Simmons Cemetery


 

Private David Sparkman, an African-American soldier who fought for the Union as part of the 33rd US Colored Infantry Regiment is one of the approximately 65- 70 individuals buried in Simmons Cemetery.  The 33rd was established in April of 1862 when President Lincoln authorized the raising of African American troops.  General Rufus Saxton of Massachusetts was permitted to “arm, equip and receive into the service of the United States such volunteers of African descent as you may deem expedient, not exceeding five thousand.” By November of 1862, Saxton had enough men to assemble a regiment which was called the 1st South Carolina Volunteer Infantry. Their first mission was to destroy Confederate salt works along the coast of South Carolina and Georgia while taking prisoners and carrying off slaves and confederate property. Their commander was Colonel Thomas Wentworth Higginson, an abolitionist from Massachusetts.

In March of 1863, the infantry was sent to Jacksonville Florida with a mission to “carry the proclamation of freedom to the enslaved: to call all loyal men into the service of the United States; to occupy as much of the state of Florida as possible with the forces under your command; and to neglect no means consistent with the usages of civilized warfare to weaken, harass, and annoy those who are in rebellion against the Government of the United States.” The mission was a success.  For the remainder of 1863 and part of 1864, the regiment would spend time in South Carolina and in Florida.

On February 8, 1864, the 1st South Carolina Volunteer Infantry would be renamed the 33rd United States Colored Troops.  They would fight in the Battle of Honey Hill and capture a fort on James Island.  After the war, the regiment was employed in provost and picket duty. They would be mustered out on January 31, 1866.

C. Coxswain who is also buried at Simmons Cemetery would serve with the 103rd Regiment, United States Colored Infantry.  This group of black soldiers was organized on March 10, 1865 in Hilton Head.  They would serve in the garrison and as a guard duty unit in areas of Georgia and South Carolina.  The regiment would be mustered out by April 20, 1866.

After Lincoln’s decree to allow blacks to serve in the Union Army over 5,000 formerly enslaved men would enlist in the United States Colored Troops. By the end of the war approximately 179,000 black men served in the U.S. Army and 19,000 would serve in the Navy.  South Carolina would establish six regiments:  21st, 33rd, 103rd, 104th and 128th USCT.

Also buried in Simmons Cemetery is John Bellinger, who served with the 371st Infantry Regiment, which fought in WWI.  This regiment was formed in August 1917 and consisted of black draftees who were mostly from South Carolina but would also have members from Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Maryland and Pennsylvania. Training for the new enlistees was held at Camp Jackson in Columbia, South Carolina under the command of white offices.  In April of 1918, the regiment arrived at the Western Front where they were placed under French command. The French were in desperate need of troops and it was also thought they could better integrate the unit than the American troops could because of the racial tensions between whites and blacks that existed during this time.   Lt. John B. Smith an officer of the 371st would say that “the French people could not grasp the idea of social discrimination on account of color. They said the colored men were soldiers, wearing the American uniform, and fighting in the common cause and they could not see why they should be discriminated against. They received the men in their churches and homes and places of entertainment….”

On June 12, 1918, after French training, the unit went into the trenches with the veteran 157th “Red Hand” division. For over three months, they held the lines at Avocourt and later the Verrieres subsectors northwest of Verdun.  In September of 1918, the regiment was pulled out of the line and was transferred to the Champagne region to help defend against the last major German offense on the Western Front. The 371st was one of the forward units of the attacks and would lose 1,065 of their men during an eight day period.  For their extraordinary service at Champagne, the entire regiment would be awarded the Croix de Guerre with Palm. In addition, 146 individuals of the 371st  were awarded merits such as the French Legion of Honor, the American Distinguished Service Cross and the Medal of Honor.

The 371st would arrive on U.S. soil on February 11, 1919 and would be back in Columbia by February 28, 1919, where the regiment would be dissolved.

DIRECTIONS TO SIMMONS CEMETERY

Below is a partial list of who is buried at Simmons Cemetery.  This is very much a work in progress.  Many of the listings include a link to a photo of the gravesite.

SIMMONS CEMETERY

 

BENJAMIN BELLINGER

1878 (estimated) – March 13, 1927

Stone inscription: 49 years, May Thy Resurrection Find Thee on the Bosom of Thy God

Photo of stone/marker: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/36547966/benjamin-bellinger

 

JANE BELLINGER

March 23, 1872 – April 23, 1942

Stone inscription: Mother

Photo of stone/marker: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/41533706/jane-bellinger

 

JOHN BELLINGER

MAY 6, 1892 – September 15, 1956

Stone inscription: PVT, Company A, 57th BN WWI Infantry

Photo of stone/marker: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/41533921/john-bellinger

 

PETER CAMPBELL

April 20, 1876 – December 31, 1938

Stone inscription: Father

Photo of stone/marker: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/41533790/peter-campbell

 

WILLIAM CAMPBELL

1888 – 1955

Stone inscription:

Photo of stone/marker: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/36548291/william-campbell

 

G.C. COXSWAIN

Unknown birthdate – Unknown death date

Stone inscription: Corporal Company K, 103 USCI (United States Colored Infantry)

Photo of stone/marker: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/36548730/g.-c.-coxswain

 

REBECCA DRAYTON

April 15, 1919 – December3, 1955

Stone inscription: The Lord is my Shepherd

Photo of stone/marker: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/41533551/rebecca-drayton

 

BENJAMIN FORDHAM

Unknown birthdate – January 3, 1968

Stone inscription: None (metal plate)

Photo of stone/marker: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/41533580/benjamin-fordham

 

CLARANCE FORDHAM

August 31, 1921 – January 14, 1941

Stone inscription: He lived the life, and kept the faith

Photo of stone/marker: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/41533834/clarance-fordham

 

ELIJAH FORDHAM

Unknown birthdate – October 7, 1963

Stone inscription: None (metal plate)

Photo of stone/marker: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/41533633/elijah-fordham

 

IRENE P. FORDHAM

October 26, 1883 – February 23, 1952

Stone inscription: Sleep on Mother and take your rest

Photo of stone/marker: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/41533863/irene-p.-fordham

 

LORRINDA B. GIBBS

November 19, 1900 – January 18, 1971

Stone inscription: Rest in peace

Photo of stone/marker: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/36548755/lorrinda-b.-gibbs

 

THOMAS GLOVER

May 28, 1889 – August 13, 1940

Stone inscription: PVT South Carolina, 156th Depot Brigade March 13, 1940

Photo of stone/marker: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/36548058/thomas-glover

 

CARRY HAYWOOD

Unknown birthdate – Unknown death date

Stone inscription: None

Photo of stone/marker: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/41533660/carrie-heyward

 

ALBERTHA P. JENKINS

Unknown birthdate – Unknown death date

Stone inscription: None

Photo of stone/marker: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/41533604/albertha-p.-jenkins

 

RECER G. JENKINS

April 27, 1877 – February 4, 1956

Stone inscription: Loving Mother

Photo of stone/marker: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/36546626/recer-g.-jenkins

 

ISAAC MCCOY

Unknown birthdate – January 21, 1959

Stone inscription: None (metal plate)

Photo of stone/marker: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/36548105/isaac-mccoy

 

JOHN PICKENS

November 20, 1833 – June 2, 1905

Stone inscription: The Lord is my Sheppard, I shall now want

Photo of stone/metal marker: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/36547936/john-pickens

 

EVELINA GILLIARD ROBINSON

October 27, 1907 – January 9, 1965

Stone inscription: Your loving children, Oscar, Lilly, Mary, Florence, Eva, Evelina, Benjamin

Photo of stone/marker: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/41533755/evelina-robinson

 

ARTHUR SMALLS

February 4, 1912 – December 23, 1954

Stone inscription: None

Photo of stone/marker: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/36547994/arthur-smalls

 

PVT DAVID SPARKMAN

1839 – 1909

Stone inscription: PVT CO K 33 USCI (United States Colored Infantry)

Photo of stone/marker: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/63905631/david-sparkman

 

ERNESTINE VENNING

Unknown birthdate – September 13, 1973

Stone inscription: None (metal plate)

Photo of stone/marker: