SC State Professor Tells Stories From Charleston Cemeteries | Local


A South Carolina State University professor is set to publish a book documenting Charleston’s historic cemeteries.

Patrick Harwood, a communications instructor at SC State, has already written four books. His forthcoming publication, “Cemetery Stories: The Cemeteries of Charleston,” documents the cemeteries of 13 churches and one synagogue in Charleston’s historic district in 228 large-format color pages.

“Thousands of people from the late 1600s through the 1800s and beyond are buried in these cemeteries and graveyards,” Harwood said. “My book attempts to reveal and examine the life and death of many of these early Charlestonians to provide a comprehensive view of Charleston’s trials, tribulations, and triumphs.”

Harwood said Charleston is unique not only because of being one of the oldest and best-preserved historic cities in the country, but also because of the religious freedom exercised in the city since its beginnings as a British colony. . Many other American colonies were more restrictive of religious practices.

People also read…

Harwood called the colony a “melting pot” with “unprecedented” religious freedom, which he said was used as an incentive to attract settlers.

Indeed, the historical cemeteries featured in his latest book include Anglican, Episcopal, Baptist, Catholic, Congregational, Huguenot (French Protestant), Jewish, Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and Unitarian congregations.

WATCH NOW: T&D News interns expand their horizons – yours and theirs

Harwood spent five years teaching a College of Charleston course on old cemeteries, “Beyond the Grave: What Old Cemeteries Tell and Teach the Living.”

He said his interest in the city’s cemeteries began in 2008 when he first visited the historic Magnolia Cemetery. Harwood has written two books about the birds and the history and beauty of Magnolia Cemetery, published in 2011 and 2014 respectively.

“My students and I visited a number of cemeteries and graveyards in Charleston, so I got to know these burial grounds,” Harwood said. “I also learned a lot from the various guest speakers we had in class. So it became one of my goals to write a book complete with my photographs to take readers on a tour of Charleston’s burial sites and tell hundreds of stories about the people buried there.

Harwood’s previous books have sold nationwide on Amazon, so he knows there’s a demand outside of Charleston for the story and photographs of the city’s historic beauty. Harwood said Charleston is home to some of the most “unique, creative and artistic” headstones in the country.

These comments can tell us how people in Charleston in the 1700s and 1800s mourned and thought of lost loved ones, according to Harwood. has a new special: $1 for 26 weeks

“Often their sadness and mourning was combined with a desire to honor their lost family member with a headstone that showed style and grace in the way it was designed, with thoughtful epitaphs, symbols and artistic touches. “Harwood said.

This contrasts with modern cemeteries, which Harwood called “cookie-cutter,” with limited space for families to be creative in their farewells.

“Nothing ‘memorable’ about burial sites today,” Harwood said. “It’s a bit sad.”

Harwood not only writes but also provides all the photography for his books. He said he drew on technical and research skills from his previous Magnolia Cemetery books when writing his new work. This is his fourth book that he has set up in Adobe inDesign.

“I do everything myself,” Harwood said. “Word by word, photograph by photograph and page by page.

“Stories of the Churchyard: The Cemeteries of Charleston” focuses on the 13 major churches and one synagogue in the Historic District that still have their cemeteries.

It also examines what happened to the many black burial sites in Charleston. Harwood said some of them have been relocated, while many others have been lost to the construction of roads and buildings over time.

Harwood expects to receive the first book from the printer in early September. It will be available on and through its website,, or via email,

He said he will also work to put copies in state stores and libraries and hold talks and book signings this fall, including in Orangeburg.

Caleb Bozard is a news intern at The Times and Democrat through sponsorship from the South Carolina Press Association Foundation. He is a student at the University of South Carolina at Columbia.