In my previous post I mentioned that I wasn’t able to find much information on Duncan Chapel online. Thanks to a bit of help from my friend Duckhunter, I was able to get some more info. Dr. A. V. Huff’s book on the history of Greenville mentions the area twice – once in reference to the church and once in reference to the general area. First on page 138…
Duncan [Mary Ann Wilks Duncan, the wife of Perry E. Duncan] built Duncan Chapel, a Methodist church, in 1847 on the Duncan place on the Buncombe Road. When a minister was not available, Duncan entered the pulpit, lined out the hymns, and preached…
Page 222 gives more information about the area, and specifically about the origins of “Thackston Road” which is now in such disrepair…
Typical of the large cotton farms in Greenville County was the one owned by James Edward and Ella Hawkins Thackston on Roe Ford Road, on the present site of Furman University. Besides his farm, Thackston operated a cotton gin and a country store.
Another source of information is the website for the current Duncan Chapel Elementary School, which has a page describing the history of the school. Included on the page are the recollections of Mr. J. Ford Thackston…
…who graduated from the eighth grade at Duncan Chapel in 1919, remembers what we can only imagine. He himself did not attend the first school in the neighborhood, which was built in 1878 on a knoll in what is now Northwood Hills. He began first grade in about 1910, after the school had moved to its second location, right next to Duncan Chapel, a little Methodist church whose cemetery still stands across Old Buncombe Road.
While this has provide some more background on the area, it hasn’t helped clear up the mystery of the foundations near the cemetery. The modern-looking shingles make me think that this was a more recent dwelling, rather than the ruins of the old church or of the old school. The grounds have more of a “homeplace” feel about them, but the foundation has unusually twists and turns, as mentioned previously. However, I’m not so sure I would want to build a house so close to a supposedly haunted cemetery.
A search of the Greenville County Tax Assessor’s map revealed the current owner of the 13.37 acres on both sides of Thackston, but nothing really on the history of the area itself. I guess the ruins will have to remain a mystery for the time being.
37 thoughts on “Children’s Graveyard – Followup and History”
One possible explanation of the modern shingles might be if the older structure had been re-roofed in more modern times. I guess it depends on when the original ceased to exist.
I wonder if the modern United Methodist Church would have records about the chapel. I may try to email someone and see if they could fill us in.
The two USGS topo maps linked below shows several buildings along Thackston Road. Internet got the slows and I have given up looking for the road on the soil map.
USDA Soil Maps 1921 Greenville: http://digital.tcl.sc.edu/cdm4/item_viewer.php?CISOROOT=/HSSM&CISOPTR=21&REC=2
USGS Topo Quad 1938 (1933 survey) Greenville: http://digital.tcl.sc.edu/cdm4/item_viewer.php?CISOROOT=/topo&CISOPTR=267&REC=14
USGS Topo Quad 1938 (1955 aerial photos) Greenville: http://digital.tcl.sc.edu/cdm4/item_viewer.php?CISOROOT=/topo&CISOPTR=268&REC=15
If none of the above links work go to the main USC Library’s Digital Collection site here and search through the collection: http://sc.edu/library/digital/index.php One can spend hours going the various collections.
Great info! Thanks!
It looks like the 1921 soil map has the best info. It shows the location of the church to the north of the cemetery, which would put it just about where the Hickory Point convenience store is currently located.
The 1938 map shows the school fairly close to its present location.
If you have been in Grave yave yard, you would have seen A gate to left side. That’s were the church was. And below it was the 2 nd school. In frount of grave yard a cross Road. ,Was Thackson Diary fram. I was in it in 1940. I have a copy of Church–School. And school a cross High Way 1921 , With all people out side.
Now 2015 they are making a wal- Mart Store. I have filmed this for 5 mo.’ They put a white flag at all graves they could find. They well not last. So I put 110 10 inch nails at each one. painted 1 1/2 of white, So you can found then last on.
If I can help you, Please let me know, As I just live a cross RD. Thank you J H T
Hey I would love to have any info on this grave yard.
hi, i happened to stumble across your article. I attend a college very close to the cemetery and happened to hear about it from a friend and ended up going to visit it several times. from all the information that I have been able to gather it seems that the adjacent building was both the church and the duncan chapel elementary. I was even able to locate the old well. the step up platform when you first walk in seems to be the old stage area, the small openings on either end being the access doors. it seems as though the chapel was kept up with for many years following the school’s relocation to its present location (though it has been through several buildings since then). from what i’ve seen the most recent tombstone is from the mid 70’s and the trees seem to suggest that it was about that time that the place was abandoned, the shingles suggest that time period as does the wear on the road.
beyond that all i have been able to find out is that perry duncan was on the secession committee for south carolina, and that thackston was mudered in 1924.
ive been there to the cematery 3 times i dont see any well?or an adjacent building?and what platform with stage area??? where is this place u r speaking of???
All that’s left of the old church building is the foundation. It’s on the other side of that little road leading to the cemetery.
There was no well. They had a Spring. As the new sore is here, The Spring is 60 Feet below back of store. have it all on Film. Thank you J H T
WHERE IS THE CHURCH NOW?
I live near the old Duncan Chapel Methodist Cemetery and visited it today for the first time. The friend I was with told me the building across the road (of which, at a glance, nothing remains but the foundation) was the old Tripp Dairy. I can’t find evidence of a “Tripp Dairy” having existed in this area. However, perhaps the tale comes from the large marker for the Tripp family, located in the cemetery.
This place is haunted STAY AWAY!!!! Me and my friends decided to go and check this place out late one night, between 11:45 and 2:00 am. We went three separate times because of things we had heard and seen each time. The last two times we sat in our car, turned off every light, and sat in the darkness. On both accounts there was an eerie white light that would move throughout the woods. On the first occasion it came within 10-15 feet away from our car. On the first encounter, several of us were out walking this graveyard, creeped out of our minds (of course), and our other friend stayed in the vehicle. She saw the aforementioned light come very close to where the car was, and to where we were walking throughout the woods. We at first didn’t believe this, so we went back a second and third time, and each time we saw it start at the back right corner of the graveyard, and slowly but steadily made its way towards the middle of the graveyard. What we saw this night was DEFINITELY NOT HUMAN!!! As interesting as this place was to visit, i will never EVER return in darkness nor in light.
I first found the graveyard as a kid in 1969. I believe the shingles you mention are most likely to the old early 1900s house that was the original Thackston home. The second Thackston home was built further to the southwest of the open horse farm and now is the location of Holmes Bible College. There were no real remains of a chapel as it was completely burned sometime prior to 1969 (“a few years back”). All of the structure remains were cleaned up when the Hickory Point quick stop was built sometime post 1983 (when I left the area).
As for hauntings I totally disagree. I have spent many a night as a kid in or around the graveyard and during all occasions and never saw a spirit of any type (maybe that is why, since I did not drink then). While spooky it was not even frightening enough to scare the pants off my dates 😉
Unfortunately, due to word of mouth and distance from any homes the area gets late night traffic now that leaves trash including of course spirits in a bottle.
The children’s toys that adorn many of the gravesites is a nice touch, but even I find that those get moved around along with the stones. Makes me sad that people just cannot respect the dead.
I have investigated the cemetery about 3 years ago with my paranormal research organization (Paranormal Perception Crew, PPC). As soon as we got out of our cars we felt and overwhelming uneasy feeling. It was like we were surrounded by people. But there was no one to be found. As we continued through the cemetery the uneasy feeling grew stronger and we heard several strange voices and noises. Most of the noises we contributed to the wildlife but there were some that we could not explain. After completing our investigation and reviewing the evidence, We realized that we had captured several Class A EVP’s (Electronic Voice Phenomena) on our digital voice recorders. I have posted them on our facebook page. You should check them out! http://www.facebook.com/paranormalperceptioncrew
I found more information on Greenville County’s Register of Deeds website and two newspaper articles from Google’s news archives. I tried to post the links here but I think the length caused the whole comment to get eaten.
I made a blog entry to try to collect the links to information about the area here: http://markemark4.blogspot.com/2011/07/childrens-graveyard.html
Note: Writing isn’t one of my talents, but I try!
At one time in the 1930’s or so there was a Thackston’s Dairy that was bought out by Biltmore Dairy.
i can remember back in the mid 1960’s on duncan chapel road there was a building that was used for the cub scout and a road down below it that whent around from duncan chapel road to old buncombe road,it’s the road that’s there now on old buncome, and there was a house on that road i dont no who lived there we were only kids at the time, but we lived on old buncombe and we used that road alot as a short cut to get to duncan chapel road, and never knew there was a graveyard there, until, the mid 80’s i was checking out a medal detector had, and ran across a head stone, then i could them ever where, i said omg this is not right, and got out of there, lol, the old cub scout building burned down along time ago, and there apartment there now, and aways wondered about that place, if you know of someone that would be willing to put a team togetter to fix up that graveyard, please keep me in mind, i would love to be a part of that, thanks roger
I recently found that my great grandmother and her parents and grandparents are buried there. My bothers and a few cousins plan a clean up of those graves in the fall. I’m still trying to gather as much info as I can on the cemetary.
Feel free to contact me if you have any interest.
My great grandmothers grave looks as if it has been dug up, or attempted any way. We plan to haul dirt down from North Carolina to fill it back in and clean up around the graves.
I am work on a work day at the cemetery, want to help?
I have several family members buried in the Duncan’s Chapel Cemetary. It has been several years since I last visited the cemetary, but at that time there was evidence of drug paraphenalia and a possible homeless encampment in the cemetary. I have a plat from 1939 which shows the actual dimensions of the cemetary. We need to find a way to preserve this area before the natural or human world overtakes it. We should get in touch.
My brothers and I with some others recently did a clean up of our grandparents and others graves there.
If you should go by there again the grave called the open grave is my great grandmother.
You can contact me at email@example.com
Be glad to get together and discuss more restorations with you.
I am wondering what they are doing today as i see them clearing the land i hope they are aware of the graves and have plans of relocation for those that remain there
My wife was describing the activity, but I haven’t had a chance to follow-up. I may try to get by there this evening and take a look.
I live near the cemetery and am appalled at the construction. I have contacted the owner (a realtor), and asked him to clean up the degredation the construction has caused. Nothing yet. Monday after Easter I plan to contact the sheriff’s department. The damage caused by the construction is a FELONY in SC. A fence needs to be erected around the cemetery to keep out ghost hunters, metal collectors (the iron fence in the center has been removed within the week) and teenagers bent on vandalism.
You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Janie Ray
Just really interested in this – it is so sad to see these things happen – all in the name of progress. I am originally from the Upstate and quite close to this area, and all things of this nature interest me. Do you know whatever happened with this clearing of the land? Did anyone stop them? It is against the law, but some construction folks do not realize cemeteries are on the land, and when they find them, they think they can continue. Something a bit similar happened at Mahaffey Plantation in Greenville County. The contractor had a nice wall put around the cemetery, cleaned up the graves and has made mention of a historical marker for the place. As a descendant of Flint John Mahaffey and his wife Leah Fowler, I felt like he was almost a hero for doing the right thing. Please let me know what has happened with this little cemetery. God bless, Dee
The land is almost completely clear of all the trees that once surrounded this peaceful place. More damage has been done to the head stones that used to stand, possibly from construction crews. I would like to know what the intentions are for this land and why someone is allowed to destroy this cementary. I have always been sadden to visit this area when you see the damage done by locals and the carelessness of the state on preserving this area. It is such a shame that this world has lost respect and care more about the evil $$ this property could bring him. Something needs to be done. The damage has gotted worse since clearing of this land and I am sure it will only get worse in weeks to come. Soon we shall see construction take over this burial….GREED …the owner of this land shall pay the price for his actions one day.
I was told by the company that took out all the trees back last year that Jack Shaw will not disturb the cemetery. In fact, there may be plans to restore it as much as possible; however, nothing will be done for a while.
I was there today. Yes a lot of trees have been removed, but definitely creepy. I bet it was a lot scarier before they cleared it.
Mary Ann Duncan ahead of her time by building chapel
Mary Ann Duncan was a happy Methodist. She was “the salt of the earth– and the pepper and spice,” in C. A. David’s words.
Between 1833 and 1863, the devout, yet fun-loving, plantation mistress and lively mother of seven lived with her wealthy husband, Perry Emory Duncan, in a rambling two-story home on a wooded knoll off present day Duncan Chapel Road near Furman University’s campus.
Not content with daily household devotions, Mrs. Duncan had a wooden chapel built on land closer to Buncombe Road in 1847. Methodist circuit riders preached there, but in their absence, she mounted the pulpit, lined out the hymns, and then gave the sermon.
A simple building with a pediment that faced Buncombe Road, it was erected by the family’s slaves. An outdoor staircase led to a balcony designed for their use.
Like all country churches, its services were social as well as religious occasions. Men gathered around a nearby local spring an hour before church began to discuss crops, politics and the weather. When the singing began, they would troop in to take their seats. In the Methodist fashion of the time, they sat on one side of the chapel, the women on the other.
In 1860, the Duncans conveyed the chapel to trustees of the Methodist Episcopal Church-South along with three surrounding acres and the right to use the bubbling spring. Duncan Chapel gave its name to a school, a road, a cemetery and a neighborhood.
Perry and Mary Ann Duncan had a town house in Greenville, six miles (about an hour and a half by horse-drawn buggy) away. but their 1,900-acre home place produced all they needed and more: butter, milk, and beef from their herd of cattle; pork from pigs; mutton from sheep; fowl, including chickens. turkeys, peacocks and guinea hens; corn, wheat, oats, beans and potatoes in abundance. They lived, says C.A. David, “like lords.”
P. E. Duncan, born in 1800, was the son of a Revolutionary War veteran who had settled in Greenville at the end of the 18th century; Mary Ann Wicks Duncan had been reared on a plantation near Albany, Ga.
He was a civic leader who was a member of the committee that arranged the village’s Fourth of July celebration in 1831, served in the state legislature, helped convince South Carolina Bapt-ists to move Furman University to Greenville, raised funds for the projected Female College, and represented the District at the Secession Convention in 1860.
Mrs. Duncan was one of a kind.
Generous and hospitable, she loved company and entertained visitors lavishly. She and her husband built a comfortable four-room log cabin near their home for use as a guest cottage, since a stay of anything less than a week wasn’t considered worthwhile and a month was better.
The dining table groaned with immense platters of home-produced delights prepared in the kitchen some distance from the main house.
No matter how many people were seated at dinner, before the blessing she would call on each one to repeat a Bible verse. If anyone failed to respond, she would pass a New Testament down the table and wait patiently until an appropriate verse was selected and read.
Their youngest son, nicknamed “Popcorn,” always used “Jesus wept.”
Even if there was a minister among her guests, she conducted morning and evening prayers herself.
When the Civil War came, Mrs. Duncan was one of the organizers and the first president of the Greenville Ladies Association in Aid of Confederate Volunteers. The 30 or more women (men were honorary members) of the organization began by gathering boxes of clothes and food and shipping them off to Greenville troops in Virginia.
Later they started a “Rest Home” in a Greenville Female College building for soldiers traveling to and from the town. There they supplied meals, clothes, and sometimes, money to the young men.
But Mrs. Duncan, who had three sons in the Confederate Army, was not content. Gathering together all the supplies the ladies could lay their hands on, she went to Virginia herself to see conditions in the camps and hospitals and to distribute the much-needed food and clothing.
After briefly returning home to report her findings, she traveled once more to the front lines, where she nursed the sick and even said final prayers over the dead.
But both she and her husband were aging –he was in his six-ties; she in her late fifties— and evidently they decided to leave Greenville and return to her family home in southwest Georgia. Perry Duncan sold his land (for $55,000) and they moved away from their longtime home.
But the church continued operating, with services scheduled twice monthly until 1928. It was altered over the years some of the decaying foundations are clearly 20th century and the Methodist Conference eventually attached it for safekeeping and occasional use to mill village churches like the one at Dunean. By the 1950s it had been abandoned.
Its foundations are hidden in the middle of woods; its overgrown burying ground, vandalized in recent years, remains. Development is creeping to its borders, and 50 years of neglect have taken their toll.
It needs friends to protect and preserve it, for the ruins of Duncan Chapel remember an indomitable woman, -her family, and a lasting religious heritage
Great info do you have more?
I love old historical places, haunted or not….. But a children’s graveyard to be so disrespected!!!! Trees slaughtered…. No visible effort to rope off , tape off, or install a temporary barricade around this cemetary …. I deifinated “feel” the sadness this has caused when I visited there… Also the upset and anger of the spirits….. Let’s just say karma will prevail…. I wouldn’t buy a house or do business on whatever they are trying to develope there……! Time will tell. Wait and see…..!
Teresa, John Thomas on Mauldin Cir. I know what is going on Land at Duncan Chaple. I have filed it now for 7 days.I would love to talk to you a bout this. they are doing alot of Work there. I know what’s going there.and what will happen to grave yard. you can call me if you want to 1-11 at nite. 1-864-246–4836 I’ve been on mauldin Cir , This xams 60 years.
Well it’s there. A wal- Mart store. And More. Now Left of Grave yard, Was thackson Diary, I was in it in 1940. From American Sping School trip. I have Filmed this for 10 Weeks now.
I new that thackson diary was there. Now I have 10-30 Milk Bottle’s From there. Some Good, Sme bad. Biltmore Bought them out, I also have a Biltmore Bottle. I,m 83 now, And would love to talk to people, Who are in this also. Thank you J H T.
I’m looking for local Greenville bottles. email@example.com
does anyone happen to know who owns this graveyard now? If so please reply and I will provide my e-mail – Thank You
I moved recently back from Oregon and now live just off Duncan Chapel Rd near the Children’s Cemetery. What a sad place and one would think the community would just get a large work party together and clean it up and respect those buried there. It is history desecrated. In one corner facing the Wal-Mart is the grave of Grady Pike. Grady died in an auto accident at 18 back in the 1930’s working in Greenville on the post depression work projects. Lots of life stories there. At any rate, it would be nice of local Methodists or any work party could restore the place as a part of the history of the area. It looks like it was bombed.