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 landA 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.

Entrance to Children's Graveyard

The entrance to the cemetery is across the street from a McDonalds and next door to Holmes Bible College. The former public road is full of huge potholes so I elected to park my small car at the McDonalds and walk in. The road divided property owned by the church on the right side of the road from property owned by varying members of the Thackston family on the left side of the road. I began my explorations on the left side of the road and found these ruins:

Front of building ruins

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:

Eliza Ann JacobsMattie B. Cooper

But for many others, not so much:

Elizabeth Martin MillerDesecrated tombstone

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.

Mary Nix and broken tombstonesErnest H. Neely

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!
Lone toy bear
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:
Wrapper

Only the best will do when "getting freaky" in a cemetery I suppose.

I had no luck finding any trace of the church. A plat survey from 1939 doesn't show the location of the church, but it does show where the original Duncan Chapel School's quarter acre was located. When you overlay the plat with Greenville County's GIS, you get a very accurate fix on where it was:
Plat overlayed with a GIS map of the area

According to the plat, the school was located just behind where The Vinings apartment complex is today. The location isn't the easiest place to get to, but I managed. I didn't find ruins of the school itself, but I did find some ruins that showed something was there. Like this:
DSC02438-1

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.

Useful links:
Pleasant Tripp

Comments

  1. Hey Mark! Looks like you had an interesting visit, and the photography is great! Thanks for the shout-out, BTW. If you've got some ideas about new places to visit, let me know! I'm about ready to hit about ghost town.

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  2. Will do! ... if I should somehow manage to find any ghost towns/buildings you don't already know about, that is!

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  3. I was out there just this past weekend, I noticed that many of the surrounding trees are being bulldozed down. I don't know if they are planning on going further in and leveling the graveyard itself, but it's sad if that is their plan. The clerk at the Hickory Point didn't know of the plans or why the trees were being taken out. I hope that if they do level the graveyard, that they have the decency to relocate those buried there.

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    Replies
    1. I read somewhere (I wish I had bookmarked that) a few months ago the owner has no plans to do anything with the graveyard. Last I heard about some folks back went there in May to help cleanup the site.

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    2. my great grandparents are buried there along with other memembers of my family. so sad the builder is going to build around it and there is no law to make them take care and not harm the headstones. many are broken now from trees falling.

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  4. So I passed the road for the children's cemetery and it is completely flattened now. Just wondering if you knew anything about it or if the graves have been relocated? Thanks just wondering

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    Replies
    1. Good news from a quick Google search: http://www.wspa.com/story/26572553/graveyard-will-remain-at-greenville-co-store-development

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    2. Thank you for replying. Happy to know they are preserving the cemetery.

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