Historical church visits newly discovered gravesite
By Dawson Jordan
On Darlington’s Clemson extension campus lies the recently discovered Pleasant Grove Cemetery. On Thursday, October 27th, members of Clemson Extension invited the community, who has relations with those buried in the site, to meet and discuss the future of the site. All present discussed who the graves could possibly belong to, how they can further understand their heritage, and how to properly preserve the site. Members of New Providence church, and Pleasant Grove Baptist Church all came out to visit the historic site since they had members from the original church buried there. Brockington and Associates, a cultural resource company, gave a brief demonstration on how they plan on surveying the property for a better understanding of layout, size and just how many grave sites it contains.
The site was discovered by members of the Clemson campus who immediately called Darlington’s historian, Brian Gandy. Shortly after its initial discovery, university staff officially marked it as a historical gravesite. The historical commission provided some death certificates from people in that time and area and accurately matched some of the tombstones.
Many buried at the site were members of the original Pleasant Grove Baptist church, the oldest African-American Church in the area but others were discovered as well.
After the area was cleared and the known graves were marked, the university staff invited members of the churches and possible family members to go and look at the site and then help in the preservation. Some headstones were still standing, and others were marked with funeral home markers. Many graves were not even marked but were indentions in the ground in long straight rows, going east to west, and averaging 2 feet wide by 5 feet long. These arrangements consisted of multiple rows, further showing its resemblance as an old graveyard.
This is one of five other historical graveyards discovered on the Pee Dee Rec property. They include the Pleasant Grove/old Dargan site, Piter Center Pond, William Standard, and a possible Native American site.