South Carolina Picture Project
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Oolenoy Baptist Church — Pumpkintown, South Carolina

SC Picture Project  |  Pickens County  |  Oolenoy Baptist Church

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Oolenoy Baptist Church

The land on which this church in Pickens County sits was donated by the area’s first settler, Cornelius Keith of Virginia, who arrived in 1743 to what Cherokee Chief Woolenoy described as the “land of grain and clear water.” The two men formed a treaty soon after Keith’s arrival, and more settlers followed. The natives and the new homesteaders lived peacefully together, and much of the surrounding land was named for the Cherokee leader, though shortened to the English pronunciation, Oolenoy.

Oolenoy Baptist Church

Bob Spalding of Easley, 2012 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Oolenoy Baptist Church was organized in 1795, and the first church building was made of hand-chopped white oak (Quercus alba). Baptisms took place in the nearby Oolenoy River. In 1840 residents acquired an up-and-down saw and built a new plank church along with a wooden baptismal pool, eliminating chilly winter submersions in the river. Members upgraded to a circular saw in 1780, purchased from Augusta, Georgia. They used the new saw to remodel the church several times over the subsequent years. By 1946 the present church was built, which contained a new baptismal pool that replaced the plank one. Renovations continued until 1952, when the building was restructured in brick.

Oolenoy Baptist Church Marker

Bob Spalding of Easley, 2013 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The churchyard for Oolenoy Baptist contains the graves of the area’s earliest residents and is listed in the National Register, which adds the following:

The Oolenoy Baptist Church Cemetery was established ca. 1798 in the Pumpkintown community of Pendleton (later Pickens) District. Its significance is derived from its age, its association with the early settlement and growth of the South Carolina upcountry, and as a cemetery containing the graves of persons of transcendent local importance. It is also significant for its association with Oolenoy Baptist Church, of which it is adjacent to, founded in 1795 and the first church established in the Pumpkintown community.

The cemetery is an excellent example of a typical early nineteenth century to mid-twentieth century church cemetery illustrating vernacular burial customs and gravestone art of the period. The cemetery contains 839 marked graves, with headstones, footstones, and a few plot enclosures of granite, marble, fieldstone, or soapstone. Most gravestones are marble or granite tablets, though ledgers, box-tombs, tomb-tables, obelisks, and pedestal-tombs are also present. The earliest marked grave dates from 1798, and occasional burials still occur.

Oolenoy Baptist Church Info

Address: 201 Miracle Hill Road, Pumpkintown, SC 29671
GPS Coordinates: 34.994973,-82.641341

Oolenoy Baptist Church Map

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7 Comments about Oolenoy Baptist Church

SC Picture Project says:
June 4th, 2019 at 4:39 pm

Hey Ray, we doubt that it is open during the week but they may have certain services. We would recommend reaching out them, it looks like their phone number is (864)-616-8069, they may be willing to meet you so you are able to take a look inside. We hope this helps and good luck on your trip!

Ray Teems says:
June 4th, 2019 at 10:46 am

Tyre Lewis Roper is my third Great Grandfather on my father’s side. His son, Samuel Roper started Yellow Creek Baptist Church in Pickens County, GA. Tyre Lewis was the Pastor at Oolenoy Baptist Church from 1840 to 1876. I live outside of Atlanta, GA and plan to come up to Greenville and Pickens Cty, SC in the next month and hope to visit and see th einterior of the church. I would like to know if the church would be open during the week or what the weekday hours are.
Ray Teems

Lucy A Gunthorpe says:
February 11th, 2019 at 8:55 pm

I have a will of my 4th great grandfather, James Southerland/Sutherland written in 1843. He set aside one-half acre of land whereon the Baptist Church now stands for the use of the said church. I am wondering if this could have been Oolenoy Baptist Church. James probably owned about 1,000 acres of land in and around Sutherland Mill Creek, Ooleny Creek/River from about 1800 to his death in 1844. Any information you can give me will be appreciated. Thanks.

Rickey Elvis Posey says:
October 19th, 2015 at 4:12 pm

I have both Great Great Grand Parents on both sides that were laid to Rest at Oolenoy Baptist Church. Joseph Berry “Joe” Rigdon and his Wife, Nancy Carolyn Huff Rigdon, and their son James Franklin Rigdon and his Wife, Lula Anderson Rigdon. And Lula’s Parents I believe very strongly were N.J.Anderson and his Wife Nancy Hayes Anderson. James Franklin Rigdon and Lula Anderson Rigdon had five children One of which is my Mother’s Father, Loyd Rigdon. My Mother’s name is Betty Lucile Rigdon Posey she married William Charles Posey and I was their youngest son of six children. If anyone has any information about our Family there in Pickens County at the Oolenoy Baptist Church I would be very grateful for your reply. Thanks! Rick

SCIWAY says:
August 3rd, 2015 at 5:23 am

There is a link to the church above the map. I hop that helps!

Danny L Collins says:
July 31st, 2015 at 2:02 pm

Would love to visit, baptized there. Hours? Thank you

Kay Cothran Craigie says:
July 24th, 2015 at 4:12 pm

Cornelius Keith was my umptieth-great grandfather … on both sides of my family! (Hey, I'm southern, no biggie.) There's a nice marker at his grave in the cemetery that was paid for by my grandmother and some other relatives, probably back in the 1950s.


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