January 16, 2017 -- Tabernacle Baptist Church
Tabernacle Baptist Church, Beaufort, SC. Built in 1849 and remodeled in 1893, this church has a very deep history dating back to the Civil War.
The Tabernacle was a meeting house and lecture room built by Beaufort Baptist Church in 1840 on site of an older praise house built before 1832. On 1 September 1863, Tabernacle Baptist Church was organized by the Rev. Soloman Peck of Boston, Massachusetts, with much of its 500 member African-American congregation coming from the Beaufort Baptist Church. The new congregation acquired this building and continues to use it for worship today.
It was heavily damaged in the hurricane of 1893 but was rebuilt and rededicated. The cemetery contains graves of Bythewood family (the earliest dating to 1817) suggesting an early-19th century burial ground occupies site. A memorial to Robert Smalls is also located in the cemetery where Smalls and his wife Hannah are buried. Robert Smalls (1839-1915), was born into slavery. In 1862, while working as part of the slave crew of the Confederate steamer “The Planter,” Smalls managed to capture the ship and turn it over to Union forces. After the war, his distinguished career of public service included election to the South Carolina House of Representatives (1868-1870) and Senate (1870-1875), as well as four terms in the U. S. House of Representatives (1875-1879, 1882-1887). Smalls also served as a major general in the state militia and later served as Port Collector for Beaufort.
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