Beneath the shade of a tree in the graveyard of Historic St. Luke’s Church stand two almost identical gravestones. The similarities between these stones do not end at the style and shape of the grave markers; the death dates listed are identical as well. Although little is known about the “Blackwell Children”, the story their grave markers tell is a tragic one.
On July 17, 1903, Anne Eliza Blackwell and her brother, Robert Gary Blackwell Jr. both meet their demise in an unfortunate drowning incident. Eliza’s stone simply, “Drowned July 17, 1903.” Losing one child would have been dreadful, but losing two on the same day was likely devastating. Robert Jr. must have gone into the water after his sister as his stone states that he, “Was drowned trying to save his sister.”
Robert Jr. would have been 14 the following month and Anne was only 15 years old. They are buried next to their father, Robert Gary Blackwell Sr. who is known for generously supporting the preservation of Historic St. Luke’s Church in the form of donated lumber. Mr. Blackwell donated heart pines grown on his plantation for the 1890’s Restoration of the church building. Today, Robert Gary Blackwell Sr. rests peacefully in the graveyard beside Anne and Robert Jr. near the historic building he helped preserve.