Originally called the Little River Church and more commonly known as the Old Brick Church, Ebenezer Associate Reformed Presbyterian (ARP) Church was built in the Fairfield County hamlet of Jenkinsville in 1788. Constructed in the simple meeting house style typical of early churches, Ebenezer ARP Church is unusual in that it is made of brick; most meeting houses were wood frame buildings.
The bricks were made by church members – mostly Scots-Irish immigrants – and the quality of the structure is evident in the fact that this church remains a rare example of an intact 18th century South Carolina meeting house.
The church was founded by the Reverend James Rogers of Scotland, who brought with him the Associate Reformed Presbyterian religion. This church is the first of its denomination in South Carolina. Since this congregation was formed, several ARP churches developed throughout Fairfield County as well as the state.
The surrounding wall, steps, and foundation of the Old Brick Church were built using local blue granite block in 1852. During the Civil War the church was damaged by Union soldiers who dismantled the floorboards and used them to create a bridge crossing the Little River.
During the Civil War, a Union soldier from Sherman’s army etched this apology on an interior wall of Old Brick Church:
Citizens of this community: Please excuse us for defacing your house of worship, so much. It was absolutely necessary to effect a crossing over the creek, the Rebs had destroyed the bridge.
The church ceased regular worship services in 1920, though commemorative services still take place within its storied walls.
Old Brick Church is listed in the National Register as Ebenezer ARP Church:
(Old Brick Church) Built in 1788, this small, rectangular meeting house plan building is simple and unadorned, with a gable roof and unornamented windows. It is one of few eighteenth-century meeting house churches remaining in the state. The bricks for the thick masonry walls were made by members of the congregation. The simple interior contains straight-back pews, a dais-style pulpit with plain rails around two sides, and a slave gallery. The church and graveyard are surrounded by a granite wall added in 1852. This church was the birthplace of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian denomination in South Carolina. Ebenezer’s pastor, the Reverend James Rogers, first ARP Moderator, organized the Associate Reformed Synod of Carolinas here on May 9, 1803.
The church grew in numbers until the Civil War when the young manhood of the congregation joined the Confederate Army en masse. The building was damaged by Union troops, who removed part of its flooring and woodwork to rebuild a bridge across Little River. An apology, penciled in the wall, has been kept legible: “Citizens of this community: Please excuse us for defacing your house of worship, so much. It was absolutely necessary to effect a crossing over the creek, the Rebs had destroyed the bridge. A Yankee.”
The church was later repaired and remained in active use until 1920. Since that time the church has been used for annual commemorative services. The adjoining graveyard contains numerous graves of Revolutionary and Civil War soldiers.
More Pictures of the Old Brick Church
James Gray says
My 6th great grandfather was said James Gray, mentioned earlier by Laura. If you have any information on James, Andrew, or Robert Gray, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jack Curry, your ancestor Charles Montgomery is one of the men listed in the deed where the male members of the congregation buy the land on which the church stood from a Henry Crumpton in 1793.
“At the request of Henry Crumpton, I have surveyed and laid out unto Benjamin Boyd, James Gray, John Martin and Charles Montgomery Elders of the Reformed Associate Society of ____ ____ (illegible) on Little River in Fairfield County for the use and worship of the said Society a parcel or lot of land containing one acre and 1/4 including the Brick Meeting House known by the name of Ebenezer.
Recorded 6 July 1793
Deed Book H p 171-172, Fairfield Co SC
Jack Curry says
My 4th great grandfather, Charles Montgomery, was one of the first five elders of the church. My wife and I visited the church while inside work was being done and were able to see the inside of the church. Great visit.
I found the old deed where the congregation of the old brick meeting house buys the land that it is built on in 1793. My ancestor James Gray was one of the Church Elders and his sons are also listed on this deed as are many of the male members of the congregation. Fascinating history and the fact that it is still standing to this day in good repair.
Clif Wakefield says
My wife, Cynthia Allen Smith Wakefield’s, grandmother is buried there. I remember Cindy going there with her Mom and Dad to put flowers on the grave and never forgot the story about the church, and I saw the note that was left by the Union Army. This morning someone in the office was talking about old churches here in Alabama and this Old Brick Church came to mind. Thanks for the pictures that were taken and I passed them on to my wife and daughter.