The Churchyard of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral was damaged last week by severe thunderstorms. The damage was caused by a limb of a live oak tree that dates from the early 1800s. The churchyard is at the corner of Sumter and Gervais Streets in downtown Columbia.
Several gravestones were damaged or destroyed and several sections of fencing were damaged as well. One grave, that of Maria Calhoun,(1821-1852) was totally destroyed. The Calhoun grave, as well as several others, looks like an above ground burial but it is not. In the early days of Columbia, and Trinity, there was a sizeable agricultural component to the community with farm animals roaming loose. The above ground design prevented animals from digging up the graves.
The Trinity Churchyard is one of the most historic cemeteries in town. Buried in the churchyard are 3 Civil War Generals (John Preston, Ellison Capers and States Rights Gist), 5 US Senators and several Presidents of the University of South Carolina.
Also buried at Trinity is James F. Byrnes(1880-1972) who was Secretary of State under President Harry Truman and Governor of South Carolina from 1951-1955.
Trinity Cathedral replaced last fall after an extensive restoration that lasted more than two years. The restoration was done in connection with the Church’s bicentennial in 2012.
It is unclear when and/or if the damage will be repaired.
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