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This is a contributing entry for Fort Hill: National Historic Landmark and only appears as part of that tour.Learn More.

One side of the historical marker which stands at the entrance of Woodland Cemetery explains that the site had once been an orchard and the first known burial here was of a child also named John C. Calhoun in 1837. The other side of the marker indicates that enslaved African Americans were buried along the hillside below the Calhoun family plot in graves marked by field-stones. The exact number of enslaved African Americans buried at this site is unknown. Additionally, from 1890 to 1915, convict laborers who died while working to build Clemson College were buried next to the slave cemetery.


  • Cemetery Historical Marker
  • View at the site
  • Another view of the site
  • Additional views of the site

Upon this hill, this part of the former orchard was the burial grounds for the enslaved African Americans community at Fort Hill Plantation. Although deaths in the enslaved community were rarely documented, the passing of four enslaved persons were recorded along with the 1850 US Census. In November 1849, Elizabeth died at the age of 2 of whooping cough after being sick for six weeks. In 1850, Sophia died at the age of 35 in childbirth in January, Aleck died of white swelling at the age of 12 in February after suffering for two weeks, and John died of worms at the age of 2 in May after suffering for four days; they are likely buried here.

By July 29, 1865, a combined epidemic of whooping cough and measles had killed more than 70 enslaved persons, mostly children, at Fort Hill; death prevented them from experiencing freedom. By September 2, 1865, there were fifteen freedmen and women of color remaining at Fort Hill.

In the fall of 1891, 147 African Americans convict laborers were leased by the State to Clemson College; the Pickens Sentinel documented that the 3 or 4 convict laborers who had passed away were buried, amongst the former burial grounds of the enslaved community. In 1910, a smallpox epidemic killed many convict laborers, and, regardless of race, they were buried upon this hill.

The remaining upended field stones mark a few burial sites on this hill; however, other unmarked gravesites have been verified through Ground Penetrating Radar. At this time, the names, familiar relations, and time of death of those buried here are largely unknown.

Newsstand | Clemson University News and Stories, South Carolina. “Markers Signal New Effort to Share Clemson’s Full History.” Accessed May 26, 2020. https://newsstand.clemson.edu/markers-signal-new-effort-to-share-clemsons-full-history/.

Sams, Cathy. “Marking the Past.” Newstand-Clemson, 12 Apr. 2016,

https://ensemble.clemson.edu/hapi/v1/contents/63441b23-2dbf-43ff-9952-3500bbeb9d39/launch?

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Image Sources(Click to expand)

https://newsstand.clemson.edu/markers-signal-new-effort-to-share-clemsons-full-history/.

image courtesy of Fort Hill

image courtesy of Fort Hill

image courtesy of Fort Hill