Gillisonville Baptist Church

1832 –

Most of Gillisonville proper, including the courthouse, was burned by Union troops in January 1865. According to tradition, the Baptist church was undamaged because troops sheltered themselves and their horses there.

(Gillisonville). Situated in Jasper County, on high ground west of the Coosawhatchie River, the pineland village of Gillisonville was settled early in the history of Beaufort District. As with other inland communities, there was little economic activity, and the village remained small. Most houses were occupied only seasonally by planters desiring a healthy summer residence for their families.

From 1790 until 1836, Beaufort District’s seat of government was at Coosawhatchie, six miles to the south. Although Coosawhatchie was conveniently located, its proximity to the tidal rice plantations of lower St. Luke’s Parish produced a deadly climate. By the mid-1830s the town was decried as “too sickly to occupy,” and the courthouse was moved to Gillisonville in 1836. With the coming of the courthouse, the village became a real town. New boardinghouses, taverns, shops, and churches sprang up near the courthouse square, while members of Coosawhatchie Baptist Church, organized in 1832, erected a proud new building just outside town (the exact date of construction is in dispute). The wood-frame edifice is a good example of the Greek Revival “temple” design favored for churches. Four columns support the large, pedimented front-gable end, providing a broad, deep portico. An oversized square tower surmounted by an open belfry dominates the building.

Most of Gillisonville proper, including the courthouse, was burned by Union troops in January 1865. According to tradition, the Baptist church was undamaged because troops sheltered themselves and their horses there. Although the court was moved to Beaufort during Reconstruction, Gillisonville remained a local trading village. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1971, Gillisonville Baptist Church is still in active use.

Perry, Grace Fox. The Moving Finger of Jasper. [Ridgeland, S.C.: n.p., 1962]. Rowland, Lawrence S., Alexander Moore, and George C. Rogers. The History of Beaufort County, South Carolina. Vol. 1, 1514–1861. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1996.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Title Gillisonville Baptist Church
  • Coverage 1832 –
  • Author
  • Keywords Jasper County, tidal rice plantations, Greek Revival "temple" design, Reconstruction
  • Website Name South Carolina Encyclopedia
  • Publisher University of South Carolina, Institute for Southern Studies
  • URL
  • Access Date October 31, 2020
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update August 10, 2016
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