Neglected cemetery inspires descendant to restore similar sites

Greg Gaines establishes nonprofit called Sacred Site Research and Restoration
Greg Gaines, now from Idaho, plans to return to the Gaines-Clardy Family Cemetery to continue clean-up and restoration
Published: Aug. 10, 2022 at 1:19 AM EDT
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Laurens County, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - For decades, the Gaines-Clardy Family Cemetery went unnoticed beneath overgrown brush, tree debris and garbage in a densely wooded site off State Road S-30-6.

Motivated to explore his family tree and guided, in part, by information from the Find A Grave website, Greg Gaines took a road trip in 2017 to see the final resting spot of his ancestors from South Carolina.

“I ended up walking in the woods for three and a half hours,” Gaines told FOX Carolina News.

With help from Don Jackson, the property owner, Gaines located the gravesite of several relatives - including his sixth great-grandfather.

“Henry Gaines was a carpenter and a bridge builder,” Gaines said. “If I remember correctly, he built an Episcopalian church in Virginia.

Gaines, who lived in Manteca, California, at the time, said he couldn’t stop thinking the neglected site where his ancestors were buried.

“I just felt drawn to come back here and do something about it,” Gaines said. “I couldn’t just leave them lying here in the mud.”

Greg Gaines, formerly of California and now an Idaho resident, is spending time in South Carolina to restore his ancestors' gravesites

In early 2020, Gaines started a nonprofit, Sacred Site Research and Restoration, which focuses on restoring forgotten cemeteries.

Gaines, who now lives in Idaho, returned to the burial site in 2021 to cut down trees and continue to clean up.

“He has so much resolve and so much love for his family and this graveyard,” Don Jackson, property owner, said. “It’s been amazing for me to see what he’s done.”