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Historic Columbia to hold Moonlight Cemetery tour on May 8

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Historic Columbia will hold another of its popular Moonlight Cemetery Tours on May 8 .The tours will take place at Elmwood Cemetery at 501 Elmwood Avenue, Columbia, at 8 & 8:30 P.M.. The tours will continue to be offered on the second Thursday of each month through September.

Costumed guides will lead tours through the cemetery and discuss the lives, burials, cemetery plots and tombstones of Columbia’s prominent citizens from the 19th and 20th centuries. Several portions of the tour will spotlight the Victorian era and several variations of cemetery art.

Among those highlighted on the tour are:

  • Phineas Frazee: A businessman who sympathized with the North during the Civil War and had to leave town for that reason. When he returned after the war, he returned to Columbia and was elected Sheriff of Richland County.
  • Nannie Thornwell: A bride who never made it to the altar. She died the night before her wedding.
  • General Maxcy Gregg: Civil War general who saw action at Manassas, Harpers Ferry and Sharpsburg (Antietam). He was mortally wounded at Fredericksburg.

These and other stories await you on the Elmwood Cemetery Tour. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 803-252-1770 EXT. 23 or emailing Reservations can also be made online here. Cost of the tour is $10 for non-members and $5 for members, non-member children and $3 for member children.

Also being offered this year is "Secrets from the Grave," a tour dealing with the fascinating iconography found on the markers and headstones of the cemetery. This tour will be offered at 7:30 P.M. Reservations can be made by contacting the above number and email. This tour is a separate admission and is the same as for the Cemetery tour.

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Jackie Rhodes
Jackie Rhodes photo by author

Jackie Rhodes

Jackie Rhodes is one of the costumed guides ready to escort you around Elmwood Cemetery. She is wearing a 19rh century mourning costume. Widows were required to dress in black for at least a year after the death of their husband.

Maxcy Gregg gravesite
Maxcy Gregg gravesite photo by author

Maxcy Gregg gravesite

General Maxcy Gregg is buried at Elmwood. A general during the Civil War, Gregg saw action at Sharpsburg (Antietam), Harpers Ferry and was mortally wounded at Fredericksburg.

Celtic Cross
Celtic Cross photo by author

Celtic Cross

A separate tour dealing with cemetery iconography is given at 7:30. This particular stone shows a Celtic Cross which was a particularly popular gravestone symbol

lamb photo by author


When a child died, there were several symbols used to denote that occasion. Here, a lamb was used. Cherubs, among others, were used to denote the death of a child. 

train on a gravestone
train on a gravestone photo by author

train on a gravestone

This stone marked the resting place of a train engineer whose train fell off the tracks. In addition to a train, visible in the lower half of a the photo, the tree trunk denotes the person died young. Guide Nancy Rogers explains all this on the iconography tour