It’s almost Halloween, so graveyards are supposed to be spooky, right? Not to me. I find old cemeteries to be full of history, not haunts, especially in a town like Charleston, South Carolina.
On a recent October weekend, I wandered the downtown streets of Market and Meeting, entertaining myself while my husband and daughter were attending a business conference. I happened upon the cemetery at the Circular Congregational Church, established in 1681.
Can you guess why this church has circular as part of its name?
The old church itself is intriguing, but on a fine fall day, I was more interested in the surrounding graveyard. A sign invited me in, and I took a stroll. The “circular” architecture was even more apparent from behind the church. The old tombstones drew me like a magnet. I couldn’t wait to read the inscriptions.
I discovered the final resting place of the first mayor of Charleston, Richard Hutson. Look at the year he graduated Princeton! Note his many accomplishments: he was part of the founding body of the College of Charleston, a member of the South Carolina General Assembly from 1772-1794, served in the militia and imprisoned by the British during the Revolutionary War–well, you can keep reading.
I love the archaic wording at the top: “Herein Lie The Remains Of .”
You may have to enlarge the picture to read the inscriptions on the tombstones pictured below, especially the first. I’ll save you the time. The smaller one is inscribed with the name of Thomas Lehre, who died “in the 65th year of his age” in 1858.
His widow, Jane Carolina Lehre, has the larger tombstone (hmm) slightly in front of his. She died in 1892, “Aged 85 years and 7 months” (how’s that for being exact).
I especially like the inscription at the bottom of her tombstone:
“My flesh shall slumber in the ground. ‘Til the last trumpet’s sound; Then burst the bands with sweet surprise, and in my Savior’s image rise.”
That pretty much sums it up, doesn’t it?
How peaceful to “slumber” in such a cemetery, honored by a lovely tombstone under an old tree, its huge arms draped with Spanish moss. We should all be so fortunate (when the time comes, of course).
The Spanish moss on the trees in the graveyard deserves an extra picture.
The sight of a spire not too far away caused me to explore further. Around the corner, I found St. Philip’s Church, whose sign declared its denomination as Anglican and the year of establishment as 1680. Interesting. I thought the Anglican church became the Episcopal Church in America, but here’s one that didn’t (or reverted?).
St. Philip’s also has a cemetery open to the public. In fact, I met a tour group leaving as I entered. I wondered whether someone famous was buried within this historic graveyard.
I didn’t have to look long before I found the rather elaborate resting place of John C. Calhoun. I recognized his name but couldn’t remember until I read it on his tombstone that he had served as a vice-president of the United States (from 1825 to 1832, I learned when I googled). His tombstone/vault/crypt certainly indicates he was somebody important.
Accompanied by my daughter, I spent my afternoon in Charleston shopping on King Street. Not everyone shares my love of history, especially the kind found in old graveyards.