Story of the 'Little Boy' lives on
His identity is unknown, and he died more than 150 years ago, but to members of Aiken County's community he'll always be "the Little Boy." The mission of the Horse Creek Historical Society is to ensure that as many people as possible know the story of the Little Boy, in addition to the rest of their community's rich history."The historical society and people of Graniteville keep the story of the Little Boy alive," said area historian Jean Clark Boyd. "We're trying to keep the history of Graniteville alive and educate the next generation."The story of the Little Boy isn't officially documented but is familiar to many, having been passed down through the years. The manner of telling the tale has changed with the times. From stories told by parents to letters to the editor and even online videos, there have been numerous ways of memorializing the Little Boy.What is certain is a little boy who died in October 1855 is buried in Graniteville Cemetery, and his grave has been a popular site.According to Boyd and Diane Gunter, president of the Horse Creek Historical Society, a train came through Aiken Station - then located in Warrenville - carrying, among others, a little boy. The boy, who was approximately 12 years old, was traveling alone and was too sick to speak. He didn't have any form of identification with him so he was taken in by Henry Senn, an area wagoner whose wife operated the Graniteville Hotel, to be nursed back to health when he'd be able to tell his story. The little boy's fever never broke, and he died a few days later. He took his identity and the purpose for his trip with him to his grave, which was provided by the people of Graniteville."The village folk 'nickeled' up and had Mr. Lawrence Quimby, the coffin maker, build a coffin," Boyd said.In addition, William Gregg, the founder of Graniteville, donated a burial plot in the cemetery. As was the case with other families that couldn't provide a gravestone, Gregg provided a cedar marker until the people of Graniteville saved enough money to purchase a permanent stone for the Little Boy. This is another element that has added a sense of intrigue to his story."Time had passed, and no one could remember the day he died, so his stone reads, 'The Little Boy, October 1855,'" Boyd said.The generosity of Graniteville didn't stop with the interment of the Little Boy. Over the years, the grave has been visited by many adults who leave flowers and children who leave coins, toys and other small gifts."This is probably the most visited grave in the cemetery," Gunter said of the final resting place of many, which also includes 83 Confederate soldiers. "We got so many toys planted I came out here to clean up and filled a three-gallon trash bag with toys. I could barely lift it."As part of preserving the history of Graniteville and Aiken County, the historical society has maintained its monuments. The grave and tombstone of the Little Boy are no exception.Enduring vagrants and vandalism are factors in the deterioration of the Graniteville Cemetery, which is only open to visitors during the day. Time and natural erosion ultimately have been the biggest culprits in the diminishing aesthetic beauty. The Little Boy's tombstone, the one which replaced the original cedar marker, broke over the years and is currently propped on the grave.The historical society and the Graniteville Cemetery Association are in the process of buying a new tombstone. In addition, the historical society will beautify the grave by covering it with gravel, planting three crape myrtle trees and installing a bench for visitors.Dedicated to the preservation and upkeep of the Little Boy's grave, not to mention his story, Boyd and Gunter are quick to point out there are so many more stories to tell. Many can be found in Graniteville Cemetery. "Tombstones do talk," Boyd said of the symbolism and literal information they possess."There is so much here, a lot of history," Gunter said. "But this is what everybody knows - the Little Boy."Contact Noah Feit at firstname.lastname@example.org.