The Horry County Planning Department is combining two local projects to connect new technology and a piece of the county’s history.
The Patriot Tree Project pairs majestic live oak trees, as identified by the Horry County affiliates of the S.C. Garden Club, with county soldiers who served in the Civil War, indentified through a research project being conducted by members of the Horry County Historical Society.
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The project is being spearheaded by the Horry County Board of Architectural Review and Historic Preservation Commission. The Sons of Confederate Veterans & Horry County Archives Center at Coastal Carolina University also are involved in the project, which is slated to honor up to 900 soldiers, said Adam Emrick, senior planner with Horry County.
Emrick came up with the idea after seeing a presentation at Gettysburg called the Living Legacy Project, where it was announced that a tree will be planted between Monticello, Va., and Philadelphia for every soldier killed in the Civil War.
“I went to one of their celebrations when I was at the conference that was just so powerful that I thought if there was any way we can bring this project back at a different scale and a different level, it would be great,” Emrick said. “We’re trying to find soldiers who have some relevancy to the area where the tree is, too. We’re trying to keep it geographically together, so that we’re honoring the soldiers in the right spot.”
The county will place QR codes, bar codes that can be scanned by smartphones and will direct the smartphone to a website that will give the soldier’s name, birth date, birthplace, death date, burial place, and details of military service. The website will allow people to search soldiers by name and by geography through an interactive map, Emrick said.
The first project, set to be unveiled on an undetermined date in February, will be the Upper Mill Plantation, which is where 12 trees will be named. One of the trees will be named for Henry L. Buck, a Civil War captain, and Henry McCall, an African-American who went to war with Buck.
The Historical Society is doing a project that includes extensive research on Civil War soldiers and their family members, and affiliates with the S.C. Garden Club is doing a project on historic trees, which Emrick said will help the Patriot Tree Project.
“We just kind of combined three projects into one,” he said.
Plans are already in the works to dedicate trees in Vereen Gardens in April, and Emrick said the Driftwood Garden Club and the Myrtle Beach Garden Club have both begun work to have majestic live oaks ready for the project.
“We are on a timetable now that we need to try to stay on,” he said.
“Our board and the county have had a leg up on technology and preservation,” Emrick aid.
“Our cemetery project integrated ground-penetrated radar and GIS mapping of cemeteries, which is something that wasn’t really done before we did it. There’s no reason historic preservation has to be old. It can be something exciting and powerful using technology.”