A Tale of Two Cemeteries

A Tale of Two Cemeteries

Frances Eugenia Thorne Smith

A month and half ago, I was contacted on FaceBook by a cousin from the SMITH branch of my THORNE line. She was interested in learning more about her Thorne ancestors.

My great-great grandfather, William Taylor THORNE (8 Nov 1829 – 26 May 1916) lived his entire life in Spartanburg County, South Carolina. He fought in the 2nd Battle of Manassas, where he lost an arm and left the Confederate Army as a Lieutenant. He was married to Mary Berry TURNER (9 Feb 1835 – 30 Jan 1915), also born and died in Spartanburg County, South Carolina.

I am descended from their son, Durham Lee THORNE (1 Jun 1868 – 11 Dec 1943) who married Annie Caldwell FOSTER (29 Aug 1878 – 12 Jan 1947). The SMITHs are descended from Lee’s sister, Francis Eugenia THORNE (10 Oct 1860 – 27 Sep 1946) who married John McClellan SMITH (28 Feb 1845 – 13 Nov 1918).

I discovered among my papers a genealogy chart done by a member of the SMITH family many years ago. This paper was in my great Aunt Mary Sue THORNE’s papers. It may be the only copy left in existence.

As I added the SMITH cousins to my database, I began to research them. Frances and John M. SMITH and most of their children are buried in Cowpens, Spartanburg County, South Carolina. The obituaries I have been able to locate all state they are to be interred in Cowpens Cemetery. I could not find them on surveys for Cowpens Cemetery, also known as Cowpens City Cemetery. I did find most of them on a survey for Daniel Morgan Memorial Gardens in Cowpens.

The survey states these burials are in an older part of the cemetery and that the cemetery has many burials from the 1800s, many unreadable stones, and many graves marked with only field stones.

This made me curious to find out more about the history of the cemetery. I wrote to a librarian in the Kennedy Room at the Spartanburg County Library. All she could find was a bit of info from a “History of Cowpens” book. According to this book, Cowpens Cemetery dates back to 1850, when large landowner, John Terrell Wilkins, set aside land for a community cemetery.

The information on the Daniel Morgan cemetery is not presented as clearly as it could be. It says Floyd’s Mortuary “assumed ownership” of the property in 1950. It goes on to say “Tip” Moseley is considered the “father of the new cemetery” because he wanted to develop property for a new cemetery and considered battlefield property but the ground proved unsuitable. In 1944 the town of Cowpens deeded seven acres to Moseley for a cemetery. It says the new cemetery became reality by the “middle 1950s.”

Cowpens Cemetery and Daniel Morgan Memorial Gardens are adjacent to one another. Daniel Morgan Memorial is the newer section on the northern side of Cemetery Street. The Cowpens City Cemetery is on the southern side of Cemetery Street encompassed by Mr Cash Drive and Smith Street.

It is not possible that a cemetery that opened in the “middle 1950s” has graves dating back to the 1800s. It is possible that Daniel Morgan Memorial Gardens annexed some sections of Cowpens Cemetery. If that is the case, why does no one have any information on this? I have spoken to the staff at Floyds and they have no history on the cemetery or on annexing portions of the cemetery.

Did the surveyor who transcribed the headstones in Daniel Stewart Memorial Gardens wander into some sections actually belonging to Cowpens Cemetery and index these burials in the wrong cemetery? I may never find an answer to these questions but I really would like to know which cemetery these cousins are really buried in.

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