Let’s celebrate history, not moan destruction
As chairperson of the Greenville County Preservation Commission, this has been the year of cemeteries, mine and yours. I have always been intrigued by cemeteries and I’ve been to cemeteries just to photograph angels. I’ve been to cemeteries like Boot Hill in Tombstone, Arizona, too. Once when visiting Deadwood, South Dakota’s, Mt. Moriah Cemetery, you know, the one where Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane are buried, folks were celebrating over their graves. They were dressed in period costumes, playing guitars, drinking, and singing.
That’s what graveyards should be – memory places - for each of us has a different type of history to share.
One such fenced cemetery is for my own Campbell ancestors in the Moonville area, and it is surrounded now by Campbell Farms housing development. As many family cemeteries often are, it was neglected for tens of years until recently a distant cousin from Columbia came to the rescue and the local garden club accepted the project.
The Commission members and I have also been working on three different abandoned graveyards, Duncan Chapel Cemetery near Furman, the Stephen Smith Family Cemetery off Pelham Road, and the Thomas, Edwards, Rush Families Cemetery off Hwy. 101 near Lake Cunningham. These cemeteries are very old and have much history to share, but because they were unfenced and almost forgotten, and because developers want the surrounding property, their stories are not so happy.
Delineating graveyards for posterity and locating them on your deed with the county would be helpful to all concerned. Please be aware that someone in the future may be looking to build something there and destroying cemeteries is against state law.
Growth is inevitable and needed, but this history of Greenville is what has brought us to this place, and these souls led the way. Let us celebrate history over the graves of our ancestors with those folks at Mt. Moriah, not moan their destruction.