GEORGETOWN, S.C. (WCBD) – Georgetown leaders are ensuring their ancestors are never forgotten.
“A beautiful day that we can celebrate and commemorate those people who have paved the way for us to be here today,” said Lafaye Nelson Moultrie.
Formerly enslaved African Americans were buried at Myrtle Grove Cemetery until International Paper purchased the land in the 1930s.
“For some reason, they gated it off in the 1960s,” said historian Steve Williams. “But, a lot of people did not know, or perhaps forgot, that there was a cemetery back there and well over 100 or 200 names of their ancestors and loved ones.”
A local historian discovered the cemetery decades later and worked to make it accessible to family members once again.
“My brother Tony Nelson, got in touch with International and Mr. Josh Flemming, and they decided to reopen the cemetery so that family would have access to it,” Moultrie said.
Then, International Paper showed even more support for the community’s efforts to acknowledge their ancestors.
“Not only did they allow loved ones,” Williams said, “but we came together about three years ago and asked them could we put a monument there. And they said yes, and they gave us a generous grant, and this is the culmination of that.”
The paper company also provided land for the memorial.
“This place that I’m standing now,” Williams said, “a month and a half ago, it didn’t exist. They actually moved the fence back and gave us this place.”
Wednesday’s ceremony was overwhelming for many with loved ones buried in Myrtle Grove Cemetery.
“I just can’t express the feeling that has come over me this day,” Viola Holmes Greene said. “To see all of this coming to fruition.”
The Myrtle Grove Cemetery Committee members say they are now in the initial stages of transforming the land into a memorial park.