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.
More Pictures of Sardis Methodist Church
Sardis Methodist Church Info
Address: 299 Reynolds Road, Branchville, SC 29432
GPS Coordinates: 33.268688,-80.817331
Sardis Methodist Church Map
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Mark Davidson says
Nice website! Is there a spreadsheet or listing of known graves there? I’m looking for Georgia Ann Jeffcoat-Harley, born 1858.
Andrew Byrd says
This church was also used by the Presbyterians. According to Charleston Presbytery documents, there was never a Presbyterian church constructed in Branchville, but they worshiped at various times in Sardis Methodist as well as the American Legion Hall.
Vivian Connelly Gibson says
My grandmother’s parents and brothers are buried there. My great-grandmother was a Byrd. I attended the annual homecoming services there when I was child with my grandmother. I was amazed at the visible handprints on the boards of the ceiling. My father explained that because they were raw pine, as they aged the prints of the hands that handled them as they built the church became visible. It was wonderful to be able to see the hands of my ancestors. Too bad you were not able to get photographs of the ceiling to document this phenomenon.
Is it possible to hold a wedding here? (Kinda weird question I know.)
Jennine Hughes says
My grandparents are buried there. Any trip that I have made South through or to SC, I always go to their gravesites. My grandfather worked at the train Depot in SC, and he was know as Pencil Taylor because he had a passion for collecting unusual pens and pencils. My brother, Paul Shugrue, had put a few pencils on his grave at one time. I don’t know if they are still there.