MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – Hundreds of predominately African American Myrtle Beach natives are buried at the city’s oldest cemetery, the Oak Street Cemetery, however, many graves there are unmarked. The city of Myrtle Beach works to change that.
Cynthia Livingston, a Myrtle Beach resident for 66 years, knows the history of the Oak Street Cemetery well. Several of her friends and her two aunts are buried there.
“I used to come down to their graves; put flowers on them,” Livingston said.
But before Saturday, her aunts’ graves did not have names.
“They were buried in vaults and over the years they went in the ground, caved in,” Livingston said.
Livingston’s aunts are part of the 115 unmarked burial sites at Oak Street Cemetery.
“Someone was buried here, and some of the people that attended realized the condition of the cemetery, but many of them were older residents and they began to walk around and locate loved ones and realized there were some they could not locate,” Cookie Goings, director of the Neighborhood Services Department with the city of Myrtle Beach said.
Goings’ group works to change that. On Saturday, volunteers cleaned up the Oak Street Cemetery, and some helped point out where their loved ones are buried.
“I have deemed today restoration and reclamation, to restore dignity and honor, so they’re in their resting places, but also, I have seen what has happened today just as a conversation piece, it’s bringing people together and some are helping others remember,” Goings said.
“It’s a blessing for this to come about that we can get headstones on the graves that we’re no longer able to see, and I’m thankful for it,” Livingston said.