Grove Cemetery enhancements underway
Those with ancestors buried in Daniel Island’s Grove Cemetery will soon have easier access to the sacred site, which is located off the island trail system behind Volvo Car Stadium. Long-awaited enhancements are currently underway at the cemetery, one of four African American burial grounds on the island.
For years, Grove Cemetery was separated from the trail - and those visiting the space had to either climb over a long fence or walk around it. A new tabby and iron fence is under construction and will feature prominent iron gates that will serve as a grand entrance to the site. The cemetery is referenced in the book “Daniel Island” by Michael K. Dahlman and Michael K. Dahlman, Jr. as the “Lesesne African American Cemetery.” It is believed that there are approximately 45 to 50 individuals buried there, including relatives of the late Master Blacksmith Philip Simmons, a Daniel Island native.
Members of the Shaw family also have ancestors interred at the site. The Daniel Island Property Owners Association (POA) is working on the project with the Shaws, who have taken a leadership role in cleaning up and beautifying the cemetery, said Jane Baker, vice president of community services for the POA. According to Baker, the Daniel Island Community Fund is matching up to $30,000 towards the total project cost of $60,000.
“The [Shaw] family is contributing to the project and they been working with civic and business leaders to encourage their participation,” added Baker. “The Daniel Island Historical Society is assisting with signage to appropriately signify the importance of the cemetery in the history of Daniel Island.”
Both the Daniel Island Historical Society and the Rotary Club of Daniel Island are also providing monetary support for the project.
“We are honored to be able to support such a worthwhile effort,” noted Daniel Island Historical Society President Bill Thielfoldt. “This sacred space deserves our community’s attention and we are proud to be a part of any project that seeks to preserve and beautify a place that is such an important part of our island’s history.”
Baker said an additional $20,000 is needed to finish the fence and the gate. Tax deductible contributions can be made to the Daniel Island Community Foundation (add “Grove Cemetery Project” in the check’s memo line) and mailed to the POA office at 130 River Landing Drive, Daniel Island S.C. 29492.
Also of note are some improvements recently completed at the cemetery by Wando High School student Ethan Bain, who restored two historic chairs and a bench on the site as part of his Eagle Scout Project for Daniel Island-based Troop 519. Bain said he got the idea from his mom Lee Ann Bain who serves on the Daniel Island Historical Society Board.
“The base idea for my project was to build a path up to the cemetery and to clean up inside of it,” said Bain. “It expanded to restoring two chairs and a bench, which were in terrible condition inside the cemetery.”
Bain learned through the restoration process that the handmade ironwork on the bench and chairs dates back at least 100 years. He was unable to determine who originally placed the items in the cemetery.
“I definitely gained a lot of communication and planning skills from my project,” added Bain. “It took a lot of time to organize all of the parts that went into the final product. I was very satisfied with the cleanup and restoration of the chairs and bench and also the path to the cemetery.”
Bain received help from a couple of organizations and individuals on his project: The Greenery donated manpower and equipment; Douglas Lee at Charleston Surface Blasting restored the ironwork on the benches; Gary Gesel helped with the woodwork; and Low Country Mulch donated rocks/material for the path.