The Desecration of Lowther’s Hill Cemetery (aks Montrose)

Show me your cemeteries, and I will tell you what kind of people you have.   — Benjamin Franklin

It has been a horrible 4 weeks at the Lowther’s Hill Cemetery! 

 

When visiting a cemetery to pay respects to lost family, friends or honored citizens, the typical scene is peaceful, ordered and calm.  We find comfort in knowing that this environment offers our loved ones the honor of resting in peace.  If we are honest, most of us, have at one time or another, thought about our own time of death and longed for a peaceful place to rest.

Lowther’s Hill is far from a peaceful place to rest! The years of fake Urban Legions and tales of ghost and ghouls have caused this cemetery to pay the ultimate price  – total destruction and desecration.  In the pictures below you will notice the broken and damaged stones that have been relocated to the Darlington County Historical Commission in an attempt to preserve them.

Over this past weekend Lowther’s Hill was struck again with tragedy.  The veterans memorial grave stone for Moses Sanders Bacot was stolen.  The stone had bean broken in half just 3  weeks prior and we were working to get the stone repaired.  Prior to the service being done we received reports that the two halves were missing.  Upon visiting the cemetery, it was clearly evident that a vandal(s) had wielded their wickedness upon the cemetery once again.

 

Moses Sanders Bacot was born in Darlington County in 1843 and died in 1911.  He was married to Henrietta Fountain and they had 8 children.  We know that Moses was quite young when the Civil War broke out, yet he was among the first to offer his service and discharged his duty in the most faithful manner until the end.  His obituary states that “he was genial in disposition, unselfish and upright in conduct and that these qualities made him very much beloved by everyone with whom he was thrown.”

“His record as a soldier was brave and always ready for any duty he was called upon to perform, and his cheerfulness and good humor, in the time of danger or hardship, always had a good effect on his comrades.”

He was a member of Inglis Light Artillery just under the command of Captain, afterwards Lieutenant Colonel  F.F. Warley and then under Captain W.E. Charles.  Moses was noted for his skill as a diver, something that required both coolness and courage, and both of these requisites he possessed to an eminent degree.  “Everyone knew that when he was guiding the pair of horses the cannon would be carried to the right position.”

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We know that the Stories that drive people into this cemetery were made up and we even know who started the rumors.  Check out the Article below by Dwight Danna – SCNOW.COM

MECHANICSVILLE, S.C. – Ever hear the tale of Montrose, the 8-foot tall haint who hung out at a spooky, moss-draped Darlington County cemetery in the late 1950s and early 1960s, scaring the daylights out of those who ventured there?

 

Gather round, kids. Turn off that flashlight.

Montrose was a real monster who scared innumerable people who dared tread on his sacred ground. He scared several denizens so badly that they ran down the dirt road that led to his lair and all the way back to Darlington on foot, via the Mechanicsville Highway. That’s a pretty fair piece, but it’s not so far when you’re running scared.

The very name of Montrose made the blood run cold in many a vein. But then, just as his legend was rising, he disappeared into the mists from which he came.

It would be nice to relate the Montrose legend, something about a murder, or a missing head or something, but a different tale must be told. The truth must come out. This reporter has learned after all these years who Montrose is and why he faded away for good – we think – one Halloween long, long ago.

Like a movie set

Montrose, as it turns out, was all made up. He was the brain child of Arnold Floyd of Hartsville and Rudy Lewis of Evergreen, both Darlington natives. Although they played the part to perfection, they didn’t come up with the name, or, to be honest, the whole Montrose invention.

But they did make the most of it.

Floyd is retired from Sonoco as a chemist after 48 years. He’s still young at heart, driving a black 2008 Corvette with the biggest engine possible and a shifty, six-speed transmission.

“We decided it was time to scare some people on Halloween around 1959,” Floyd said during an exclusive cemetery interview Tuesday morning. “We would take unsuspecting people out to the cemetery at night.”

The cemetery – we’ll keep the exact location a secret, seeing as how the folks buried there aren’t Montrose fans – was perfect for a good scarin’. It had a wrought-iron fence, a creaky gate and weathered tombstones leaning at different angles. The backdrop was huge oak trees with moss dripping all the way to the ground. It was, and is, like a spooky movie set.

Floyd and his possessed allies had the eerie scene planned down to the last supernatural detail. There would be ghosts of the past hiding behind the tombstones. The unaware would tread cautiously through the creaky gate, some with flashlights. Headlights from two cars would be shining in the cemetery, lighting their way. And then, at the appointed hour, just as the victims got into the cemetery proper, a ghostly scream would break out and the lifeless would slowly emerge from behind the tombstones.

“Then, just as they were getting the daylights scared out of them, the lights in the cars would go off,” Floyd said. “Those with flashlights would rush for the gate with the others following.”

And that is where Montrose came in.

A scare for Montrose

Floyd and Lewis would lurk just beyond the gate, Floyd standing on Lewis’ shoulders, making the combined appear at least 8 feet tall. Floyd, on top, was wearing a fiendish mask, huge rubber gloves and a gown that stretched all the way to the ground.

“That’s when everybody really started getting afraid,” Floyd said. “They ran in every direction.”

Floyd and Lewis enjoyed their role as Montrose to the max for three years. Then they got the scare of their lives.

“We were late getting to the cemetery that last time,” Floyd recalled. “We climbed up the steep hill that is beside the cemetery and got into place. A shotgun went off and I jumped off Rudy’s shoulders. Montrose for us was no more after that. We got the wits scared out of us.”

The end of Montrose’s tale?

Well, not quite.

For the rest of the story we turn to Paul Howle, a retired editorial writer for the Atlanta Constitution. It was Howle, a 1958 graduate of St. John’s High School, who came up with the name Montrose, and the Montrose concept, in the first place.

“I got the name from a store somewhere on the road to Cheraw,” Howle said late Tuesday. “I had a summer job at the Moore Brothers warehouse that summer. This would have been 1957.

“Jim Kilgo, Huby Thompson, Freddie Dargan (all deceased) and I cooked up the ghost story,” said Howle. “We would take girls out there and scare them.”

Montrose’s eventual demise was foreshadowed during one of the early, causal hauntings. Howle and company were out at the east Darlington cemetery mentioned above, impressing the girls with their hainting skills, when things got a little out of hand.

“One night we went out there with a bunch of boys,” recalled Howle. “(The late) Billy Atkinson was hiding in the bushes, and when he started making scary sounds, somebody shot a pistol at the ‘ghost’ and grazed Billy in his hand.

“Richard Wilson was there and jumped off the hill. He said he was going home to get a silver bullet, which was the only thing that would stop a ghost. Then we all convoyed to Wilson’s Clinic to get Billy’s hand looked at.”

Howle said nobody ever realized what all this would turn into … a fully staged haunting, a giant Montrose and … an enduring legend.

“Ghost hunters from everywhere have been out there and declared that they can sense a ‘presence’ there” said Howle. “Utter nonsense.”

Montrose might not agree.

Lowther’s Hill sits tucked away near S.C. Highway 34, and is the burial spot for several Darlington County historical figures including Thomas Hart, who served as the founder of Hartsville, and Revolutionary War Major Robert Lide. The cemetery sits in an isolated location, making it, as some think, an ideal spot for everything from drinking to ghost hunting.

A common property damage crime,  also called a malicious injury in South Carolina. Under SC law, makes it illegal to willfully or maliciously injure, damage, or destroy the property of another. This includes buildings, animals, land, or any other personal property, like a tombstone in a cemetery. The charge and potential penalty a person could face for this offense would depend upon the value of the damage committed.

Lowther’s Hill Cemetery dates back to 1758. Some of the recovered broken stones are now in storage at the Commission, thanks to Horace Rudisill who once served as the Director for the Darlington County Historical Commission. Rudisill would take it upon himself to move the broken tombstones to the Historical Commission.

Over the past several years, the Commission has attempted to stop the damage at Lowther’s Hill by installing a locked gate and ditching the road. But vandals seem to have knocked down the fencing and would simply bypass the ditch by using motorcycles.  We will continue to stand up for those who death keeps them for standing up for themselves.

Anyone with information about the vandalism at Lowther’s Hill Cemetery is asked to contact the Darlington County Sheriff’s Office at (843) 398-4501 or the Darlington County Historical Commission at (843) 398-4710.


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