Cities of Barnwell Co.
This circa 1951 photo shows the juxtaposition of old and new. The building on the right, located just outside downtown Ellenton, was known as the "Blue Goose Diner." On the left, a reactor piece is heading to its new home.
The ‘displaced’ parts of Barnwell County
arnwell County encompasses seven municipalities; however, it used to include one more town. The town of Dunbarton was among several communities to be displaced after the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission acquired 123,100 acres from Barnwell County as well as 73,462 from Aiken County and 4,084 from Allendale County to construct a new nuclear weapons facility – now known as the Savannah River Site. Other affected communities included the town of Ellenton (on Aiken/Barnwell County border) and several unincorporated communities, such as Meyers Mill. In all, more than 5,000 people had to relocate. While the town of Dunbarton is long gone, memories of its people and places live on in relics of the past and the memories of former residents. An annual Dunbarton Reunion is held the first Sunday of May every year. The 64th annual reunion is set for Sunday, May 7, 2017 at the Barnwell State Park community building. After enjoying a buffet of barbecue and all the fixings, former residents and their families share stories and browse memorabilia from their former town. “If you don’t show up, you don’t know what you’re missing,” said Margaret Rountree, a former Dunbarton resident who now lives in Elko, during the 2016 reunion. She lives in the same home as she did growing up in Dunbarton because her parents had it moved. She thanks the younger generation of relatives of former residents for keeping the annual reunion alive because it’s important to remember the past. “The cemeteries continue to grow,” she said. As residents relocated to Aiken, Barnwell, Williston and other communities, a number of homes and other buildings were relocated as well. Joyce Branch Baptist Church, which was established in Dunbarton in 1831, only had seven members at the time of 10 • Information Please 2017 • The People-Sentinel
Deidre Hayes (above) shows photos of the house she bought in Williston that used to be in Dunbarton. She is working to restore it to its former glory.
the announcement, according to former Dunbarton resident Corrie Lee Dicks, who moved to Barnwell. The church building was purchased at auction by Barnwell First Baptist Church for $639.50. It was moved to a site on Hagood Avenue in Barnwell to start a mission church. A steeple and brick walls were added. On Oct. 4, 1953, the first service was held at Hagood Avenue Baptist Church, according to the church’s website. The building was moved again after Hagood Avenue Baptist constructed a larger sanctuary in 1988 to accommodate its growing congregation. The old Joyce Branch Baptist sanctuary is now home to Cornerstone Baptist Church in Aiken. Jessie Burckhalter’s house is another building that was moved from Dunbarton. It was originally located near
Joyce Branch Baptist Church but now is situated on Rosemary Street in Williston. Though vacant for many years, Deidre Hayes recently purchased the home in an effort to restore it. She is the daughter of the late Cliff and Betty Gardner of Barnwell. “I love seeing things brought back to life. I’ve wanted this property since I was a kid,” said Hayes, who spent time playing at the Burckhalter property as a child. After living many years in California, Hayes and her husband moved to Williston five years ago. That’s when she noticed the condition of the home she once admired. “That bothered me,” she said. As the sixth owner of the house, Hayes said she’s had fun researching the home and its former owners. She also has learned about Jessie Burckhalter, a farmer who lived in the house when it was moved to Williston. He rented rooms upstairs to workers who were building the Savannah River Site. His first wife, Annie Laurie, died in 1947. He later married Bertha Johnson, who owned land beside his property in Williston. They decided to marry and join together their properties since he had the house and she had land. Hayes said she wants to keep the original integrity of the house and integrate characteristics from the 1830s when the house was built and 1950s when it was moved. Photos of many of Dunbarton’s buildings as well as other relics were on display at the reunion. Rountree brought a musical horn that used to be on a 1937 Ford Coupe. She remembers it being played as the car was driven through Dunbarton when she was a child in the 1940s. She was later given the horn and recently had it fixed so it could be played at the reunion. To learn more about Dunbarton’s past, visit www.bcvm.org/Dunbarton.
A guide to Barnwell County, SC