Union, S.C. – The public is invited to dig deeper into the history of Rose Hill Plantation State Historic Site as archaeology work is conducted on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. until March 17, 2023 (weather permitting).
This week, six students from SC State, Benedict College, and USC (Lancaster and Columbia) are at Rose Hill getting hands-on archaeology experience thanks to a field school that was originally launched by faculty at SC State for HBCU students.
Conveniently situated about an hour from Columbia, Rock Hill, and Greenville, Rose Hill Plantation was the home of South Carolina’s “Secession Governor,” William Henry Gist and his family, along with more than 100 enslaved people laboring on Gist’s cotton plantation. In one of his last acts as governor, Gist called for the secession convention that ultimately dissolved the union between South Carolina and the United States on the eve of the Civil War.
The vast majority of people who lived and worked at Rose Hill throughout its history have been African American. During the current excavations, a team of archaeologists from the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism (SCPRT) and the South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology (SCIAA), are looking for artifacts to help better tell their stories.
“Archaeology can help Rose Hill tell a more inclusive history,” said Park Interpreter, Stephanie Cohen. “The objects that are unearthed during these digs provide a tangible connection to African American families who lived here.”
Members and descendants of these families have shared memories and family histories with Rose Hill staff to help SCPRT better understand and interpret the site’s history. “Networking with the local community and people whose families once lived here is some of the most important work that Rose Hill does,” said Park Manager, Nate Johnson. “We are excited that students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities in South Carolina are joining us in this work.”
Dr. Alison McLetchie, Assistant Professor at SC State, launched the HBCU field school two years ago because anthropology and archaeology disciplines generally are not offered in HBCUs. Stacey Young, SCPRT Archaeologist, is leading the fieldwork along with Dr. Kelly Goldberg, anthropology instructor and director of the Public Heritage Lab at USC. As part of the program, the student’s lodging, food, and equipment expenses are being covered by SCPRT and USC.
Rose Hill’s evocative history earned it a place on the National Park Service Reconstruction Era National Historic Network, which connects diverse sites to tell the story of what happened in this nation after the Civil War and emancipation. The park is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and grounds admission is always free. House and guided grounds tours are available Friday-Monday at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m., and Thursdays at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., and cost $10 for adults; $6 for SC Seniors; and $5 for children ages 6-15. Children 5 and under are free.
For more information or photos, contact Sam Queen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 803-767-3568.