Monday, March 13, 2017

A Look Into the Life of My Great-Grandmother

I chose to write my blog post on my great-grandmother, Pauline Warner Sawyer. My siblings and I called her "Chico." Chico was born on March 5, 1907 in a small country town called Tylertown, Mississippi (pop. 1,557) to William and Seleta Warner. She had eight siblings, 5 sisters and 3 brothers. She was the youngest out of all of them.

Tylertown located in Southern Mississippi.

Pauline met her husband, Thomas Clinton Sawyer Sr., and they had 3 children: Sylvia, Janet, and Tommy. Pauline had seven grandchildren and eleven great-grandchildren.

My great-grandmother is the woman in the middle wearing a green sweater.

I conducted my research by over-the-phone interviews with my grandmother, Pauline's oldest daughter, Sylvia Sawyer Owens. Sylvia currently resides in Georgetown, South Carolina and was able to give me direct insight into the life of my great-grandmother. Also, I used the website "Find-A-Grave."

I also conducted in-person interviews with my father, Billy Owens. He was able to give me insight into my great-grandmother's personality.

Throughout my research, I learned that my great-grandmother was very involved in her church (the First Baptist Church) in Georgetown, South Carolina. She enjoyed working as the superintendent for the primary Sunday school department of the church. My grandmother, Sylvia, gained her mother's strong maternal traits and taught elementary school children. I learned Pauline enjoyed the spiritual and social aspects of church, and my grandmother told me "church was a huge part in her and her family's lives and Chico made sure of that."

First Baptist Church

If you would like to learn more about First Baptist Church you can visit their website here.

I also learned that Pauline volunteered at the Georgetown County Mental Health facility for many years. This interested me because it showed me how caring my great-grandmother was.

My father described my great-grandmother as a "kind and independent woman." He spoke of her role in him and his sister's lives and how important she was to them. He said she was a "wonderful role model," because she saw the good in everyone, and was very witty as well. He recounted memories he has of his grandmother where she was always making people laugh.

Pauline Warner Sawyer died on March 24, 2004 at the age of 97 due to natural causes. She is buried at Pennyroyal Memorial Gardens in Georgetown, South Carolina. Below is a picture of the memorial garden.
Overview of Pennyroyal's landscape.

Opening gate of the memorial garden.

She is buried with her husband, Thomas Clinton Sawyer, Sr. Their grave marker is a lawn marker. Below is a picture of it.

Lawn marker of Pauline and Thomas Sawyer.

My great-grandmother.
Pauline's husband, Thomas.

I have one or two memories of my great-grandmother, since I was only five when she passed away. From the information gathered, I can tell that she was a wonderful and kind person who I wish I was able to know better.

You can read my great-grandmother's obituary here.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Magnificent Magnolia Cemetery

I didn't know what to expect when I visited the Magnolia Cemetery. I didn't expect the largeness of the landscape, or the intricateness of each grave marker, or even the beautiful pond and bridge in the middle of the entire setting. Magnolia Cemetery is truly a Charleston treasure.

I visited by myself one Sunday afternoon, and I seemed to be one of the only people there. It was a peaceful and pleasurable experience for me. The entire time it was just my thoughts and the stunning views this cemetery has to offer. During my visit, I took several pictures of some of my favorite grave markers and views of the cemetery. Below, you will be able to check these pictures out. If you would like to learn more on this cemetery (which I highly recommend you do so) you can learn more here.

Overview of pond
The landscape of the cemetery was planned very carefully and efficiently. I had no trouble getting around the land, as there are large sidewalks that extend from one corner to another. The cemetery was very clean and you can tell that it is very well cared for. My favorite part of the landscape were, obviously, the numerous oak trees. These trees were old and large, one being even 800 plus years old (source). They were beautiful to look at over the water and while walking through the cemetery yards. Here are some pictures I took of the landscape.
Opening Gates

Stunning oak tree 
Large sidewalks

My first favorite memorial belonged to the Simons family. These markers are die on sockets. They didn't have any particular intricacy that attracted me, but the location is what struck my eye. The Simons family's markers sit on the side of the pond and overlook the water. I love the idea of this. When I am buried, the idea of having my grave forever look upon a peaceful pond is very nice. This particular marker belongs to John Simons. He served in the army and died on April 3, 1922.
John Simons grave
View from behind

My second favorite grave marker was the box tomb of Archibald Johnson, who died on December 16, 1895. I really liked this grave marker because the box tomb is larger than usual, but especially because it is engulfed by a large oak tree. The oak trees limbs completely surround it and give it shade. It was a beautiful sight to see.

Archibald Johnson
Oak tree view

The last grave marker that I really liked was this masterpiece. It belongs to James and Julia Parker, who died in 1915 and 1947. This marker has super artistry built into it. The flower details amazed me. It was very large in person and stuck out amongst the other burials.
Intricate details

James and Julia Parker
Overview of masterpiece

I had a very enjoyable experience at this grand Victorian necropolis! The Magnolia Cemetery is a beautiful and peaceful place. I will definitely be going back soon. I think it's a great way to see a piece of Charleston's history and nature. Below are a few more pictures I took during my visit.
The cemetery is filled with nature!
Pathway that leads through the cemetery

Selfie by the pond

Selfie with the cemetery

Magnolia Cemetery history

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Laying the Grave Work!

A spooky day I had, indeed. Last Monday, my class and I had the privilege to visit some of Charleston's most popular graveyards: Cathedral Church of St. Luke and St. Paul and St. Patrick Catholic Church. If you would like to learn more about these beautiful, historic churches you can check out their websites here and here.

Our experience was spooky, yet exciting. Below are 10 descriptions of different grave markers I found during my time.

The first photo is a headstone. On the top sides, you can see two flower pictures engraved on this headstone. This headstone belongs to Elizabeth Reeves, who died in 1984. I tried to research her name, birth and death date, but no information can be found about her.

The second photo is a grass marker. This kind of marker is very common today and found at many "memorial gardens" cemeteries. They are small, allowing only a few words. This marker belongs to Sally Warfuel, who died in September of 2000.

Next, we have a cross marker. These are exceptional grave markers and require amazing artistry. This specific grave marker belongs to Susan Henrietta, who died on December 13, 1891. She was the wife of John Hanckel.

Below is a Mausoleum. It is a large structure that houses six or more tombs. Usually, these grave markers house family members together. In this mausoleum, William Johnston is buried. Johnston was born in 1776 and died in August 1840.

The next photo is an Obelisk. An Obelisk structure has long, tall four sided shafts of stone, usually tapered or pointed at the top. The height of this particular one is tall, but it is not excessively tall like some of these markers can be. This marker belongs to Joseph Smith Gibbes, who died in September 16, 1876.

Here, we have a box tomb. Box tombs resemble a rectangular box and sometimes you will even get a structure on top of the box. This box tomb belongs to Rebecca Thomson, who died in February of 1826.

Next, we have a sarcophagus. These markers are a stone coffin and often have intricate decoration. This one in particular is very beautiful, note the details near the corners. This marker belongs to Catherine, who died in March of 1852.

The next grave marker I saw was a die on base. These are made of a granite or marble base. This particular die on base belongs to Charles Lee Stickney. He died in 1936.

In the next photo is an example of a ledger. A ledger is ground-level and covers the entire grave. This belongs to Grange Simons, who died in December of 1878.

The last photo is a cradle grave. These markers are used to represent a young child's burial spot. For me, these were the most upsetting grave markers to see on our field trip. It was saddening to know a very young child was buried here. This specific cradle grave belongs to a five year old child who died in September of 1891.

Monday, February 13, 2017

A Spooky Seminar by Ruth Miller

Last Monday, my "Beyond the Grave" class had the privilege of learning about Charleston's vast cultural significance and how the city's graveyards and tombstones can give us insight into the history of religion.

Ruth Miller, a prominent historian in the Charleston area, has been studying 18th century graveyards for years now. Some quick facts about Miller: she has her Bachelors of Arts from Duke University, is involved with College of Charleston and Trident Technical College, and has written several books on her research.

Throughout her visit, Miller discussed the religious freedom that Charleston held in it's early days. This freedom attracted people from all over the world, such as Anglicans, Quakers, and French Huguenots. Immigrants from all over came to Charleston in search of something better. This fascinated me because it shows how much of melting pot Charleston was, and still is.

Miller discussed how Charleston is "a heaven for graveyard people." Graveyards in Charleston, due to size and design, show "who is important, and who isn't," as Miller said. A more prominent and higher status person is going to have a large, elaborate tombstone that catches the eye.

People of lesser status will either have no tombstone or a very bland one. You can see tombstones like this in Churches all over Charleston. Just by the look of them, one can guess who was a more important citizen than the other.

"Charleston has more eighteenth century graveyards than any colonial city in America," Miller says. This quote particularly struck me during her lecture. It's amazing that out of the entire country, Charleston holds the most significant graveyard history and I live here! Pretty cool.

Miller ended her lecture by leading us to the front of the Robert Scott Small Building of College of Charleston, as you can see in the picture below. She showed us Elizabeth Jackson's headstone and spoke of her life in Charleston.

Throughout her lecture, Miller was very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about her work. It was quite inspiring to see someone who enjoyed their work so much.

You can check out Ruth Miller's books here.

Professor Harwood and Ruth Miller.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Welcome To My Blog!

The first word I used to describe my first semester was exciting. As I'm from Charlotte, North Carolina, moving to Charleston was nerve-wracking at first, but I quickly grew to love this city!

Next, I used the word fun to describe my first semester. I feel like I'm never bored in Charleston. I have met so many new, cool people and gone to different concerts and festivals.

I used the word difficult as well. I chose this word because my classes have been challenging, but I've enjoyed every minute of them. My professors have been super cool this year too.

The fourth word I chose was hot. I love Charleston's beach weather and I try to make it to the beach as many times as I can. My favorite beach to go to is Sullivan's Island because it has great, local restaurants and isn't filled with lots of tourists! Learn more about Sullivan's on their website.

Finally, I chose the word independent. Being away from my family and living by myself has allowed me to depend on myself more than I ever have. I have learned so many new things this past semester and I can't wait to see what else is in store for me.

My roommates and I.

Kurt Vile at the Charleston Music Farm.

Check out Kurt Vile's music here!