My No-Heller experience

I think I was reading a hint of bemusement in Graham’s comment about the forthcoming site. For the record, I’m not being cute but referring to an old Universalist eponym.

I used to preach a fragment of an old Georgia-South Carolina circuit, which worked well as my parents live near the Ga.-S.C. line. If I preached in Newberry, I would stop in on them to or fro’. In between, there’s a little town (on the South Carolina side) that once had a Universalist church: Saluda. I had read or heard that the ruined church still stood, but I didn’t know where. I drove through the town and stopped at the combination general store and laundromat: one of those squat cinder-block jobs that pepper the South. A good a place as any for local information, and perhaps a Moon Pie.
I put on my best “lost but still Southern” manners, and asked the proprietor. He knew nothing of the Universalists much less a local church. The thought dawned on me. “What about a No-Heller church?” Oh yes. . . he knew about that. Not too far; when he was a boy (three or four decades earlier, I’d guess) he used to roller-skate inside it. His directions took me and my top-heavy Chevy Astrovan down a deeply rutted logging road. (If it had rained the night before, I might still be there.)

An archived page about the Saluda church. (No photos, alas. Steven, do you have one? I am extraordinarily dubious about it having been re-established.)

By Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.


  1. Well if I ever get my photographs developed from this summer…..
    … Neil C, and the pastor of the Pauline Church of Christ (in Wagner SC , Rick), did some work in 2004, putting doors up and boards to try and protect it. but the vandals have already been back….
    Neil was full of wonderous ideas… but I havent heard from or about him in a year….

    the road itself is an old highway of the 1800s, one of main roads of the 1850s – indeed it was the road that used the ferry at Chappell’s Ferry (on the Saluda)… so it had enough traffic to need a ferry….might be one of the major roads from the upcountry to Charleston. before the Greenville-Columbia railroad was built. Anyway as you drive it, you’re seeing what folks road through 150 years ago. My little compact car made it, but we were wondering…..
    I was told that services were held up to 1962…
    the cemetary accross the street, has two Universalist ministers burried there. John A. Chapman (not Johnny appleseed), who became a well known SC history writer (and the state’s resident Sweedborgan) and the missionary Thomas Chapman – who preached from Florida to Ohio.

    there is (per folklore) a “no-hell cemetary” in Charleston SC, but I have no idea where it would be….

  2. The only Universalist church I know of having been in Charleston was the Trinitarian Universalist one, and it surely passed out of existance before the Civil War. Perhaps it might be found if we could figure out who some of the principle Universalist laypersons were — who were their delegates to the state convention, for instance — and use standard genealogical guides to Charleston cemeteries.

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