Note; long read with images and history ‘you can touch’.
All the old churches and chapels provided gravesites to their congregation. Strawberry was no exception. The current owners of the property, the Ball family, have generations buried here.
(Edward Ball published a best seller titled ‘Slaves In The Family‘ a biographical historical account of the family history and a narrative of the slaves that were here . The Ball family opened the chapel to a small group the day these photographs were taken).
Catherine Chicken, great-granddaughter of James Child founder of the settlement once here, is said to have suffered grave abuse in the chapel’s churchyard as a young girl in 1748. At age seven, Catherine was sent to board with her French schoolmaster, Monsieur Dutarque. Catherine was in trouble for not completing her chores when the schoolmaster found her outside chasing her pet turtle around. When he asked her why she had not completed her chores, she told him she just wanted to be outdoors. Dutarque was enraged and thought he would punish his student by tying her to a tombstone and leaving her there for a brief period of time. If she wanted to be outdoors he would ensure she stayed outdoors. He only intended for this to last a short period of time but forgot and left her there into the night. (SC Picture Project).
Of course over time this turned into a mythical ghost story. Truth is she was rescued during the night, the headmaster ‘punished’ and sent packing. Catherine later married a plantation owner, had a family, and ultimately was buried near Middleburg Plantation.
Above is the ‘receiving tomb’ and vaults of the Harleston family, related to the Ball and Coming families. All plantation owners along the Cooper River and near Strawberry.
The church yard is closed, behind old high brick walls to protect the historical site. The Ball family has kept this property private for 297 years and does not accept any government funding preventing any outside influences.
Next week the Chapel will be open for a service, baptism, and a family style picnic. After then the grounds will be closed until the traditional Christmas service.
This chapel of ease, on Strawberry Bluff, was built in 1725. The parish church, Biggins, was too far for the planters to attend services. Only a single church was allowed in the Anglican parish, however they could allow a chapel with limited functions such as baptisms and marriages.
At various times Strawberry was both a chapel and church. The parish church Biggins burned in a forest fire, was rebuilt and burned again by the British troops during the revolution, finally ruined during the Civil War.
Each time Biggins was damaged Strawberry became the temporary parish church.
Four communion services are held annually which visitors may attend. Strawberry Chapel and its burial grounds are on private property and not open to the public.
I still find it astounding this small Anglican Chapel has survived intact through both the Revolutionary and Civil wars, huge hurricanes, and even large earthquakes. Even the small merchant town here disappeared in the 1750’s.
Below looking out chapel doors gives an idea of how small the building is. In the 1850’s a balcony was built over the door. It had to have been just big enough to crawl in. The front wall was damaged during a hurricane and the balcony was removed during repairs.
The Harlestons were a remarkable family, not least because they managed to achieve so much financial, cultural and educational success at a time when the country denied equal opportunity to anyone with one drop of black blood. (Washington Post)
The link above is from a review of the book ‘The Sweet Hell Inside’, written by Edward Ball who was given the family papers and documents by Edwina Harleston.
The Ball family plot is a few yards from here in the graveyard of Strawberry Chapel.
Members of the Ball family kindly opened the Chapel and it’s grounds the other day. Representatives of (click here) Drayton Hall plantation along with the Ball family arranged a small group tour and talk… and of course we had to photograph the Chapel and grounds.
For approximately 6 years Ellen and I have ‘peeked’ over the tall rock walls at Strawberry. This a unique historical site, all the more so since it has been kept private to preserve family history and integrity of the property.
Strawberry Chapel, Childsbury Towne, South Carolina.
I’m not sure if Long Cane is town or an old description of the area. The nearby town is Troy, but small signs refer to Long Cane also.
I have found if we are wandering around shooting ‘stuff’ with a big camera someone will stop to chat, and point out things we would never find or know. We have been taken to old family cabins even doors unlocked to churches on the National Historic Register.
That’s exactly what happened here. A person who had moved back to the area after years was doing pretty much what we were, looking around. He pointed us to, drove of us over, to the old Long Cane cemetery and church.
The cemetery was from 1771. Not far from the site of a settler and Cherokee tribe battle. I think 20+ settlers were buried there. During the mid 1700’s local Native American tribes sided with either the settlers or British. From what I have found since moving here the American Revolution was much worse around here than up north, probably even more so than the Civil War. Nasty business.
Another ‘Found On A Walk’ adventure, somewhere South Carolina/Georgia border.