Halloween Series: Greenville Graveyards (Part One)
Time to dig into our favorite obsession. Our fascination with graveyards has unearthed some ghoulish ghosts! The upstate has its fair share of burial grounds. Some are more accessible than others. We ended up splitting the story into two parts – there’s just too much information to share in one post.
The most depressing discovery we encountered was during our search for cemeteries belonging to once thriving mills. Remember how Greenville was once the “Textile Center of the World?” Mill hills, as they were affectionately called, were tiny towns within a town, complete with cemeteries. Just like the mills they served, the graveyards were abandoned at the end of that era.
Monaghan Mill graveyard is located on Cedar Lane Road, renamed Riverside Holiness Baptist Church Cemetery. In a corner of the property, there’s a section of over fifty small infant headstones. I’ve read in several places that it was once called a children’s graveyard. One theory surrounding so many infant deaths is a malady called Pellagra. It is a deficiency of niacin. Many mill workers suffered from this malnutrition. The day we visited, there was a man lying beside one of these graves. We didn’t go near him for obvious reasons. When we turned to leave, he was gone. Maybe he was visiting family? Or maybe he wasn’t really there at all.
Poe Mill cemetery was destroyed by Boulevard Baptist Church. Paved over completely. All that remains is a marker with thirty-three names of the graves that could be identified. This takes burial to a whole new level, literally. I have to admit, this one made me pretty angry. Who decides to pave and build over human bodies buried in the ground? Those are people with families. Where do they go to pay respects or honor their memory?
Brandon Mill Excitedly, we took off with GPS in hand to 6 Melrose Avenue. Google listed this address for the cemetery. Imagine our disappointment when all we found at the location was “No Trespassing” signs. Due to the nature of the property, it was considered unsuitable for sale. Desperate for a resolution, the mill owners finally sold the land with all the graves for one dollar. Guess the current owners don’t readily receive visitors! Well, their backyard is full of visitors – just not the living kind.
Woodside Mill property was one of the most interesting. We’re not the bravest explorers. Walking through this graveyard was a little unnerving when we saw something suspended from a huge tree. A swing with really long ropes hung shockingly close to the ground. Who (or what) would swing there?! Not only am I not brave, but if you saw me on this day, you would see me hanging my arm out the window taking pictures from the moving car. Even then, my heart was racing. Sorry, walking through the property was not in the cards. It’s in the middle of a residential neighborhood, for crying out loud! I was just waiting for someone to come out and yell at me for snooping around. That would have been scarier than the forgotten graves.
These mill cemeteries – and I use that term loosely – are just plain sad. These men, women and children do not deserve to be forgotten beneath unmarked, overgrown graves.
Let’s move on from the mill hills and share another frightening find.
Duncan Chapel Cemetery, AKA Children’s Cemetery, was barely visible for years. The property used to belong to Duncan Chapel Methodist Church (1847). The church is gone, but the ghosts, I mean graves, remain. Some of them date all the way back to the 1700’s. Covered with brush and briars, it was difficult to walk through and see the tombstones. During one initial visit to the overgrown property, we found lots of small headstones. Stories circulated about the ghost of a little girl who would make occasional appearances to neighbors. Recently, with the demolition of the store in front, the graveyard has been cleared and exposed to passersby. Though it’s been called Children’s Cemetery, there are no more children’s graves than in other burial grounds.
The Walmart gas station is rumored to be a hot bed for haints. I don’t know what I believe, but let’s just say I fill my tank during day time hours.
Okay, running out of room (and I’m sure you’re running out of time).
Stay tuned for Part Two!