Sitting quietly in the midst of a residential neighborhood within the village of Carrboro is an old cemetery. I’ve written about burial grounds before. I enjoy visiting old cemeteries, seeing the beautiful craftsmanship in the old stones and markers, seeing the dates from long, long ago and maybe getting a bit of the story about those buried there from the words chiseled into the headstones. Some cemeteries are especially remarkable, such as the old Trinity Church burying ground in New York City, the Magnolia Cemetery in Charleston, SC, the Old Burying Ground in Beaufort, NC, just to name a few that I’ve visited. Hiding in plain sight in this residential neighborhood is a resting place unlike any other I’ve visited. It’s a visible reminder of what life was like here centuries ago.
The oldest engraved markers in the Weaver Family Cemetery are that of a Baptist Minister, Reverend Thomas Weaver (1785-1843) and his wife Sarah Jane Brewer (1787-1850). The Weaver family lived on a plantation near the burying ground and their son and grandson were owners of vast acreage in Orange and Chatham Counties. As you would expect in a graveyard of this era, there are tombstones for children who passed away within days, months or just a few years of their birth. The sight of them is just heartbreaking, even today.
The small area is enclosed by a simple wire fence and within are 42 visible graves, 28 of which have inscribed markers and 14 unmarked graves. It’s a collection of elaborate granite sculpture, simple engraved markers, rough fieldstones and sunken graves without any marker at all. Because the family was so significant to the settlement and development of the area, the townspeople erected a memorial stone just opposite the entrance gate.
What stopped me in my tracks though, is the realization that immediately outside the fenced burying ground, just a few feet away, is another, smaller area where the family slaves and freedmen are buried. Rough fieldstones serve as markers for these graves as well as 7 small polished but uninscribed blocks of granite. You’ll also find sunken graves in that smaller area and it appears that other crude fieldstone markers are being discovered as the area is explored more closely.
In 1994, at the request of the Weaver heirs who could no longer maintain the family site, the town took over the care and upkeep of the cemetery in order to preserve this historically significant piece of property, maintain it in its natural state and to protect it from any threat of future encroachment by developers.
In 1995, a group of local citizens placed a large, polished granite monument outside of the fenced area in memory of the slaves and freedmen buried there, those persons who helped in the development of the town. The stone is engraved with some of the names of those who were buried there, next to but separated from the white family, and with the words “May we honor these souls always……”