Huguenot Church French Santee - 1685
of Jamestown Settlement
| The French Church on the Santee is described as
the strongest outside Charles Town. We have noticed that warrants
to French for lands in Jamestown Precinct date from 1685. From the
Ravenel List, we assume that 50 or more families were connected with this
Huguenot congregation by 1696. Lawson's account in 1700 is evidence
of an active church life in the community and that the people uniformly
conformed to the practices of the Calvinistic churches. An account
to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel credits one hundred families
as settled there, and a report to the Lords Proprietors dated March 16,
1689/9 estimates the population in the French Church on Santee at 111.
| Some writers have assumed that
the first church was lower down the river than the vicinity of Jamestown.
Hirsch in his Huguenots of Colonial South Carolina states that this
had 195 members in 1699 and that it was erected before the town of Jamestown
was laid out. We find at page 220, Vol. 9 of the South Carolina Historical
Magazine three maps accompanying an article on French Jamestown by Judge
H. A. M. Smith. One of these maps shows the Church as located in
the middle of the town common on the edge of the Santee River.
| As with all early "independent
churches," no definite date can be given for the erection of the first
building, but in view of the number of French on the Santee and their practice
of organizing a congregation in their settlements and the presence of the
Rev. Pierre Robert in the Province in 1686, there is every reason to believe
that the elders, elected by democratic procedure at the first of every
year, too steps to have a functioning Church shortly after the settlement
here. As early as 1692 Arnaud Bruneau was requesting burial
according to the reformed Churches of France.
| The Rev. Pierre Robert, who
was ordained in Switzerland in 1682, came to the Province in 1686 along
with Captain Philip Gendron, settled on the Santee, and is the first known
minister of this congregation.
| For various reasons to be mentioned
in a later section, the members of this church requested to be constituted
a parish of the Church of England. This was done in April, 1706.
The people were permitted to use the French language Durel translation
of the Book of Common Prayer. Outwardly they yielded to the form
but kept their French language and traditions. They accepted what
they could not change, at least most of the people did on the surface.
This was accomplished before the death of Rev. Pierre Robert in 1715.
| About this time part of the
French settlers at Manikintown in Virginia became dissatisfied with the
treatment they were receiving there. With their associate-pastor,
the Rev. Phillippe De Richeboug, part of the group came to Santee in 1712.
The Rev. De Richebourg served as pastor until his death, which Baird gives
as 1718 and Lawton as 1719. In 1720, he was followed by Albert Pouderous
who was sent out by the Missionary Society and died as minister of the
Santee Church in 1731. In that year Stephen Coulet, another Frenchman,
came to the church. He died in 1733 and in that same year Alexander
Garden wrote the Bishop of London that he was having trouble getting Rev.
Coulet to officiate in English, stating that he was using French by "inclination
and adivise." For a very short time a Rev. Mr. Colladon had charge of
the church in 1733. After this, Joseph Bugnion came from Purrysburg
to the Santee Church. He had been ordained in London in the Anglican
Church but did not speak English well, although he tried. After some
controversy, the English in the parish family ousted him in 1734.
Some of the French withdrew with him, and while ministering to that group
he became very wealthy farming.
| It appears that for a
time there were two vestries, representing the two groups. From existing
letters, emphasis is placed on a strong separation between the French and
English traditions in the parish. The English felt that Calvinism
was not dead in the hearts of the French. What appears to have been
the "official" parish was without a minister until the Rev. Mr. Du Plessis
arrived in 1736. After this time, the French tradition began to lose
control and those who were not happy with the English moved to the back
country and the new lands of St. John's, Berkeley and English Santee where
the French influence lingered. In regard to St. Stephen's (English
Santee) Baird stated that there was no Huguenot Church there after 1706.
Information is lacking on any such church there.
| By deed of gift dated Dec. 11,
1922 the late Mr. E. Pringle Pipkin conveyed to Huguenot Society of South
Carolina one acre at "mount Moriah" on the south side of Santee River about
one mile below Lenud's Ferry. A plat by J. P. Gaillard, dated Dec.
13, 1922 is on page 21, Vol. 28 of The Transactions of the Huguenot Society
of South Carolina. A map prepared by W. Lucas Gaillard and published
on page 49, Vol. 71 of the Transaction, shows the location and farm roads
leading to the site of the Highway No. 45 from point on that highway about
two miles below the present Jamestown.
Information and Article from
"Historic Ramblin's Through
written by and used with permission
Mr. J. Russell Cross