Hallowed Ground: The Old Stone Church in Clemson

By:Page Ivey

Date:9/17/2014

On the grounds of Clemson University sits a small stone building that you could drive right past if you didn’t know to look for it.

The Old Stone Church, built 1797-1802 by John Rusk, was home to the Hopewell Presbyterian congregation for 25 years. The church’s early membership included Revolutionary War heroes Andrew Pickens and Robert Anderson — the elite families of the area that was then known as the frontier.

The church’s construction of stone and appearance of a fortified structure was probably intentional, as there were occasional skirmishes between settlers and Indians.

The cemetery predates the church by about 10 years. One of the oldest graves is that of Osenappa, a Cherokee, who died in 1794. Osenappa played a role for the Patriots in the Revolutionary War, though it is not known exactly what that role was. Osenappa’s grave is marked by a pile of stones, and he is thought to be the only Native American buried in the cemetery.

Another early grave belongs to Charles Miller, the youngest son of Upstate newspaper publisher John Miller. Charles Miller died in 1795 and was buried in a corner of his father’s land grant. The property was later deeded to the congregation.

Although there were many African-American slaves who were members of the congregation, none are buried there. Instead, they were buried in slave cemeteries on the plantations where they had lived and worked.

The Old Stone C​hurch is maintained by a corps of volunteers who also schedule community events like weddings, funerals and other family gatherings. There is no charge to stroll around the grounds and the cemetery.

Old Stone Church
101 Stone Circle
Clemson, SC
864.654.2061
oldstone​churchsc.com

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