Alston Cemetery


In viewing a traditional African American Cemetery, you will observe noticeable differences from what you would see in a traditional Euro-American cemetery.  Some of these differences can be attributed to religious beliefs, others to a person’s lot in life.

According to African Americans traditions, there is always room for one more person. It is very important that family members be buried in the same cemetery. They do not have to be interred next to each as in the Euro- American family plots, but it is essential for them to be laid to rest in the same area of land as their relatives. You will find that usually the graves are randomly situated on the land, where as in Euro-American cemeteries, you typically find symmetry in the placement of the grave markers.  Even though the graves are sporadically placed, most coffins are positioned so the person faces to the east.  This comes from the concept that the world is orientated east to west following the sun. Others have suggested they were buried facing Africa.

The location of the African American cemeteries in the past are often found in “marginal areas.”   The master would designate land that was not going to be used for other purposes as the burial ground. These spots were hidden away in remote areas among the trees and underbrush.  Even the appearance of the burial area is different.  Euro- American cemeteries appear more like a manicured park, African American cemeteries may look as if neglected or abandoned.

To an outsider the graves might look like they are covered with random junk. That is far from the truth. These are grave goods and are “offerings.”  This ritual can be traced back to African mortuary practices. (See Grove Cemetery marker for more details) 

Black cemeteries were seldom documented. It was not important to the plantation owner to record the location of “slave burial grounds.” But these sacred spots are well-known by the generations of families that continued to bury their family members within those places.

Preservation and protection of all types of cemeteries is crucial.  It is up to all of us to make sure that these spaces are not erased and that they will be there for future generations to help them understand their heritage.

DIRECTIONS TO ALSTON CEMETERY 

Here’s a partial list of who is buried in Alston Cemetery (this is a work in progress). Many of these entries have links to photos of the grave stones or markers.

ALSTON CEMETERY

BENJAMIN DENNIS

1910 (estimate) – June 10, 1952

Stone inscription: Age 42 (metal marker)

Photo of stone/marker:

BENNIE DENNIS

April 17, 1905 – June 12, 1952

Stone inscription:  None

Photo of stone/marker: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/63903786/bennie-dennis

JAMES DENIS

1868 – October 5, 1931

Stone inscription: None (note that James is spouse of Sarah Denis, also buried in cemetery)

Photo of stone/marker: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/63903407/james-denis

JAMES DENNIS
April 2, 1904 – August 22, 1958

Stone inscription: None

Photo of stone/marker: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/63903914/james-dennis

SARAH DENIS

June 9, 1877 – February 1, 1936

Stone inscription:  None

Photo of stone/marker: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/63903639/sarah-denis

IDA DOCTOR
August 5, 1906 – March 15, 1953

Stone inscription:  None

Photo of stone/marker: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/63903159/ida-doctor

SUSIE DRAYTON

December 15, 1865 – May 19, 1898

Stone inscription:  None

Photo of stone/marker:

LOUSA GETHERS

1860 -1937

Stone inscription: None

Photo of stone/marker: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/63903261/lousa-gethers

LEON JENKINS

August 15, 1912 – July 17, 1952

Stone inscription:

Photo of stone/marker: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/63903887/leon-jenkins

MARY O. O. JEFFERSON

July 15, 1896 – January 22, 1941

Stone inscription: None (note that Mary is the daughter of Cyrus Wise & Hager Cooxum, both born on Daniel Island, and wife of Isaac Jefferson. Name listed on Findagrave as Mary Oswald Wise Jefferson.)

Photo of stone/marker: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/63902854/mary-oswald-jefferson

PRISCILLA JENKINS

1831 – February 14, 1923

Stone inscription: None or unknown

Photo of stone/marker: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/63902463/priscilla-jenkins

ADOLPHUS MCCALL

1866 (estimate) – December 24, 1914

Stone inscription: 48 years

Photo of stone/marker:

SARAH SIMMONS

1870 – 1943

Stone inscription: None (note, Sarah is believed to be the wife of William Simmons, who is buried in Grove Cemetery and helped her raise their grandson, Master Blacksmith Philip Simmons).

Photo of stone/marker: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/63903295/sarah-simmons