CATAWBA INDIAN CEMETERY INSCRIPTIONS
From The Quarterly September 1990
Compiled by Thomas Blummer

Kings Bottoms in Lancaster County is the location for one of the oldest Catawba cemeteries. Still highly revered by the Catawbas, the Kings Bottoms Cemetery was originally linked to the Catawbas last traditional population center. Through the Treaty of Nation Ford (1840), the Indians were deprived of both Kings Bottoms and their ancient cemetery. Little is known of those buried at Kings Bottoms, but it probably contains the unmarked graves of such illustrious Catawba rulers as King Frow, General New River, General Jacob Scott, General Jacob Ayers, and many Catawba veterans of the Indian Wars and the War of the American Revolution.

For the Catawbas, the decade following the Treaty of Nation Ford was dominated by confusion. The Indians were surprised to learn that Kings Bottoms was no longer theirs. We have no idea if the Indians ignored legal issues and continued to visit the cemetery to bury their dead. We do know that their access to the bottoms to dig clay has never been interrupted by the succession of non-Indian landowners who have farmed the land since 1840. It may well be that early into the decade of the 1840s the Indians did use the Kings Bottoms Cemetery. Perhaps some of those Catawbas who died between the Treaty and the purchase of the reservation on the west side of the Catawba River were buried in Kings Bottoms.

By 1843 the State of South Carolina despaired of removing the Catawbas from York District and purchased a reservation for the homeless Indians. Although the historical documentation is silent, it is safe to assume that the Reservation Cemetery was established as soon as a community of Indians gathered on the reservation. This settlement was established at the end of the decade following the Treaty of Nation Ford.

Unfortunately, no records exist concerning the first burial on the reservation. Lacking funds for memorial markers, the Catawbas simply marked each grave with large stones, one at the head and the second at the foot of the plot. As the years passed, the identities of these graves were forgotten Although John Brown(d. 1867) was certainly not the first Catawba to be interred in the Reservation Cemetery, he was the first Catawba to receive an inscribed marker. According to tradition, he was wounded in the Confederate service. The next grave to be given an historical marker was that of James Harris, a Confederate veteran who died in 1874. Although the number of graves marked with inscribed stones increased in the 20th century, a number of important Catawbas who died in this century rest in unmarked graves. Among them are Archie Wheelock(Oneida), Rosie Wheelock, Epp Harris and Martha Jane Harris. It is interesting to note that there are no inscribed stones for members of the Ayers and Canty families. Only 42 of more than 70 identified graves have inscribed markers, but many more than 70 were buried in the Reservation cemetery. An accurate grave count would require that archaeologists be called in to strip away the vegetation to scientifically survey the area. In all likelihood, several hundred Catawbas are buried in the Reservation Cemetery.

In the late 1940s it became clear that the knoll on which the Reservation Cemetery was located was nearly full of graves and could not be easily expanded. The Catawba Church, located some distance away, was also at this time unusable for services. When plans were made for the construction of a new church, a cemetery was added. The first burial in the Church Cemetery was that of an infant, John Potts, who died in 1951. The new church was dedicated on May 6, 1952, and it was assumed that new burials would be made in the church yard. Yet, in spite of the attractiveness of the Church Cemetery, a number of Catawbas wanted to be buried with their ancestors in the Reservation Cemetery. The survey shows that a number of Indians were buried in the Reservation Cemetery after 1952. The last Catawba to be interred in there was John Idle Sanders who died in 1973.

The following is an alphabetical listing of all those who are buried in the Reservation Cemetery and who have inscribed markers. That of Allen Harris is an uncut stone with the information scratched on it by some one other than a stone mason. Others are of marble, granite, limestone, homemade markers of cement, and funeral home metal markers consisting of a rod and metal tag. The inscriptions are provided in italics and the historical notes are in brackets.

Sam N. Beck, South Carolina PFC, 778

Tank BNT, World War II, December 17, 1926-January 22, 1950. [Son of Major Beck and Lula Blue Beck; carpenter; died in an automobile accident in Rock Hill.]

Nora Lillie Blue Blankenship Nora Lillie, wife of  F.Blankenship, Nov. 12, 1898-May 26, 1915, also four children who died in infancy. [Daughter of Samuel T. Blue and Minnie Hester George Blue.]

Ethel Brown, daughter of J. W. & R. W. Brown, born Oct. 6, 1911, died Oct. 8, 1918. Our darling. [Daughter of John Brown and Rachel George Brown; victim of influenza epidemic.]

Henry Brown, born Mar. 31, 1909, died Jan. 12, 1911, Suffer the little children to come unto me. [Son of John Brown and Rachel George Brown.]

Margaret George Brown, July 4, 1837-Aug. 9, 1922. [Potter; one of last speakers of Catawba language, informant for numerous linguists and anthropolo-gists; daughter of Anthony George and Rebecca Marsh George.]

John Brown John Brown, died Sept. 1867. [Confederate veteran; husband of Margaret George Brown; son of Rachel Brown.]

John Brown, In loving remembrance of John Brown, died, June 20, 1927, age of 59 years. Gone but not forgotten. [Chief of Catawba Nation 1923-1927; son of John Brown and Margaret George Brown; ran ferry on Catawba River; potter; husband of Rachel George Brown.]

John William Brown, Asleep in Jesus, John Wm, son of J. W. & R. W. Brown, born April 15, 1903, died Oct. 4, 1918. [Son of John Brown and Rachel George Brown; victim of influenza epidemic.]

Fannie Harris, wife of E. D. George, July 6, 1900, Dec. 15, 1951. My Jesus as thy wilt. [Daughter of Chief David A. Harris and Lizzie Patterson Harris; wife of Ephraim D. George; potter.]

Margaret T. George Margaret T. George, wife of Wlliam George, Nov. 12, 1845-May 13, 1908. [Wife of Billy George, signer of Treaty of Nation Ford; daughter of Anthony George and Rebecca Marsh George.]

Rebecca Marsh George, wife of Anthony George, died, Jan. 20, 1882. [Possible originator of the so-called Rebecca Pitcher; name Marsh of Pamunkey origin also spelled Mursh or Mush; daughter of John Marsh and Betsy Quash Marsh.]

Louis Ervin Gordon, April 9, 1900-Mar. 23, 1954. [Son of Lewis Gordon and Sallie Brown Gordon; husband of Eliza Harris Gordon; grocery clerk.]

Sallie Brown Gordon Sallie Gordon, Dec. 25, 1875-Sept. 20, 1952. [Daughter of Margaret George Brown; potter; wife of Louis Gordon.]

George R. Grey, Feb. 12, 1868-January 20, 1956, Sioux Tribe. [A member of a western Sioux tribe; died in New York. His children asked that he be buried with his own people and since the Catawba are Siouan, the Tribal Council approved the request.]

Allen Austin Harris, died 26 of February 1881. [Son of Chief Allen Harris and Rhoda George Harris; stabbed to death in an altercation with white men in Rock Hill; his attackers were acquitted.]

Artemis Harris Harris, Sept. 6, 1896-Dec. 18, 1959. [Daughter of Chief David A. Harris and Della George Harris; wife of Theodore Harris; potter.]

A. E. Harris, B. 1929, D. 1929. [Alice Harris; daughter of Theodore Harris and Artemis Harris Harris.]

Carrie Harris, B. 1911, D. 1913. [Daughter of Theodore Harris and Artemis Harris Harris.]

E. O. Harris, 1931-1932. [Edna Harris; daughter of Theodore Harris and Artemis Harris Harris.]

Floyd Raymond Harris, South Carolina, PFC, 5 Infantry, World War II, November 17, 1913-January 23, 1952. Second marker of metal. [Son of Chief David A. Harris and Della George Harris; Chief of Catawba Nation 1946-1950; husband of Nola Harris Harris.]

Hoyt Sidney Harris, died 1955, aged 54. Second marker of metal: Hoyt Sidney Harris, 1901-1955. [Son of Chief David A. Harris and Della George Harris; husband of Emeline Harris Harris; farmer.]

Loran Harris Loran Harris, South Carolina, PFC SVC BTRY, 80 Field Arty BN, World War II, June 10, 1924-August 5, 1958. [Son of Chief David A. Harris and Dorothy Price Harris; house painter.]

Luther C. Harris, July 7, 1896-Jan. 18, 1946. [Son of Ruthie Price; adopted by Ed. Harris; husband of Pearly Ayers Harris; farmer.]

James Harris, died July 31, 1912, age 54 years. [Son of James Harris and Sarah Jane Ayers Harris; chief of Catawba Nation 1885; 1889-1894, 1896-1898; in 1896 became the first chief to bring suit against South Carolina over the Treaty of Nation Ford; founder of Catawba Indian School (1896); husband of Margaret Harris Harris; farmer.]

Jim Harris, died May 1874, aged 40 years. He was a brave soldier of the 12th Reg. [Veteran of Confederate States Army; wounded at Battle of Sharpsburg (Sept. 17, 1862); prisoner of war; released at Charlotte (May 16, 1865); father of Chiefs James Harris and David A. Harris.]

John Thomas Harris, son of J. & M. E. Harris, born July 30, 1905, died July 10, 1912. [Son of James Harris and Margaret Harris Harris.]

Maggie Brown Harris, daughter of J. W. & R. W. Brown, born Mar. 17, 1901, died Oct. 5, 1918, at rest. [Daughter of John, Brown and Rachel George Brown; wife of Richard Harris; victim of influenza epidemic.]

Ralph Harris, B. 1938, D. 1940. [Son of Theodore Harris and Artemis Harris Harris.]

Robert Lee Harris, Sept. 15,1857-Nov. 8, 1954. [Chief of Catawba Nation 1895, 1939-1940; son of John Harris and Nancy George Harris; husband of Martha Collins Thatcher; carpenter.]

Robert Lee Harris, son of J. & M. E. Harris, born Aug. 16, 1910, died July 15, 1912. [Son of James Harris and Margaret Harris Harris.]

Robert W. Harris, July 13, 1956. [Son of Ben Harris and Mary (Dovie) George Harris; husband of Isabelle Harris Harris; mill worker.]

Mable G. Owl dau. of W. L. & N. F. Owl, Ap. 7, 1907-Sept 5, 1911. Asleep in Jesus. [Daughter of Lloyd Owl (Cherokee) and Nettie Harris Owl.]

Mary Rachel Brown Plyler, wife of O. F. Plyler, July 11, 1907-Feb. 22, 1955. Gone but not forgotten. [Daughter of John Brown and Rachel George Brown; potter.]

Effie Harris Robbins, Apr. 3, 1892, Nov. 8, 1972. [Daughter of Ed Harris and Ester Price Harris; wife of Frank Robbins, potter.]

Blanch D. Sanders, dau. of I. & A. Sanders, born Nov. 6 & died Nov. 16, 1912. [Daughter of Idle Sanders and Arzada Brown Sanders.]

Cora Brown Sanders, wife of Ernest Sanders, born Aug. 13, 1898, died Oct. 9, 1918. Our loved one. [Daughter of John Brown and Rachel George Brown; victim of influenza epidemic; died one day before her infant son, Melvin Sanders.]

Lewis Ernest Sanders, South Carolina, Pvt MCL QM Corps, February 5, 1936. [Son of John Sanders and Martha Harris Sanders; husband of Minnie Harris Sanders.]

Melvin Sanders Suffer little children to come unto me. Melvin, son of C. & E. Sanders, Jan. 23, 1918, died Oct. 10 1918. [Son of Lewis Ernest Sanders and Cora Brown Sanders; victim of influenza epidemic; died the day after his mother.]

John Idle Sanders, Oct. 12, 1892-Aug. 27, 1973. [Chief of the Catawba Nation 1954-1956; son of John Sanders and Martha Harris Sanders; husband of Arzada Brown Sanders.]

Joseph H. Sanders, South Carolina, Mech 156 Depot Brig, February 13, 1930. [Son of John Sanders and Martha Harris Sanders; carpenter; husband of Lillie Beck Sanders.]

Thomas Stevens, died Dec. 14, 1905, aged 110 years. [Froze to death while walking to visit a friend in Lancaster County.]

Martha Lee Harris White, b. 1918 [1915], d. 1940. [Daughter of Theodore Harris and Artemis Harris Harris; wife of Harry White.]

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