Finding information about the South Saluda Church online was difficult at best. The cemetery isn’t listed in Find-a-Grave, but it does show up on a GPS survey of cemeteries in the county. Sadly, this doesn’t provide any other information than location.
Mark made a trip to the library and was able to find William Blythe and William and Mattie Keith in a 1910 census for the county. They were identified as African American sharecroppers. This identified the church as an African American congregation, and Mark was able to find a deed for the church confirming this. Book SS, pages 834 and 835 states, in part, as follows:
I, Lizzie Hagood, in the State and County of aforesaid for and in consideration for the sum of five dollars and my regard for the religious benefit of the colored people of the Community have granted, bargained, sold, and released and by these presents do grand, bargain, sell and release unto the Deacons of South Saluda Ridge Colored Baptist Church … and their successors for the use of said church…
…Witness my hand and seal, this 13th day of August in the year of our Lord one thousand hundred and eighty-six. Johnson Hagood and Lizzie Hagood.
The church was established in this location in 1886. Most of the headstones in the cemetery are from the early 20th Century. This explains why I couldn’t find much with my usual resources. A small country African American church of that time would not have received much covered in the mainstream newspapers. The only time Blacks received recognition was if they did something bad or unusual. I found several such cases.
First up was a 1927 article from The Greenville News about “Uncle” Mack Boyd, one of the first names I identified on the headstones. This was an obituary that carried Boyd’s own account of how he was sold into slavery as a child in Anderson for $1000. The story is told in dialect that is cringe-worthy to modern ears. The manner of Boyd’s death in an automobile accident is told in graphic detail, more to evoke spectacle rather than sympathy. It states that he was buried at “South Saluda Baptist Church.”
On the other end was the obituary of Louise Hagood. With that last name I wondered if she were related to the original Hagoods on the deed. Louise died in 1967 and it says that she had been clerk at South Saluda.
One of the more interesting people was Mack Carr. I didn’t see his grave, but there were several of his offspring buried at South Saluda. The article I found stated that he was a successful sharecropper. Again the language from the time period is cringe-worthy.
In 1934 he was tried “on the charge of bastardy”, having a child out of wedlock. At least, I’m assuming this is the same Mack Carr and not someone with the same name, like a Junior.
Just a year later, Mack Carr died at the age of 63, assuming it was the same Mack Carr. It’s interesting that he is now referred to as a “respected Negro”, which makes me wonder if this was the same person. Regardless, he was rather prolific with two sons and seven daughters.
Some have said that an interest in cemeteries is morbid. I disagree. I find that these lives are fascinating. Especially in these marginalized communities I think it’s important that these people are remembered, not for any oddities, but as individuals who tried to get by as best they could. To me, this makes the preservation of the Tall Pines WMA all the more poignant. I’m glad that SCDNR was able to preserve it. I just hope that they are able to clean up the cemetery and give it the respect it deserves.