Earlier today, I took a trip up to the Beaufort, SC area to visit the Old Sheldon Church ruins in Yemassee. I’ve seen photos of the site for years and have been wanting to visit it; being on annual leave for a week, I figured this was just as good a time as any to go. The ruins are what is left of what was originally the Prince William’s Parish Church, an Anglican church built between 1751 and 1757. During the Revolutionary War, it was used Colonial supporters and was burned by the Royal Army. Decades later, it was rebuilt and was reopened in 1826. At the end of the Civil War, it was destroyed again. Apparently, Sherman claimed that his Army burned it down, but other accounts indicated it was just damaged and that materials from it were used as constructed materials by newly freed slaves. Either way, it came out of another war destroyed, this time for good. It is surrounded by graves, most of which seem to be women’s graves, mostly from the 1800s, although I did see one grave as recent as 1917. The grave of South Carolina Lt. Governor William Bull lies within the church itself; Bull provided most of the funds for the church’s construction and also assisted General James Oglethorpe with laying out the City of Savannah.
For some reason, this is a really powerful historic site. You can truly feel the history as you walk among the ruins and the churchyard graves. It has ties to both the Revolutionary War and the Civil War, it’s the resting place of a Colonial figure key to both South Carolina and Georgia, and ties to the surrounding community through the graves throughout the churchyard. It’s not a place to visit frivolously, it’s a historic site that should be visited in quiet contemplation. That said, I highly recommend visiting the Old Sheldon Church ruins, it’s well worth the drive.