Sardis Methodist Church – Branchville, South Carolina
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Located in the south Orangeburg County town of Branchville, Sardis Methodist Church had humble beginnings. Prior to the American Revolution, parishioners simply gathered under the trees to worship. After the war, however, a small log structure was constructed which locals called the “Meeting House.” This log church was said to have been built by a man by the name of N. Byrd, “the parent stock of a large and respectable number of that name in and around that place.” In fact, three generations of Byrds are buried within the present Sardis churchyard. Descendant Mickey Byrd presently volunteers his time maintaining the sacred ground, often adorning graves with objects such as American flags and other items of sentiment. The log church sat about a mile and a half from the current frame sanctuary, and Methodist missionaries first preached there in 1786.
A schism occurred within the congregation early on when member William Hoard introduced a singing school to the church. As a result, the church split, and in January of 1811 the log building was moved to the northern section of Branchville and renamed Sardis Methodist Church. It rested on land bought for $1 from George Hartzog (also spelled Hartsog). This land was part of 417 acres granted to Tobias Hartzog in 1786.
Jacob Pooser organized Sunday school in 1825; Pooser headed the Sunday school until 1850. In 1849 a small frame church replaced the log structure, and in 1872 the second church was supplanted by a “larger and more sightly one” built by E.T.R. Smoak of the local Smoak Lumber Mill and the Smoak Tramway. It is said that faint footprints can still be seen on some of the ceiling planks within the church.
The church belonged to the Orangeburg Circuit until after the Civil War; in 1866 it became part of the Branchville Circuit. According to records, Spanish-American War veteran Avery Heaton is interred here as well as an unknown Native American. Though church has not been in use for decades, an annual homecoming service and celebration takes place each October.
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Address: 299 Reynolds Road, Branchville, SC 29432
GPS Coordinates: 33.268688,-80.817331
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