In Part One of this trek we visited the site of the Logue-Timmerman Feud in Northern Edgefield County. In Part Two we explored Edgefield itself, and found the site of the ghost town of Pottersville and an abandoned church. In this final installment we migrate to Saluda County, and visit a town with an unusual church, and find a ghost town with a heavenly name.
Johnston , Ward, and Spann Methodist Church
We left Horn Creek Baptist Church, retracing our steps along the dirt Old Stage Coach Road. I had plugged the coordinates for our next stop into the GPS, but it kept wanting us to turn onto some even dicier dirt roads. I stayed the course until we reached pavement, then turned onto Gary Hill Road. Here we passed a MASSIVE federal penitentiary. We didn’t think it would be kosher to stop and photograph a prison, but here’s an image of it from Google Earth:
We were route back through the edge of Edgefield, then up to State 23, where we turned east toward Johnston. Tommy had some history here. His first job in South Carolina was at the Reigel plant on the outskirts of town back in the 1980s. We drove by for old time’s sake.
The town itself is quaint, with old storefronts and interesting historic homes. The downtown makes up the Johnston Historic District listed on the National Register. I haven’t spent much time here. My sister Beth lived here for awhile with her family, but I don’t remember much about it. Unfortunately, we didn’t stop to take photos this time, either. We had some destinations to reach, and it was getting later in the afternoon.
Our next stop was the even smaller town of Ward. There was a historic church and a house with an incredible amount of gingerbread work. I got a shot of the church, but somehow my shot of the house wasn’t in focus.
Along the main street there was a post office, an old caboose, a convenience store, and an old general store. It was the latter that caught my eye.
This wasn’t our destination, though. Just outside of Ward one finds Spann Methodist Church, founded in 1807, with one of the most unusual cemeteries in the area. The church building itself is a classic Greek Revival structure built in 1873. It has simple straight lines and arched windows and doors.
The most striking feature, though, is the cemetery. Captain Clinton Ward was the leading citizen of the area. He was the largest landholder, and was instrumental in getting the railroad routed through his property. The town, obviously, bears his name. Whether by his design, or whether by design of his family, his place in the cemetery seems to be one of bombast. First, outside the cemetery is a cast iron statue of a hart, symbolizing Psalm 41:1, “As the hart panteth for water….” The deer is standing on railroad ties. There is a large arched entrance to the Ward-Satcher plot, and Ward’s grave has a life-sized statue of himself sporting a most impressive beard.
Next to Ward’s grave is the grave of his wife, Martha. She must not be as much of a character as her husband, because her grave is topped by a simple sphere.
The other prominent statue in the cemetery is for the grave of the Ward’s only child, Josephine, who died when she was six.
The rest of the cemetery was a mix of headstones. There were some Woodmen of the World graves, several obelisks, but mostly simple markers. I didn’t see any signature stones. One point of confusion was that concrete obelisk-like structures were used as fence posts for some family plots. These looked like graves themselves.
Tommy and I wandered back to the church. I really wanted a picture of the interior, so I got my monopod and lifted it up to one of the windows, using my remote to trigger the shutter. I was able to get a couple of so-so shots.
It was getting later in the afternoon, but we still had a bit of time to explore. I had the coordinates for three ghost towns listed for Saluda County in my GPS, but we only had time to find one of them. We picked the town of Celestia, mostly because of its heavenly sounding name and its close association with my family.
Our route took us through the town of Saluda, then onto yet another dirt road. The Old Edgefield Road proved to be about as challenging as the Old Stage Coach Road. We were losing light, so I drove probably a bit more quickly than I would have liked on the road.
I was skeptical that we would find anything, though, because Google Earth showed nothing. However, when we reached the coordinates, I was pleasantly surprised. Leading off through the woods was a clear road. Excitedly, I started exploring. As I walked I became more convinced that I had found the location of the grave site of my great-great grandfather, Elijah Dorn.
I knew that Elijah Dorn was buried somewhere in Sumter National Forest outside of Saluda. My brother Houston had described a trip with my cousin Bruce Smith out to the grave site. Bruce was the former postmaster for Saluda, and an avid genealogist. The area I was in fit his description. When I was doing some research on my ancestor I found a notice of his death in the Edgefield Advertiser. It states that he was buried near his home in Celestia.
More convincingly, though, are a couple of photographs by Valarie Craft, another descendent of Dorn. She found the graves and describes them as being off of Old Edgefield Road. The following are her photographs:
I spotted a couple of stones that appeared out of place, as if they could have been part of a settlement. However, there wasn’t much more to see. We were losing light fast, and a front was blowing through. I didn’t think I could continue on to locate the grave, but I’m sure I was in the right place. Reluctantly, I left.
Our adventure was almost over, but there were a couple of surprises still in store. As we were driving up Augusta Road toward Greenville we had just passed the town of Princeton when I spotted a set of the Coffindaffer Crosses in a yard. I didn’t know there were any this close to us.
On the way back the sky put on an amazing show with the front coming through.
It was a fitting end to an excellent day of rambling.
Here is a Google Map of all of the locations we visited…
View Edgefield Ramble in a larger map
…and here is a slide show of all the photos from the trip: