Exploring James Island Presbyterian Church’s Cemeteries: On the Other Side of the Azalea Bushes, Part III

I’m finishing up my series today on the James Island (South Carolina) Presbyterian Church cemeteries.

Beside the Robert Rivers Bee Jr. family plot is the Stiles-Hinson plot. You may recall that Robert Jr. was married to Martha Stiles Hinson, daughter of Juliana Bee Rivers Hinson and Joseph Benjamin Hinson Jr. As I told you last week, there was quite a bit of “cross pollination” between the Bee and Rivers families. The Hinsons were also a part of that mix.

This is the Stiles-Hinson plot at James Island Presbyterian Church Cemetery.

Joseph Hinson Jr.’s father was Captain Joseph Hinson Sr., born in 1772 in South Carolina. The Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston has a miniature portrait of him. A ship’s captain, Hinson traveled the route between the Carolinas, England and Bermuda. He married Martha Stiles in April 1797. Together, they had three children that included Joseph Jr.

Captain Joseph Hinson Sr. died at sea in 1801. (Photo source: The Gibbes Museum of Art)

At 29, he was presumed lost at sea in 1801 so he has no grave site. That left Martha a relatively young widow at the age of 26. She remarried in 1805 to William Godber and they had a son, William Stiles Godber. This would be Joseph Jr.’s half brother.

I don’t know when William Godber died (he is not buried with his family and he has no memorial on Find a Grave) but Martha died on Dec. 5, 1846 and William Stiles Godber died a few days later on Dec. 10, 1846. It’s possible another yellow fever plague was ravaging Charleston/James Island at the time. Both Martha and William (her son) are buried in the Stiles Family Cemetery at Stiles Point Plantation on James Island. Stiles Point Plantation was owned by Martha’s father, Benjamin Stiles. You’ll here more about this later.

Joseph Hinson Jr., born in 1801, married Juliana Bee Rivers and they had eight children together. Joseph was a successful planter and did well. They are both buried at JIPC’s cemetery. Joseph’s monument is rather plain compared that that of his wife.

Joseph Hinson Jr.’s monument notes that he was “born and died at Stiles Point.” He was 80 when he died.

Juliana would die in 1870 at the age of 63. Her cross monument is bolstered by a base that resembles a rock with a vine or branch growing up through it.

Juliana Bee Rivers Hinson was the daughter of Henry Sterling Rivers. You can see her husband’s monument behind hers.

There’s something interesting about Juliana’s cross that bears mentioning. I tell people not to only photograph the front of a monument. Look at every side if you can because there may be an epitaph or even the record of another person inscribed there. This was true for Juliana.

Juliana Hinson’s epitaph is brief.

It reads:

Her Virtues We Forebear
To Tell, They Are
Registered In Heaven.

In other words, her good qualities are so numerous that we can’t list them all here in this rather small space.

Joseph and Juliana’s son William Godber Hinson is someone I did find a good deal of information about. Born in 1838, William served in the Confederate Army in the Rutledge Mounted Rifleman and Horse Artillery as a 2nd Lieutenant and was wounded three times in the line of duty. Family history says he was almost killed when his horse was shot and fell on him.

William Godber Hinson, who reached the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, was wounded three different times during the Civil War. (Photo source: “James Island”, editing by Carolyn Ackerly Bonstelle and Geordie Buxton)

The Charleston Museum has in its collection a detailed 1887 map of James Island drawn by Robert Eliot Mellichamp, whose father was the Rev. Stiles Melilchamp. On the back of the map is a document called “Sketch of James Island” that was written by William Godber Hinson, which I’ve added a link to above in case you want to read it.

On the back of this map of James Island was written the document “Sketch of James Island” by William Godber Hinson. (Photo source: The Charleston Museum web page.)

The document contains not only the history of James Island (from Hinson’s point of view) but mentions items of agricultural, historical and archaeological interest. Names of property owners are included. It’s quite a historical gem, all things considered.

After the war, William returned to James Island. He inherited Stiles Point Plantation from his uncle, William Godber, for whom he was named. He became a successful planter, a community leader, and a well-read scholar. His death certificate indicates he never married.

One interesting point I’d like to share is what William did to the Stiles-Hinson House at Stiles Point Plantation. Originally built in 1742 by his paternal grandfather Benjamin Stiles, William added the 1891 portion of the house and continued to keep the plantation active until the early years of the 20th century. The back-to-back arrangement of a relatively unaltered 18th-century cottage and a late 19th century Victorian mansion is most unusual and unique in that area.

Three different views of the Stiles-Hinson House at Stiles Point Plantation. The one on the bottom right shows where the two houses were attached.

According to the 1973 National Register of Historic Places application, despite their “wedded interior”, the exterior of both houses are characteristic of their respective historic periods. The Stiles portion of the house is an example of a mid-18th century planter’s house, with a modified bell-cast gambrel roof, projecting shed dormers, and the double shouldered brick chimneys. The structure is one-and-a-half stories and rests on a low foundation.

The Hinson house is a Victorian structure with a high ceiling, bracketed cornices, a mansard roof, and wooden balustrades. This addition is two-and-a-half stories and is supported by low brick piers above a partial basement.

Today, the Stiles-Hinson House is situated among three, four and five-bedroom single-family properties that range from $480,000 to $1.5 million that were built on Stiles Point Plantation land. It’s definitely a well-heeled neighborhood.

Although he has no descendants, William Godber Hinson made his mark on James Island history.

William spent the rest of his days at Stiles-Hinson House, as did his father, Joseph B. Hinson, Jr., and a number of other family members over the years. His agricultural expertise made him a sought-after resource on James Island, helping to found the James Island Agricultural Society in 1872. He died in 1919.

Private Stiles Mellichamp Hinson died in a Richmond, Va. hospital in April 1864. (Photo source: “James Island”, editing by edited by Carolyn Ackerly Bonstelle and Geordie Buxton)

The Stiles-Hinson plot also includes another of Joseph and Juliana’s children. Born in 1836, Stiles Melichamp Hinson was recruited to serve with Company A of the Rutledge Mounted Riflemen and Horse Artillery. On July 1, 1862, he enlisted as a private into this command for the duration of the war. His unit would officially become known as Company B, 7th Regiment South Carolina Cavalry. His brother, William, served in the same unit.

Stiles Hinson’s marker bears the same South Carolina palmetto and flags as that of his brother, William Godber Hinson.

During a skirmish at Fussell’s Mill, Va. in August 1864, Stiles received “a gunshot wound thru the right arm … the ball passing in [his] body lodging” next to his spine. Receiving treatment at General Hospital Number 9 in Richmond, Va., it was a wound he would not survive. He died on August 15, 1864 and was buried at JIPC Cemetery. He was 28 years old.

Finally, I’d like to include another Hinson sibling. Her monument is the largest in the Stiles-Hinson plot and was carved by W.T. White, whose work was well known in Charleston. It is a tall column with the stop broken off, indicating a life cut short.

Born in 1833, Sarah Rivers Hinson married bookkeeper Paul States Lee Lockwood on March 20, 1856 at the age of 23. She gave birth to their daughter, Sarah Pauline Rivers Lockwood, on August 22, 1857.

Sarah Rivers Hinson Lockwood was only 24 when she died.

Sarah died only six months later on Feb. 28, 1858. According to Paul’s will, it appears that he sent Sarah Pauline to live with her grandparents, Joseph and Martha Stiles Hinson, then moved to Mobile, Ala. to be near a brother. In 1861, he enlisted in the Confederate Army. Paul Lockwood would die in July 1862, serving in the Third Alabama Infantry.

Sarah Pauline lived well into adulthood, married John Mikell and died in 1933. She is buried at the Presbyterian Church on Edisto Island Cemetery. Paul Lockwood’s burial site is unknown.

I’ve got one more cemetery to show you before leaving James Island. I hope you’ll come back for that journey.

Exploring James Island Presbyterian Church’s Cemeteries: On the Other Side of the Azalea Bushes, Part II

In my last post, we spent some time wandering through the Burn Church Cemetery of James Island Presbyterian Church (JIPC). Let’s walk between the azaleas bushes to see the other cemetery of the church. To be blunt, this was originally known as the “white” section because that was who it was for. It is now open to all.

This walkway is the main path through the JIPC cemetery.

According to Find a Grave, there are about 420 recorded burials here. I’m sure there are more unmarked that haven’t been noted. Some stones are impossible to read. But a number reveal the history of those who were among the first white residents of James Island and Charleston.

Three of the oldest markers at JIPC’s cemetery belong to the Witter family. The son of Quaker parents, James Witter was born in 1736. He married Jane Manigault and we know had at least one child, Samuel, because he is buried beside them. He was born in September 1764 and died in October 1766.

The graves of the Witter family are among the oldest in the cemetery.

James Witter’s marker is in good condition considering its age. It features the winged face or “soul effigy” that was so popular at the time. You can see dozens of these in cemeteries throughout Charleston.

James Witter lived to the age of 58 and died on August 18, 1794.

I had a difficult time reading the epitaph on James Witter’s marker but I think I managed to figure it out. I have typed it as it is spelled, including the errors:

Come to this grave each friend and drop a tear,
Bedew his memry, with a grief sincere:
Forget him not tho he lies under ground.
But let his worth on every tongue resound.
To thee, O stone, we recommend this dust,
Commanding the in faith to keep thy trust.
Take, take this body and secure entomb
Until the day of resurrection come.

Jane Witter died in 1802, eight years after her husband.

James died in 1794 and while records indicate he did not leave a will, his estate appears to have passed directly to Jane. She has her own stone with an epitaph I attempted to write out. Hers was even harder to make out. The style indicates it was probably written by the same person who did her husband’s epitaph. The question marks are the words I could not figure out.

Reader approach and ? the cold remains
Of her who was beloved this tomb contains
With every worth the dignified her life
The tender Mother and the virtuous wife
Long since her spirit fought, her kindred ?
And here in ? her ? relics lie
While on this shore her children speak her worth
And with there tears bedew the hallowed earth.

Two surnames that you’ll see a lot in this cemetery are Bee and Rivers. And the two “cross pollinated” quite often. The son of William Bee and Keziah Rivers Bee, Robert Rivers Bee Sr. was born in 1799. He married Mary Flora Morrison on Feb. 4, 1830.

Little is known about Robert Rivers Bee Sr., who married Mary Flora Morrison in 1830.

A tragic marker stands beside the obelisk shared by Robert and Mary that records the deaths of four of their children. Robert William Rivers lived only nine months, having died in June 1832. It is my guess that he was their firstborn. The marker notes that three other children, Julia Adeline (5), Kezia (2), and John (11 months), all died within 10 days of each other with a date of August 6, 1838. I don’t know exactly what killed them but 1838 marked a yellow fever epidemic in Charleston, so that may have been the culprit.

Robert and Mary Rivers would lose three children within 10 days of each other.

Robert and Mary’s four other children did live past childhood. Born in 1846, Sandiford was their youngest child. At the age of 16, he enlisted on December 29, 1862 as a private in the 27th Regiment of the South Carolina Infantry, Company D (also known as the Sumter Guards).

The 27th is often called Gaillard’s Regiment, named after Col. Peter Charles Gaillard. It was a consolidation of the Charleston Infantry Battalion and the First South Carolina Battalion Sharpshooters. The unit was assigned to General Hagood’s Brigade.

The exact cause of Sandiford Bee’s death during the Civil War is unknown but it was likely from either disease or wounds received in combat.

The 27th served at Fort Sumter, then moved to Virginia. Here it participated in the conflicts at Drewry’s Bluff and Cold Harbor, and took its place in the Petersburg trenches. The Second Battle of Weldon Railroad took place in August 1864, with the 27th losing two men in battle, 22 wounded and 71 missing.

Sandiford died on Oct. 6, 1864 in Sumter, S.C. I suspect he may have been one of the many wounded or ill soldiers from Weldon Railroad. Mary, his mother, died only six days later on Oct. 10, 1864. Having lost four children in childhood to illness, it must have been quite a blow to lose her youngest from wounds received in combat. Robert St. died in April 1865.

In a nearby plot, you can find another one of Robert Sr. and Mary’s sons, Robert Rivers Bee Jr. and his family. He was born in 1839 and married his first wife, Martha Stiles Hinson. The only occupation I have ever found for him was in 1902 as a “rice shipper”.

This is the Robert Rivers Bee Jr. family plot.

Robert’s grave has a CSA (Confederate States of America) marker on it but I’m not exactly sure which unit he served in. He may have been in the 7th Regiment of the South Carolina Cavalry or Trenholm’s Company, Rutledge Mounted Riflemen and Horse Artillery, South Carolina.

The grave of Mary Julia Bee, who was the daughter of Robert Bee Jr. and his second wife, Mary Julia Lockwood Bee, is in the back left of the photo.

There are three small markers with a single flower in the Robert Bee Jr. plot that only say “Our Baby 1861” then years “1868′ and “1870”. I don’t know their names. The only child of Robert and Martha that I know of that lived beyond childhood is Sandiford Bee, who was born in 1866 and died at the age of 63.

One of the children of Robert Rivers Bell Jr. and Martha Stiles Hinson Bee.

Martha died on July 5, 1870. I don’t know if this was before or after the death of the infant whose grave is marked 1870. It’s possible Martha died giving birth to this child.

Martha Stiles Hinson Bee may have died in childbirth in 1870.

Robert Jr. remarried to Mary Julia Lockwood and they also had several children. Two daughters, Mary and Martha, both lived long lives. A son, Robert St. Clair Bee, was born in 1878 but only lived to the age of 3.

One marker presents a mystery that someone may have the answer to. It is for two  children, J.B. and Rob. There are no birth or death dates, only how long they lived. Neither child appears on any census records I found. I am fairly sure they are the children of Robert Jr. and Mary Julia (not Martha) but beyond that, I know nothing more about them. It may have been another epidemic that caused their demise.

No exact birth or death dates are on these children’s marker.

The carving of the sheep at the top is particularly skillful, I think.

Two little lambs for two little boys.

Mary Julia died in 1916 while Robert Jr. died in 1918 of chronic nephritis (kidney disease).

Next time, we’ll finish up by exploring the Stiles-Hinson plot.

Exploring James Island Presbyterian Church’s Cemeteries: The Burned Church and Gershwin’s Inspiration for “Porgy and Bess”, Part I

I’m still in South Carolina but this week, we’re exploring a different part of the Sea Islands that edge the state’s shore.

I’ve mentioned before that every summer, my in-laws invite us to join them for a week at Folly Beach. Folly Island is located in front of James and John Islands. We drive through James Island to get to Folly Beach and located on the main road is James Island Presbyterian Church (JIPC).

It wasn’t until last summer that I explored the cemetery (or rather cemeteries) in front of JIPC. I didn’t know I’d be encountering the grave of the man who inspired one of Gershwin’s most famous musicals.

James Island Presbyterian Church was founded sometime around 1706 by the Rev. Archibald Stobo (who came to America from Darien, Scotland in 1699) with land donated by hatmaker Johnathan Drake. The first church building was erected in 1724 but it burned down during the Revolutionary War period.

The current James Island Presbyterian Church building was erected in 1910. This is just the front entrance.

The second building also burned down, supposedly due to an accidental fire during the Civil War, and was replaced by a simple wooden building. That’s when it earned the name “the Burned Church”. This third building was torn down and the current Gothic Revival structure built in 1910, with an addition put on in the 1950s.

JIPC actually has two cemeteries separated by a line of azalea bushes. The larger cemetery (in terms of space) closest to the road is the cemetery that was dedicated to black burials when slaves were members of the church. In 1853, over 200 of the church’s membership was black. In fact, James Island was predominantly black until after the turn of the century with about 150 whites and over 4,000 African-Americans in 1914.

After the Civil War, freed blacks built their own church nearby but continued to bury their loves ones at what is sometimes referred to as the “Burn Church Cemetery” at JIPC. I saw burials as recent as the 2000s so it is still an active cemetery.

Although black members of James Island Presbyterian Church built their own church after the Civil War, they continued to bury their dead in the Burn Church Cemetery.

On the other side of the hedge is the official JIPC cemetery, which was for white members in the church’s earlier days but is now open to all members of any race. I’ll get to that side of the azalea hedge next week.

One of the very first stones I saw in the Burn Church Cemetery was fairly new from 1986, erected for an impoverished man who died in 1924. His name was Samuel Smalls but he was better known as “Goat” or “Goat Cart Smalls” because he got around Charleston in a goat-drawn cart due to his physical disabilities. It’s said he sold peanut cakes from his cart. Smalls was known to hang out at a gambling spot on Charleston Neck called the Bull Pen, where he shot craps while his goat faithful waited outside.

Samuel “Goat” Smalls probably suffered from polio, making it nearly impossible for him to walk. He and his goat-drawn cart weres well known around Charleston.

Playwright DuBose Heyward read about Smalls in a News & Courier article recounting Smalls’ arrest after he’d tried to shoot a woman. The police caught Smalls after he and his goat led them on a chase down several alleys. This article is said to have inspired Heyward to base the character of Porgy on Smalls in his novel “Porgy and Bess” that was published after Smalls died in 1925.

Act 1 Scene 1 of Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess” performed at the Colonial Theater in Boston, Mass. in September 1935. (Photo source: The Charleston Museum web site.)

DuBose and his wife, Dorothy, turned his novel into a play that debuted in 1928 at the Guild Theater in New York with an all African-American cast. But it was George Gershwin’s musical based on Heyward’s novel that debuted in Boston in 1935 that truly got the world’s attention. I learned that after two attempts to desegregate the Dock Street Theater, the opera would not be performed in Charleston until 1970.

Samuel “Goat” Smalls finally got his own grave marker in 1986.

Smalls, who was born on James Island, was buried in an unmarked grave at the Burn Church Cemetery. It wasn’t until 1986 that a marker was made and placed in his honor. It is close to the edge of the JIPC parking lot and easy to find.

As I’ve found in a number of African-American cemeteries, the markers at Burn Church Cemetery encompass a mix of styles. The older slave graves are not marked, the wooden crosses used decades ago long since gone. But you can see some other marker styles and epitaphs unique to this cemetery. I also discovered dates that often didn’t match death certificates.

The marker for Henry Graham is a good example of the rustic styles I saw. Born in 1884 on James Island to Ben Graham and Susan Harker Graham, he was married to Florence Brown Graham. They had at least two children according to the 1920 U.S. Census.

The font of the words inscribed on Henry Graham’s marker can be found on several at Burn Church Cemetery.

At the time of his death in 1926, Henry was a cook at the U.S. Quarantine Station located at Fort Johnson on James Island. Starting in 1922, the facility was used for ships entering Charleston. The buildings are now owned by the Medical University of South Carolina but a 2016 news report indicated MUSC wanted them torn down due to their poor condition.

The “K of P” written at the top of Henry’s marker indicates he was a member of the Knights of Pythias, the first fraternal organization to receive a charter under an act of Congress. It was founded by Justus H. Rathbone, who was inspired by a play by Irish poet John Banim about the legend of Damon and Pythias. This legend illustrates the ideals of loyalty, honor, and friendship that are the center of the order.

I saw a number of other markers with the same font style and the anchor entangled in a vine at the top. The anchor often indicates a strong faith in Christ. Hebrews 6:9 refers to it as “which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast”.

Henry’s marker also features a beautiful epitaph:

Another Link is Broken
In Our Household Band
But a Chain is Forming
In a Better Land

Joe Gilliard’s grave marker is almost exactly the same, including the epitaph. The death date recorded on it is May 25, 1925 but his death certificate says 1924. Both his marker and death certificate show he was born in 1826. The son of Cuffie and Alice Gilliard, Joe was probably born into slavery and spent his life on James Island.

Having lived to almost 100 years old, Joe Gilliard died of tuberculosis in 1924.

Nancy Fludd Washington’s marker has the same font (type style) but the decoration at the top is simpler. Oddly, her death certificate has her birth year as 1884 when it is actually 1871 on her marker. She died at the age of 60 from a heart ailment.

Nancy Fludd Washington’s sons are buried near her but her husband, William, appears to be buried elsewhere or has an unmarked grave.

Nancy’s son Jessie James Washington has a much more rustic stone. Born in 1911, he died of pneumonia in 1947 on New Year’s Eve.

Jessie James William died at the age of 38 from pneumonia.

Finally, I’d like to include the grave of Irene Chavis Gilliard. She was the daughter of Paul and Betsy Matthews Chavis and spent her life on James Island. She died of influenza in 1949. Her grand-nephew, Eugene Frazier, recalled that on the day she died the family learned that her sister, Alice Chavis McNeal, had also passed away.

Irene Chavis Gilliard’s grand-nephew remembers when she sold vegetables in downtown Charleston from a pushcart.

Oddly, her death certificate (which misspelled her last name as “Galliard”) indicates she was born in 1905 but her crudely etched marker says 1895, as does her grand-nephew’s book “A History of James Island Slave Descendants & Plantation Owners: The Bloodline” published in 2010.

Next time, we’ll peek over the azalea hedge and explore the JIPC cemetery.

More Coastal Carolina Adventures: Visiting Trinity Episcopal Church Cemetery, Part II

I’m back at Trinity Episcopal Church (TEC) on Edisto Island this week with Part II of my series.

Wandering around this cemetery, I truly enjoyed the sight of many very old moss-covered trees. So many of them get taken down by storms over time. It’s amazing these are still here.


Two children’s graves caught my attention. They were brothers, born about 20 years apart.

Charles Wescoat (left) and his unnamed brother (right) were born several years apart. Neither lived long.

The marker for Charles Edward Wescoat (1853-1854) is a bit different. While worn down quite a bit, you can see the image of a male figure holding a child in his arms.

Charles Edward Wescoat was likely the ninth child born to Jabez and Mary Wescoat.

The carving on this marker is not as sophisticated or detailed as the one for William Stuart Hanckel. The figure of the child is especially rough in comparison to the large male figure. My guess is that the message implied here is that the child is safe in the arms of God after his short life has ended.

Charles’ father was Jabez Wescoat, a planter on Edisto Island. The family name is sometimes spelled “Westcoat, “Wescoat”, or “Wescott”. Jabez married Mary Susan Skrine in 1834. Over the course of their marriage, they had at least 11 children, many living well into adulthood. Three sons served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War.

Westcoat Road represents the last undisturbed remnants of the main road on Edisto Island, established in the Colonial era. This section was isolated when S.C. Highway 174 was straightened and paved about 1940. (Photo source: Ammodramus on Wikimedia Commons)

To Charles’ right is his unnamed brother. He was born and died in 1834, early in the marriage of Jabez and Mary.

Charles Edward Wescoat’s brother was unnamed. His marker is adorned with a simple flower.

Jabez and Mary share a monument with three of their children, Washington, Hubert, and Sarah. Mary died in 1877 and Jabez died in 1886.

The Wescoat name can also be seen spelled as “Westcoat” and “Wescott”. This may be rooted in a family feud, according to Ancestry.com.

There’s only one statue I could find in the cemetery and that belongs to Jennie Stevens Wescott. She was the daughter of Daniel Augustus Stevens (a Confederate veteran) and Agnes Jessie Yates Stevens, who are also buried at TEC.

Daniel Stevens (left) served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War.

Jennie was the wife of Thomas Cecil Wescott, the son of Jabez and Mary Wescoat. Somewhere along the line, Thomas changed the spelling of his last name to Wescott.

Jennie Stevens Wescott was the daughter of Daniel Stevens and Agnes Jessie Yates Stevens.

Thomas Cecil Wescott (who went by Cecil) married Jennie in 1890. Unlike many of their peers, Thomas and Jennie only had one child that I am aware of. Mary Violet Wescott was born in 1891 and lived to the ripe old age of 90. She married Francis Wilkinson and they built a home on Edisto in 1916. Francis was Edisto Island’s first policeman. One of their daughters, Mary Wilkinson Mead, still lives on the island today.

Cecil and Jennie Wescott had only one child, Vioilet. But she lived a long and happy life on Edisto.

Why Cecil changed the spelling of his last name from “Wescoat” to “Wescott” is unknown but a message of Ancestry.com noted it may have been the result of a family feud. I discovered that both Cecil and Jennie had served as postmaster/postmistress on Edisto at different times. Jennie died in 1918.

One of the paintings of Thomas Cecil Westcott called “Eddingsville.”

I also learned that Cecil was a painter.  I was able to find one of his works called “Edingsville”. Edingsville was a small resort town on Edisto that no longer exists. After Jennie died, he often lived with daughter Violet and her husband, Francis, in their Edisto home on what became known as Wilkinson’s Landing.

Cecil died at the age of 84 in 1942 and is supposed to be buried at TEC’s cemetery but I did not see his stone and there is no photo of it on Find a Grave.

As I’ve noted before, you can find a lot of the same surnames in the cemeteries on Edisto. Before I even visited, I imagined I would find some parts of a family at the Presbyterian Church on Edisto (PCE)’s graveyard while others might be at TEC’s cemetery. As I started looking into family backgrounds, I found this to be true.

Take for example the situation of Mary Stites Wayne Mitchell Whaley. I found her grave at TEC between two of her daughters. But as I started looking closer, I realized the girls had two different fathers.

Mary Wayne Mitchell Whaley is buried with her first husband and two of her daughters. Her grave is on the far right. His is the box grave on the far left.

Mary Stites Wayne Mitchell Whaley’s uncle was Dr. Richard Wayne, who was mayor of Savannah, Ga.

Mary Stites Wayne was the daughter of General William Clifford Wayne and Anne Gordon Wayne, the daughter of Revolutionary War Captain Ambrose Gordon. Mary’s uncle, Dr. Richard Wayne, was mayor of Savannah. She was born in 1828 shortly after the Waynes had moved to Charleston where Gen. Wayne’s father had first come to America from England in the 1760s.

In 1844, Mary married planter William Grimball Baynard Mitchell in Charleston. In 1849, Mary gave birth to their only daughter, Llly Elizabeth Mitchell. William died about a year later and was buried in the TEC cemetery.

This is the only photo of Crawford Plantation I could find that didn’t require consent to use. The Greek Revival home was built in the 1830s and is  still in use today. (Photo source: South Carolina Department of Archives and History)

Mary remarried to William James Whaley, another planter on Edisto, in 1859. He was a widow as well, first wife Martha Clark Whaley having died in 1850. William and Martha had four children together. He owned Crawford Plantation (purchased in 1847) on Edisto but the family had to abandon it in 1861 during the Civil War. They returned in 1866.

Lily Mitchell, Mary’s firstborn, died the same year and was buried at TEC beside her father.

Lilly Mitchell died in 1866, just a few years short of her 17th birthday.

In 1868, at the age of 40, Mary gave birth to her second daughter (her only child with William J. Whaley), Mary “Nanie” Whaley. Nanie would also die at the age of 16 like her half-sister Lilly in 1884.

Mary died in 1886 at the age of 58. She was buried alongside her first husband and daughters at TEC. I wondered what had become of her second husband, William J. Whaley. Was he perhaps just down the road at PCE?

After looking through my photos of PCE, my thoughts were confirmed. I found his grave beside that of his first wife, Martha, and one of his daughters, Elizabeth Edings Whaley.

William J. Whaley is buried at the Presbyterian Church on Edisto’s graveyard beside his first wife, Martha.

William died in 1888 and ownership of Crawford Plantation went to his son, William J. Crawford, Jr. and his family. After William Jr. died in 1922, the family moved to Charleston and left the home vacant. They sold it in 1945 to I.C. Tavell. New owners purchased it in the 90s and it still stands today.

Finally, I had mentioned in my PCE posts about the great variety of ornamental ironwork in their graveyard. As it turns out, TEC has a small remnant of iron work as well. It was produced by the Robert Wood Ornamental Ironworks in Philadelphia, Pa. The ear of corn at the top of some of the spindles is a motif I have never seen before. It’s unfortunate that it’s deteriorated so much due to time and island weather conditions.

Two sections are all that is left of this rusting ornamental ironwork.

It’s now time to say goodbye to Edisto Island, a place I won’t soon forget. Next time, I’ll be on nearby James Island with more South Carolina stories.

More Coastal Carolina Adventures: Visiting Edisto Island’s Trinity Episcopal Church Cemetery, Part I

This week, we’re at Trinity Episcopal Church’s (TEC) cemetery, which is only about 1.5 miles down the road from the Presbyterian Church on Edisto graveyard.

TEC’s congregation was established in 1774. Like PCE, white members sat on the first floor while black members were confined to sitting upstairs in the balcony. During the Civil War, as was the case for the PCE, white residents were evacuated from the island while slaves remained during the occupation. The church building was used by Union forces as an observation post. By 1870, records showed 30 white members and 112 black members.

Trinity Episcopal Church on Edisto Island still has services and an active congregation.

After the war, black members of TEC formed their own Episcopal church where they were free to sit and worship where they pleased. Around 1890, those members established Zion Reformed Episcopal Church, which still exists today.

The current TEC building was completed in 1881.

TEC’s building burned around 1876 and a new one was completed in 1881. The church was not open when I visited the cemetery, but their web site has a picture of this stained glass window inside. The church was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971. TEC is thought to be the only example of a church built in the Victorian style on the island.

Stained glass featured inside the TEC sanctuary. (Photo source: TEC web page)

As for the cemetery, nobody knows when burials began there, but it was probably before the congregation was formally organized. Death dates start in the latter end of the 1700s. You can find many of the same surnames at TEC that are present at nearby PCE.

Trinity Episcopal Church’s cemetery has about 315 burials recorded on Find a Grave. I suspect that are many more unmarked.

The first marker I saw was directly in front of the church building. It was hard to read so I’m grateful that some kind soul on Find a Grave had already transcribed it. The marker is for Rippon Sams Hamilton Hanahan, who died at the age of 11 in September 1801.

Rippon Sams Hamilton Hanahan’s grave marker is right in front of the church building.

I was unable to determine who Rippon’s parents were, although the surnames of Rippon and Hanahan appear in many Edisto family trees. There are a few more Hanahans buried at TEC, but they came along many years after young Rippon. His epitaph has a rather fatalistic tone:

Life how short, eternity how long.
Permit the dead to be entomb’d in Earth from whence we all into this body came.
And when we die the Spirit goes to Air.
For we can possess life only for a time.
The Earth demands our body back again.

Over in the cemetery, I found a monument to Sarah Ann Bailey Seabrook. She died in 1850 at the age of 31. I discovered she was the first wife of the Rev. Joseph Baynard Seabrook, Jr.

Sarah Bailey Seabrook was the first of the Rev. Joseph Seabrook’s three wives. He married her younger sister after she died.

A graduate of Princeton, the Rev. Seabrook studied law before turning to the ministry.  He was ordained in the Protestant Episcopal Church and pastored black churches at Bluffton and St. Paul. During the Civil War, he pastored at Grace Episcopal Church in Charleston. After the war, he was the pastor of St. Marks in Charleston until his death in 1877. He is not the first pastor I have researched that had three wives over his lifetime. In this case, only two of them were sisters.

Before I get ahead of myself, let’s go back to Sarah Ann Bailey, his first wife. I discovered that she and Joseph had four children that lived to adulthood — Martha, Ephraim, Caroline, and Perroneau. But what her monument reveals are four other children that probably did not live past infancy. I don’t know the birth/death dates for any of them. And it’s possible they’re not even buried at TEC. But clearly Theodore, Mary, William and Anna were remembered by their father.

Four of Sarah Ann and Joseph’s children did not live past childhood.

Soon after Sarah Ann died, Joseph married her widowed younger sister, Lydia Bailey Whaley. They had at least one child together, Isabel, who married John Gervais. Lydia died in 1858 and her burial site is unknown. Joseph married a third time to Martha Beckett, who outlived him and died in 1922. Joseph, who died in 1877, is buried with Martha at Magnolia Cemetery in Charleston.

One of the more eye-catching markers I saw was for William Stuart Hanckel, son of the Rev. William Henry and Elizabeth Clark Hanckel. William Stuart was also the grandson of the Rev. Christian Hanckel, who served as the rector of St. Paul’s Church in Randcliffboro, S.C. for 45 years.

The Rev. William Henry Hanckel was rector of Trinity Episcopal Church when his son William Stuart died in 1853.

A graduate of General Theological Seminary in New York, the Rev. William Hanckel was as distinguished a clergyman as his father, pastoring a number of churches over his career. His brother, James, taught at Diocesan Theological Seminary in Camden, S.C, while brother Thomas was an attorney.

The Journal of the Greater Convention of the Protestant Theological Convention notes that William was rector of the TEC in 1853, the same year that little William died at the age of 5. According to the marker, William Stuart was the first child born to the Rev. William Henry and Elizabeth. They would have at least four more. But William is the only one buried at TEC.

The image of a cherub hovering over a sleeping child dominates William Stuart’s marker. It’s not one I have often seen, although the motif of an angel bearing a child away is quite common.

By looking at older photos of this grave, I saw that vandals had damaged it at some point. A 2010 Find a Grave photo shows it attached to a slab with some sort of inscription on it, along with a large lamb statue at the foot. That had changed by 2017 when I was there. The slab is now in pieces and the lamb is in a different position. There was also a box grave beside William’s grave that now appears to be gone entirely.

This lamb used to be part of an intact slab upon which William Stuart Hanckel’s gravestone stood.

Elizabeth Hanckel died in 1875 at the age of 45 and was buried in Magnolia Cemetery in Charleston. The Rev. William Henry Hanckel remarried to Mary Lieze Macbeth Ogier in 1877. His last church position appears to have been St. Stephen’s Church in Charleston around the same time.

By 1880, he and Mary were living at Flat Rock Farm in Pendleton, S.C. I don’t know if he had retired from the ministry. He died in 1892 and is buried at Magnolia Cemetery. Mary, who died in 1911, is also buried at Magnolia but her grave appears to be unmarked.

Next week, I’ll have more stories from Trinity Episcopal Church.

Coastal Carolina Adventures: Exploring the Presbyterian Church on Edisto Island Graveyard, Part IV

It’s August! Wait…where did summer go? Have I really not posted anything since May 18?

I’ve never taken what amounts to over a two-month break from the blog before. A few weeks here and there, but never this long. As it turns out, this was the busiest summer my family’s had in quite a long time.

I offer my humblest apologies for being a cemetery-hopping slacker. Let’s get back to the Presbyterian Church on Edisto Island’s (PCE’s) graveyard. While I’ve already written three posts about on this place, there are so many markers you’ve yet to see.

One of the sadder line of graves I encountered were the children of a couple whose own graves are unmarked. Henry Fowler Bailey and Mary Hardy Mikell Bailey married in 1834. They had several children (one family tree listed a whopping 15 children) but it appears that only one (the eldest, Henry Jr.) survived to adulthood.

The last five children known to have been born to Henry Fowler Bailey and Martha Hardy Mikell Bailey are buried at PCE. Ephraim’s grave is on the far right, obscured by a bush.

The five graves pictured above were the last five of the many children that Henry and Mary are reported to have had. There may be more at PCE’s graveyard that are not marked or they are buried elsewhere.

  • Ephraim, born Dec. 1847, died April 1850.
  • Mary E., born Dec. 1849, died Nov. 1850.
  • Thomas Baynard, born May 1850, died Aug. 1851.
  • Hamilton Jenkins, March 1851, died Nov. 1854.
  • William Whaley, born August 1852, died Aug. 1853.

Henry Bailey died of consumption (tuberculosis) at age 46 in 1859. His obituary notes he was to be buried at PCE but no marker is there for him. Mary’s last appearance is with her only surviving son, Henry Jr., and his wife (Malvina Washington Bailey) and child in the 1860 Census. Her burial site is unknown, but she may be in an unmarked grave beside her husband. Henry Jr. died in 1864 in a Charleston hospital while serving with the Confederate Army (possibly the S.C. Third Cavalry) during the Civil War. His burial site is also unknown.

With so many similar last names, it can get tricky following exactly how folks are related. The branches of family trees can start to blur.

John Patterson left his estate to his niece, Ann Elizabeth Bailey.

One of the oldest graves I found was for John Patterson, a planter who died in 1820 at the age of 35. His will indicates he knew he was ill and might die soon. His sister, Sarah Eaton Patterson Bailey, was the wife of Benjamin Bailey. John and Benjamin must have been close because he named him executor of his will. John left his entire estate to Sarah and Benjamin’s daughter (John’s niece), Ann Elizabeth Bailey Bailey. And that’s not a typo. Ann was a Bailey who married a different Benjamin Bailey. You can imagine how confusing that must have been!

Sarah Patterson Bailey was the sister of John Patterson, whom she is buried beside at PCE Cemetery.

Sarah died in 1819, leaving Benjamin a widower. He married Mary Washington Townsend and had six children with her. He died in 1830 at the age of 50.

Benjamin Bailey was not only the brother-in-law of John Patterson, he was the executor of his will.

One postscript on the web of Bailey ties. I was glancing down the list of Benjamin Bailey’s descendants to discover that his granddaughter was Malvina Washington Bailey Bailey, the wife of Henry Bailey Jr. (who I wrote about earlier in this post). She was yet another Bailey who married a Bailey!

My head was starting to spin a little with all the Bailey connections so I focused on the Baynards next. One of the more touching markers I’ve ever seen belongs to William Grimball Baynard, Jr. Born in 1766 to William and Elizabeth Grimball Baynard, William was a planter on Edisto. His parents are buried at PCE in unmarked graves.

William Baynard married twice before dying at the age of 36.

In 1792, William married 19 year-old Sarah Black at St. Helena’s Episcopal Church in Beaufort, S.C. They had only one child, William Jr., before Sarah died in 1793. William then married Elizabeth Mikell and they had two children, Elizabeth and Abigail. He died in 1802 at the age of 36. Eldest son William Jr. was only 10 at that time.

The carver who created this heartfelt design evoked a common motif in funerary art at that time.

William Baynard’s marker features a woman leaning against a pedestal upon which an urn is placed. This motif of a grieving widow was becoming more popular around this time, when grinning winged skeletons were giving way to softer, more subtle images on gravestones. The artist is unknown but his style appears on other markers in the graveyard as well.

This portrait of William Grimball Baynard Jr. by artist Thomas Sully was completed in 1825. William was 33 at the time.

William Baynard Jr., on the other hand, lived a long life and had several children. He got his degree at the College of New Jersey, now known as Princeton, in 1812. Soon after that, he enlisted in Army to fight in the War of 1812 as part of Capt. William Meggett’s Company, South Carolina militia. Before being discharged in March 1815, he married Ann Ninian Jenkins. They had five children together but only one, Thomas, would survive. Ann, who died only a month after giving birth to Thomas in 1822 at the age of 30, is buried near William Jr. at PCE.

Sadly, only one of William Jr. and Ann Baynard’s five children would live to adulthood. Their four graves are in the foreground, with their grandfather and father’s graves to the right behind them.

William Baynard Jr.’s first wife, Ann Ninian Jenkins Baynard, died at the age of 30.

William Jr. remarried in 1827 to Mary Bailey Swinton, who was 19. Over the next several years, they would have 13 children together. Ten of them lived to adulthood. Over the years, William did well as a cotton planter and acquired a great deal of property. He was an elder of the PCE, Justice of the Peace and Justice of the Quorum.

By 1860, he was in possession of Prospect Hill Plantation on Edisto. The home was originally owned by an Ephraim Baynard. There were more than one so I’m not sure which of them it was. Built around 1800 and thought to be designed by White House architect James Hoban, the home sits on top of a high bluff. It survived the Civil War and still stands today, recently restored in 2009.

Prospect Hill was brought back to its former glory in 2009. It sold for over $5 million in 2017. (Photo Source: Estately.com)

William Jr. died on September 25, 1861 on Edisto. I did not get a picture of his box grave, which is located beside his father William Sr.’s grave. Mary and William Jr.’s youngest child, Henry, was only 11 at the time of his father’s death.

Prospect Hill is thought to have left the Baynard family’s hands not long after the Civil War. Mary was living on her own on Edisto according to the 1880 Census. She died in Charleston in 1892 at the age of 82 of “old age and exhaustion.” Her death certificate lists her as being buried on Edisto but there is no stone for her in the PCE graveyard if she is there.

Finally, I’d like to include a more modern stone that I saw. It reminded me that despite advances in medicine and safety, death can still take the young when we don’t expect it.

Daniel Pope received his wings in August 1941 at Craig Air Field in Selma, Ala. (Photo Source: “Edisto Island: A Family Affair” by Amy S. Connor and Sheila L. Beardsley)

Daniel Townsend Pope was the son of Dr. Jenkins Mikell Pope and Charlotte Nelson Pope. He grew up on Edisto and went to college at Clemson University, earning a degree in agricultural engineering in 1939. In December 1940, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps and became a student pilot.

On June 16, 1943, Daniel was taking off in a a B-24 at Smyrna Field in Rutherford County, Tenn. when something went wrong. The plane crashed and Daniel was killed. He was only 24.

Daniel Pope was only 24 when he died in a tragic accident.

There are plenty of other stories about the families buried at PCE’s graveyard. But it’s time to travel a few miles down the road to another cemetery where there’s even more to be discovered.

I’ll meet you there next time. And I promise it won’t be another two months before that happens. 😉

Coastal Carolina Adventures: Exploring the Presbyterian Church on Edisto Island Graveyard, Part III

Most of the time, I know what I’m going to write about on the blog. But once in a while, something magically falls in my lap. That’s what took place last week. So often I focus on the stones but I’m hitting for the fences this time.

After reading Part I of my series on the Presbyterian Church on Edisto (PCE), I was contacted by Dr. Anne Chandler Howell. A sociologist and author, Dr. Howell has taught at the Philadelphia College of Textiles and Science, Suffalk University, Wellesley College and Cheyney University.

Currently, Dr. Howell is doing research on shipments made by the Robert Wood Ornamental Ironworks of Philadelphia, Pa. She saw my pictures of the PCE graveyard and noticed that one of the fences looked familiar. After she looked at the additional photos I sent her, Dr. Howell confirmed that some of the fencing had indeed come from that company!

This first one surrounds a number of plots, which includes the Legare, Seabrook and Edings family members. It’s what I think looks like a “knotty wood” pattern with intertwined leaves and vines, while the posts resemble nubby trees and branches.

Here’s a large view of the cast iron fencing with a woody-type design.

You can see the detail of the design a little more in this photo.

Three members of the Legare family are buried in front of the fence.

Fortunately, there’s a copy of one of the company’s catalogs online (by that time it was called Wood & Perot) and I was able to pinpoint which one I think it is. You can see what it looked like below.

This is from a catalog customers might have perused before making their choice.

It turns out that Robert Wood opened his forge in Philadelphia in 1839. He operated under the name “Robert Wood” until 1849, when the business expanded. He changed it to “Robert Wood, Iron Rail Foundry and Manufacturing.” By 1853, Wood’s business had grown into nearly an acre of workspace with 200 employees.

Ornamental cast iron was very popular from the late 18th century through the late 19th century. I learned that cast iron differs from wrought iron because it allows for greater plasticity and more elaborate designs, including raised relief which cannot be accomplished with wrought iron.

This is an 1867 lithograph by William H. Rease showing Robert Wood’s Steam Iron Railing Works. (Photo source: The Library Company of Philadelphia)

Wood’s business grew bigger when he partnered with Elliston Perot, becoming Wood & Perot, from 1857 to 1865. In its last incarnation, the foundry became Wood & Perot Ornamental Iron Works from 1865 until the company went bankrupt and the foundry closed in 1878.

Wood started his career simply making window guards and awning posts, working his way up to large bronze statues. The biggest was a 15-foot sculpture of Henry Clay for the town of Pottsville, Pa. Perhaps his most prestigious creation was President James Monroe’s tomb at Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Va., created in 1859. In 2015, Monroe’s tomb received a $900,000 makeover from the Department of General Services in the state of Virginia.

President James Monroe’s tomb, erected in 1859, was designed by the German-born architect Albert Lybrock. Wood & Perot created the cast iron elements. (Photo Source: Joe Lamastus)

Wood & Perot’s factory along Ridge Avenue in 1858 by photographer James McClees. (Photo Source: The Library Company of Philadelphia)

According to an article by Karen Chernick, projects started in the pattern room, where a wooden model was created to size. This alone could take several weeks. Final designs were taken to the foundry where a mold was made from the pattern. Because it took so much work to produce these patterns, they were kept in a storeroom for future projects. In 1853, Wood’s pattern room was filled with between 3,000-4,000 patterns, 150 of which were fence patterns.

While the molder worked, the charger prepared a cylindrical 12-foot tall by 38-inch wide cupola (or melting pot). The inside of the cupola had to be continually stacked with sand, wood, coal, imperfect castings from the previous day, and then more coal and iron. Once the contents of the cupola were lit, it took about two hours for the iron to melt. Workers then spent the afternoon bringing ladles to an opening at the bottom of the cupola and filling molds situated all over the room with the liquid iron.

Dr. Howell told me customers often chose what designs they liked in the showroom and then customized them to meet their needs. I saw that whomever bought the woody patterned fence had also chosen a Woods & Perot arch. In the photo below, you can see what it looked like in the catalog, but with a different fence design.

This is what the arch looked like in the Woods and Perot catalog.

Here’s how the actual arch looks in the PCE graveyard now.

You can see how the leaves on the ends bend down, just like the ones in the catalog.

Since the Seabrook family (the most likely candidates for purchasing the railing) lived on Edisto, they were quite a distance from Wood’s Philadelphia showroom. They may have simply flipped through the catalog, chose what they wanted and ordered it sent to them.

Dr. Howell was also interested in the fencing around the Mikell family plot so I sent her more photos. She confirmed it can also be found in the Wood & Perot catalog. She was especially interested in the gates.

Here you can see the fence design that the Mikells (who intermarried with the Edings and the Seabrook families) chose.

This Mikell plot’s fence style includes an arrow motif.

Dr. Howell told me that this style of railing was indeed No. 42 out of the Wood & Perot catalog, although the Mikells chose a different gate than the one in this illustration.

Instead, the Mikells picked out a gate that featured what appears to be two field workers with a Medieval-type feel to them. The top of the gate features oak leaves in the scroll work.

The name “J. Jenkins Mikell” is also on the gate. I think this is an error on Wood’s behalf because there is nobody buried in the cemetery by that name. There is, however, an I. Jenkins Mikell buried at PCE (the “I” standing for Isaac). Interestingly, Isaac’s third wife Aramintha’s monument states she is the wife of J. Jenkins Mikell so it looks like this was not the first time there was an error with Isaac’s name.

This gate’s figures are No. 108 in the 1848 Wood catalog.

I could not find the figures in the 1867 catalog that I had access to, but Dr. Howell sent me what she had from the 1848 catalog. You can see that the Mikells chose the two center motifs for the fence.

Images from the 1848 Robert Wood catalog, No. 108. (Photo Source: Dr. Anne Chandler Howell)

This is what they look like up close.

And here’s the other one. Both are very agrarian in nature, which supports how the Mikells, Seabrooks and Edings made their fortunes by growing cotton on their plantations.

I did a little research and learned that much like Julia Legare’s father, William Seabrook, Isaac Mikell (1808-1881) was a prosperous plantation owner. But what he’s probably best known for is the amazing home he built for his third wife Mary Martha Pope Mikell between 1853 to 1854 in Charleston.

Built from 1853 to 1854, the Isaac J. Mikell House in Charleston sold for $4.8 million in 2008. (Photo Source: Architectural Digest)

The Greek Revival residence was designed in the style of grand Italian villa and is still standing today. In 2008, the house sold for $4.8 million to Manhattan socialite Patricia Altschul. Apparently, the house is often featured on the Bravo television reality show, Southern Charm.

I knew when I visited the PCE graveyard that I was in a special place like no other. But I had little idea that the same company that had made some of its cast iron fencing had also created the tomb of an American president. I am very grateful to Dr. Howell for contacting me so I could learn a bit more about Robert Wood and his company’s place in cemetery history.

There are too many stories from the PCE graveyard to end just yet. Stay tuned for more.

Coastal Carolina Adventures: Exploring the Presbyterian Church on Edisto Island Graveyard, Part II

Today’s blog post might make some of you feel angry or disappointed. I expect some grumpy comments. That’s because I’m going to debunk a beloved ghost story that many people swear is true.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a suspenseful old yarn. Who doesn’t? The haunting tale of Julia Lagare is one of them. But when it flies in the face of actual facts, I can’t let it go unchallenged.

Before I start, many thanks to J’aime Rubio’s web page “Stories of the Forgotten”. She did a ton of research on this story and I’m going to be sharing some of it with you here. If you click on the link, you can get more details.

This grand iron archway features a tree branch/leaf motif, created by the Robert Wood Ornamental Ironworks of Philadelphia, Pa. You can see the reddish-colored Legare mausoleum in the back of the lot.

One of the reasons crowds flock to the Presbyterian Church on Edisto’s (PCE’s) historic graveyard is in the lone mausoleum located in the very back. Across the entrance is the name “Legare” (pronounced “La-gree”). There are three people interred inside. There is no door on the mausoleum, but a wooden lattice-type frame to keep people from going inside while enabling them to view the contents.

First, I’ll share the ghost story.

In the 1850s, a child or pre-teen girl by the name of Julia Legare was visiting family on the island when she fell ill from diphtheria and went into a deep coma. Her family, thinking she was dead, held a funeral then placed her body inside the family mausoleum at PCE’s graveyard. They left her there, shutting the door behind them.

The legend states that some 15 years later (some versions say seven) when her brother died, the family opened the mausoleum to place his remains inside. To their shock and horror, Julia’s bones were found right beside the door. Several accounts state they found scratch marks on the walls and door indicating Julia had awoken from her coma and fought without success to get out of the mausoleum.

Ever since, her spirit has haunted the cemetery. The legend also says that despite the fact people would shut the door to the mausoleum, it would be open the next day. So they took it off permanently and placed it in the woods

This tragic tale continues to get printed in tourist brochures and on web sites. The problem is that it isn’t true.

Designed by James Hoban, Seabrook House was where Julia grew up. It was built in 1810 under the direction of her father William. (Photo source: Charlotte Huston Webb’s web site Charleston Through an Artist’s Eye)

Born on Nov. 19, 1829, Julia Georgiana Seabrook’s parents were William Seabrook and his second wife, Elizabeth Emma Edings. William’s parents were John Seabrook and Sarah Lawton Seabrook. William was quite successful at managing his mother’s estates and is thought to be one of  the first plantation owners to cultivate Sea Island cotton (or black seed) successfully. In addition, William owned and operated the Edisto Island Ferry that carried passengers between Charleston and Savannah (in addition to other island areas).

Julia grew up on her father’s plantation, playing in the rooms of the elegant William Seabrook House that still stands today. William chose the designer of the White House, James Hoban, to draw up the plans. The home was built during his first marriage in 1810. Julia was his youngest child with second wife, Elizabeth.

Unlike other plantation homes that burned during the Civil War, the Seabrook House is still standing because it was used as a provost and headquarters for the Union Army. I last read the fully renovated home, situated on 350 picturesque acres, was for sale in March 2017 for $8.5 million.

There is no door on the Legare mausoleum. It was not inside of it, nor did I see it in the woods. So I couldn’t testify to any scratch marks the legend swears are on it.

Julia was about 18 when she married plantation owner John Berwick Legare in 1848. Soon after, Julia gave birth to their son, Hugh. Little Joseph came soon after. They were all living together in 1850, according to census records. The cause of her death is unknown, but Julia died at the age of 22 on April 15, 1852 (which is inscribed on her marker). She was the first person interred in the Legare mausoleum.

There is no door on the mausoleum so I cannot testify to any scratch marks the legend refers to. I couldn’t see anything resembling scratches on the walls, just the expected aging. I imagine that so many people wanted to see inside over the years, the church gave up and left the door off (which may have been scratched up by tourists themselves). The wooden frame keeps people out while letting you get a good look inside and take pictures.

The inside of the Legare mausoleum as it looks today. Julia’s stone is in the middle and she is flanked by her husband and her oldest son.

The idea that the Seabrooks simply left Julia’s remains inside the mausoleum is hard to swallow. There’s not much room in there. Most of the time, the casket is slid into a hole in the wall that is sealed or buried beneath the mausoleum floor and then covered by stone. The casket wouldn’t simply be left in the open. So the notion that her bones were found by the door doesn’t make any sense.

This is the closest I could get to the stones.

Julia’s son, Hugh Swinton Legare, died at the age of six in 1854. He is interred to her right. Her husband, John, died two years later in 1856 at the age of 36. He is interred to her left. Son Joseph would have been about six at the time of his father’s death but his whereabouts are unknown. He may have grown up under the care of one of Julia’s sisters.

You’ll notice that this is the Legare mausoleum. Not the Seabrook mausoleum. Her 31-year-old brother, Robert Chisholm Seabrook, died only six months after Julia. Not 15 years later as the legend states. So they wouldn’t have opened the mausoleum to inter him there. He is buried near the mausoleum with his own towering monument that was put up by their mother. It’s the tallest one in the cemetery.

Robert Chisholm Seabrook, Julia’s brother, was 31 at the time of his death.

Robert Seabrook’s monument is the tallest one in the cemetery.

William Seabrook died in 1836 and is buried in the Whaley-Seabrook Cemetery on the Seabrook House grounds (described on Find a Grave as being in very poor condition) on Edisto Island with his parents and first wife, Mary Ann Mikell Seabrook. His second wife, Elizabeth, died in 1856 and is buried in the PCE graveyard near Richard and a daughter, Mary, who died in 1834 at the age of three.

Daughter Carolina Seabrook Hopkinson outlived most of her family, dying at the age of 54.

William and Elizabeth also had a son, Joseph, in 1823 who was one of the eight church members who tragically died on the Steam Boat Pulaski in 1838. Daughter Carolina, born in 1825, married James Hopkinson. She died in 1879 (outliving most of the family) and is also buried at PCE near her mother, brother and two sisters (Julia and Mary).

So that’s the true story of the life and death of Julia Legare. While it’s not as romantic or spooky as the legend that continues to surround her, her family does have an important history worth noting. And while it is true that there are cases of people who were buried alive when their family thought they were dead, this isn’t one of them.

Next time, I’ll talk about some new revelations about the ironwork railings at the PCE graveyard and more of the history of those interred there.

Coastal Carolina Adventures: Exploring the Presbyterian Church on Edisto Island Graveyard, Part I

Charleston, S.C. is a wonderful city filled with historic cemeteries and I’ve seen the majority of them. However, last summer I was eager to venture out a bit from my usual stomping grounds and check out the surrounding areas like Edisto Island.

I already knew there are many small family cemeteries secreted away deep in swamps, forests and old plantations. However, they’re also mostly on private land and the owners don’t welcome uninvited guests. So I ended up going to the bigger church ones, which were certainly amazing in their own right.

One of the signs I saw when I drove onto Edisto Island.

The Edistow (that’s how they spelled it) Indians were living on the island when Spanish Jesuits established a mission there in the 1500s but abandoned it within the year. Those Indians were all but gone by 1750 due to displacement and disease.

English Lord Proprietors who held dominion over North and South Carolina purchased land from Indians, then granted land on Edisto and other islands for planting rice. The Paul Grimball family (at Point of Pines) were the first Europeans to live on Edisto in 1683. Spanish pirates destroyed the Grimball house in 1686, but its ruins remain.

During the 1700s, South Carolina, including Edisto, exported record amounts of rice to Europe and Caribbean buyers. For a short period they exported indigo, too. During the Revolutionary War, most planters fled to the mainland. The British destroyed property and sold many slaves to the West Indies. In 1785, Edisto began growing long-staple cotton from seeds locally developed.

I did make a stop at the Geechie Boy Market and Grocery Store, having heard that their doughnuts were pretty tasty. The Johnsman family has operated a mill on their local farm since 2007, selling hand-milled grits, corn meal and other grains. And by the way, those doughnuts lived up to their reputation. Delicious!

Stopping for doughnuts at the Geechie Boy Market and Mill is a must. So is sitting in their giant red Adirondack chair!

Not far down the road you’ll find the Presbyterian Church on Edisto (PCE) and its graveyard. The congregation is thought to have started meeting in the 1680s, but the first official pastor was not installed until 1704 with the Rev. John McLeod, a Scottish native. The current church was built in 1830, with updates and renovations over the years.

The Presbyterian Church’s current building dates from 1830. But the graveyard has burials as early as the 1780s.

By 1860, Edisto’s slave population of about 5,000 made possible local prosperity from sea island cotton. Wealthy planters built antebellum homes on the island and some of them were members at the church. But all that changed when the Civil War started.

With the fall of Port Royal in 1861, white residents of Edisto evacuated under orders from the Confederate government. Union troops soon occupied Edisto and remained for many years. Black residents also remained. Those who were members of the church came down out of the balcony, then elected a session and pastor while continuing the worship of God.

The Presbyterian Church on Edisto currently has a membership of about 150.

Two years after the war’s close, Dr. William States Lee (the church’s pastor since 1821) and several white members got a writ from the occupying Federal government returning the church sanctuary and grounds to the white members. The black members went down the road and founded the Edisto Presbyterian Church. According to church literature, Dr. Lee wrote that the event was peaceful while others remembered it as very tense. Today, both congregations are members of Charleston-Atlantic Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

The graveyard that surrounds the church dates back to the 1770s and boasts a wide variety of monuments and markers. Some of are very worn and difficult to read. The grandest ones representing the wealthier church members are around back and closest to the church itself.

Names like Seabrook, Mikell, Whaley and Eding can be seen in the graveyard.

Near the front is a memorial to those who perished in the June 14, 1838 wreck of the Steamboat Pulaski. Eight church members, including pastor Rev. James Joseph Murray and his family, were among the victims. A total of 130 passengers and crew died in the tragedy. The death toll was said to have been the greatest suffered to that point by a steam-powered vessel.

When the Pulaski’s boiler blew up, the explosion swept some passengers into the sea and scalded others to death.

The Pulaski (bound for Baltimore) left Savannah on June 13, 1838, and arrived in Charleston later that day. After taking on passengers in Charleston the following day, it headed north with nearly 190 passengers and crew.

At around 11 p.m. on June 14, one of the Pulaski’s boilers exploded. The explosion blew off the ship’s promenade deck, according to an account published by survivor Rebecca Lamar in 1854. “At the same time the bulkhead between the boilers and forward cabin was stove in, the stairway to it blocked up, and the bar-room swept away,” she recalled.

The explosion swept some passengers into the sea and scalded others to death. Irreparably damaged, after 45 minutes it split in two with a crash. Shortly after, both halves sank.

The Pulaski left Savannah on June 13, 1838, and arrived in Charleston later that day. After taking on passengers in Charleston the following day, it headed north with nearly 190 passengers and crew. (Photo source: The Cotton Boll Conspiracy Web site)

Several dozen passengers and crew survived the explosion and found themselves in the water as the ship sank, either in lifeboats or floating amid debris. Two of the lifeboats started rowing for the North Carolina shore. But other survivors aboard a third lifeboat and a raft were unaware others had made for the coast and spent several days at sea.

Eight church members died when the Pulaski went down. A total of about 60 people survived among the 190 passengers and crew on board.

Over the next few days, several in the second group would succumb to injuries, exhaustion or thirst before the schooner Henry Camerdon, headed to Wilmington, N.C., came upon the survivors and rescued them.

An inquiry concluded that the engineers had improperly operated the boilers on the ship, causing the explosion. Gradually, public opinion led Congress to pass regulations that governed steamer inspections. The tragedy soon faded from memory, except for those whose families were touched forever by it.

Two of the victims that were church members were Sarah Ann Mikell Edings (27) and her daughter, Sarah Josephine (5). She left behind husband William Edings and their children. She and her daughter’s bodies were never recovered.

A prosperous planter, William Edings’ first wife died in the Steamboat Pulaski tragedy. The Edings family had deep roots on Edisto, the resort village of Edingsville Beach having been named after them.

In the back of the graveyard is the elaborate monument for William Edings, a prosperous planter.  After the death of his wife and child, William married the widow Hess Marion Waring Smith Mikell in 1844. She had three sons of her own. She and William would have several children together, a number of whom died in childhood and are buried beside William. He died in 1858 at the age of 49.

I believe the famous Charleston stone carver William T. White created William’s grand monument, a column cut off at the top to signify a life cut short. I didn’t see his name on it but White’s name does appear at the bottom of his sons’ markers located behind his in the plot.

“A bright bird parted for a clearer sky”…

Buried beside these are two other children, William Seabrook Edings and Horace Waring Edings, both of them slab markers done by White. Son William Smith Edings lived to adulthood and is buried in the family plot.

The detail of the angel bearing aloft a child is quite intricate. Not surprising considering who carved it. I have seen this motif often on Southern grave stones, but this example is one of the best.

Hess struggled after William’s death and the ensuing Civil War. She fought to get a certificate of ownership of the family’s land on Bayfield Plantation after the war, and was only able to do so by sending a desperate letter to a general who helped her. After receiving the certificate in May 1865, she was about to support her family with crops raised on the plantation despite the fact the family home was burned.

William S. Edings was only eight years old when his father died. But he eventually took over running the family plantation with his brother David.

From census records, it appears she lived on Edisto with a maiden daughter (Juliet) and two of her bachelor sons (William and David, who ran the place). The 1900 U.S. Census sadly noted that of the 12 children she had given birth to, only three were still alive. She died in 1906 but her burial site is unknown. William and sister Juliet shared a home until his sudden death from a heart problem in 1918. He is buried at PCE in the Edings plot. David and Juliet’s death dates and burial sites are unknown.

Next time, I’ll be back with the “ghost story” of Julia Legare. There’s a lot of misinformation floating around about her, but she was a real person who is indeed buried in the PCE graveyard.



Stopping by St. Lawrence Cemetery: More Adventures in Charleston, S.C., Part III

I’d like to wrap up my series on St. Lawrence Cemetery by showing you some more of the monuments and markers that got my attention while I was wandering around.

The one that got me the most excited was this one. Seeing an Abrams cast iron grave cover is like winning a lottery in my world. I let out a shriek of joy in my car when I caught sight of it.

You may remember I did a post on Joseph R. Abrams, inventor of the cast iron grave cover, a few years ago. I first saw one in Fairburn City Cemetery and have delighted in discovering them ever since.

A successful businessman, Abrams designed and received a patent for a unique cast iron grave cover in the 1870s. They’re usually found in Southeastern states but you can occasionally find one in Texas or the Midwest. Abrams spent his last years in Alabama and is buried there in Greenville Cemetery, where you can see a big collection of these markers. He died in 1880, only a few years after his patents were granted. They were made mostly for children’s graves because of their smaller size.

This is the first time I’ve seen an Abrams grave cover in this color before.

What sets this one apart is that it’s painted a coppery color, which I’ve never seen before. I don’t know if it was this way originally or if someone painted it later. It certainly made it easier to spot from my car.

If you look closely, you can see Abrams’ name and the years of his patents (November 1873 and Mary 1874) on the edge of the marker.

These graves covers, when originally made, had a name plate attached to the back. Because of the nature of the metal aging over time, most have broken off. The only identification is the name R.C. Millings on the plot border. Born in 1833, Richard Millings was a Charleston merchant who sold various items over the years, from boots/shoes to furniture.

The seashell finial on top is cracked but still intact. Other covers featured an infant underneath flowers or an open book.

I don’t believe this is the grave of Richard Millings but for one of his children. These covers were manufactured in the 1870s and early 1880s. Millings died at the age of 80 of dysentery in 1905, long after these stopped being made. His wife, Emma, died in 1913 and is buried in a different plot with her own slab marker. It’s possible he is buried beside this child in this plot, but I don’t know for sure.

One of the more unusual monuments was for Barnard Fitzsimons, erected by his sister Mary Ann. I had little idea that there was quite a story behind the settlement of his estate. There’s even a clue on the monument itself.

Upon first glance, you wouldn’t know the drama behind this monument.

Barnard Fitzsimons and his sister, Mary Ann, were natives of County Down, Ireland. They came to America as children and were living in Charleston by 1850. Barnard was a successful saddler, operating a harness store. Sometime between 1850 and 1859, Barnard (then in his 30s) married Pamela Carre (or Carrie) from Augusta, Ga. Their only daughter, Eugenia, was born in 1857.

This detailed hourglass on the Fitzsimons monument was a motif more common in the early 1800s. It was done by R.D. White, one of several Whites who were carvers that created stunning monuments throughout Charleston and the Carolinas.

The trouble started after Barnard died in 1859 at the age of 42 (according to his death records, it was from “brain compression”). His will left his entire estate to Mary Ann and Eugenia, even leaving the young child in her care. As this was on the eve of the Civil War, the timing was unfortunate. Pamela took Eugenia and headed for Augusta before settling in Savannah to live with family. Needless to say, Mary Ann was not happy with her sister-in-law.

Mary Ann filed a lawsuit against Pamela that reached the U.S. Supreme Court in 1867. Being that Confederate bonds backed the estate, who got what became even messier. After reading the case report a few times, I still don’t understand what the result was.

An inscription on Barnard Fitzsimons’ monument. I’ve not seen it on any other monument before.

From what I can gather, Eugenia remained with her mother in Savannah and never lived with Mary Ann in Charleston. Mary Ann is listed in the 1879 Charleston directory as living alone. In the 1880 U.S. Census, Eugenia is listed as living in the household of her aunt and uncle along with her mother. Pamela died in 1900 and is buried in Savannah’s Catholic Cemetery. Eugenia never married and died in 1935. She is buried beside her mother.

Mary Ann must have smarted over the loss of her brother and felt animosity toward her sister-in-law. That can be inferred from an inscription on the side of Barnard’s monument in which she claims it is erected “By the only surviving relative to mourn his loss. A most devoted sister.” She died of typhoid in 1889 in Charleston and is buried at St. Lawrence but has no marker of her own. I suspect she is buried beside her brother.

Barnard’s sister had to have the last word.

By contrast, the grave of little Alice Croak is quite humble. It is a metal enclosure with a simple battered sign on one end. She does have a stone beside it that I think came later. The child of New York natives James Croak (a pipe fitter in a shipyard) and Jenny Connor Croak, she only lived about a year before she died of “general biliary tuberculosis.” I’m thinking her father, skilled in working with metal, might have made this simple marker for his little girl.

Little Alice Croak’s father, a pipe fitter, may have made this humble marker for his daughter.

Alice’s sister, Agnes, would died five years later.

I didn’t get a picture of it, but Alice had an older sister named Agnes who is also buried at St. Lawrence. Born in 1911, she died five years after Agnes in 1920. Her cause of death is listed as “encephalitis lethargica”.

The term puzzled me until I learned that Agnes was one of about a million people around the world affected by the malady known as “sleeping sickness” between 1915 and 1926. A third died in the acute stage of the illness. It often started with an influenza‐like illness, followed by increasing drowsiness and confusion, progression to continuous sleep, stupor and finally coma. If you saw the 1990 movie “Awakenings” starring Robin Williams and Robert DeNiro, you have some idea of what it was.

This unusual mosaic-tiled obelisk marks the grave of immigrant Pietro Celotta. Born in 1861 in the Northern Italian village of Vodo Cadore, he arrived in New York in 1885 with his father, Michelangelo, and brother, Constantine. The ship’s manifest lists them as bound for Alabama.

Pietro Celotta had only been living in Charleston about 19 months when he died.

At some point, Pietro moved to Charleston and worked as a confectioner. He had only been living there for 19 months when he contracted influenza and died in 1891 at the age of 30. He never married.

It looks like various repairs have been made over the years to the mosaic-pieced monument.

I was drawn to Fannie Moore Bickley’s grave for its beautiful profusion of blowers beneath a dove. The detail is stunning. The wife of John Bickley, Fannie died in 1895 at the age of 31. She suffered from Bright’s Disease, a kidney ailment.

A dove (one wing is chipped) sits amid a profusion of blooms.

The craftsmanship of this old iron gate to the Henry Oliver plot caught my eye. Despite the fact it is 118 years old, it has aged fairly well all things considered.

Despite its age, the gate to the Henry Oliver plot is in good shape.

This final monument I included because I’ve seen one quite like it in Augusta, Ga. at Magnolia Cemetery (not the Magnolia Cemetery next door). They were actually carved the same year, 1888. The two women died about two months apart. The extreme draping, held by an angel, must have been a popular motif at the time.

Here’s the one I saw in Augusta. Notice that the draping covers Maude Mathewson’s last name. I had to look it up on Find a Grave to find out what it was.

Maude Mathewson’s grave marker in Augusta, Ga. looks a lot like Henrietta Murray’s.

A native of Ireland, Henrietta died of heart disease at the age of 53. She was married to steamboat captain John Murray.

In this case, because her husband John’s name is inscribed in full below hers, we know that Henrietta’s last name was Murray. That’s a lot more helpful (in my mind) than what the carver did on Maude’s monument. The intricacy of the draping is more elaborate than Maude’s as well, detailed with lots of fringe and a tassel.

So it’s farewell to St. Lawrence now and hello to Edisto Island, an hour’s drive from Charleston…