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Monday, April 16, 2012

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Located the graves of J K Vance and Burwell Chick

If anyone had told me I would finally discover and locate the graves of two former slave owners within one hour and about 5 minutes when I was scheduled to present at the Greenville Genealogical Society on Sunday, I would not have believed them.  Maybe I would have just fainted from sheer excitement of having that many things happen at once.

Well, I arrived one hour and a half before my presentation to find the Hughes (Main) Library was not open yet.  I had wanted to locate the cemetery where J. K Vance (b. 1818) and Burwell Chick (1776-1847) are buried.  James Kincaid Vance was the former slave owner and half brother to my great great grandfather Beverly Vance.  Burwell Chick is the father of Pettus Wales Chick, the slave owner of my great great grandfather, Anderson Chick.

I have traced these men and their families extensively and documented the oral history that was shared with me by family members.  It is just mind boggling that two different branches of my family from Abbeville, Laurens, Newberry, and Union Counties are linked to these two men.

Sitting in the empty parking lot of the library, I was able to search Google for J. K. Vance, a former South Carolina state representative, to find the name of the cemetery, Springwood.  I put Springwood in the GPS and discovered it was only a few blocks away.

I was so excited, and I was not prepared for how huge this cemetery is.  I knew it was really pushing it to think I could find the graves within an hour.  I had no idea what sections they were buried.  Luckily, there was a map which cited some of the more well known people buried there.  I saw that Burwell was buried in Section A which is very near the entrance.  I remembered seeing his grave online, so I knew what to look for. He is buried alongside his wife, Massey (1781-1845). 

You can hardly read the inscription for either spouse.  Hmmm... The photograph actually is much easier to read.  I did not see that it said "Doctor" while I stood there.  I will have to visit again when I have more time.

I looked around over the landscape and my husband and I decided it was fruitless to look for J. K. Vance without knowing what section.  The cemetery is huge. One photo cannot do it justice. It is divided into Sections A-V.

We headed back to the library and I ended up with a few minutes extra to run upstairs to the South Carolina Room.  I chatted with Beverly Weinstein,  Librarian Assistant.  This was the first time we had met.  The Hughes Main Branch is an affiliate of FamilySearch so when you order your microfilm, you can request to view it there.

Another point that Beverly wanted me to stress was that they have the equipment for viewing and printing from the film of course, but if you bring your flash drive, you can save right to it. Then, you do not have to pay for copies. I will share more photos of the room in an upcoming blog.

Beverly Weinstein, Librarian Assistant.  Greenville County Library System - Hughes Main Branch, South Carolina Room

I have always found the staff here very helpful, but in casual conversation, I mentioned my adventure at Springwood Cemetery, and before I knew it, Beverly had pulled up the location of the Vance plot! The database actually loaded a visual of the plot and I saw the shape of the marker.  "It's in Section B," she said.  That was music to my ears.  Here is the website Beverly used:  Springwood and Richland Cemetery Viewer.

After my presentation, we went back to Springwood Cemetery, and we were able to quickly locate the Vance plot and the grave of J. K. Vance.  The marker also has the names of his wife, Laurens Louisa (born abt 1822), and son, James Wister Vance inscribed.   Thank you, Beverly!  You are responsible for the huge ending to my story.  We probably would have traveled home without finding the Vance plot on this trip.  My family will be so surprised to see this:

I know some will wonder about the Confederate flag that was there, but I have more to share, and I took tons of photos, so please check back!


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