This historic African-American cemetery is representative of the enduring yet vulnerable landmarks that pervade Hobcaw Barony. Names inscribed on the headstones - Kennedy, Carr, McCants, and Jenkins - are a testament to and record of generations of families who lived and died on Hobcaw.
The history of enslaved Africans at Hobcaw extends as far back as the 18th century. The plantations of Hobcaw changed hands throughout the centuries and were gradually accumulated by the Alston family. By 1850 William Alston was in possession of five plantations - including Bellefield and Marietta - with 84 slaves, and producing 1.8 million pounds of rice in one year alone.
The land remained in the possession of the Alstons until Robert and Eliza Donaldson purchased it in 1889, and later sold it to Bernard Baruch in 1905. Though the surviving gravestones in Marietta Cemetery date back to the late 19th century, the numerous unmarked and illegible graves provide evidence of a much longer history.
This stone marks the grave of Edwin Kennedy, Minnie Kennedy’s brother. Edwin drowned in Winyah Bay, on March 9, 1929, along with his cousins, Arthur Kennedy and Roland McCants, and Alma, a visiting schoolteacher. They were returning from Georgetown in a small boat after going to a movie, when the boat capsized during a sudden storm.
The next day searchers found the bodies of Roland and Arthur, but not Alma or Edwin. That night his sister, Nettie, dreamed that Edwin visited her, telling her that his body was around a bend in the river, trapped between a tree and the shore near Fraser’s Point. The next day his body was found on the riverbank, in the branches of a tree. His cousins are also buried in Marietta cemetery.
In the tradition of historic African-American cemeteries, the grave decorations, or grave goods, at Marietta have particular connotations. Seashells represent water, marking the separation between the worlds of the living and the dead.
Other items reflect the daily lives of the deceased. This beautiful purple glass pitcher probably had special significance for the person who is buried here.