Old Cemeteries at Cherry Point, N.C.

From 14 to 17 cemeteries have been identified at various time aboard MCAS Cherry Point containing marked graves dating as early as 1813. The cemetery count has changed over time due to the fact that some graves have been moved and others consolidated. In its Cultural Resources Survey, Archaeological Research Consultants (ARC) of Chapel Hill listed 15 found in 1985. The ARC cemetery survey information, containing valuable insights into the area’s history, follows below.                                                                                                                                              –Edward Ellis, October 2010.

ARC transcript below, but to view a .pdf scan of the original document click here


ARC STUDY 1985 : Cemeteries and their engraved stones proved to be the most informative historic sites at MCAS Cherry Point. This section presents information transcribed from each of the gravestones and photographs of representative examples. In 1941, when these cemeteries were first recorded and some were moved, surveyors recorded locations, inscriptions (in abbreviated form), and information supplied by residents about unmarked cemeteries (Dept. of the Navy 1941).

The gravestones tend to provide a biased sample of information, however. Most of the graves recorded in 1941 lacked markers, and it is likely that slaves and less wealthy white residents had only wooden markers, if anything. Many of the residents of the black community around the Little Witness Church in the 1920s and 1930s (see Cemetery One) were buried with small metal and paper markers that have not survived the last 40 years.

Although this group of gravestones is relatively small in number, we can see some changes through time, and comparisons can be made with the Burying Ground of Beaufort, about twenty miles away. The earliest markers at MCAS Cherry Point are those of Evan and Sally Jones, (1813 and 1817), a relatively prosperous family that lived near the Neuse River and the mouth of Slocum Creek. Their markers (Figure App.1.14) have the “bedboard-shaped” profiles described by Benes for New England markers from 1670-1790. He attributes the use of this shape to the expression of a sleep metaphor, underlined by the normal presence of small footstones also shaped in the “bedboard” profile (Benes 1977:42). Such footstones also present in the Jones plot. The use of the “bedboard” profile at Cherry Point continued as late as 1840s, when it appeared in the Winn cemetery (see Figure App.1.17 and APP.1.18). In contrast, the Burying Ground in the seaport of Beaufort also features the “bedboard” profile beginning around the 1790s, but it nearly disappears from there in the 1820s, to be replace by more elaborate and sentimental Victorian motifs such as the willow-and-urn, hands extended in farewell, or angels in flight. Crosses and cross motifs also became more common in Beaufort after the first quarter of the nineteenth century. At Cherry Point, the only example of the new Victorian type is the Holton stone, the largest in the inventory (Figure APP.1.5). Dating from 1823, the stone marks the burial plot of Barbara Holton, the wife of Lot Holton, a wealthy plantation owner and naval stores producer. Although Lot’s name and birth date are inscribed on the stone next to his wife, he later remarried and apparently is buried elsewhere. Over Barbara’s name is a hand extended in farewell, paralleling the expression of the inscription below. Over Lot’s name is a heart, also a graphic representation of his own inscription. The relatively large size and elaboration of the Holton marker seems to correspond with the wealth of the family, but we should remember that the Evan Jones family markers, erected only a few years earlier, were much plainer although the Jones family was also quite prosperous (see Section 3.4). The elaborate and sentimental Victorian style apparently did not take root in the Cherry Point area. Later nineteenth centure markers were either in the “bedboard” style of even plainer, featuring straight or arched but should less tops (see Figure App.1.4., 1.10). In the meantime, Beaufort’s markers from the 1840s onward began to display even more elaborate Victorian symbolism, including large, freestanding draped urns, brokern columns, and ovelisks. These do not appear tin the Cherry Point area. Such elaboration ws probably beyond the means of most of its residents, or perhaps they did not consider such displays appropriate.

In the early twentieth century, some elaboration appears, and introduces diversity. Many stones were still in a simple style that featured a name outlined by rouletted lines and a short verse (see Figures App.1.16. and App.1.18). Others were more elaborate, with lamb motifs (Figure App.1.13), a hand descending from a cloud (or rising into it) and holding a flower (Figure App.1.2), crosses through crowns (Figure App.1.9), and Masonic or other fraternal symbols (Figure App.1.11). Some featured only ephemeral metal markers; most of these have not survived (Figure App.1.15).

In every case, the marked graves at Cherry Point are oriented with headstones toward the west and footstones toward the east. Tradition holds that this orientation ensured that the graves’ occupants will face eastward, the direction from which resurrection will com (Benes 1977:42). In every case but one, the inscribed faces of the stones face westward, away from the graves. The exception, the Hunter marker in Cemetery 10, has been broken off at the base and set upright, facing ease. It may also have originally faced west.

Although we know of no published studies from N.C. that examine and compare gravestones in the region in ways long since common in New England (e.g. Benes 1977; Deetz and Dethlefson 1978), we see no reason why it could not be done. Although the state lacks a recognized tradition of gravestone art in contrast to New England, it seems likely that anthropological and folkloristic studies of regularities and deviation in this area, given wide enough scope, could make useful contributions to region and local history.

Appendix 1 lists inscriptions for each of the marked graves and presents representative photographs of marker types discussed in this chapter.

1. son of W. H. & Nancy E. Cully
G.W. Cully Born Dec. 27, 1869 Died Nov. 6, 1919
Husband of A. L. Cully
Peaceful be thy [illegible] slumber.

2. Sarah F. wife of Allen Whittington Nov. 6 1860 Feb. 10, 1922 Best mother, rest in sweet sleep, While friend in sorrow o’er Thee weep.

3. Kissie Sykes Aged 40 years

4. James B. Robinson Born Feb. 18, 1877 Died March 10, 1926 Pride of Havelock Chamber 6091 – Havelock, N.C.

5. The following names were noted in 1941 from small metal-and-paper undertakers’ markers. None of the markers seems to have survived.
John King; Jan 24, 1939, age 42 years
Charlie Nelson; 1915 – 1941
James Nelson; died 1929
Dinah Nelson; June 18, 1939, 65 years
Joe Early Fenner; Nov. 28, 1930; 40 years old
Ollie Berrid; died 1939
Rosa Lee Prichard; 1914 – 1941
John McCray; April 21, 1940
Marietta Singleton; Feb 28, 1935
Jimmie Lee Richards; 1 year 8 months
Estelle Gibbs; 1918 – 1940
W. R. Willoughby; June 15, 1928, Age 58 years
T. McCray; died 1923
Reta Bryant; Dec. 29, 1925, age 4 years
Mindora Bryant; died June 20, 1935
Addie George; Sept 24, 1926, 18 years
Virginia Dove; June 7, 1932, age 64 years
William Dove; 63 years old
Walter M. Toon; Dec. 8, 1926, age 7
Redmon Patton; July 28, 1926, 60 years old
Annie Dewie; Aug 20, 1926, 40 years old
Steven Berry; April 12, 1930, 51 years old
Elizabeth Berry; Feb. 17, 1935, 25 years
Earnest Lee Berry; Oct 12, 1936, 16 month old

Figure App.1.1 Cemetery 1, the Little Witness Cemetery (eastward).

Figure App.1.2. Cemetery, marker 2; Sarah F. Whittington

Figure App.1.3. Cemetery 1, marker 4; James B. Robinson

CEMETERY 2 (Wynne Family)
The cemetery survey notes form 1941 state only, “Overgrown with trees and brush – no markers, sinks visible – impossible to give an accurate count of the graves.”

Another unmarked cemetery, with and estimated 15-25 graves, according to Emma Hill Stevens, a nearby resident at the time of the cemetery survey in 1941.

This cemetery also lacks markers, but the surveyors in 1941 estimated that three or four graves were present. According to their informant Emma Hill Stevens, one of the graves is the burial place of a man named Sparks.

CEMETERY 5 and 6
This cemetery preceded the Little Witness Church cemetery, according to the local informants in 1941. The informants also stated that about 40 to 50 graves were present, but only one was marked:

Our Darlings Together in Heaven
Nannie K. dau. of A. F. & M. C. Moore Born June 7, 1890 Died July 9, 1895

Maudie E. dau. of A. F. & M. C. Moore Born Feb. 12, 1892 Died Aug. 30, 1898

In addition to at least one unmarked grave, this cemetery contains two stones:

1. Sacred to the memory of Caroline R. daughter of Wm. B. and Elizabeth Thorpe Born July 8, 1846 Died Jan 30, 1867 20 years 6 mos. 22 days

2. Philip J. Son of John W. & Maria F. Armes Born Jan 2, 1848 Died March 5, 1896

In the r[ ]ted Fork I’m resting,
Safely sheltered I abide.

The 1941 cemetery survey originally recorded that only unmarked graves were present. At an unknown later date, this entry was corrected to include the one marker present:

Barbara Holton was born Mar. 25, 1783 and died July 8, 1823

Farewell dear husband prepare to meet me in Eternity Lot Holton was born Oct. 6, 1780

Here is my heart [illegible] to meet you in that happy life.

Figure App.1.4 Cemetery 7, marker 1 in foreground (eastward).

Figure App.1.5 Cemetery 8, the Holton marker (eastward).


1. William Buys Born July 28, 1847 Died Sept. 27, 1918
Kind, upright, honest and true

2. Anna Daughter of William and Nellie Buys Born Jan. 17, 1875 Died Nov. 24, 1917
Faithful in the Lord’s service until death.

3. Mrs. Nellie Buys Born April 17, 1847 Died Sept. 23, 1881
In loving remembrance.

4. In Memory of Antge Visser Buys Brandt Born Nov. 26, 1813 Died Oct. 1, 1904 Aged 91 years

5. In Memory of Elizabeth H. Jones Daughter of Bryan & Sarah Jones Born Jan. 24, 1842 Died June 17, 1843

6. Not youth, nor age, nor beauty Can evade The sentence Passed on man; Then parents Dear from grief refrain, for I Through Christ shall live again.
Forgot by man but remembered By God

7. In Memory of Elizabeth Winn Wife of Stephen W. Winn Who died Dec. 27, 1842 Aged 54 years
Her ways were ways of Pleasantness, and all her Paths were paths of peace.

8. In Memory of Stephen Winn, Esq. Who departed this life Feb 23, 1833 Aged 45 years 10 months And 24 days

9. In Memory of Martha E. Jones Daughter of Bryan and Sarah J. Jones Who was born Feb. 13, 1842 And died Feb. 27, 1848

10. In Memory of Gilley A. Cooper Daughter of Bryan and Sarah Jones Who was born Nov. 22, 1848 And departed this life June 27, 1850
Farewell, lovely babe, farew- Well, with me thou canst no Longer dwell. I hope ere long With thee to tell, that Jesus Has done al l things well.

Figure App.1.6 Cemetery 9, overall view (eastward).

Figure App.1.7 Cemetery 9, markers 7 and 6, left to right in foreground,
markers 8 and 9, left to right in background

Figure App.1.8

Figure App.1.9

Local informants in 1941 estimated that 100 graves are present. Only one marker is present.
John N. son of J. H. & Mary J. Hunter Born Feb. 15, 1859 Died April 23, 1905

Figure App.1.10 Cemetery 10, John Hunter foot and headstones (westward).

1. G. A. Russell June 9, 1876 June 14, 1936
Father is gone, but not forgotten.

2. Annie B. Wife of G. A. Russell Died June 12, 1935 Age 63 years
Mother’s in heaven.

3. Anthony J. Russell Dec. 31, 1898 March 7, 1940
Gone, but not forgotten.

4. Anthony J. Russell Dec. 31, 1898 March 7, 1940
Gone, but not forgotten.

5. Edward Borden Russell Born Dec. 23, 1901 Died Dec. 27, 1911
Rest in Peace.

6. Annie Virginia daughter of Darrow & Madge Weatherington July 20, 1922 April 13, 1924
Gone to Be an Angel

7. Our Beloved One Dorothy Lillian daughter of Anthony & Missouri Russell
Born & Died October 28, 1926

8. B. D. Borden Died Jan. 18, 1923 Age 76 years
Gone, but not forgotten.

Figure App.1.13 Cemetery 11, marker 5.

The 1941 cemetery surveyors’ notes stated “No markers but sinks can be seen. Approximate area about 35 feet by 30 feet.” No additional information is available.

1. In Memory of Sally the wife of Evan Jones who departed this Life Feby 21st, 1813 Aged 52 years

2. In Memory of Evan Jones Who departed his life March the 2nd 1817 Aged 60 years

3. In Memory of Geo. D. Pate whose stay on earth was 86 years Died May 26, 1920

4. Edward Salter Born June 29, 1861 Died May 3, 1916

Dearest husband thou hast left us.
And thy loss we deeply feel.
But ‘tis God that hath bereft us
He can all our sorrows heal.
Yet again we hope to [illeg.]
When the day of life has fled.
Then in heaven with joy to greet thee
Where no farewell tears are shed.

Figure App.1.14 Cemetery 13, overall view (westward).
Left to right: Unknown; marker 2; marker 1; marker 3. Marker 4 is lying flat in the foreground.

Figure App.1.15

1. In Memory of Charles E. Holland Born Mar. 3, 1880 Died Feb 21, 1908
Thy will be done

2. Jacob Holland Son of John R. & Emily Jane Holland Born Dec. 24, 1886 Died April 26, 1907
“Asleep in Jesus”

3. John B. Holland Born Nov. 10, 1838 Died Sept. 12, 1911 A member of the M. B. Church for 45 yrs. And the H. P. T.

4. Odius son of O. D. and Cordelia Moore Sept. 14, 1915 March 4, 1916

Figure App.1.16 Cemetery 14, marker 3

1. Willie L. Barned Born May 9, 1881 Died Mar. 16, 1917

2. Willie J. son of J. R. & Dinksie Barnes Born Nov. 8, 1909 Died Mar. 2, 1911
Gone but not forgotten

3. Maggie Daughter of John R. & M. E. Barnes Born Oct.27, 1882 Died Oct. 14, 1898

4. Murphy E. Wife of John R. Barnes Born Mar. 26, 1850 Died Mar 26, 1900

5. Susannah Wife of Francis M. Barnes Born Nov. 21, 1838 Died June 1, 1989
We shall sleep, but not forever.
There will be a glorious dawn.
We shall meet to part no, never
On the resurrection morn.

6. Francis M. Barnes Born Dec. 26, 1832 Died June 16, 1909

7. Joel H. Barnes Born May 20, 1874 Died Aug. 18, 1907
In the bright eternal city
Death can never, never come.
In his own good time he’ll call us,
From our rest to home, sweet home.

8. Caroline Wife of Denard B. Garner Born Mar 12, 1861 Died Sept. 21, 1906
Gone Home

Figure App.1.17 Cemetery 15, overall view (eastward).

Figure App.1.18 Cemetery 15, marker 7.


Thomas H. Hargrove
Dennis Lewarch
Scott Madry
Ian von Essen
Charlotte Brown

Archaelogical Research Consultants, Inc.
P.O. Box 3296
Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27514

A Report submitted to the Archaeological Services Branch, National Park Service, Southeast Regional Office, Atlanta, by Archaelogical Research Consultants, Inc., under Contract Number CX 500-4-0268.

Funded by the United States Marine Corps

Received Aug 6 1985