Located on Charleston's Neck, immediately west of Magnolia Cemetery's main entrance, are a number of small cemeteries created by a variety of ethnicities and religions. These small cemeteries all possess the same physical orientation, giving no indication that the sites were created by differing groups. Among these are Friendly Union Cemetery, Brown Fellowship Cemetery, Humane and Friendly Cemetery, and Unity and Friendship Cemetery. All four cemeteries were created just before the outbreak of the Civil War by Free People of Color who organized themselves into benevolent societies. Free People of Color were African Americans who were not enslaved but did not enjoy the civil liberties possessed by white citizens. The benevolent societies that Free People of Color created provided a sense of security, especially financially, to people in an uncertain position.
This thesis seeks to understand the people who created these cemeteries and their benevolent societies. To accomplish this, a study of the status of Free People of Color and the social structure of benevolent societies was conducted. The cemeteries were studied to determine the level of activities of each society and to understand how the societies have faded in the 20th century. The decline of each community and the impact of this decline is the second half of this thesis.