Union Cemetery

Location: 100 S. Fairview St., Florence, SC 29506

The Union Cemetery was first known as the Ministerial Union Cemetery, as it was not associated with just one church but several within the Florence area.

The cemetery was commissioned by Charles Taylor and Clayton Brown in March 1917 during World War I. Taylor was the president and minister of Trinity Baptist Church, and Brown was the minister of Cumberland AME Church, now known as the Cumberland United Methodist Church.

The following month, plans were drawn for the cemetery. In April 1918, the men paid a thousand dollars to James Daniel Evans to obtain 6 acres of land. Evans was a local white attorney whose sister, Jane Evans, helped found the Florence Museum (not to be confused with the Florence County Museum).

Some people of interest buried here include:

The parents of William H. Johnson, whose graves for many years were unmarked. Now, there is an 8-foot tall memorial statue for the couple, which has an engraving of a painting that Johnson did of his parents.

Reverend Clayton R. Brown and his wife, Elizabeth, who passed away in 1933 and 1941. Reverend Brown was one of the aforementioned founders who helped to establish the cemetery.

Reverend Charles Theodore Taylor and his wife, Theresa O. Brown, who passed away in 1935 and 1942. Reverend Taylor also helped to establish the cemetery. He gave the church nineteen years of service, and it prospered both spiritually and financially as never before. During that time, the membership practically doubled, and on one occasion, two hundred members were baptized the same day. 

Washington Gero Brown passed away in 1948 and was placed in a segregated burial ground. He served in the first World War from September 1918 until July 1919. Wounded twice, he was a South Carolina Private in the 802 Pioneer Infantry. The Pioneer Infantry was similar to regular army troops in that they were trained in infantry tactics. 

However, the troops were also trained in combat engineering; twenty of the thirty-seven Pioneer Infantry Regiments were comprised of African-American soldiers. These men often built bridges and roads, which kept them within the lower ranks of the military. These segregated regiments represented the role that racial discrimination played in the U.S. during this time. 

Resting places like the Union Cemetery tell us a lot about the communities they serve. They are particularly important for learning about the histories of African American communities, as their histories were not well-documented during the era of segregation. This cemetery tells us about businesses, faith leaders, freemasons, and veterans as well as families. Many of the Black leaders of early Florence rest here, and many of their descendants continue to be buried in this cemetery.

For directions to Union Cemetery visit the following website pages: