This past holiday weekend, I went to Charleston, South Carolina to visit with some family. Charleston is an amazing city, almost a living museum. The preservation laws do not allow for buildings to be torn down, so the city has a lot of history everywhere you turn.
I took a tour and my guide was a very charming native of South Carolina, named Randy Lee Hill. He was quite knowledgeable and entertaining; one of our stops was St. Philips Episcopal church. The church was first built in 1680, and is the burial site of Charles Pinckney, who was one of the signers of the Constitution and Edward Rutledge, who signed the Declaration of Independence.
Also buried there, in the West Church yard across the street from the church, is John C Calhoun, a much revered statesman of South Carolina. During the Civil War his body was moved to the East Church Yard near the chapel because it was feared that Federal troops might desecrate it. Federal troops never did, and John C. Calhoun was returned to the West Church yard sometime later.
But why was he originally buried in the West Church yard and not church side? Because he was not a native born Charlestonian. Only native born Charlestonians were buried church side. Not even John C Calhoun who was much admired by South Carolinians was buried there.
So what does that mean from a genealogy point of view? If you know which side of the cemetery your ancestor was buried, you’d know if they were born in Charleston. Which of course, is valuable information. Knowing your history is not only interesting, it can answer a few genealogical questions at the same time!