It is a terrific story. Hephzipah Jenkins wife of Daniel Townsend, of Bleak Hall Plantation, is one of the reasons that the now called African American New Missionary Baptist Church on Edisto Island is flooded by attendees from miles away every single Sunday. Today.
The Old First Baptist Church on Edisto Island was built in 1818 through the efforts of one woman, Hephzibah Jenkins, wife of Daniel Townsend, who owned Bleak Hall Plantation, today the wonderful 5000 acre Botany Bay Plantation, open to the public.
She and her ex-slave, Bella, baked cakes in tabby ovens, to raise enough money to build the Baptist Church. It is especially significant in Black History, because it has operated continuously as a black church since the trustees turned the church over to the faithful black members just after the Civil War.
According to South Carolina Department of Archives and history “The Hephzibah Jenkins Townsend Tabby Oven Ruins are archaeologically significant. No other extant early nineteenth century tabby ovens have been inventoried in the South Carolina lowcountry. The remains represent what was essentially a commercial bakery. Historic documentation indicates the ruins are ovens which were constructed ca. 1815. The site consists of in situ tabby walls and foundations as well as portions of fallen walls and tabby rubble. In situ walls suggest a square structure; however, rubble, humus, and vegetation obscure architectural evidence of fire boxes or ovens.
Hephzibah Jenkins Townsend, of Bleak Hall, used the ovens to prepare quantities of baked goods which were sold in Charleston. The proceeds were used for missions and the building of the Edisto Island Baptist Church, founded by Townsend in 1818. Mrs. Townsend is significant in the Baptist Church history as the founder in 1811 of the Edisto Female Mite Society, reputedly the first such organization in the South. Listed in the National Register May 5, 1987.”