Saturday, January 4, 2020

Remote ACE Basin Cemetery Revisited

Such a remote part of the Lowcountry. But people did live and die there. This week we drove about 40 miles south of Charleston to the ACE Basin, to the Donnelley Wildlife Management Area, to the Boynton Trail within the vast nature preserve. Its address is barely on the map (or internet) too: Green Pond, S.C.

After more effort than I thought it would take, we found what we were looking to find. A very old cemetery that may have burials going back to the 1700s. There are five visible grave markers here.

Three box tombs are seen in the above photograph, to the left of my wife Alesia.  A flat ledger marker is just behind Alesia. 

The above shot is a panorama I took with my iPhone. 

A large oak tree is right behind the small burial site. Below, a short video of the remote site. It is also posted on my YouTube channel. 

This grave (photo below is from my July 2018 visit) is the one I had the most success identifying after my first discovery of this spot in the woods. See my 2018 post for details on the 1815 burial site of an attorney named Leger Hutchinson. He was just 24 years old when he passed. 

Some writing can be seen on this second flat marker (below). But I can only make out the word beloved. Next time I will have to bring paper and pencil to try to do an etching. Maybe the identity of this person will be revealed. 

At some point, a brick wall may have surrounded the small burial ground. A Boynton Trail guide, available at a kiosk at the main Donnelley WMA entrance, mentions this cemetery and also says nearby “privet bushes suggest an old home place.”  I have seen no indication of such a home and a ranger I spoke to in 2018 had no knowledge about any remnants that could be seen. 

So many mysteries out here in the wilderness! 

Finding the gravesite on this day was a success due to some “bread crumbs” I had left and noted previously. The key one is this path-side tree, an oak I believe, that I had marked with three old bricks placed at its base. The bricks were on the ground at the burial site. 

The tree is distinctive with its mushroom growths. From this tree it is about 75 steps to the cemetery.
Just beyond this tree is another one that has a distinctive look (below) with its big "Y" shaped branches. In this photo you also see the bricks I placed at the first tree's base as guideposts. 

Once you find the marked oak tree along the path and start walking into the woods, other landmarks are a few large magnolia trees. I marked this magnolia tree (below) with three bricks because the cemetery is directly to the right of it and it can be seen from this spot. From the path it is about 75 steps to the burial site. You've gone too far if you come upon a narrow creek that runs perpendicular to the graves. 

Another improvement to finding the site is that you need to walk past this turn, marked with a nature trail sign. You see this on the right when you are approaching from the back gate on Stock’s Creek Road. 

After passing this turn, keep going straight for 500 feet or one-tenth of a mile to the marked with bricks mushroomy oak tree on the right (that I show earlier). Total length from the back gate where we parked to this tree is .48 miles. On my first visit, I measured the same distance, again using an app on my Apple Watch as .369. No idea why such a difference. 
Another landmark to look for is a tree on the left side of the path that has a large loopy branch that extends over the path. This is about 100 steps before my marked tree.  

I was glad Alesia came with me and was able to see this special spot. I will continue to research things and hope to visit once or twice more in 2020. 

Except for this Yellow-rumpled Warbler, the birding was quiet on this afternoon. I did not know that "butter butt" here is also called Audubon's Warbler. 
Alesia may have seen a red Tanager and we also saw several turkeys cross the road as we were leaving the preserve in our car.

ACE Basin- Always a Cool Endeavor! 

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