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North Carolina

Old Settler's Cemetery ~ Charlotte NC

On our walking tour of the Uptown Fourth Ward area, one of the stops along the Charlotte Liberty Walk was the Old Settler's Cemetery. Many of the first settlers, historic figures of Mecklenburg County and their families are buried here. It is a municipal cemetery, despite being next to the First Presbyterian Church (for Christ in the Heart of Charlotte).

Old Settler's Cemetery is a treasure trove of history, with gravestones from 1776 to 1884. Walking through it, you see the beautifully carved headstones.monuments, veteran markers,and more. If you are like us, fellow historians, who want to see the graves of people who contributed to history, perhaps you don't have the vocabulary to understand what various items are in a cemetery. Each little chunk leads to understanding.

Terms used to describe cemeteries and grave markers (Definitions courtesy of RootswebAncestry.com)

  • memorial - a grave marker, usually in ornate one
  • monument - a grave marker, usually one with some fanciness and size.
  • epitaph - a brief saying or literary note, inscribed in a grave marker. The name, places and dates of birth and death, and other such biographical information that may be part of the inscription are not considered part of the epitaph.
  • inscription - writing on a grave marker. By convention, this term is used regardless of the technique used to render the writing (e.g., carving, painting, etc.). The inscription usually includes biographical information and the epitaph, if any. -inscription, relict the traces of an inscription, otherwise destroyed, that may reveal that inscription.
  • lot - an area of a cemetery owned or controlled by an individual or family.
  • Pillar - a grave marker consisting of a tall, slender, ornate gravestone with a circular cross-section. Pillars give the appearance of being turned on a lathe and actually derive from the British tradition of Georgian furniture. Plot - an area of a cemetery given over to an individual, family, or other social group. The term is more inclusive than "lot," since a lot can occur only in a cemetery with some institutional organization that assigns areas; in contrast, a plot can develop through usage in a customary cemetery

Inside Settler's Cemetery you will find a large stone with a bronze map, clearly showing where prominent Charlotteans are buried. Find the graves of Thomas Polk and his wife Susanna, whose home was used by British General Lord Cornwallis during the brief occupation of the British in 1780. The Polk's home was also a stopping point for George Washington, during his presidency.

Other prominent Charlotteans buried at Old Settler's include the oldest grave, Joel Baldwin who died in 1776, the year the Declaration of Independence was penned.

A row of tall monuments marks some of the Civil War soldiers from Charlotte, who fought and died. Another grave marks Lieutenant James Henry Ownes of the 3rd Regiment NCT, who fell at the surrender of Petersburg, VA in April 1865 and his body lies in an unknown grave. Confederate States Navy officer  Lt. Joseph Davidson Blake, CSN stone reads, "A gallant and able officer, a thorough and elegant gentleman, who bore his long sickness with patience and committed his soul to the blessed Redeemer on July 5th, 1864.

So many testimonies of love and devotion.

Mary J. Dunlap, wife of Dr. David B Dunlap is remembered: Departed this life on Friday the 13th of May 1848, aged 56 years. She lay down quietly to sleep and with a smile on her countenance, waked in eternity. Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord.

Virginia's stone read, Respected lived, lamented died. Exempt from turpitude and pride. Her virtues many, foibles few. Love from all, her conduct drew.

Friend after friend depart, who has not lost a friend? asks one carving.

In memory of W. S. Boyd, his marker proclaimed: "He was patient and submissive in his afflictions and died with a Christlike hope." He died in 1863 or 1868, we could not quite tell, at age 22. Below that, wearing out with age, it seems to read: Dear child your parents loved you well, You honored them in life, evinced a faith in God to dwell, Free from.... and it trails into the ground at that point.

And the most quoted verse of scripture written on the monuments of children: Suffer little children to come unto me and forbid them not, for such is the kingdom of heaven. Based on Mark 10:13-15 (KJV) And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.

It is a beautiful tribute to walk through this lovely, tree filled graveyard and read the testimonies of faith, service to country and faithfulness to God.

LivingHistorySites.com highly recommends meandering through the Old Settler's Cemetery in Charlotte for a fascinating look at Charlotteans from the Revolutionary & Civil War periods through the 1880's. It is truly a resting place filled with the TESTIMONIES of men and women who loved the Lord and served their countries, and their faith and service are etched in stone to encourage us centuries later!