South Carolina Picture Project

Pon Pon Chapel of Ease — Jacksonboro, South Carolina

SC Picture Project  |  Colleton County  |  Pon Pon Chapel of Ease

Two walls, part of the cistern, and the churchyard are all that remain of the Pon-Pon Chapel of Ease in Colleton County. The name “Pon Pon” is an Indian phrase that may possibly have meant “big bends” in reference to an early settlement along the Edisto River. In fact, the section of the Edisto that winds around the area of the former settlement is sometimes called the Pon Pon River.

Pon-Pon Facade

John Jensen of Charleston, 2016 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

After the Church Act of 1706 made the Church of England the official church of South Carolina, the province was divided into parishes, each governed by a vestry of seven men. A parish church – where births, marriages, and deaths would be officially recorded – was to be established in each parish, with chapels of ease erected throughout the parish to accommodate those who lived too far away. Only worship services were conducted at these smaller chapels, leaving parish records the business of the parish churches.

Pon Pon Chapel

John Diskes of Summerville, 2014 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

St. Bartholomew’s Parish (now Colleton County) was one of South Carolina’s original 10 parishes, and initially several chapels of ease were built within the parish because the location of a central parish church was disputed among parish leaders. One early chapel of ease was located at Parkers Ferry Road, once a bustling stagecoach road between Charleston and Savannah.

Pon Pon Night

Stephen McCloskey of Irmo, 2016 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

When much of the parish was destroyed during the Yemassee War of 1715, the population dispersed, and St. Batholomew’s suffered even more difficulty in trying to establish a parish church location. Finally on December 9, 1725, the Assembly of the Province of South Carolina permitted a church to be built here and act as both a parish church and a chapel of ease, a unique arrangement in South Carolina.

Pon Pon in the Pines

Susan Buckley of Charleston, 2009 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

A wooden church was built on or near this site soon after the 1725 decision to establish an official church here. John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, preached in the wooden building twice on April 24, 1737. In 1754 a brick structure replaced the wooden one. The brick church burned in 1801. From that point, the chapel became known colloquially as Burnt Church.

Pon Pon Churchyard

Susan Buckley of Charleston, 2009 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

It took around 20 years to rebuild the chapel following the fire; the new sanctuary was completed sometime between 1819 and 1822. Sadly, in 1832 it was once again destroyed – either by fire or another devastating event – and this time, it was not rebuilt. Interestingly, although the church was reduced to ruins, families continued using its churchyard for their burials.

Pon-Pon Chapel Support Brace

Susan Buckley of Charleston, 2009 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

A 1959 hurricane toppled much of the remaining ruins of the church, further eroding the structure. However, the two standing walls allow viewers to imagine how the chapel of ease appeared in its glory. The South Carolina National Heritage Corridor is currently helping to fund a restoration effort of the ruins, overseen by the Colleton County Historical and Preservation Society.

Pon-Pon Chapel Churchyard

Susan Buckley of Charleston, 2009 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Many prominent figures in South Carolina and Colleton County history are interred in the burial grounds at Pon-Pon. To learn of the legislators buried at here, the Political Graveyard website has an entry under Burnt Church Burial Ground. The church and cemetery can be found at a place called Burnt Church Crossroads – off SC 64 just outside of Jacksonboro.

Pon Pon Memorial

Susan Buckley of Charleston, 2009 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The grounds of Pon Pon are temporarily closed to the public following damage caused by Hurricane Matthew, which swept through the state on October 8, 2017 (see below). The walls of the church still stand, but many trees and limbs toppled during the storm and others are in danger of falling. Please respect notices to stay away from the church and surrounding area due to safety concerns.

Pon Pon After Hurricane Matthew

Sara Dean of Moncks Corner, 2017 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The Pon-Pon Chapel of Ease is listed in the National Register:

Established in 1725 by an Act of the General Assembly, Pon Pon Chapel of Ease was one of two churches serving St. Bartholomew’s Parish after the Yemassee War (1715) aborted plans for a parish church. The chapel site was located on Parker’s Ferry Road, the busy stagecoach thoroughfare that connected Charleston and Savannah. In 1754, a brick chapel was erected to replace the earlier wooden structure. This brick chapel burned in ca.1801, causing Pon Pon Chapel to become subsequently known as the Burnt Church. The chapel was rebuilt between 1819 and 1822, and was in use until 1832 when it was again reduced to ruins.

The façade of Pon Pon Chapel had a central, rounded arched entrance flanked by rounded arched windows on either side, all constructed in a brickwork pattern of one stretcher alternating with two headers. The two round windows in the façade’s upper level utilized the same brickwork pattern. The walls were constructed in Flemish bond. The chapel’s historical significance is due in part to Rev. John Wesley preaching two sermons here on April 24, 1737 and for its burial ground that contains the remains of Congressmen Aedanus Burke and O’Brien Smith, in addition to numerous local leaders.

Pon Pon Chapel

Randy Jameson of Blackville, 2012 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Iron Detail at Pon Pon Chapel

Brandon Coffey of Charleston, 2017 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Tombstone Detail Pon Pon Chapel

Brandon Coffey of Charleston, 2017 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Pon Pon Chapel Ruins

Brandon Coffey of Charleston, 2017 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Reflections on Pon-Pon Chapel of Ease

Photographer Tommy Matthews writes,”This photo was taken on February 2, 2007, while I was making a photographic jaunt through Colleton County into Walterboro and beyond. It has been my goal to take shots of all of the towns in the Lowcountry and the rest of the state as I get the opportunity. As it happens, the day was pleasantly cool and overcast, so shadows were not a problem. Burnt Church is near Jacksonboro, but it is off the beaten path just far enough that it is not overrun by people or plagued by litter. Not long after this the General Assembly held a session there to commemorate the same held during the Revolution after the fall of Charles Town. Several graves of early legislators are on the grounds. All in all, it is a lovely site.”

Jacksonboro Burnt Church

Tommy Matthews of James Island, 2007 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Frequent contributor Mike Stroud tells us, “Pon Pon Chapel is one of my favorite spots in the Lowcountry. Interestingly, in another cemetery nearby is the the grave of a former Captain of the USS Constitution … just another gem uncovered in South Carolina!”

Mike Stroud of Bluffton © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Darrell Parker, who hails form North Charleston, says, “I come here about every year, it’s just so quite and peaceful. This place is a little hard to find, maybe that’s why no one has been here to destroy this beautiful historic spot.”

Pon Pon Facade

Darrell Parker of North Charleston, 2011 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Pon Pon Chapel of Ease Info

Address: Parkers Ferry Road near intersection of Jacksonboro Road, Jacksonboro, SC 29428
GPS Coordinates: 32.80855,-80.49014

Pon Pon Chapel of Ease Map

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10 Comments about Pon Pon Chapel of Ease

Gene PadgettNo Gravatar says:
October 11th, 2017 at 2:39 pm

Captain John Herbert Dent is buried at the cemetery on Highway 64 between Jacksonboro and Neyles Crossroads going towards Walteboro. A Large tree has grown from his grave.

Karen KingNo Gravatar says:
February 6th, 2017 at 7:25 pm

Are any St Bartholomew’s vestry records still in existence anywhere?

SarahNo Gravatar says:
August 19th, 2016 at 5:59 pm

There was no church burnt during the Yemassee War. In 1715-1717 only the parish area existed and no actual church. I’m sorry that Lori thinks the historical society rewrote the history, but primary documents and research have revealed the true story.

Lori DickmannNo Gravatar says:
July 30th, 2016 at 12:48 pm

My husband and I used to go to the Burnt Church frequently. Before the Historical Society fenced it and ruined it. Where are the markers of the children that died. Why do they not recognize the Yemassee Indians that burned the church down as well. The entrance clearly tells the story. Why did they rewrite history with their little paper you get when you go now? We choose to believe the true story as written on the Church entrance tablet.

Steven R. Urquhart says:
January 5th, 2016 at 5:21 pm

In which Indian language was Pon Pon settlement, please?

C.p. Carter says:
March 13th, 2015 at 11:54 am

Will have to make a point to take a bike ride to this chapel this summer…

Grant MishoeNo Gravatar says:
June 17th, 2012 at 9:36 am

Margaret… that would be the grave of Captain John Dent…

Margaret MckewnNo Gravatar says:
March 21st, 2012 at 10:01 am

Wonderful photos and history! Steven — you mentioned that nearby a Capt. of the USS Constitution is buried — who was he? Do you have the name of this person?

SCIWAYNo Gravatar says:
February 23rd, 2012 at 2:32 pm

And thank you Steven for all of the great photos you submit to us! Our gallery and website wouldn’t be the same without you! – SCIWAY

Steven FaucetteNo Gravatar says:
February 23rd, 2012 at 12:04 pm

Great find! I rarely get to that part of the state but always find interesting bits of history when I do! Thanks SCIWAY for the history behind it.


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