A visit to the Children's Graveyard
Now that the outdoor temperatures are more reasonable, it's time to get out and explore the outdoors. Recently, I visited the place now known as the Children's Graveyard or more formally as the Duncan Chapel Methodist Church cemetery. I had heard about the cemetery from ghost town hunter Tom over at his RandomConnections blog some months ago and decided then to visit whenever the temperature and humidity dropped. Now that the time was right I took my camera and decided to see what there was left to see.
Duncan Chapel Methodist Church was built sometime back in the 1850s on land owned by P. E. Duncan and later sold by Duncan to the church. The first Duncan Chapel School was built on a quarter acre in the late 1870s on land sold by the church. The church ceased to function sometime in the 1920s and was sold off in 1939 according to the deed selling off the church land. A second, larger Duncan Chapel School was built a small distance away in the 1910s and so the first school was abandoned. No ruins of the church or the school exist anymore. The church cemetery is still around, although it is not exactly in anything resembling good condition.
Some have speculated that these are the ruins of the church. But that can't be true since this land was never owned by the church but by the Thackstons. I had heard the building may have been Thackston's dairy business but I found no bottles or anything else to support that idea.
Having explored the left side of the road, I moved on to the right side where the cemetery is. Some markers are still in good shape:
But for many others, not so much:
One weird curiosity I expected to find more of were children's toys left at the tombstones. I found two tombstones with toys, but I've seen pictures of other tombstones with toys that had none on my visit. Supposedly, ghost hunters and other paranormal seekers will leave these items in an attempt to draw out spirits. While ghosts are good material for spooky stories, they don't really exist. So while I believe they're wasting their time, they also aren't doing the graves any harm either.
I found one lone toy bear laying face down. I'm sure there is no paranormal symbolism involved here, but I couldn't help but try to invent something!
I didn't hear or see anything unusual or get creeped out while exploring the cemetery. Then again, I don't believe in ghosts or anything else paranormal so perhaps the sprits avoided me. I did find one item that might explain some of the screaming and moaning people have heard in the cemetery:
Only the best will do when "getting freaky" in a cemetery I suppose.
|Plat overlayed with a GIS map of the area|
I also found two rusting metal drums (one mostly buried) filled with concrete that I couldn't move even if I wanted to. I was on the lookout for a spring where the students would drink from because of this quote from Duncan Chapel Elementary's history page:
The day is hot but there are no fans; the only water comes from a spring near the building where you wait your turn to drink from a metal dipper.But all I ever found in my search was a dried up creek bed. With no creek, I gave up on finding the spring. I did run across a turtle that wasn't sure if I were friend or foe. I have no doubt that turtle was happy to see me go!
Speaking of going, it was time for me to do the same. I'm fascinated by ghost towns, abandoned buildings, and other relics of the past so I'll be off again soon to someplace where everyone except vandals and history geeks have forgotten.
Update April 2016: A 1938 USGS topo map reveals the old public road was actually the original route of Duncan Chapel Road. Not that it matters anymore, since the road and everything else except the cemetery were wiped away to build a Walmart grocery store.
- History of Duncan Chapel Elementary by Debbie Spear. A short history of the three Duncan Chapel Schools.
- Haunted Children's Graveyard by Eric at A Day's Drive From Greenville, SC. Eric's visit to the cemetery from 2008.
- The Children's Graveyard by Tom at RandomConnections. Tom's visit from 2008.
- Children's Graveyard - Followup and History by Tom at RandomConnections. Tom's followup describes the references to Duncan Chapel he was able to find.
- Children's Cemetery Oddities by Tom at RandomConnections. Tom goes back for more in 2010 and finds toys. Yes, toys!