Horry County Civil War vets, historic trees honored in one project

Hundreds of men from Horry County fought in the Civil War and hundreds of old, historic trees from that era can still be found in the county.

Now, a unique project is underway to honor the Civil War veterans and the trees at the same time.

At a conference in Gettysburg last spring, Horry County senior planner Adam Emrick heard about a project that designates trees as living memorials to soldiers killed in the war.

It was such a good idea, Emrick decided something similar should be done here.

When he heard that a local garden club was working to honor historic trees, like the old live oaks on the grounds of the former Horry County courthouse, Emrick says it felt like karma.

"Just putting them together with the project that we already had in mind made so much sense."

So now, Ruth Sprowls, a volunteer with the Horry County Historical Society, is gathering information on the estimated 800 to 900 Horry County men who served in the Civil War, whether they died in the conflict or not.

She and others will compile mini biographies of each soldier, and each bio will be assigned to an historic tree.

Then, a QR, or quick response code, will be assigned to each bio and posted near each tree, so that anyone with a smart phone, tablet or laptop computer can scan the code and be instantly connected to that soldier's life story.

"As you're walking and finding the trees, you can see their bio online," Sprowls said.

Sprowls isn't quite sure why this work fascinates her so much.

"I flunked history in high school," she laughs.

But it probably has to do with reading the heartbreaking stories of those who served on both sides of the war.

"It's just so heartwarming to find information on these guys," Sprowls said. "They've been forgotten for over 150 years and whether they're from the North or the South, they shouldn't be forgotten."

Emrick says the Civil War remains controversial even today, but this project seeks to go beyond the causes behind the war.

"We're honoring the sacrifices that were made on behalf of the land that people lived in, regardless of the politics," he said.

Emrick says they may find a few Horry County men who ended up fighting on the Union side of the conflict and if so, those veterans will be honored as well.

He says the county's Architectural Review Board is scheduled to approve a name for the project next week.