One of the ten original parishes established by the Church Act of 1706, St. Bartholomew’s Parish, located in modern Colleton County, included the territory between the Edisto and Combahee Rivers. With the spread of rice cultivation, St. Bartholomew’s numerous tidal rivers attracted planters who brought large numbers of African slaves to work their fields. During the second half of the eighteenth century the production of indigo further increased their wealth and demand for slaves.
The whites of St. Bartholomew’s Parish could not agree on a location for a parish church, so several Anglican chapels of ease were built. In 1725 a chapel was authorized at Pon Pon, a neighborhood near where the Charleston road crossed the Edisto River. A second was authorized in 1745 at Edmundsbury, a village on the Ashepoo River.
During the antebellum era, the fertile soil and optimum growing conditions made the ACE (Ashepoo, Combahee, Edisto) River Basin a center of rice production in the state. In 1820 Colleton District, which included St. Bartholomew’s Parish, had a population that was 83.6 percent African slaves. The planters of St. Bartholomew’s were known for their political radicalism, electing the outspoken fire-eater Robert Barnwell Rhett to represent them in the General Assembly and Congress. When a new state constitution was adopted in 1865, the parish system was abolished and St. Bartholomew’s Parish was incorporated into Colleton District.
Linder, Suzanne Cameron. Anglican Churches in Colonial South Carolina: Their History and Architecture. Charleston, S.C.: Wyrick, 2000.
–––. Historical Atlas of the Rice Plantations of the ACE River Basin–1860. Columbia: South Carolina Department of Archives and History, 1995.