Before the Civil War, slaves were often interred in the rear of family or church burial grounds.
After the war, however, landless, newly freed men and women could claim no burial space so they turned to City Council to get permission to be laid to rest at the rear of “the public” cemetery, now Springwood Cemetery. Dozens, perhaps hundreds, of African-Americans were buried there.
In 1883, however, after Springwood had been improved, black citizens requested a cemetery of their own. The city responded by designating a portion of 17 acres of land for a Negro Cemetery near the “Tannery Branch” of Richland Creek. The cemetery’s boundaries were vague. Before Laurens Road was connected to Stone Avenue about 1950, the cemetery may have extended all the way to Richland Creek.
The name Richland Cemetery was first used in the city directory in 1896. In 1901, the city listed the value of its land as $2,200. Springwood was listed at $3,500. The graves of many buried at Richland were not marked, and a fire some years ago destroyed many records, making grave identification difficult. Together with Springwood, Richland Cemetery was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 2005.
Editor’s note: For more than 140 years, The Greenville News has told the story of our community and the people who live here. Each day this year we are publishing a brief piece of our history – Greenville’s story.