The Chicora Foundation has been working to locate cemeteries and burial sites throughout Richland County.

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Columbia, SC (WLTX)- There is a project underway in Richland County to help identify cemeteries throughout the county. Since 2012 Mike Trinkley, the director of the Chicora Foundation, and his team have been working to visit all 550 cemeteries they have discovered through their research.

"I think most people find it surprising that there are close to 550 grave sites in Richland County and there are probably more," said Trinkley.

From well manicured grave sited to the not so obvious burial sites hidden in the woods, Trinkley and his team visited them all.

"I think we were intrigued by the number of African American slave cemeteries that we found," said Trinkley. "They were only identified by row after row of depressions."

Trinkley says the goal of the project is to avoid a situation where people are bull dozing a cemetery and simply don't know it.

"I think it is important for us to recognize how many cemeteries were damaged or destroyed by past development.

According to Trinkley's research there are two family grave sites under Dutch Fork Middle that were destroyed by construction when the school was built.

"It is one of those very tragic situations where we simply don't have good laws and one of the things the Chicora Foundation will be doing is recommending to Richland County Council those laws be beefed up," said Trinkley.

He is hoping the more than 500 grave sites will be listed on tax maps to ensure the preservation of our ancestors that have passed away.

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