The Children's Graveyard

A decaying cemetery locals call The Children's Graveyard near the intersection of Old Buncombe Road and Duncan Chapel Road a few miles north of Greenville, SC is the most visible remains of where Duncan Chapel Methodist Church once stood. The "residents" of the cemetery are listed at Find A Grave. Also nearby on 1/4 acre of land deeded by the church was Duncan Chapel Public School until it moved to a new location in 1917. I tried to link in the entry to every piece of available information about the church, graveyard, and school.

Several bloggers have already visited and written about the site:
I haven't gone there yet, but I will when colder weather kills off some of the vegetation. I will post a followup with pictures when I do.

Google's news archives turned up two stories about the chapel. The first story is from The Charleston Mercury titled Telegraphic Intelligence from October 25, 1858 (half way down the fourth column) describes the dedication service held in the chapel. The second story in the Spartanburg Herald-Journal with the headline 16 Changes Made in Methodist Appointments in Spartanburg District (second to last paragraph) noting that Duncan Chapel had been "discontinued".

While the church is long gone, three schools to date have been named for it. The first school was on a 1/4 acre property carved out from church property. The second one was on property purchased in 1917. The third one was built on property purchased in 1953 adjoining the second one. Duncan Chapel Elementary's website has a brief page about its history.

I found more information about the church and school by searching Greenville County's Register of Deeds (before 1990) website. I've listed them below sorted by date:
  • October 16, 1860, Book Y, page 955: Perry E. Duncan and his wife Mary sell land for Duncan Chapel. The church was called Duncan's Chapel and Greenville County was called Greenville District in the deed.
  • November 29, 1878 (recorded 1887), Book TT, page 374: 1/4 acre sold by the church for a public school.
  • January 6, 1908, Book WWW, page 177: the same 1/4 acre deeded again by the church. Unfortunately, the rather terse document doesn't explain why the second deed was deemed necessary.
  • June 6, 1917, Book 36, page 260: Nearby land bought for a second Duncan Chapel School off of Duncan Chapel Road on the east side of Old Buncombe Road.
  • January 1939, Plat Book J, page 49: Plat survey done in preparation for sale of land. The survey shows the location of the old school, Duncan Road (now called Thackston Drive) and an even older road that goes past the old school. If you view the former church property at GCGIS, the dashed red line follows the abandoned road.
  • February 20, 1939, Book 209, page 273 [continued]: Duncan Chapel Methodist Church land sold to W.C. and Ruth Stewart. The deed references two potential good sources of information about the end of Duncan Chapel: page 30 of the 1923 Minutes of the Upper South Carolina Conference of the M. E. Church and page 36 of the 1938 session of the conference.
  • May 9, 1941: W.C. and Ruth Stewart sell the Duncan Chapel property in Book 233, page 177 [continued] to Jerry Goldsmith for $2000. Jerry Goldsmith then sells the property that same day for $10 to members of the Thackston family in Book 233, page 169 [continued].  Both deeds mention that the road is the be left open as long as the cemetery is maintained on the lot.  
  • May 9, 1941, Book 233, page 169: The Thackston family buys the former Duncan Church property.
  • January 30, 1942, Book 242, page 273: The 1/4 acre formerly occupied by Duncan Chapel School is formally abandoned to the Thackstons.
  • July 17, 1953, Book 482, page 134: Property bought for a third school, Duncan Chapel Elementary, adjoining the property bought in 1917. The current Duncan Chapel Elementary still occupies this property.
  • June 12, 1947, Book 580, page 351: A triangular strip is deeded back to James Thackston. That strip is represented by the red dashed lines in GCGIS's view of an adjoining property.
  • August 23, 1977, Book 1064, page 723: The road now known as Thackston Drive is formally abandoned. It has also been called Duncan Road and Old Duncan Chapel Road.
Update (11/13/2011): I have visited the Children's Graveyard as promised.


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