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View Tree for John RuskJohn Rusk (b. Bet. 1750 - 1760, d. 1844)

John Rusk (son of Rusk) was born Bet. 1750 - 1760 in Ulster or Londerry, Ireland303, and died 1844 in Pickens Dist., SC. He married Mary Sterritt on Bef. 1803 in Pendleton Dist., SC303, daughter of James Sterritt and Nancy Cooper.

 Includes NotesNotes for John Rusk:
According to R. T. Jaynes (Thomas Jefferson Rusk, Walhalla, SC, 1944), John Rusk came to America from Ireland in 1791. Other sources indicate that he came from what is now Northern Ireland.

According to Dean Rusk (As I Saw It, W. W. Norton, 1990), his great-grandfather came from Northern Ireland about 1790 with his two brothers, John and James. They first landed in Charleston, SC.

David Rusk moved to Cherokee County, GA and lived there the rest of his life. Nothing is known of the fate of James Rusk. David Rusk (1773-1841) married Jane Rusk (1776-1854) who was also born in Ireland.

Upon arriving from Ireland, John resided first at Fort Hill Plantation (Old Pendleton District) which later became the home of John C. Calhoun and is now Clemson College, SC.

John was a stone mason by trade and built the Old Stone Church near Clemson College in 1797. The Church is still standing. He married Mary Sterritt, probably before 1803, in Pendleton District, SC.

John and Mary are buried in the Churchyard of the Old Stone Church, Oconee Co., SC. The Rusk family was Presbyterian.

According to Southwestern Historical Quarterly:

"John Rusk ( -1844) came from Ireland in 1791 and resided first at Fort Hill plantation which later became the home of John C. Calhoun and is now the site of Clemson College, SC. he built the old stone church there in 1797. He is buried in the church yard of the old stone church (Presbyterian). He married: Mary (Polly) Sterritt who lived and died in Pendleton/Pickens Cos., SC."

John and Mary had seven children:

Thomas Jefferson
Ester (Easther?) Sterritt
Jane B.
Mary Melissa
Rachel W.

Billy D. Rusk
628 Wentworth Drive
Richardson, TX 75081
(972) 690-1670

John Rusk

The builder of the Old Stone Church in Clemson, SC was John Rusk. Rusk was an Irish stonemason who came to South Carolina from Ireland in 1791. He and his wife, Mary Sterritt, are buried in the cemetery. Originally, their graves were marked with simple field stones. In 1936 the state of Texas erected markers for them. Their son, Thomas Jefferson Rusk, had been very influential in Texas history. He left Pendleton is 1825 and eventually ended up in Texas. Thomas Jefferson Rusk served the state of Texas well. He was one of the drafters of Texas' Constitution, a signer of its Declaration of Independence from Mexico, the Secretary of War in Texas, the Commander-in-Chief of its Armies (succeeding Sam Houston), the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Texas, and (along with Houston) the first Senator of Texas to the United States Senate.


Old Stone Church and Cemetery Commission
Post Office Box 1465
Clemson, South Carolina 29633

The following information was obtained in January 1997 from an Internet Web Site called about The Old Stone Church in Clemson, SC, built by John Rusk:

"The Old Stone Church"

"Slaves in Church

The Old Stone Church was the first church in South Carolina to allow slaves to be members. They were not only permitted to enjoy the church services, but were welcomed as members, sitting in the gallery at the rear of the church. The slaves entered the gallery from a staircase located on the rear wall. The staircase is shown here, prior to the rebuilding of the church that took place during the early 1960s. Even though the community was sparsely populated, the membership of the church grew rapidly. According to church records, by 1833, the roll of the church show one hundred and eleven whites and sixty-nine black members. This list did not include children and non-members. Adding these in, it would have placed the total at well over two hundred. Taken from the earliest Session Book is this note:

'When 16 colored people were examined on their faith in Christ and fitness for membership, eight were received on condition they obtain certificates of good character from their masters, and eight are to wait for further instructions.

While members had to show good character prior to being accepting into the church, once in, they had to abide by the rules of the church. The following extract tells of a woman who did not.

Moses, Hannah, and Maria are reported to have forsaken the ordinance of this church. Whereupon they are cited to appear before the Session of this church and answer the charge. Mary, a servant of Mrs. Walker, having formerly been in the communion of this church and having been under suspension for the irregularity for forming a connection without a formal marriage, came before the Session and
acknowledged her faults and professed her penitence for her former and careless manner of life, whereupon she is received under the care of this Session to be restored in due time as soon as it shall be satisfactorily ascertained that she shows her reformation to be genuine and permanent

The Old Stone Church was not only used as a church. It served as a school, and in 1919, the first Sunday School in the Upstate was held at the Old Stone Church. The builders of the church knew that living this close to Indians was dangerous. The church could double as a fort if it were needed. Therefore, they built heavy wooden doors which could close over the glass windows to add protection.


One of the legends surrounding the Old Stone Church is the story of Osenappa. While little is known if this Cherokee Indian, his impact on the life on Dr. Thomas Reese, the first pastor of the church, must have been great. Osenappa was converted to Christianity by Dr. Reese, and he was very influential in converting other Indians. According to the story, it was Osenappa who supplied the Reese family with food and supplies in their early days. When an Indian uprising occurred, it was the actions of Osenappa that saved the Reese family. For a time, the Indian friend lived in the Reese household. Osenappa is buried in the Old Stone Church. His tomb is marked by a simple marker bearing his name and the date 1794. The family respected Osenappa so much, that George Reese, a son of Dr. Reese, named one of his sons Osenappa. Unfortunately, the boy only lived for seven months before he died of diphtheria. His small tombstone reads "Osenappa, son of George and Anna Reese, Died at 7 Months."


In the 1960s, the church was completely restored. An earthquake sixty years before had severely damaged the structure of the church. To complete the restoration, it was necessary to take the church apart stone by stone and rebuild the entire structure.

After several months of work, the building was completed. The inside of the church was restored to its original stark whites and deep browns. The magnificent pulpit was also restored.. The present building is used for special services, and the Cemetery is still used by many upstate families and members of the two Presbyterian churches (the Pendleton Presbyterian Church and Fort Hill Presbyterians that branched off of the original Old Stone congregation. The Church is used for weddings year round. It usually sees at least one wedding a week, for the entire year, and reservations have to be made a year in advance. The cemetery is open to the public and is a very interesting place to visit. As one walks the cemetery grounds, history is everywhere. During the early days of the church, the engraving of tombstones was an art. Many of the carvers put their names on the stones so that other families could see their work. In addition, the skill of these workers is evident today. Many of the markers can still be read, almost two hundred years later. The standing of the Old Stone Church is a testament to a people not forgotten. As a writer said of the church "it has been an influence for the good of humanity, the preservation of the faith, once delivered to the saints and a dominate factor in those sturdy principles that have brought forth a citizenry of stalwart men and women, whose lives have been a decisive force in bringing this great nation to its present exalted position of leadership among the great powers of the world."

Information for the above Web page article was provided by Mrs. Peggy Rich of Clemson. For more information on the Old Stone Church, contact:

Old Stone Church and Cemetery Commission
Post Office Box 1465
Clemson, South Carolina 29633

More About John Rusk:
Burial: Unknown, Old Stone Church Cem., Near Clemson, SC.

More About John Rusk and Mary Sterritt:
Marriage: Bef. 1803, Pendleton Dist., SC.303

Children of John Rusk and Mary Sterritt are:
  1. +Thomas Jefferson Rusk, b. December 05, 1803, Old Pendleton, SC, d. July 29, 1857, Nacogdoches, TX.
  2. Nancy C. Rusk, b. 1809, d. date unknown.
  3. +Ester Sterritt Rusk, b. April 17, 1811, d. June 16, 1886, Nacogdoches, TX.
  4. +David Rusk, b. Abt. 1820, SC, d. September 01, 1877, Orange Co., TX.
  5. +Jane B. Rusk, b. June 16, 1821, d. August 12, 1891.
  6. +Mary Melissa Rusk, b. February 10, 1823, Pendleton Dist., SC, d. February 22, 1897, Garrison, Nacogdoches Co., TX.
  7. +Rachel W. Rusk, b. 1828, SC, d. date unknown.
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