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Pon Pon welcomes archaeological team

George Wingard shows some of his findings to Dr. Sarah Miller, President of the Colleton County Historical and Preservation Society. Photo by Christie Slocum

George Wingard shows some of his findings to Dr. Sarah Miller, President of the Colleton County Historical and Preservation Society. Photo by Christie Slocum

The wooden gates to Pon Pon Chapel of Ease were wide open on Sunday, July 27, 2014. A group of special guests arrived to offer their time, area of expertise, and help uncover a little more of the secrets that have been kept by the church and the surrounding woods. George “Buddy” Wingard of the Savannah River Archaeological Research Program and Maggie Needham an archeologist with Georgia Regents University spent several hours at the site attempting to find the original floor of the chapel of ease.

The techniques the two archeologists used were quite different. Wingard dug a test hole that was around 50 cm by 50 cm. The depth of the hole went just below 55 cm. In the test site Wingard found brick, mortar, some burnt wood, two nails, a few shells and a piece of ceramic. Just below a layer of clay found at 55 cm another layer of brick and mortar was found so further research will be needed.

Needham spent her time collecting underground data via grids and underground mapping. She also operated ground penetrating radar where she could easily see soil changes underneath the foundation of the church.

The Savannah River Archaeological Research Program is part of the state archeological and preservation agency which is focused on preservation. The Pon Pon Chapel of Ease is located on Parkers Ferry Road in Jacksonboro. It once served as a very important part of Colleton County’s history. In 1737 John Wesley, once an Anglican, stopped here and preached two sermons during the Great Awakening. George Washington worshiped at Pon Pon during his Southern tour in 1791. He had spent the night with O’Brien Smith at his plantation named Duharra, which was located in the White Hall area. O’Brien Smith and Aedanus Burke both worshiped at Pon Pon and were both congressmen. They are both buried at Pon Pon in the back right corner. Pon Pon Chapel of Ease burned twice during its days of use. As if burning twice was not bad enough, Hurricane Gracie came through in 1959 and caused further damage to the remains. It was also a very unique church in that it operated as a parish church as one was never built for the area. All the records that would have been kept at the parish church were kept at Pon Pon. It was also pointed out that Pon Pon was the original St. Judes church that is now in Walterboro.

Dr. Sarah Miller, President of The Colleton County Historical and Preservation Society, said, “I am encouraged by our preliminary findings at Pon Pon. Many of the written records about Pon Pon have been lost over the years, but the archeological record will uncover the unwritten history of Pon Pon. We are thrilled that Buddy Wingard and Maggie Needham are willing to share their expertise with us.” Miller went on to explain that the amount of visitors the Chapel of Ease has been on the increase. The property is available for weddings or for people who would just like to go out and have a picnic. It is truly a hidden gem in our community. “I am encouraged by our preliminary findings at Pon Pon.

The property is being well maintained by CCHAPS but they are in need of volunteers. If you are interested in serving on a committee or if you would like to help make Pon Pon be the greatest place it can be you can contact CCHAPS by calling 843-549-9633 pr by email at info@CCHAPS.com.

 

Christie Slocum (494 Posts)