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Myrtle Grove monument unveiling ceremony held in Georgetown

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GEORGETOWN -- Members of the Georgetown community gathered July 20 for the unveiling of a monument to those buried in Myrtle Grove Cemetery.

“This is the culmination of at 10-year process,” said Steve Williams, one of the volunteers who has been working to see the Myrtle Grove restored, told the Georgetown Times. “It began with Tony Nelson recognizing his relatives were buried there.”

Nelson, a 1977 graduate of Howard High School who now lives in Connecticut, came across a memo while researching the Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor that had stories of families visiting the graves of their ancestors, buried on the old Myrtle Grove Plantation land.

The memo mentioned an old cemetery near the “Town Dump” located just off Hawkins Street in Georgetown.

The cemetery is also referred to as "Muckle Grove" in the Gullah/Geechee dialect, Williams said.

The plantation property was purchased by International Paper in the late 1950s, Williams said, and for years the cemetery was locked behind fences as part of the papermill’s property. Even today, access to the cemetery is limited, and the graves are still behind locked gates.

Nelson worked with the citizens council and International Paper to open the property for guided tours twice a year. The first tours were in 2018.

The memorial is now open to the public, although the graves are still on International Paper property and are not accessible to the public outside of the scheduled tours.

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Randal Seyler is the editor of the Georgetown Times and the Myrtle Beach Post and Courier.