History restored

Rebuilt Burdine Lodge among lodging places of Methodism’s Francis Asbury

By Allison Trussell

PICKENS COUNTY—On a bright, cool day, descendants of Samuel Burdine joined with members of the Pickens County Historical Society, Hagood Mill Foundation and the South Carolina Methodist Conference Historical Society to dedicate and bless the Burdine Lodge Nov. 13.

The one-room log cabin, built in the Dacusville Community by Burdine in 1796, is documented three times—1800, 1802 and 1803—in the journals of Francis Asbury as his lodging place when he traveled through the Saluda Grade into South Carolina.

Known as the Burdine Lodge, it became a meeting place for a Methodist Society that became Antioch United Methodist Church. The church’s current pastor, the Rev. Steven King, offered the invocation at the ceremony.

The cabin, donated to the PCHS by Nell Davis Patton and her family, was dismantled, and the logs and stones tagged and placed in storage 12 years ago, said Ron Masters, master of ceremonies. Once funds were raised, the cabin was rebuilt as part of the Hagood Mill Historical Site.

The Rev. Valerie Mireb, pastor of Grace UMC, Pickens, gave a brief history of Charles Wesley and his and his brother John’s travels in the colonies. The church’s Chancel Choir sang “O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing,” “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” and “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today,” all written by Wesley, throughout the ceremony.

Dr. Roger Gramling, secretary-treasurer of the Conference Historical Society, offered a brief history of Bishop Asbury’s journey from Bristol, England, to the American colonies. Though elected “general superintendent” in the 1784 organization of the Methodist Episcopal Church, Asbury remained itinerant, traveling from Maine to Georgia “with rare respites from Methodist society to Methodist society, from Methodist family to Methodist family,” Gramling said.

“To those of us who are Methodists, the Burdine Lodge serves as a vivid reminder of how Methodism took hold in America, how it began in homes, led initially by lay men and women,” Gramling said. “It also reminds us of a man (Asbury) who, at great personal sacrifice and with great courage, became the undisputed leader of his church until his death on March 31, 1816, having traveled over 250,000 miles during his lifetime, growing the church to 700 itinerant preachers, 2,000 local or lay preachers and 214,000 members.”

The lodge, Gramling said, reminds all of us, regardless of denomination, of the importance of religion in shaping America from its beginnings.

“God’s word brought hope and promise to families like the Burdines, and because of their faith in the promises of God, men and women worked and planted and built and looked forward to a better day,” Gramling said.

South Carolina UMC Resident Bishop L. Jonathan Holston echoed that thought in his dedication and blessing of the site.

“This isn’t just a piece of Methodist heritage,” Holston said, “but a place where we remember … not just its importance in the past, but its importance to us now and in the future.”

After words of dedication, Holston offered a prayer of blessing.

“We give thee thanks for those whose time, talents, gifts, labor and service have brought us to this day thus completing this act of restoration and preservation,” Holston said. “May this place be a place for remembering those who pioneered and persevered in the Christian faith. And, in remembering them, may we be led to persevere in the work that is set before us that we may be counted among thy good and faithful servants as we, too, seek to witness the Gospel and build thy kingdom.”

Ken Nabors, president of the PCHS, acknowledged two individuals with plaques: Julian Howell, an Eagle Scout candidate, was instrumental in the re-creation of the brush arbor used for worship near the lodge, and Nick Gambrell received one as a representative of Old Oakway Builders, “the guys that made this happen,” Nabors said.

Gambrell noted that while they do the work for future generations, “it has been a delight.”

Nabors also presented four pens to Joyce Plyer, president of the Conference Historical Society. Nabors made the pens from the chestnut logs from the original cabin. Some of the logs were discovered to be unusable when the cabin was dismantled.

Plyler took the opportunity to recognize Gramling’s efforts in raising nearly $30,000 for the project and said the society would decide how the pens would be used. She suggested they could be auctioned to raise money and awareness for the project.

Following the ceremony, the crowd was invited to process across the road and up a hill to the Burdine Lodge, nestled in a small clearing. There, people were encouraged to walk through and around the cabin, which is furnished with period-appropriate antiques donated by Dr. Tim Drake, and to follow the path to the arbor, where the family and Methodist Society would have held service.

Special thanks were given to the following for their help in the project: the Nell Patton Davis Family, South Carolina Methodist Conference Historical Society, Hagood Mill Foundation, Pickens County, Pickens County Historical Society, Dr. Tim Drake, Roger Lindsay, Doug and Charlie Winchester, Gerry Tennihill, Davis Brothers Grading, Les McCall and Nick Gambrell of the Old Oakway Builders, and the Master Chinkers and other hands-on volunteers who labored to preserve this important history.

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