There are two cemeteries on site: the
current Soapstone Baptist Church Cemetery and the Slave Cemetery (to the
south of the site). Please respect both places.
Five graves in the Slave Cemetery are marked by legible tombstones. Most
prominent is that of Rev. A. R. Gowens (1845-1928). Gowens married twice:
his first wife was Rhoda Gowans, born in 1837 and died May 17, 1882. Her
epitaph reads: “Farewell my husband / Dear keep Christ the / Lord in your
heart / In heaven we all / Should meet we will / shout around/ the
Saviours feet.” Gowens’s second wife (and mother of daughter Charlotte)
was Adline Gowan, who died October 4, 1890 [born 1854]. Her epitaph reads:
“Farewell my husband / child dear keep / Christ the Lord in / Your [curved
symbol] If in Heaven / We all should meet / We will shout around / The
savior’s feet.” Charlotte Gowan married Ansel McKinney, also buried in the
cemetery (footstones marked APM).
Another hand carved tombstone is that of Chanie Kimp (actually Chaney
Kemp), born a slave about 1824 and willed to James Hester, along with her
infant son Emerson. Emerson grew up to be Hester’s overseer. Freed in
1865, Emerson took the last name of Kemp, and by 1880 had settled in
Liberia with his mother Chaney and son James. James Kemp’s grave is marked
by the small white funeral home marker; he died in 1938. Since Emerson
Kemp’s mother and son are buried here, it is likely that Emerson Kemp also
lies in this cemetery, but his grave is unmarked.
The final legible stone is that of Queen, daughter of C. H. and E. A.
Anderson, born December 28, 1896; died February 25, 1903. [carved
epitaph:] “Asleep in Jesus.”
Other graves are marked only with rough fieldstones or by depressions in
Since many of these individuals had been born into slavery, we ask that
you respect the graves by staying on the designated path and not taking
rubbings from the stones because the stones are soft and easily eroded.
Help us preserve the site for future generations.
On that Saturday in 2010, about 35 people showed up to
work in the cemetery . They worked until noon and Clarke, true to her word
served a feast. Fried fish, chicken, potato salad, green beans. Afterward,
she expected them to leave, but they stayed to work, and that afternoon
they came to the first grave.
Mrs. Clark persevered. She contacted Pickens County and applied for a grant, to
help clear the land, and she contacted Clemson University about helping
restore some of the gravestones. That’s how she met Dr. John Coggeshall ( a
cultural anthropologist and a professor at Clemson University, who has
studied the Liberia community), Drl Coggeshall was so infatuated with the
Liberia community that he spent nearly a decade writing a book about it.
The book is currently set to be published.
“There is this stereotype that white people in the mountains didn’t owns
slaves, or that there weren’t many slaves in the mountains, but that’s not
true either,” says Coggeshall, who has already promised the proceeds from
his book to the Liberia community. “That’s why this is a pretty
interesting community, we’re as close to the mountains as we can get in
South Carolina, and here were African American former slaves in the
mountains, and most of them also left so the fact that Liberia is still
here is in itself interesting.”