Soapstone Baptist Church

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Cemetery

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 the ground.

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.
 

2010

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.”

 


For more information contact
Mable Clarke
296 Liberia Road
Pickens, SC  29671

(864) 414-8470

 
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