources consulted for this article did not explain the reason for the change of the church’s name, it may be that the shift of properties contributed to selecting a less geographically defining name for the church.
During the Jackson Creek years several ministers served the congregation. From 1849 to 1851 Thomas A. Hoyt was the pastor until he left the church for a call to the Liberty Hill Church and eventually made his way to the First Presbyterian Church of Nashville, Tennessee, in 1872. He succeeded the recently deceased minister, T. V. Moore. G. R. Brackett supplied Jackson Creek for five weeks in 1868 and then for about a year in 1871 until he was called to pastor Second Presbyterian Church, Charleston, succeeding Thomas Smyth. Brackett worked in the Charleston church for thirty-one years. William Wilson Mills was born in South Carolina, graduated South Carolina College, and studied for the ministry in Columbia Seminary before accepting a call to Old Jackson Creek that would last from 1868-1884. His next call was to the Robert Mills designed Bethesda Church in Camden, 1884-1904, and he was Harmony Presbytery’s stated clerk, 1890-1904. Over the years, the congregation was served by ministers whose call was just to Jackson Creek but in some cases they were shared with other churches. The rural location of both the original Jackson Creek property and the current Lebanon Church made it more difficult to find preachers for the church. Currently, Lebanon Presbyterian Church is a member of Palmetto Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church in America.
Transcriptions of Grave Markers at Old Jackson Creek Cemetery
The inscriptions on the two grave markers in the foreground of the picture showing the building ruins and the cemetery read as follows:
Sacred / to the memory of ALEXANDER BELL / who departed this life / on the 3rd of / February 1829 / in the 34th year of his age.
SACRED / is the / memory of / DANIEL HARRISON / who departed this life / Oct. 30th 1838 / aged 52 years./ [the remainder of the inscription is indecipherable]
The inscription on the single grave marker reads as follows:
Sacred / to the memory of SUSAN McDOWALL / who died Nov. 8th 1832 / aged 57 years & 9 / months. / Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord. / ʼTis religion that can give / Sweetest pleasure while we / live / ʼTis religion that can supply / Solid comfort when we die.
Notes—The pictures of Old Jackson Creek Church were taken by the author July 19, 2006 and the photograph of Lebanon Presbyterian Church was taken March 30, 2010. The source for information is the brief Lebanon Church history in F. D. Jones and W. H. Mills, History of the Presbyterian Church in South Carolina Since 1850, Columbia: The Synod of South Carolina, 1926, pages 660-64. The earlier years of Jones and Mills’ history are a summary of George Howe’s account in the first volume of History of the Presbyterian Church in South Carolina, pages 489, 498-503, and 599.