WINNSBORO — Fairfield County is home to a number of cemeteries and historic sites that help put the area on the map.
Every so often an interaction with an old grave site gives people outside of this small community a way to reconnect with their heritage and in some ways lift the area up.
Such was the case for 85-year-old Mary Goodman and her late brother Dr. Charles McCreight, the third generation great-grandchildren of Col. William McCreight, one of the founders of Winnsboro.
Over the course of several years, Goodman visited the Sion cemetery with her nephew John Charles McCreight and his wife, Janice. While there, they noticed that the headstone of the family patriarch was broken in three places. That would not do for Mary, who knew how much Charles valued history.
She set out to have the monument repaired in her brother’s honor.
John Charles McCreight and Janice helped her with her efforts to find a professional restoration company and hire the company to restore the headstone. It took about two years for the company to begin the project but once they started, the entire thing was completed in about two months.
The restoration was done in October but this December was the first time they saw it.
Janice is a history buff who is into genealogy, having pursued the hobby about 20 years now.
The couple from Calabash, N.C., took Goodman to the Sion Presbyterian Cemetery as a part of their meandering around the south looking at old graveyards. But it actually was William R. McCreight, brother of John Charles McCreight, who got them started with the headstone restoration project.
The family is not sure how the headstone was damaged but do not suspect vandalism because the surrounding tombstones were intact.
Goodman has a strong sense of connectedness to place and to history. She lives in Camden in the house that Charles was born and raised in, which is over 108 years old and which has been historically restored.
Charles McCreight was a doctor of anatomy and a Ph.D. at Bowman Gray University which now is the medical school at Wake Forrest University.
Charles started Janice with the history of it and she took off from there. Many of the stories and historical content was in Charles’ memory, but she and her family have since had the joy of tracing the story through documentation and historical sites.
John Charles said they have walked through a lot of cemeteries over the years.
Goodman saw to it the project received funding from the Charles McCreight estate. Goodman said she knew her brother would have wanted the tombstone to have been right, so she felt that was the best way to go about it. She said the family may one day work to repair or replace the foot stone at the site as well.
All this was done to pay respect to Colonel William McCreight. The colonel served as mayor, or intendant, for the Winnsboro area, commanded the Winnsboro light infantry in the War of 1812 and was elected Colonel of the 25th regiment of the South Carolina militia.
According to Goodman, Col. McCreight developed the first saw cotton gin to harvest a crop in South Carolina, a version that was a rival to the machine invented by Eli Whitney.
According to Goodman, Col. McCreight served for over 10 years as president of the Mt. Sion Society. He even tried to free many slaves even though it was illegal to free slaves at that time in South Carolina.
He was a colonel of the 25th regiment of the South Carolina militia for 20 years and for over 50 years has was a ruling elder in Sion Church in Winnsboro. He also formed a construction company when he was young and that company built parts of the Fairfield County Courthouse as well as parts of Sion College, where McCreight served as president.