The Old Stone Church

Built in 1802 Clemson’s Old Stone Church remains a relic of the Upcountry South Carolina’s early history.

On the outside it may appear to be a simple and mundane church, however, this church provides an insight into the lives and culture of early Americans in Upstate South Carolina.

Construction of the Old Stone Church began in 1797 by a group of local Hopewell Presbyterians after their original meeting hall burned down in the 1790s.

While it is uncertain as to why the church was constructed out of stone, potential explanations include fire prevention and defensive purposes against attacks from Native American tribes. In the late 1700s, white settlers often clashed with the Cherokee nation, among other Native American tribes, leaving historians to believe the church was built with defensives purposes in mind.

The Old Stone Church ended up serving as the Hopewell Presbyterians meeting hall for almost twenty-five years, when the group moved to Pendleton. After years of not being used the Old Stone Church fell into disrepair in the late 1800s. A group was formed in 1902 to take care of restoring and preserving the property. By the mid-1900s the church had undergone major repairs bringing it close to its original form.

The most historical aspect of the Old Stone Church is not the church itself, but its cemetery. The church’s cemetery, which is older than the church itself dating back to 1794, holds the remains of many veterans of the Revolutionary War. Notable names include General and Congressman Andrew Pickens, a decorated Revolutionary War soldier, and his family. Colonel Robert Anderson, another Revolutionary War hero is also buried on the grounds. Both Pickens and Anderson are the namesakes of two of Clemson’s surrounding towns. In total there are thirteen Revolutionary War soldiers and forty-five Civil War veterans buried on the grounds.

The remains of Eliza Huger have a very scandalous history connected with them. Huger is believed to have been born from an important Charleston family, but she ran away to New Orleans and lived a life that was considered ‘immoral’ by her family. It is believed that her brother found and killed her.

The oldest remains are those of a Cherokee named Osenappa, who’s importance and history has yet to be discovered.