It’s strange how these discoveries start out, sometimes. I had popped out to run some errands – purchasing bulbs for a finicky light fixture in a bathroom, which required specialized bulbs from Home Depot. As always, I have at least one camera (besides my iPhone) with me in the car. I liked the way the afternoon light was falling on the buildings, so I decided to ride around Greenville a bit and take some photos.
My aimless wandering led me through the mill villages between Poinsett Highway and Old Buncombe Road. I soon found myself at the old American Spinning textile mill, exploring some of the shadier streets. That’s when I stumbled upon the old cemetery associated with the mill village. I had to get out and explore.
I had approached the cemetery from the rear. The area was fenced and there was a gate at the back, as well as an open lot. This made me wonder if the cemetery had been associated with a now-missing church. The “front” of the cemetery borders Fair Street.
Overall, the cemetery looked very neatly kept. Individual family plots were a bit overgrown, but for the most part everything was in good order. Most of the damage to stones looked like natural wear and tear.
The graves didn’t look particularly old. In fact, a couple of them looked quite recent, as if this were still an active cemetery.
I even found a family of Taylors. I don’t know if they are any relation, but I doubt it.
There were no signs to identify the cemetery. I couldn’t tell if it were another mill cemetery, or if it had been associated with a church. As with the cemetery I found a couple of weeks ago, there seemed to be lots of children’s markers. There were many with lamb figures. Sadly, most of the lambs had lost their heads due to weathering and deterioration.
I looked more closely at the back of the cemetery, where I had parked. There was one pile of rubble that might have been a church, but it was hard to tell.
I left and headed back toward the mill, snapping a couple of shots of it, and of a homeless encampment under a railroad bridge.
I drove through the mill village to see if there were any clue about the mysterious cemetery, but I found none. I decided to head on back home.
Even armed with all my online references, identifying the cemetery proved to be tricky. GNIS had no name listed for that location. I had several clear names with birth/death dates, so I went to Find-a-Grave and searched using that data. That led me to the correct name. This was, in fact, a mill cemetery. I had found the American Spinning Cemetery, also known as the Sampson Cemetery.
According to local historian Dr. Judy Bainbridge, of all the mill cemeteries, American Spinning is the only one with an active cemetery association. Burials are still performed here, and the association maintains the grounds. That explains the good condition in which I found the place.
Oscar Sampson started the mill in 1895 as the American Spinning Company. It was known informally as the Sampson Mill, and the surrounding village known as “Sampsonia” or simple Sampson.” The earliest grave in the cemetery is from 1899, which would make sense. The latest was from 2007.
As I had done with the Monaghan Mill Cemetery, I looked at the number of child interments compared to overall burials. There were 101 out of 293 for children under the age of 10, or 34%. That rate was even higher than Monaghan. These didn’t seem to be clustered around a specific time period, though. There were many from the early 1900s, but others that came later. Again, it seems that infant mortality was a sad fact of mill life.
Judy Bainbridge had written an article some years back about forgotten mill village cemeteries. Now that I had stumbled upon two of them, I wanted to find others. That would be the next quest.