This historic cemetery in the hamlet of Wedgefield is the final resting place of Matthew Singleton, a prosperous farmer who helped settle present-day Sumter County in the mid-eighteenth century. Singleton owned four plantations totaling over 9,000 acres at the time of his death in 1820. The Singleton property holdings increased over the subsequent decades, with Matthew’s son, Richard, amassing more than 12,000 acres at his death in 1852.
The family cemetery seen here was established at Melrose Plantation (pictured below). Part of the former plantation is now Poinsett State Park. According to the book Sketches of Planters, Plantations, and living along the Great Road St Mark’s Parish 1700-2000 by Charles Broadwell, “The third home built by Matthew Singleton is known as Melrose. It was built as a summer residence for the family to escape the fevers of Wateree Swamp. Matthew Singleton’s daughter, who married a Brohun inherited the home and her family named it Melrose Lodge after it became their permanent residence. The home remained in the family until it was sold to the state in the 1930’s. The structure was rented for many years and succumbed to a fire in 1963.”
Several prominent South Carolinians are interred within the Singleton family cemetery, including George McDuffie, husband of Richard Singleton’s daughter, Mary Rebecca. McDuffie served as Governor of South Carolina from 1834 through 1836.
The Singleton Cemetery is listed in the National Register:
Singleton’s Graveyard was the family cemetery of one of the most prominent families in the Sumter area during the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Many of the 43 known graves are of Matthew Singleton’s descendants, dating from 1796 to 1944. The Singleton family amasses fortunes in land and built large neighboring plantations. As these plantations were self-contained entities, a family graveyard was established at Melrose. This plantation has long disappeared. Singleton’s Graveyard remains not only as they physical evidence of a prosperous and influential family in the Sumter area, but as evidence of a cultural pattern practiced on plantations throughout the South. Statesman George McDuffie (1790-1851) is also buried in the graveyard.