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08/02/2019

Community to clean up historic cemetery

The Darlington Memorial Cemetery Association has organized a Community Clean Up Day beginning at 6 a.m. on Saturday, August 17, at the cemetery on D Avenue.

Volunteers are asked to bring gloves, weed eaters, chainsaws, lawnmowers, or trailers if they have any. Water, Gatorade, and hot dogs will be provided.

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“We are asking all the sororities, fraternities, Masons, Eastern Stars, Elks, veterans, Shriners, Mayo High School alumni and graduates, and especially those with family members buried there to come out and donate some time to help restore the cemetery,” says Council member Sheila Baccus. She has been assisting the Association as it tries to rejuvenate this historic site that is located within her Ward.

The late nineteenth century African American cemetery was established by the descendants of those buried there. Macedonia Baptist Church, Bethel AME Church, and St. James Methodist Church put together 16 acres over the years, beginning with just 5 acres in 1890. The site, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, served as the only African American cemetery within the city limits of Darlington until 1946.

One of the oldest and largest private burial sites in the Pee Dee region, the Darlington City Cemetery, as it is also known, contains 1,900 interments both marked and unmarked.

Members of the Association have said, “How we take care of our ancestral monuments reflects how we care for and think about ourselves. If we do not protect our cemeteries, no one else will.”

In 2009, the City worked with this organization and the S.C. Department of Archives and History to create a master plan for the cemetery. The City continues to look for grants to enact this plan.

The cemetery has several prominent figures buried on site, including religious leaders, public servants, and educators, specifically, Rev. Isaac P. Brockenton, James Lawrence Cain, Edmund H. Deas, Lawrence Reese, and Dr. Mable K. Howard. Among the buried are veterans from the Confederate States of America Army, the Spanish American War, World War I and II, Korean War, and Vietnam War.

The organization also is soliciting donations to fund the ongoing maintenance needs of the property. Make donations payable to the Darlington Memorial Cemetery.

For information or questions, call Ms. Baccus at 843-307-2287 or email shelabig@yahoo.com.

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