Will a History as a Mass Graveyard Bog Down Gadsden Creek Project?

Posted By Bill Payer on Jul 22, 2023 | 0 comments

There’s a fascinating story in the current Charleston City Paper on how a history as a mass graveyard could stall a project to fill in and ‘develop’ Gadsden Creek on the City’s West Side.

“A volunteer researcher wants to launch a project to remember an estimated 26,000 people buried at a 19th-century mass burial ground that is today’s Harmon Field and The Citadel’s football stadium on Charleston’s West Side.

Former middle school reading teacher Julie Bowling said she hopes her effort draws more attention to the graves as part of the ongoing legal battle to prevent development on the nearby wetlands at Gadsden Creek.

To honor the dead, Bowling said she’d enter the names of the dead in a database and share it with an organization willing to share the information on the internet.

“Charleston is a place of great history, and I love this city,” said Bowling, who moved to Charleston three decades ago from Louisville, Kentucky. “But a lot of this history is misunderstood or ignored. We can’t be a city that just memorializes the wealthy.”

Thousands buried

From 1841 to 1927, Charleston buried its dead in a 22-acre site once called Tower Hill Cemetery. Orphans, free and enslaved people, immigrants, seamen and Confederate soldiers were interred at the burial ground bounded by President, Congress and Line streets.” To read the entire City Paper article CLICK HERE.

You probably recognized several of the names involved in the story above. Author Herb Frazier spoke at our February 2023 program about “Ukweli: Searching for Healing Truth,” a book he co-authored.

Charleston Library Historian Nic Butler has also presented to DIHS and we frequently link to his “Charleston Time Machine” podcasts and articles.

And ‘forensic historian’ Grant Mishoe, who will be helping Julie Bowling in her quest, spoke via Zoom to the May 2021 DIHS meeting.

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