Wednesday, October 5, 2011

WHAT IS OR IS NOT ON UNION CEMETERY ROAD?

Yesterday’s (October 4, 2011) ventures out and about on Hilton Head Island took the Wood-Man and I to the Hilton Head Diner located off of William Hilton Parkway. We’ve had fine breakfasts and better service at this location while on our trip to the Low Country despite numerous negative reviews on Trip Advisor.  Our riding for the day was by plan limited. The most ambitious we felt was…

to take a short ride to the local Barnes and Noble. We were pleased to see that as we rode toward the mainland on the bike paths, there were longer and longer segments where the stop and go riding previously mentioned on our trip was infrequent. We met and passed numerous cyclists on the path during our 8 mile cruise to the book store.

Once there, we found a single bike rack for the entire section of stores. It was in poor condition and, worst of all, hidden behind a column on a blind side of the building where even a passerby would have difficulty noticing a bike or bag being stolen. Not wanting to find out about the local crime rate, I prudently removed my new Carradice Nelson Long Flap bag and carried it into the store with me after locking our two bikes together around the bike rack. Unsurprisingly, the Wood-man and I were the only ones in the store in lycra and spandex. As I checked out with my purchase, the clerk asked if I was riding my motorcycle today. I assured him I was on two wheels…

I was able to purchase two recent releases by two of my favorite authors, James Lee Burke and Lee Child. I’m enjoying the Feast of Fools already as Sheriff Hackberry Holland returns in the Burke novel.

There’s something missing on Union Cemetery Road…

The Wood-Man spotted Union Cemetery Road branching off of William Hilton Parkway as we made our way toward Barnes and Noble. Given the name, we guessed we might find an old cemetery where Union soldiers had been interred during the Civil War. It seemed like a good idea to check out.

Upon returning to the intersection, we headed down the bike path and I spotted a small cemetery off to our left. We had ridden alongside an individual, who told us the road ended just around the corner. Deciding that the cemetery that I spotted might be what we were looking for, we turned back and visited the tombstones.

Union Cemetery gravesites

(Old gravestones were sprinkled among newer residents of the graveyard)

We found numerous gravestones that dated back to the late 1860’s. Many of them appeared to have been homemade with the wording chiseled out of the rock by hand. Quite a few of the headstone writings were almost unable to be read due to age and deterioration. We found several gravesites of veterans but they were of the WWWI and WWII eras. There were also a number of graves of more recent deaths.

We spotted one family that must have experienced a great deal of sadness. There were three children born one year apart (1942, 1943, and 1944) and all were deceased by 1945 with the two youngest having died within 6 months of each other. They were surrounded by numerous other members of their family spanning a couple of generations.

What the Wood-man and I did not find was any sign of a Union soldier being buried on Union Cemetery Road. A quick Google search resulted in numerous real estate advertisements for Union Cemetery Road but no historical information regarding the history of the name.

Our short ride back to our abode in Palmetto Dunes Plantation ended with what is now our daily visit to Road Fish bike shop followed by a very nice soaking in the hot tub, which itself was followed by a fine steak dinner prepared by the Wood-Man. I know – I know: it’s a tough job but really, somebody DOES have to do it…

Until later,

- Zeke

(Postscript:Thanks to principal researcher Il Plummer, additional information is available about Union Cemetery Road and the inhabitants of the small graveyard we visited yesterday. There are, in fact, Union soldiers buried at this spot. They can be identified by the inscriptions U.S.C.I. on the tombstones. This stands for United States Colored Infantry. We did not several of these headstones in the graveyard but could not figure out the meaning of the initials. These veterans were African-American citizens who fought on the side of the Union during the Civil War.

Thanks to Il Plummer for the clarification and update! More information is available at Union Cemetery Road.

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