James Island slave cemetery uncovered

JAMES ISLAND, SC (WCSC) - Power crews uncovered gravestones belonging to former slaves and their descendants on James Island. The headstones date back to the 1950s and earlier.

They are part of the town's history, hidden for many years beneath trees and brush.

"It's been covered over for so many years as the island has transitioned over to so many new people, and even people that have lived their lives here but are relatively young wouldn't know, wouldn't have an idea that a cemetery was located there, so the clearing of the trees there allowed it for some people to be seen for the first time," said historian Doug Bostick.

Bostick and town officials have long known about the cemetery along Secessionville Road. They want to know more about who is buried there and how many people.

Historians say the land was once the Seabrook Plantation, known for harvesting sea island cotton. The people buried there were former slaves or their descendants.

Mayor Mary Clark says the town is working with a group called the "Commission to Preserve and Protect African American Cemeteries on James Island," as well as the landowner.

"I have contacted the person and asked them if the town could have permission to clean the underbrush off by hand," said Mayor Clark. "Boy Scouts will do it. The town will take away the refuse, limbs and whatever they pick up, but we will schedule that in the future."

The town expects to start clean up in the coming weeks. The cemetery preservation group says there are 13 other cemeteries throughout the island they hope to protect as well.

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