The Far Cemetery was used by freedmen in the area during the Civil War. Its location is marked on an 1866 U.S. map as quite large, and burials continued until 1930. An archaeological investigation in 1979 revealed the location of 522 graves - about half belonging to children under the age of 13.
As WWII approached, this property was converted into Camp Mitchell, a temporary base for the United States Marine Corps. As the land was cleared, all tombstones and grave markers were hauled away and buried in places unknown.
Although the 1979 archaeological dig revealed the location of 522 graves, more bodies have yet to be uncovered in pine forest on the site. But evidence of their burials was clear in the undergrowth.
Today this property is managed by Coastal Carolina Regional Airport and leased by the James City Historical Society. With the airport's cooperation, JCHS recovered some remnants of the original markers and erected a memorial to honor the unknown dead in 2003.
The MonumentThis memorial was designed by Chairman Emeritus Ben Watford in honor of the formerly enslaved and free people who were buried here from 1862 to 1930. It is inscribed with a verse from a poem by Thomas Gray, "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard.”
Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid
Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire;
Hands, that the rod of empire might have sway'd,
Or wak'd to ecstasy the living lyre.
The Face Jugs
Enslaved people were often forbidden to mark their graves. The tradition of the face jug arose to honor a loved one's body and protect it from evil spirits.
Honoring the Dead
As you walk the hallowed ground at the Far Cemetery, we ask that you take a few moments and consider the hopes and dreams of the people who claimed this land with their bodies.