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         Ireland Creek is a quiet little stream north of Walterboro, necessitating a bridge, which in olden times was either referred to as the Ireland Creek Bridge or the Walterboro Bridge.

          In years past, an ornamental bridge marked the creek, with benches on the side which made it a favorite resting place for tired hikers. A bit farther was the old swimming hole, where, because of possible publicity on the part of heedless youth, who in the pleasure of swimming often forgot the audience, strict rules and penalties were provided by the city Fathers.

          But Ireland Creek did not stop when it bounded Walterboro and influenced the naming of two streets, Bridge Street now known as Jefferies Boulevard and Water Street now Walter Street, for it meandered in a leisurely way along what is now Highway 15, possibly in an attempt to become a tributary of the Edisto River.  In its journey it crossed over to the other side of the road.

          Present day citizens call this creek Ireland Creek because their forefathers said that it got its name from a man by that name who lived along its banks.  All early records have spelled it “Island Creek”.

          But Ireland Creek not only influenced the naming of streets, it also gave its name to an early Methodist Church.

          Where the creek takes a westerly course in the vicinity of present day Pleasant Grove there in a quiet bit of woods in the latter part of the 18th century, when Methodism in South Carolina was in its infancy, was a Methodist Meeting House.  At the Methodist Meeting House on Friday March 4, 1796 Bishop Francis Asbury paused in his constant traveling to preach to the people.  He describes the building as a “Pole House”, and says he preached from 1 Chronicles 7-14 and that his feet felt as though he was standing in water.  Those were the days when people did not consider physical comfort when an opportunity came to attend services.

          This Methodist Meeting House on Ireland Creek was used as such before the land was purchased with the building on it for that definite purpose.

          Ireland Creek Church was in the Edisto Circuit, which extended from the Savannah River to within thirty miles of Charleston, and from Coosawatchie Swamp to the Santee River.  It was formed by the Rev. Isaac Smith who served the Edisto Circuit in 1789 and again in 1794, when he gave six months of the year to Edisto and six months to Charleston.  He is referred to in Methodist Annals as one of the most honored and most beloved of all preachers.  At one period he was presiding elder over nearly all of the Methodist Churches in South Carolina.  The original title to the land and building is owned by J. K. Linder, whose ancestors were devout members of the church.  Until recent years the pulpit which served the church and behind which Bishop Asbury preached was in possession of the late Mr. And Mrs. Ab Linder.  It is described as a circular pulpit with a few short steps leading up to it.

          A plat made by Benj. Benton, deputy surveyor, April 2, 1802, has on its face: “Laid out for the youths of the Methodist Society whereon the Methodist Meeting House now stands.  It contains one acre, one chain and sixty-nine links, having such form and marks as the above plat doth present.”

          On the rivers is:  “Meeting House Plat 1 1/6 acres or 1 acre, 1 chain and 69 links.  Colleton District Register of Mesme Conveyance Office, recorded in Book A between page 271 and page 272 the 28th day of February 1807 and examined by me”.  Signed Matt O’Driscoll, Register.

          The title deed states “This indenture made this 1 day of June in the year of our Lord one thousand and eight hundred and two, between John Fontain of the Parish of Bartholomew, State of South Carolina and Susannah, his wife, of the one part and Benjamine Risher, Richard Risher, John McCormack, Methuel Corbin, Thomas Brannon and Josiah Langdale, trustees in trust for the use and purpose herein after mentioned, all of the Parish and State aforesaid.”

          Twelve dollars seems to have been the amount of the purchase from John Fontain and his wife Susannah.  In the year 1793 John Fontain was granted under the signature of Gov. William Moultrie, 64 acres of land on Jones Swamp.  This is probably the same John fontain.  Early maps show Jones Swamp and Island Creek running almost parallel.

          The deed stipulates that in the event of the death or the removal of any of six trustees their places shall be filled by appointment of the preacher or minister serving the church, and in the years 1828 there is recorded the successors to these six men.  John McCormack having been removed and the other five trustees having died the following were named:  Lewis O’Bryan, John Landale, Peter Hyatt, Thomas Raysor and James H. Williams.  This list of the successors was signed in June of 1828 by Asbury Morgan who was admitted to the South Carolina conference on trial in 1818.  In September of the year in which he named successors to the original trustees of Island Creek Meeting House, he died in Charleston of “strangers fever”.

          Whether the pole house where Bishop Asbury preached was ever remodeled is not known by this writer but prior to the year 1882 the church having fallen to pieces the membership moved to other churches, mostly to Providence Methodist Church.  The original site is marked by the outline of the building and the cemetery in which one enclosure is marked by a wall three feet high and more than a foot thick.  It was entered by a brick stile.  One tall shaft carries the seal of the state and marks the grave of Lewis O’Bryan, who died in 1860.  Another Lewis O’Bryan (1770-1849) is buried here.  Another stone marks the grave of Margaret O’Bryan, who with Mrs. Eliza O’Bryan, Miss Lula O’Bryan, Miss Lizzie Lemacks and Mrs. Frank Grizelle, organized the first missionary society in the year 1878 when such societies were being organized over the state.

          The Methodist Church in Walterboro, destroyed by fire in 1854 was said to have been the gift of Lewis O’Bryan.

          The last record of the members of this church gives the following names and the church to which transferred for the period 1878-1879:  Benjamin Risher, steward and leader, transferred to Providence; William B. Risher, steward, James A. Koger, John W. Lemacks, transferred to Round O; Jacob DeWitt, Thomas R. Risher, Elias C. Cook, Levi E. Hiott, died 1878, Benjamin Risher, Jr., Henry DeWitt, John J. Cook, Huggins Koger, Fraser Koger, James C. Yarley, Joseph A. Koger, John L. Koger, Ira M. Koger, Robert B. Koger, Amos Tarley, H. Langdale, Alfred L. Koger, Lemuel H. Koger, Jefferson B. Risher, Jacob K., Albert and Charles Linder; Benjamin Kinsey, William Bailey, John W. Lemacks, Anna Lemacks, Elizabeth S. Risher, Mary, Virginia, Mary E. and Harriett Koger, Annie L. Koger, Mary E. Risher, Margaret, Jane and Vic Langdale, Mary Yarley, Elizabeth Kinsey, Harriett Cook, Sarah A. Yarley, Elizabeth DeWitt, Jane Hiott, Alice Blocker, Angeline Risher, Vicki Garrett, A.E. Risher, Sevilla Linder, Caroline Kizer, Josephine King, Rebecca F. DuBose, Mary M. Bailey, Susan, Mary, Eleanor and Harriett Bailey, and Mary Risher.  There were two Negro members, Peggy and Hager Jennings.

          In the minutes of the Methodist church in 1850 there were 20 churches in the Walterboro Circuit, and Island Creek is one of them.  It was assessed more than the Round O Church but not as much as the Providence Church, showing the relative strength in membership at that period.




This file was contributed for use by the Colleton County SCGenWeb Project  by:

Beverly K. Mott
March 27, 2004

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