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Asbury slept here: Pickens County to rebuild historic lodge where early Methodist bishop preached

By Jessica Connor

PICKENS — A lodge thought to be the site where Francis Asbury preached, lodged and established Methodism in northern Pickens County is going to be rebuilt and restored at the historic Hagood Mill site.

      And the Pickens County Cultural Commission wants every United Methodist in the state to know about it “ and make plans to come see it.

      The 18th-century two-story log cabin known as the Burdine Lodge was donated to the cultural commission last year. The lodge had been owned by Samuel Burdine and is thought to be the oldest structure in eastern Pickens County; it was already on the property when Burdine bought the land in 1796. Methodist Bishop Francis Asbury “ who traveled thousands of miles as a circuit rider in his 45-year ministry to spread the Gospel throughout America “ reportedly stayed at the Burdine Lodge when he passed through the area, and helped launch Antioch Church in Dacusville, one of the first Methodist churches in the Upstate.

      From this cabin, all of Methodism in upper South Carolina started,  said Ed Bolt, Hagood Mill site manager, noting the lodge is being stored in a county warehouse and will be reconstructed on the 63-acre Hagood Mill site.

      The Burdine Lodge is a significant historical treasure to South Carolina,  said Wayne Kelley, chairman of the cultural commission board. Every log is permeated with Methodist history. 

      The centerpiece of Hagood Mill is the mill itself: a water-powered gristmill built in 1845 that still operates. Also on the site is an original Hagood family cabin, an old farm, a blacksmith shop, a cotton gin building, a moonshine still, a primitive potter s shed, a nature trail and the first Baptist parsonage in Pickens County called the Murphree Cabin, which is a restored 1790-era structure that once housed the Rev. William Murphree of Secona Baptist Church.

      C. Allen Coleman, cultural commission executive director, said the county plans to rebuild the Burdine Lodge there much like they did the Murphree Cabin.

      I think any time we are able to reuse and save any of our historic properties it s a win-win situation,  said Coleman, noting they were fortunate to get the logs from the original Burdine structure before it was completely destroyed. To get the Burdine Lodge, with the role it played in Methodism not only here but the entire circuit going up the Eastern Seaboard, is connecting a very important piece of our heritage. 

      After all, Coleman said, the upcountry  of South Carolina was home not only to early traders, but also to passionate men and women who felt divinely called to share the Gospel.

      Bolt said the cultural commission will reconstruct the lodge with some original wood and some modern logs, then fill it with Asbury memorabilia they have been carefully collecting since they learned about the lodge.

      Asbury came down the Saluda Pass repeatedly in his travels, and he was a frequent guest at the Burdine Lodge, Bolt said. He said Asbury s journal called the private home of Samuel Burdine a place where they walked in wickedness but were willing to be taught.  Asbury relied on people like the Burdines to lodge him while he rode the circuit spreading the Good News.

      The thing about ˜Frank was he never had a home, but like the Son of Man, he always had a place to lay his head thanks to the generosity of neighbors,  Bolt said.

      The Rev. Roger Gramling, secretary-treasurer of the S.C. Conference Historical Society and secretary of the Southeastern Jurisdictional Commission on Archives and History, said the lodge is indeed thought to be the starting point for Asbury s work in the region. The conference historical society is doing its own research about the site before presenting it to the conference as a possible project.

      Personally, I think it s very exciting and has a great deal of potential,  Gramling said. The understanding is Asbury used that as sort of his ˜headquarters when he was in the area. ¦ It presents an interesting topic, and we want to look at it from its historical significance. 

      Dr. A.V. Huff, part of the conference historical society and president of the SEJ Commission on Archives and History, said Asbury didn t actually begin Methodism in that region; a circuit rider named John Andrew was appointed to that area. But because Asbury was so effective in spreading the Gospel, and because there are not many Methodist structures left from that era, the Burdine Lodge is of definite interest.

      Asbury did stay with the Burdines and when he came into South Carolina down Saluda Mountain,  Huff said. We have an interest in it because Asbury did stay there and becaus
e the Methodist work has continued in that are from its beginnings in 1789. ¦ I think the (Pickens County Cultural Commission) is to be commended for wanting to preserve it. 

      Dr. Phillip Stone, S.C. Conference archivist, said he found in Asbury s journal that he visited the Burdines in 1800 and 1802.

      He says on Nov. 18, 1800, ˜We came fifteen miles to Samuel Burdine s, Pendleton County. Here were many wandering people. Brother Whatcoat preached. We administered the Lord s supper. I was very much indisposed, and felt dejection of spirits. Our sister Burdine professeth to have known the Lord twenty years; in her you see meekness, gentleness, patience, and pure love “ and cleanliness,  Stone noted.

      Stone said according to Asbury s journal, he was back in November 1802 and stayed two or three days with the Burdines.

      On Nov. 17, he arrived, and his journal notes that he learned the origin of the name of the town of Ninety Six,  Stone said. He rested with the Burdines on Nov. 18, and also notes that he wrote, and on Nov.19, he preached from Hebrews, saying that he ˜fully explained the doctrine of Christian baptism and Christian perfection. 

      Stone said he thinks moving any structure from its original site and rebuilding it elsewhere is definitely worthwhile if it helps preserve it for future generations and make it more visible.

      For more information about the lodge, contact the cultural commission at (864) 898-5963 or picmus@co.pickens.sc.us.

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