Mt. Carmel Baptist Church Underwater Cemetery

I have roots in Upstate South Carolina. Deep roots. Not as deep as the bottom of Lake Jocassee in Oconee County, but deep none the less.

Yesterday a good friend posted an article by Robin Jarvis, Most People Have No Idea There’s An Underwater Graveyard, about the underwater Cemetery of Mt. Carmel Baptist Church on Facebook. I know about the Cemetery and I know about other building(s) and things burried under the 7,500-acre (30 km2), 300-foot (91 m) deep reservoir. Wikipedia

When this project to build a dam and flood this beautiful valley was first beginning my grandmother was very vocal about what this would do to the valley and all of the wonderful things, natural and man-made that would be lost. I don’t think she protested or chained herself to Chapman’s Covered Bridge or to a rock at the base of falls, but she was upset by the washing away of her childhood romping places and the displacement of her friends and family from the area. She used to say this or that happened here or there and then end the statement with, “but that was before they built Jocasee”.

Another blog post states,”The Cherokee name Jocassee means “Place of the Lost One,” and what a fitting description that is for the South Carolina lake that bears its name…” -Appalachian History, Stories, quotes and anecdotes. Duke Power Flood the Uplands of SC, Posted by February 5, 2015


So here are some of the things that were lost to the need for power…

The Confluence and portions of the Keowee River.

Chapman’s Covered Bridge.
“One of the most popular covered bridges in South Carolina linked Pickens and Oconee Counties. Chapman’s bridge over the Keowee River was moved to the site of the Oconee Nuclear Power Plant to make way for Lake Keowee. Several young boys built a fire on its floor one evening and burned it up.” Histoic Oconee County, South Carolina, Prather’s covered Bridge, Paul M. Kankula, 12-Jan-2003, SC GenWeb

The Attakulla Lodge
“The hotel’s owner fought the Lake Jocassee development and was able to keep the Duke Power Company from demolishing his structure. It was the only structure still intact when the water poured in back in 1973. The Inquisitr    A former resident has done a dive to the Lodge and brought back a light fixture as a keepsake.

Images of what lies beneath Jocasee’s water which include sunken ships as well.

I had a sail boat I had left for a friend in my driveway when left to I move to Canada – it was stolen in the few hours it took my friend to come pick it up. She told me later of a sail boat floundering on Jocassee and sinking in a storm. The description of the Sailboat in the incident matched my Sail Boat perfectly. It would be there on the bottom too.

The Cemetery.
In the Find A Grave post for the Cemetery it states, “Some of the bodies in the cemetery were moved before the dam was completed that created the lake, but others still remain below the lake.”

The FAG post also states that there are 23 interments. The Post includes burials in the old location, “Church and cemetery was originally in a different location – now covered by water. When Lake Jocassee was built, the church and most of the cemetery graves were moved to their present location.” SC GenWeb Mount Carmel Baptist #1 ChurchCemetery, Oconee County, SC , aka Devil’s Fork State Park, Version 1.0, 1-Jul-2007  and burials in the new location.

The Movie Deleiverence, released in 1972, has a scene which is supposed to be “shot at the Mount Carmel Baptist Church cemetery” WikiPedia – You Tube Video of the Scene. This may or not be true as quite a few posts I found said that this scene was actually shot at a location overlooking the valley – possibly where heavy equipment was stored for the Dam Construction.


 The names of the burials in old and new total:

Cash, Allice Crowe. b. Apr. 27, 1870, d. Jun. 30, 1947
Cash, Charles Horris, b. May 16, 1935, d. Apr. 7, 2000
Cash, Dorothy Underwood, b. Dec. 18, 1931, d. Nov. 2, 2014
Cash, James Thomas “Tom”, b. Sep. 13, 1861, d. Jul. 12, 1940
Cash, l. Russell, b. Dec. 11, 1919 d. Sep. 10, 2008
Crowe, Louie Anderson, b. unknown, d. Aug. 1, 1953
Deaton, Michael Joe, b. Sep. 5, 1955, d. Sep. 30, 1997
Galloway, Minnie, b. Feb. 7, 1911, d. Apr. 30, 2000
Hamilton, Doris Yvonne, b. Nov. 27, 1934, d. Nov. 13, 1936
Hinkle, Silas Dover, b. Feb. 20, 1838 d. Sep. 2, 1918 (Gravestone is prominent in Video of Dive above)
Hinkle, Winifred “Winnie”, b. Mar., 1858, d. Jun. 5, 1917
Patterson, James, b. Oct. 16, 1839, d. May 6, 1917
Patterson, Narsisie Janie Cardner, b. May 22, 1834, d. Sep. 20, 1908
Rackley, Elizabeth “Liz”, b. 1790 d. Jun., 1870
Rackley, Martha Licena Bowen, b. 1850, d. Feb. 10, 1892
Rackley, Thomas William, b. 1790, d. unknown
Rackley, Pvt William “Willy”, Sr., b. 1820 d. unknown
Ramey, Carrie Virginia Deaton, b. Aug. 15, 1925 d., Oct. 10, 1987
Sain, Bobbie James, b. Aug. 6, 1931, d. Oct. 19, 2010
Sain, Vallie Mae Cash, b. Jun. 26, 1937 d. unknown
Talley, Joseph Dyar, b. Oct. 10, 1884, d. Sep. 5, 1941
Whitmire, Alson Lafayette “(Hig), b. May 2, 1854, d. Dec. 9, 1935
Whitmire, Lucy Jane Thomas, b. Dec. 11, 1864, d. Jan. 2, 1916 Find A Grave