CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – The Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission (CCPRC) is conducting a study on a historic African American cemetery on James Island.

The cemetery at McLeod Plantation can be traced back to the 18th century. It is estimated to contain over 300 known and unmarked burials, the majority of which are “enslaved African Americans and family descendants associated with the plantation,” according to CCPRC.

To determine the extent of the cemetery — both geographically and number of unmarked graves — CCPRC is conducting a multi-phase study, the first phase of which is already underway.

Elements of the study’s first phase include:

  • Visual and instrumental surveying to help identify existing and unmarked graves
  • Use of Ground Penetrating Radar
  • Use of scent detection dogs to help identify cemetery boundaries
  • Digital mapping, inventorying and recording
  • Archival/historical research
  • Collection of oral histories from family descendants
  • Public presentation about Phase One findings

CCPRC is working to ensure descendants of those buried at the cemetery — and people with connections to the cemetery — are involved in every step of the process.

“Families, friends and members of the community who may have loved ones buried in the McLeod Cemetery or have additional information about the site” are “highly encouraged” to provide input and get involved.

Those interested should contact Matthew Rosebrock (Charleston County Parks Foundation) at, or Toby Smith (Cultural History Interpretation Coordinator) at or (843) 762-9508.