Waycross, Georgia
RED HILL CEMETERY PROJECT

Clemson University 2022 Symposium

HISTORIC CEMETERIES IN CULTURAL CONTEXTS
LOCAL TO GLOBAL

October 24-25, 2022
Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina

UNF faculty, alumni, and staff participated in Clemson University’s second annual Research Symposium: Historic Cemeteries in Cultural Contexts, Local to Global, and presented their research on the Red Hill Cemetery Project. Spanning two days, this symposium brought together research concerning historic burial grounds and cemeteries; the local, national, global, and cultural contexts of cemetery research and community engagement; and the multifaceted efforts to commemorate such spaces.

Participants

David Sheffler, Felicia Bevel, and Amarilys Sánchez, Department of History
Gordon Rakita and Kelly Melendez, Department of Sociology, Antrhopology and Social Work
Michael Boyles, Center for Instruction and Research Technology

 

Tillman Hall, the most recognized building on the Clemson University campus.


Explore more about Clemson's 2022 Symposium here

CLEMSON UNIVERSITY CAMPUS

Founded in 1889, Clemson is the second-largest university in student population in South Carolina.

UNF PRESENTATION
PRESERVING BLACK HISTORY AT RED HILL CEMETERY

Moderator
Dr. David Sheffler, University of North Florida

Red Hill Cemetery as Archive: Preserving Black History Through Memory and Space
Dr. Felicia Bevel, University of North Florida

(Re-)Marking the Unmarked: Ground-Penetrating Radar at Red Hill Cemetery
Kelley Melendez, University of North Florida

Interpreting Red Hill Cemetery: Memorialization and Marginalization of Black World War I Veterans
Amarilys Sánchez, University of North Florida

CLEMSON'S WOODLAND CEMETERY TOUR

UNF participants visited Woodland Cemetery and the African American burial ground on Clemson University’s campus. The challenges to the preservation and memorialization of the burial ground in many ways mirror those facing Red Hill. Although the site had been used by Clemson’s black community since at least the end of the nineteenth century, most of the burials were unmarked and endangered by development. A large portion of the hillside was leveled to make room for football stadium parking in the early 1960s and the soil used to construct a levee to protect the stadium and lower campus from flooding. Until recently, the burial ground was also a popular place for tailgating and subject to neglect and vandalism.

More than 1,000 souls rest in this sacred ground. The Clemson Board of Trustees founded Woodland Cemetery in 1924 as a segregated cemetery for white employees. It is the burial place for over 600 Clemson employees and their families, including past Clemson presidents and professors. Between July 2020 and January 2021, ground penetrating radar (GPR) recovered about 600 unmarked graves in the cemetery. These graves are believed to belong to African and African American enslaved persons, sharecroppers, domestic workers, tenant farmers, convicted laborers, and wage workers and their families who lived and died on the land from the antebellum era through the Jim Crow era.

 

— Clemson University, Woodland Cemetery Historic Preservation

HARTWELL DAM AND THE 1960 COURT ORDER

... campus development and federal projects impacted the area of Cemetery Hill on which Woodland Cemetery was located. The US Army Corps of Engineers wanted to build Hartwell Dam in the region mainly to provide hydroelectric power and flood control. The original plan for the project would have flooded the western part of the Clemson campus, including Memorial Stadium and the agricultural bottomlands.

 

Eventually, a plan was devised by 1959 that involved the construction of two dikes, or diversion dams, to cut off the Seneca River and protect the campus from flooding. The upper dike would be located near the Esso Club, and the lower dike would be built near Fort Rutledge. The Army Corps of Engineers contracted the project out to the Nello L. Teer Company in the summer of 1960. On August 19, 1960, a civil engineer drew a topographical map of the lower, western part of Cemetery Hill and included plans for reinterment of burials.

 

— Clemson University, Woodland Cemetery Historic Preservation

Explore more about the history of the Hartwell Dam here

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