Grant Mishoe, a genealogist, and historian with the Gullah Society likes to call himself a forensic historian. A former career firefighter, he got interested in genealogy through his stepmother who had been adopted.
Mishoe’s family has been in South Carolina for nine generations. H e started collecting information about local plantations and the people buried on them. He quickly found he sometimes had information even family members didn’t know…and that those families were both interested and grateful for the information he was able to share.
Mishoe has been very involved in the fight to stop development from wiping out probable grave sites just outside the fence of Cainhoy’s Old Ruins Cemetery. A coalition of local activists like MaeRe Skinner and Fred Lincoln supported by groups like the Preservation Society of Charleston, The Gullah Society and the Daniel Island Historical Society was running into a serious of obstacles exacerbated by the dual jurisdiction issues (Cainhoy is in Berkeley County but is also part of the City of Charleston…that made everything even more complicated.
On May 5, The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, which has jurisdiction over grave sites, told the developer of the Oak Bluff subdivision to stop all work and arrange for a new archaeological survey of a portion of the property that includes an African American burial ground.
Mishoe called that a great victory but acknowledged there was more than a little luck involved. The developer had removed some trees and undergrowth adjacent to the cemetery fence which made the probable grave sites more visible.
South Carolina does have laws governing removal of graves and even requires owners of private property that contains graves to allow family access. But Mishoe says the laws are antiquated and cited instances where property owners thwarted access fairly easily. He said respect for graves and family access rights are as much a moral obligation as a legal requirement.
Mishoe has gathered (and is still gathering and sorting) an enormous data base of grave information based on maps, obituaries, family records, etc. He offered to share that information and answer individual questions if you want to reach out to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
He also made it very clear he’s anxious for any relevant information anyone wants to share with him.
We should have a link to video of tonight’s presentation available in the next day or so. Stay tuned for that info.