FORT MILL, S.C. -- A neighborhood dispute recently led to a goldmine for a local history museum.
Folks living in Eppington South in Fort Mill claimed crews weren’t as careful as they should have been while grading a new road next to an old cemetery.
"You can see the ground was dug up,” said neighbor Alicia Tursi. She and other neighbors say it appears two grave markers outside the cemetery’s main burial area were moved.
"It's a cemetery. It is history and we don't want that disturbed,” Tursi said.
So, they called Fort Mill History Museum Chairman Rufus Sanders to take a look.
It turned out Sanders and the history museum didn’t know the cemetery existed, and, after taking a closer look, Sanders said it has all the makings of a slave cemetery dating back to the 1800s when the land was a plantation.
Sanders said his findings are based upon county property maps and historic traditions of rocks with no names used as grave markers for slaves with the heads of the buried facing east toward the rising sun.
The former land owner said a black church buried parishioners there, with the last burial in 1901.
The developer said he knew the cemetery was there, surveyed the land, walked it, always treated it carefully and crews didn't knock over or remove any grave markers.
Homes will be built around it, but the cemetery area will be preserved and fenced off.
"This is sacred ground, so it is protected,” Sanders said.
It’s an example of how progress reveals history.
“It's a gem,” Sanders said.
Other folks who did not want to be identified say the reason neighbors claim crews got too close to the cemetery is they just don't want new homes and a road built behind them, and it's nothing more than sour grapes.