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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

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Truth Revealed About African-American Undertaker Buried in Fairview Cemetery

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Percival Family Plot at Fairview Cemetery, March 31 2014 by Robin Foster
Among those listed as interred in Fairview Cemetery that I have attached death certificates for so far includes James T. Percival, his wife, Ellen, and his son, Theodore E. Percival.  See Gone and Almost Forgotten at Fairview Cemetery. The Percival plot is one of the only graves visible from 300 Holman Street.

It has been accepted as a local historical fact that no African American funeral home existed in the Greenwood area before the 1930's, however, it cannot be overlooked that James T. Percival (1872-1937) who lived on Cemetery Street is listed on the 1920 Census as a proprietor of an undertaking parlor.  
"United States Census, 1920," index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-267-11576-35996-83?cc=1488411 : accessed 09 Apr 2014), South Carolina > Greenwood > Greenwood > 0077 > image 8 of 24; citing NARA microfilm publication T625.

The 1916 Greenwood City Directory also lists James as an undertaker and embalmer at 315 Waller Ave. At this same establishment it shows James and his son, Theodore, were owners of  Percival Printing Co.  Theodore, was actually Dr. Theodore E. Percival, a graduate of Lincoln University in 1924.  See page 2 of the Lincoln University Herald.
It is so promising to see that in the process of working to help make sure Fairview Cemetery is restored, we are discovering the stories of those laid to rest there.  Many thanks go to my fellow volunteers at the Greenwood County Public Library for their tireless efforts on behalf of Fairview Cemetery.

Please continue to follow and share to raise awareness. As I look back at the photo taken above, I cannot help but feel even more deeply now that something more should be done to better honor the legacy of James T. Percival, a successful business owner  born less than a decade after emancipation.  I hope to learn more about the story of this family.

2 comments:

  1. Finding "fact" from "folklore," is one of the adventurous parts of preserving endangered cemeteries. People will STILL challenge you on your comments of this gentleman and son's professions. Now, however, you will have the official documents to show people their forgotten heritage. Keep up the great work.

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