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CITY OF THE SILENT: A Review

city of the silentMagnolia Cemetery is one of the greatest unknown treasures in Charleston, South Carolina. Hopefully, this book will help spread the word. For years, I’ve been hearing about this manuscript. People waxing enthusiastically about “this manuscript Ted has about Magnolia.” They kept promising it was going to dig up some dirt of those buried there (pun intended). I even ran into a couple of people who had a copy of it and promised to let me read it … to no avail.

I met Ted once in passing, through a mutual friend – it was a mere introduction, “hello”, “how are you?” and it was over. Within a year he was gone, so I never had the chance to discuss this work with him.

I have spent many pleasant hours wandering beneath the oaks and Spanish moss and taking hundreds of photos. Magnolia is thoroughly Southern (and soooo Charleston), filled with Gothic flourishes and amazing history etched on the headstones. When tourists ask me what is the one thing to see in Charleston my answer is always “Magnolia Cemetery.”

Magnolia Cemetery

Magnolia Cemetery

City of the Silent is a simple book – several hundred concise bios of some of the notables buried in the cemetery. If you’re a Charleston history neophyte, you will learn some interesting stuff. There is a preponderance of Civil War figures (of course!), politicians, writers of questionable importance, society belles, gangsters, lawyers, and one madam. One. So much for the dirt.

If you’re a Charleston history nut (guilty) … you already know most of this stuff. So I was (and I am) a bit disappointed with the info contained within – most of it is already available in published form in one book or another.

However, the book is worth it’s hefty cover price (well, almost) for the map of the cemetery and the locations of everyone mentioned. With this book in hand, and the map you can take a stroll and find the graves and read the stories. And that is what you should do with it. Read it, mark your favorite people (see my list below) and then take a trip to Magnolia Cemetery and spend an afternoon in the tranquil presence of history – scoundrels and heroines – and everything in between.

Magnolia Cemetery, pyramid tomb

Magnolia Cemetery, pyramid tomb

MY LIST OF FAVORITE PEOPLE IN MAGNOLIA CEMETERY

  • Daisy Breaux Calhoun – real name: Margaret Rose Anthony Julia Josephine Catherine Cornelia Donovan O’Donovan Simonds Gummere Calhoun. (I’m not joking.)
  • Langdon Cheves, Jr. – father of the Confederate Air Force.
  • Susan Pringle Frost – patron saint of Charleston preservationists.
  • Frank Hogan – bootlegger, murder victim
  • Leon Dunlap – bootlegger, acquitted murderer (who shot Frank Hogan)
  • The Crew of the H.L. Hunley – Confederate submariners.
  • Tristam Tupper Hyde – Charleston mayor who enforced Prohibition. (served one term)
  • Thomas McDow – doctor and murderer.
  • Josephine Pinckney – the best Charleston writer and period – period! Two classics: Three O’Clock Dinner, a superb comedy of society manners and Great Mischief, a delicious little horror book where the entrance to hell is somewhere around the corner of King and Broad Streets.
  • Robert Barnwell Rhett – Secessionist firebrand and newspaper editor.
  • George Trenholm – Confederate financier, and model for Rhett Butler.
  • Julius Waties and Elizabeth Waring – probably my all time favorite Charleston story. If you want to know the story … buy this book, or pick up of my own modest books about Charleston, Wicked Charleston, Volume II: Prostitutes, Politics & Prohibition. The story of the judge and his second wife is covered in great detail.

3 palmettos

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