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Visiting a Famous Gravesite

This afternoon, my wife an

d I visited the gravesite of a famous Southern statesman. A resident of Charleston, S.C., he often escaped the summer heat and humidity of his home city by vacationing in the mountain foothills of Flat Rock, N.C. After his political and financial career was over, he died there and was buried in St. John of the Wilderness Cemetery. His summer home, located nearby, was later purchased by poet Carl Sandburg.

Christopher Gustavus Memminger was born on January 9, 1803, in Vairhingen an der Enz, Wurtemberg, Germany. His father was killed only a week after Christopher was born, and his mother and grandparents moved to Charleston. Shortly thereafter, his mother died. His grandparents reared Christopher for a while, but they soon moved to Philadelphia and left four-year-old Christopher in the Orphans House of Charleston.

Memminger grew up to be elected a Charleston city alderman and a representative in the state legislature. When South Carolina seceded from the Union, Jefferson Davis nominated him to be the Confederacy’s first Secretary of the Treasury. He served in that capacity until June 15, 1864, when he resigned and was replaced by another South Carolinian, George Trenholm.

After the war, Memminger was again elected to the state legislature in 1877. He was also involved in numerous business ventures, including the Blue Ridge Railroad. He died on March 7, 1888.


Memminger’s grave is central in the family gravesite in St. John of the Wilderness Cemetery.

The bronze plaque on the left is at the foot of Memminger’s grave. Below left is a detailed look at the upper portion of Memminger’s tombstone. (Except for the name and the dates, the text beneath the detail is illegible.)

Learn more about this fascinating man, including his service as Confederate Secretary of the Treasury, in my book Confederate Cabinet Departments and Secretaries, available at,, and other online booksellers. It is available both in paperback (ISBN 978-1-4766-6521-4) and as an e-book (ISBN 978-1-4766-2514-0).

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