Monday, March 12, 2018

The Mystery in CofC's Cougar Mall

In the heart of Cougar Mall, located at the College of Charleston, the headstone of Elizabeth Jackson is located. If this name doesn't ring a bell she was the mother of one of the United States presidents, Andrew Jackson.
Elizabeth Jackson in front of RSSB

Many students, faculty, and even tourist pass it daily and don't even recognize it, or if they do see it they don't give it a second thought.  However, for the people that really give it a thought the real question is, 'why is someone so famous buried in a college courtyard?'

This exact question, along with "is she really buried there", have been pondered upon by many historians. There are many stories roaming around on exactly how to explain such a phenomenon, some being quit ridiculous.

The only thing that we know to be true is, she was in Charleston because she was helping her nephews that were prisoners on ships. She was able to help them but unfortunately caught a disease that ended her life. 

There are many helpful blogs that give good information,but, the most plausible explanation I found was by Robert Behre, a writer for the Charleston Post and Courrier. Behre was very concise and could actually be the story of how this headstone ended up in in such a weird location. His information if also very well connected and has no unexplained gaps.

Behre also explained that even Jackson himself did not know about the whereabouts of his mother's burial spot, if he had he would be applaud by the way it was being taken care of.
How did this get here? 
Elizabeth Jackson, in fact, was most likely not buried here but her headstone moved here. Jackson's grave started in Sullivan's island and in 1942 was first thought of after a long time of being neglected. The people called for her headstone to be preserved in a more respectful way because at this time it was dirty and covered in weeds. 

The angry citizens then moved her grave, as stated by Behre, "one mile from what was then called the Governor's Gate." Only a few years later people started to raise concerns that her headstone was not being taken care of again. 

In 1967, the headstone was finally moved to the College of Charleston. It unfortunately was forgotten once again. Finally, in the renovation of cougar mall her headstone was presented honorably, standing tall and proud for everyone to see. 

The story of Elizabeth Jackson's headstone was never proved, but it is almost certain that her body does not lay near her headstone. Thanks to Robert Behre we are closer to understanding the amazing story of how the College came in possession of something so historical.  

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