Less Traveled 2012

Ernie Wiggins

SOUTH CAROLINA INSIDER

 

Indian Field campground has storied history

Posted 12/17/2011 10:14:00 AM

Indian Field Methodist Campground outside St. George in Dorchester County is the state’s largest Methodist campground, and its history stretches back to the evangelical revival movement that swept cross America in the early 1800s. Historians describe those early camp meetings as filled with stirring preaching, rousing congregational singing and emotional testimonials. It isn’t difficult to imagine all of that while standing in middle of the pavilion.

The campground was built in 1848 (restored in 1970) and features 99 wooden two-story cabins (called tents) in a circle around a large wooden, open-air pavilion (tabernacle) where people gathered to hear the preaching from circuit evangelists. Though the camp is now wired with electricity, historians say it is basically just as it was when first built. The tents are all similarly designed with two 8 x 10 rooms on the first floor connected by an open passageway running from the front to the rear. On the first floor, the bare ground is covered with straw. In the larger tents, additional sleeping quarters are on the second floor. Privies, one for each cabin, are set a little distance from the tents, across a paved road that encircles the camp. Large wood-burning stoves at the rear of the cabins are used to prepare meals.

According to the J. Gavin Appleby’s “History of Indian Field Campground,” the design of the campground was taken from the Book of Leviticus in the Bible. In there, dwellings were called tents, though made of wood, and the meeting house was called the tabernacle. A horn was blown to summon members to service.

Annual camp meetings have been held at Indian Field since 1848 except during the Civil War, when abbreviated meetings were held. Indian Field is located about 3 miles north of St. George off of U.S. 78.