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Pon Pon Chapel of Ease — Jacksonboro, South Carolina

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

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Pon Pon Chapel of Ease

Two walls, part of a 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 possibly 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 Chapel at Twighlight

Bennie Brawley of Irmo, 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 10 parishes, each governed by a vestry of seven men. A parish church – where births, marriages, and deaths would be recorded – was to be established in each parish, with chapels of ease erected throughout the parish to accommodate those who lived far away. Only worship services were conducted at these smaller chapels, leaving official records the business of the parish churches.

Pon-Pon Facade

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

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

Pon Pon Chapel

Randy Jameson of Blackville, 2012 © 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 parish church and 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. John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, preached in this 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, further eroding the structure. However, the two standing walls allow viewers to imagine the chapel of ease as it appeared in its youth. 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 more about the legislators buried here, the Political Graveyard 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 were temporarily closed to the public following damage caused by Hurricane Matthew, which swept through the state on October 8, 2017. The walls of the church still stand, but many trees and limbs toppled during the storm and others are in danger of falling (see below).

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

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

Pon Pon Night

Stephen McCloskey of Irmo, 2016 © 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

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, Jacksonboro, SC 29428
GPS Coordinates: 32.80855,-80.49014

Pon Pon Chapel of Ease Map

Take Me There

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

Please Share Your Thoughts!

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15 Comments about Pon Pon Chapel of Ease

SC Picture Project says:
August 19th, 2019 at 3:55 pm

Hi Gail, thanks for your note. Info about the name Pon Pon can be found in the first paragraph of the article above.

Gail L Eggeman says:
August 17th, 2019 at 8:44 pm

I drove by a sign, on a dark and stormy night in August 2019, that read Pon Pon Chapel of Ease! You can’t even imagine how excited I was to find the Pon Pon Chapel of Ease! I am returning home tomorrow and will stop and visit the chapel. I can’t wait. Thanks to SC for the sign!

I have read what I could find on the chapel; lots of discussion about the Ease part – but none about
the name – Pon Pon. Can anybody tell me?

SC Picture Project says:
July 10th, 2019 at 2:38 pm

Visitors are still welcome. The ruins do have a rope surrounding them to keep people from climbing on them, but you are still able to walk the graveyard to our knowledge. The grounds are open during daylight hours.

Stephanie Hanna says:
July 10th, 2019 at 7:52 am

Is this place still accessible?

Melanie Shuman says:
May 10th, 2019 at 4:45 pm

I discovered Pon Pon several years ago when researching my family genealogy. I traced 10+ ancestors graves to this church and road-tripped down there the following weekend. It’s just as lovely as the pictures suggest. I strongly suggest you visiting this church, because parts of it are fading away. Hurricane Matthew washed out several of my ancestors graves, and I am so thankful that I made time to visit before that happened.

Gene Padgett 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 King says:
February 6th, 2017 at 7:25 pm

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

Sarah 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 Dickmann 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 Mishoe says:
June 17th, 2012 at 9:36 am

Margaret… that would be the grave of Captain John Dent… http://www.hmdb.org/Marker.asp?Marker=7881

Margaret Mckewn 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?

SCIWAY 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!

Steven Faucette 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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