William Richard Cathcart is currently one of my favorite ancestors to work on. It seems every time I think I know something about him, a new contradiction pops up. He’ll be a frequent topic of this blog. Of that I’m certain.

Final Resting Place

As I mentioned on my previous post regarding Elmwood interments, W. R. Cathcart appears to have been first buried at Trinity churchyard [1] and later moved to Elmwood prior to his second wife, Katherine’s burial [2]. It is possible W.R.’s first wife Mary Eliza and their deceased children were moved also.

Over at The Who Hunter I wrote an article detailing the problem with relying solely on gravestones using the Cathcart example above.

I mentioned getting the interment card would be the next step in my research plan. I was hopeful the cemetery records would help answer the question of possible re-interment dates for several Cathcart burials. It does not.

Elmwood – Brief History

Susie Buyer of the Elmwood Cemetery office provided helpful clarification. First, the cemetery began burials c. 1854 [3]. However, beyond the original deeds, no survey of the cemetery by lot and square was initially kept. According to Susie, about 1919, a survey of the cemetery was made, probing graves, from which the registers were produced [4]. This system was not fool proof and some reliance was made on family oral tradition [5].

Take a look at the Interment Register for Lot 39, Square 37 where William Richard Cathcart, Sr.’s gravestone was photographed [6].

William Richard Cathcart Elmwood Cemetery

Elmwood Cemetery Deed 120, Lot 39, Sq 37

The consecutive interment numbers in the leftmost column suggest these burials were registered in the 1919 survey. My initial thought was this register might have been produced by a simple reading of the gravestones. This could still be true but it begs the question; why is the spelling for Katherine Stewart different on the gravestone and the register if the gravestone was the source for the register?  The gravestone for Margaret (Cathcart) Jennings (1839-1923), would have been place after the cemetery survey [7]. Why was this burial not added to the register? The simple fact is we cannot say how this register was produced and therefore its reliability as evidence must be questioned.

But we are not done yet. The lot owner, W Richard Cathcart, does not provide confirmation for which William Richard Cathcart bought the lot. William Richard Cathcart, Jr. is also buried in Elmwood [8]. It is possible Junior purchased both the lot he is buried in as well as the lot in question.

Only One Solution

And you know what that means…another research trip is in order (Queue Happy Dance Music)! Susie Buyer mentioned cemetery copies of lot deeds may available. They are a chore to access with no guarantee of success. If you go, plan accordingly. Be kind to the wonderful, helpful folks at this cemetery office. Remember this is an active cemetery, current burials take precedent. Call ahead with your request so they can advise you their best schedule and how much time it might take. I don’t know when I’ll next have the opportunity to visit. But I’m already looking forward to it.

Rorey Cathcart

Copyright (c) 29 November 2012

1) “Col. W. R. Cathcart Dead”, The State (Columbia, South Carolina), 14 November 1898, p. 5, col. 5; digital images, GenealogyBank.com (http://www.genealogybank.com: accessed 15 March 2012).

2) “Death Unexpected [Mrs W. R. Cathcart…].” The State (Columbia, South Carolina), 25 October 1917, p. 10, col. 3; digital images, GenealogyBank.com (http://www.genealogybank.com: accessed 9 May 2012).

3) South Carolina Department of Archives and History, “National Register Properties in South Carolina: Elmwood Cemetery”, NationalRegister.SC.gov (http://www.nationalregister.sc.gov/richland/S10817740111/index.htm : accessed 25 November 2012), generically citing date of establishment.

4) Susie Buyer (501 Elmwood Avenue Columbia, SC 29201), telephone interview by Rorey Cathcart, 26 November 2012; Transcript privately held by Cathcart, Highland Mills, New York, 2012. Ms. Buyer spoke as an employee of the cemetery with knowledge of its history.

5) Ibid.

6) Elmwood Cemetery Office (Columbia, South Carolina), Burial Register, citing lot owner W Richard Cathcart, Deed 120, Section 11, Lot 26. Photocopy provide to author 23 October 2012

7) Elmwood Cemetery (Columbia, South Carolina), Margaret A Cathcart gravestone, [Lot 39, Square 37]; digital photograph by P.S. Cathcart, 21 May 2012.

8) Elmwood Cemetery (Columbia, South Carolina), William Richard Cathcart and Lucy Billing Cathcart joint gravestone, Lot 12, Square 45; digital photograph b  y P.S. Cathcart, 16 May 2012.