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The Richardson family cemetery sits on an isolated side road near the tiny village of Rimini. While it is roughly on the route from Camden to Charleston, it's farther out in the country than any other stop on our trip -- in fact, if anybody actually lives in Rimini, you couldn't prove it by us! It didn't help that we were following Barefoot's guide, and since it was written some of the side roads had apparently gained new names. Eventually, though, we discovered the small sign for "S.R. 14-76" hidden behind another road marker, and we were on our way again.1
One of the rewards of venturing so far off the beaten path was a chance
encounter with some Carolina swamp in more or less its native habitat. While
RevWar histories talk constantly about swamps and boggy lowlands all over the
state, in modern times the land has been terraformed for human convenience.
The swamplands seem to now be largely confined to a few parks, none of which
were on our route. Even Francis Marion's old home in "the high hills of
Santee" now rests somewhere beneath the surface of manmade Lake Marion.
This lovely little piece of eeriness lies off to the side of S.R. 14-76 between Rimini and the Richardson cemetery, close to the historical marker for Francis Marion's encounter with Major Robert McLeroth at Halfway Swamp. There's a sign announcing that it is the boggier cousin to a reforestation project -- i.e., artificially restored -- but it is a beautiful sight nonetheless.
|A mile or so farther on, a road marker stands at the entrance to a rutted track which leads up to the cemetery. (That's S.R. 14-76 in the background of this photo. The track to the cemetery is unpaved and made us glad we were in Holley's SUV.)|
|All signs of the Richardson plantation itself are long gone. Where the buildings must once have stood is now a large, empty field backed by woods, with the cemetery sitting in forgotten isolation at its center. There's nothing manmade in sight except some farm buildings way off in the distance.|
|The cemetery itself hasn't been cared for in years, and its ground is a tangle of weeds and blackberry bushes. (The berries were ripe -- and delicious -- when we visited.) To Holley's dismay and Heather's delight, we even discovered a resident snake, who politely ignored us as we explored his turf.|
Some time in the past, the urn which must have topped General Richardson's grave marker has been broken off by vandals. (The whole cemetery shows signs of decades of petty vandalism.) The inscription is weathered, but still barely readable.
TO THE MEMORY OF
GENERAL RICHARD RICHARDSON
WHO DEPARTED THIS LIFE IN SEPTEMBER 1780,
AGED 76 YEARS.
HE DIED WHILE A PRISONER
AND UNDER THE PAROLE OF THE BRITISH
WHO PERMITTED HIM IN HIS ILLNESS
TO LEAVE JOHN'S ISLAND
WHERE HE WAS CONFINED
TO CLOSE THE LAST MOMENTS OF HIS LIFE
IN THE BOSOM OF HIS NUMEROUS FAMILY.
BENEATH THIS MARBLE
HIS VENERATED REMAINS REPOSE
WHICH IS ERECTED TO HIS MEMORY
BY JAMES BURCHELL RICHARDSON
HIS OLDEST SON BY HIS SECOND AND LAST MARRIAGE.
Mrs. Richardson lies beside her husband, her marker in slightly better shape. The inscription, written by her son -- who was ten years old in 1780, and figures in some versions of the legends surrounding her encounter with the Legion -- suggests she was, indeed, a formidable woman:
TO THE MEMORY OF
MRS. DOROTHY SINKLER RICHARDSON
RELICT OF GENERAL RICHARD RICHARDSON
WHO DIED 6TH JULY 1795
AGED 56 YEARS.
SHE WAS PIOUS & EXEMPLARY,
DISTINGUISHED IN MIND & MANNERS
& EMINENTLY DISCERNIBLE IN THE HIGHEST SOCIETY
IN WHICH SHE ASSOCIATED.
WHICH DESIGNATES THE PLACE WHERE HER REMAINS REST
IS ERECTED TO HER MEMORY
BY HER ELDEST SON JAMES BIRCHELL RICHARDSON
WHO EARLY BEREFT OF PATERNAL CARE
FEELS THAT HE IS INDEBTED TO HER MATERNAL CARE AND ATTENTION;
TO HER VIGOROUS AND PERSEVERING MIND
OF FIRMNESS AND DETERMINATION PASSING DESCRIPTION;
AND TO HER VIGILANT AND ENLIGHTENED INSTRUCTIONS
FOR BEING ALL THAT HE IS IN LIFE.
(By the way, when I scribbled down the inscriptions from General and Mrs. Richardson's monuments, I neglected to take note of the line breaks. Unfortunately, they can't be reconstructed from the photos, so these are rough approximations.)
In a brief aside, outside the flow of the tour...
Some time after posting this page, I received an email from Douglas Smith of Charleston, who dropped up to visit the graveyard after reading this page:
This weekend I visited General Richardson's grave site and was really shocked at how bad the Richardson family grave site has deteriorated for lack of care. I don't understand how a place that has as much historical importance as this place is not being maintained or protected from vandalism. ... I would be willing to help with cleaning the site up if I could find out how to go about it. I also think that state of South Carolina should have a great interest in this site especially since two South Carolina governors are buried there.
In a later follow-up note, he tells me,
I have contacted the Governor and the state historical representative and everyone else that I could. All agreed that the site is protected by law but there really is no enforcement. ... I really see no interest from anyone in state or local government to do anything about General Richardson grave site. I wanted to at least clean the place up but have so far not been able to locate the owners of the grave site to get permission to do so. ... I think it is a shame that there is no interest by anyone in the state government to protect this site from further deterioration.
So he's still interested in doing some work there, if he can track down the owners. If anyone reading this can help, please drop me a note and I'll pass the information along. And now back to our regularly scheduled tour...
After a nice wander around the cemetery, we headed on south-east to Charleston, where our first stops were Middleton Place and Drayton Hall.
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1 Daniel W. Barefoot, Touring South Carolina's Revolutionary War Sites (Winston-Salem, North Carolina: John F. Blair Publisher, 1999). [ back ]
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