From Monck’s Corner to Brazil

Saint Thomas Church-009

Saint Thomas Church, AKA The Brick Church, AKA The White Church

This weekend was a Lowcountry Unfiltered weekend, and we had a paddling trip planned for the Lower Santee River. I decided to head down early and take some photographs in the wilds of Francis Marion Forest and Berkeley and Charleston Counties.  My brothers, Stephen and Houston, would be down later that afternoon, and we would see what trouble we could create.

I had marked a series of locations in my GPS.  Most of these were historic churches, but there were a few other locations I wanted to check out.  With the car loaded with kayak and photography gear, I headed on down Friday morning.

I got away later than I had thought, and traffic was heavy, but I made it down there right about noon.  Lunch was a sandwich I brought along so I could stick with my diet.  I had that along the banks of the Tailrace Canal, just south of Moncks Corner.

Tailrace Canal-002

I had paddled past this point several years ago. It was the first Saturday in June, and the Tailrace was like an Interstate. At this boat ramp, and at Gilligan’s across the way there were multiple parties going on. Today, however, it was quiet. There were a few boats coming and going, but nothing like the crowds from that day. Next to the river a parent had created an impromptu memorial to her two sons, who, I’m assuming had drowned in the canal, or perhaps liked to come here.

Tailrace Canal-001
Tailrace Canal

I pulled up the closest waypoint on my GPS and headed off. I first paused in the community of Cordesville to take a couple of photos of the old stores along the railroad tracks. One was very active and had found new life as a vegetable stand.


Just below Cordesville was Bonneau Ferry along the banks of the Cooper River. This is now part of the Bonneau Ferry Wildlife Preserve. We had explored another portion of it back last winter with Lowcountry Unfiltered. I wanted to see if I could get down to the old ferry itself. I turned onto the old dirt road and drove several miles. It looked like the road I wanted to take was blocked, but the open road continued on toward the west, away from the direction I wanted to go. I turned around and headed back the way I came, pausing at a small pond to take a couple of photos.

Bonneau Ferry
Bonneau Ferry-002

Back on the main road I headed down to the community of Quinby and turned toward Pompion Hill Chapel. I’d been wanting to visit the chapel ever since I’d spotted it on the National Register site. I arrived at the location I had marked in my GPS, only to find a locked gate. Apparently one can only visit by appointment. I guess I’ll have to arrange a tour at some point. I was disappointed.

Pompion Hill Chapel Road

The next waypoint was not too far away, but required some backtracking. Along the way I stopped at Quinby Bridge. The bridge is the location of a Revolutionary War battle between British forces, and those of Thomas Sumter. It looked like an excellent place to launch a kayak. There was a boat ramp, and it looked like plenty of water, at least toward the west. Upstream would be hard, as the bridge was low.

Quinby Bridge
Quinby Bridge-001
Quinby Bridge-002

My next stop was Eccles Methodist Church near the town of Huger. I found the place down a long secondary road that eventually turned into a dirt road. The church has a newer building, but has preserved the old meeting house on the property. There were No Trespassing signs on the building, but I wandered on to the grounds to get a couple of shots.

Eccles Methodist Church-002
Eccles Methodist Church-004
Eccles Methodist Church-001

I was able to get one shot through the window. It looks like the building serves a more utilitarian purpose now with long tables instead of pews, but the old rostrum with a couple of chairs is still in place, as is an altar rail.

Eccles Church

Back out on the main road another old store caught my eye. This was at the intersection of 41 and McClellanville Road. This two story store, like the one in Cordesville, often had the proprietor’s residence in the upper floor, with the business below. Later most of these types of stores had the upper floors converted to storage.

Huger Store
Huger Store-001

I was off to my next target. For the third time today I crossed Quinby Bridge on my way to Saint Thomas Chapel. The church, also known as the White Church, or the Brick Church, or the chapel of Saint Thomas and Saint Denis, is located in the community of Cainhoy. It’s a small, single room structure with a small protrusion at the back. The current building was erected in 1819.

Saint Thomas Church
Saint Thomas Church-009
Saint Thomas Church-012
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Saint Thomas Church-024

After getting a few shots of the exterior, I checked out the cemetery. There were lots of Taylors, and a barrel-vaulted preparation crypt. It looked like the Taylor headstones were the most recent, as late as 1999.

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Saint Thomas Church-032

The rest of the stones were much older. There were lots of signature stones, including some that I had not recognized before. There were the usual suspects – W. T. White and J. Hall of Charleston…

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Saint Thomas Church-006
Saint Thomas Church-020
Saint Thomas Church-021

…but there was also another White, or Willie? I couldn’t tell. It’s possibly R. D. White, and the last name was damaged somehow. There was also a J. Ritter from Connecticut. I don’t know if that means the stone was carved there, or if the carver was from there.

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Saint Thomas Church-010
Saint Thomas Church-011

Even Spider-Man was buried here:

Peter Parker Grave

There were a couple of unshuttered windows, so I put the camera up to the pane to get a couple of shots of the interior. These showed a small staircase leading up to a balcony. I don’t know if that was a slave balcony, or not. Those typically had an external entrance. I was just amazed that this small structure could support a balcony of any type.

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Saint Thomas Church-026
Saint Thomas Church-027

The main entrance was painted bright red. The door hardware was quite elaborately engraved. Even the hinges had a set of engraved numbers on each.

Saint Thomas Door Knob
Saint Thomas Church Door Hinge

I tried the door knob, and was amazed to find it unlocked. I opened the door and took one quick shot of the interior. There were residences close by, so I was hesitant to enter.

Saint Thomas Church-029

I headed on back to the car and started to make my way toward our hotel. All the while I was kicking myself for not venturing further into the church for more photos. This, by far, was the best I’d found today.

I’d booked us a place in North Charleston at the North Charleston Inn. It was convenient and the price was OK. It turned out to be a roach motel. Many of the patrons were permanent residents – long term contractors on assignment. Some were nice, but others were rather unsavory. The furniture and everything else was old and dingy. However, the pool looked OK, so I hung out there the rest of the late afternoon until my brothers arrived.

Stephen and Houston were hungry. We went looking for something near the North Charleston Mall. Stephen said he wanted steak, so we spotted Cowboys Brazilian Steakhouse and headed that way.

My brothers had never been to a Brazilian restaurant, but I had. They didn’t know what to expect. As our waiter described the all-you-can-eat concept, Stephen piped up, “So, this is like a high-end Golden Corral, right?” Our waiter was not amused. He decided to take his vengeance with an “I’ll show them.” Huge skewers of meat were brought out, regardless of whether we had our little markers turned to green to say we wanted more, or red to indicate we were full. My diet was shot to hell.

Houston with Meat

It was an outstanding display of gluttony. To be honest, after awhile it started to taste the same, and I was feeling a bit ill. The last bite we had was a slice of roasted pineapple, serving the dual purpose of palate cleanser and dessert. Stephen apologized to the waiter, who’d had a good laugh at our expense. It was all good-natured gluttonous fun. Back at the hotel we went for a long walk so we could sleep comfortably and prepare for the next day’s paddling trip.

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