Unmarked graves at Clemson. Could there be some at HBCUs?


Journalist

Listen up maggots! And that's an order!
Remember, the land Clemson sits on was once a plantation ... owned by John C. Calhoun.

Southern-Baton Rouge and Prairie View are among HBCU campuses that sit on former plantation land.
———
They were buried more than 100 years ago, their bodies laid to rest on a steep hillside without tombstones. But these eternal resting spots were mostly forgotten to time.

Until now.

Clemson University is working to find exactly who is buried in 604 unmarked graves -- which undoubtedly belong to enslaved peoples, domestic workers, sharecroppers and convict laborers who lived, worked and died on the university's land in the 1800s -- found in the on-campus Woodland Cemetery.

The discovery ignited a long-held, but not oft-discussed, truth about lands that once served as plantations, according to the site's lead researcher.

"Long before a university or a college campus community, this place was an African American community," University Historian Paul Anderson said.

 
Yes, There's a slave cemetery at PV. Wyatt Chapel cemetery.
------------
This cemetery is located on land that was originally part of Jared E. Kirby's Alta Vista Plantation. According to oral tradition, the Kirby family set aside this land as a burial site for their slaves, as well as slaves from nearby Liendo Plantation, owned by Kirby's cousin, Leonard Waller Croce. The numerous unmarked graves here are believed to date to the Antebellum period, when most slaves would not have had the resources to erect lasting grave markers. The cemetery continued to be used by African Americans after the Civil War ands after Kirby's widow, Helen Marr Swearingen Kirby, deeded the plantation to the state in 1876 for the Alta Vista College for Colored Youth (now Prairie View A&M University). Later, the cemetery became associated with and named for Wyatt Chapel, a nearby African American church. The oldest marked grave is that of Mattie (Wyatt) Wells (d. 1882), the daughter of a former slave. Area religious leaders, veterans of World Wars I and II, and former slaves and their descendants are also buried here. Used until the 1950s, the cemetery remains a tangible reminder of African Americans' historic presence in this area.


---
Wyatt Chapel Cemetery is thought to contain the graves of over 2,000 black slaves and itinerant workers associated with the Liendo and Alta Vista Plantations. As was the custom of the day, most of these burials were never recorded or marked. Some burials occurred during the first half of the 20th century, but this cemetery fell into disrepair and was later abandoned.
 
Last edited:
Click here to visit HBCUSportsStore
Back
Top