Story By Barry Kaufman
Burnt Church Road: The Mystery Revealed
The many roads and places around Bluffton carry with them names that speak to its rich history. Buckingham Plantation Road recalls the once-thriving plantation of the Rev. J.B. Seabrook. Kirk’s Bluff Road honors the town’s original name, as well as its original co-founder James B. Kirk. But one place name has always served as a source of mystery: Burnt Church Road.
Oral history, not to mention a certain sense of the obvious, would back up the notion that a church had once burned somewhere in the vicinity. But in true Bluffton fashion, the specifics were never as important as the story.
Historian Melanie Marks, however, working in tandem with Burnt Church Distillery, may have discovered the secret behind the Burnt Church of Burnt Church Road. According to her findings, the church was called “Mission to the Blacks” and was built by Rev. Seabrook with approval from the Episcopal Diocese of Charleston.
As to the details of how, why and when it burned, Marks is saving that information for the publication of her book, “Burnt Church Road, Unraveling the Story Behind the Name.”