South Carolina Cemeteries

In Memoriam: Robert Smalls, Tabernacle Baptist Church Cemetery – Beaufort County

February 17, 2015

Robert Smalls memorial Beaufort SC Copyright 2014 Nadia Orton
Memorial to Robert Smalls, Beaufort, SC. Photo: Nadia K Orton, December 13, 2014.

Monument inscription: “Robert Smalls, Tabernacle Baptist Church Cemetery. Beaufort, South Carolina. Epitaph: “My race needs no special defense. For the past history of them in this country proves them to be the equal of any people anywhere. All they need is an equal chance in the battle of life.” Robert Smalls, Nov. 1, 1895.

On Tuesday, February 23, occurred the death of one of the race’s most noted characters, General Robert Smalls, in his seventy-sixth year of age. He had been sick for about ten months at his home on Prince street, and all the members of the family were around the bedside when the end came.
Born in Beaufort on April 5, 1839, he was a river pilot by profession. During the civil war he was used as pilot by the Confederates on a privateer, the Planter, which had been fitted out as a gunboat.

New York Age, March 4, 1915

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Beaufort National Cemetery: United States Colored Troops — Beaufort County

June 10, 2015

USCT Beaufort National Cemetery Copyright 2014 Nadia Orton

United States Colored Troops, Section 29

Our family paid a visit to Beaufort National Cemetery, Beaufort, South Carolina, in early December, 2014. While there, I snapped a photo of some of the United States Colored Troops. It was Wreaths Across America Day at the cemetery, and there were hundreds of people present, prepared to pay homage to the fallen by decorating each grave with a wreath. Recently, the South Carolina Department of Archives and History announced they were holding a photo contest of historic sites in the state. I thought “why not?,” and submitted this photo. Surprisingly, it was selected by staff as one of the ten finalists. I didn’t win, though. That honor went to an amazing photo of an old African American school. I’m still tickled my pic made it to the top ten. Thanks so much to the staff of the South Carolina Department of Archives and History! ♦


Roseville Plantation Slave and Freedman’s Cemetery/Clarke Cemetery – Florence County

September 7, 2015

Clarke Cemetery Historical Marker, Florence, SC. Photo: Nadia K. Orton, September 7, 2015

This cemetery is sometimes called “the Clarke Cemetery” after the family that owned Roseville from Reconstruction until 1948. It is about 150 ft. square, and though it contains relatively few gravemarkers, it includes at least 150 and as many as 250 or more graves. Slaves, freedmen,and their descendants were buried here for two hundred years, from the 1770s to the 1970s.

Marker 21-18, Erected by the Roseville Slave Cemetery Committee, 2004
Roseville Plantation Slave and Freedman’s Cemetery Historical Marker, Florence, South Carolina. Photo: Nadia K. Orton, September 7, 2015

This was originally the slave cemetery for Roseville Plantation. Roseville, established about 1771 by the Dewitt family,was later owned by the Brockinton, Bacot, and Clark families from the 1820s through the Civil War. A 1200-acre plantation, it had more than 100 slaves living and planting cotton here by 1850.”

Marker 21-18. Erected by the Roseville Slave Cemetery Committee, 2004
Roseville Plantation Historical Marker, Florence, SC. Photo: Nadia K. Orton, September 7, 2015

Roseville Plantation was established by a royal grant before the American Revolution and a house was built here ca. 1771 for the Dewitt family. Richard Brockinton (d. ca. 1843), planter and state representative, purchased Roseville in 1821. Most of the house burned ca. 1832,and a second house was built on the original foundation for Brockinton and his wife Mary Hart about 1835.

Marker 21-11. Erected by the Ellison Capers Chapter, United Daughters of the Confederacy, 1998.
Roseville Plantation, main drive. Photo: Nadia K. Orton, September 7, 2015
Roseville Plantation Historical Marker, Florence, SC. Photo: Nadia K. Orton, September 7, 2015.

In the 1850s the plantation passed to  nephew Peter Samuel Bacot Clarke (1832-1911) was born here and was later a Confederate nurse and diarist. The Clarkes remodeled the house ca. 1885 and ca. 1910. Roseville was restored by the Tucker family and listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1997.

Marker 21-11. Erected by the Ellison Capers Chapter, United Daughters of the Confederacy, 1998.

Voices of Liberation and Freedom: The Fall of Richmond, April 3, 1865

April 3, 2018

Richmond, the Confederate capital, entered by the Union army. nypl.org https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e0-ff22-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

Today is the 153rd anniversary of the liberation of Richmond, Virginia, by Union forces during America’s Civil War, 1861-1865. The first soldiers to enter Richmond were the “colored” regiments of the Union Army, ranks formed of free and formerly enslaved African-Americans.

Our own ancestors were a part of this collective sacrifice and struggle for freedom, escaping slavery where they were held in bondage, and serving with the 1st, 2nd, 10th, 36th, and 37th Regiments of the United States Colored Infantry, the 1st and 2nd Regiments of the United States Colored Cavalry, and as domestics, laundresses, and messengers in and around Union camps and hospitals. This post reflects just a few of the sites I’ve visited over the years that chronicle the long road to freedom. Continue reading