Vandalized grave marker recovered
By Samantha Lyles, Staff Writer, firstname.lastname@example.org
Another incident of vandalism has damaged a grave marker at the historic Lowther’s Hill Cemetery, located off Cashua Ferry Road in Darlington County.
“The memorial stone marking the grave of Confederate Navy diver Pvt. Moses Sanders Bacote was broken in half about five weeks ago. Someone took a sledge hammer and broke it,” says Brian Gandy, director of Darlington County Historical Commission.
While the Commission was in the process of filing paperwork to get a new grave marker, vandals returned to finish the job.
“Somebody decided to go out there and steal both pieces of the stone,” says Gandy, noting that pieces of a broken ratchet strap were found at the site.
Ironically, the vandals might have been motivated by racism, as Gandy notes that some people he spoke with during his investigation observed that Bacote was “that African American” soldier. He says that some expressed surprise to learn that Moses Sanders Bacote was actually caucasian.
“That shouldn’t matter. A grave stone is sacred; sometimes it’s the only thing left standing as a tribute to who those people were. And we should honor that regardless of color. That shouldn’t have anything to do with race,” says Gandy.
The stolen grave marker was dumped over a bridge into Black Creek, but an observant motorist (who had read about the vandalism on Facebook) saw the stone after the water level dropped, recovered it and brought it to the Historical Commission.
Moses Sanders Bacote’s grave marker now joins several others removed from the Lowther’s Hill Cemetery and stored for safe keeping at the Commission. That burial site holds the remains of several local heroes, including Revolutionary War veteran Major Robert Lide, planter John Westfield Lide, and Hartsville founder Thomas E. Hart.
Gandy observes that the vandalism of grave sites is a poor reflection on society, and he hopes that anyone with information about these crimes will contact law enforcement.
“It’s like Benjamin Franklin said – show me your cemeteries, and I’ll show you what kind of people you have,” says Gandy.