The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)


April 20, 2012

Genealogical Society releases book about cemeteries

Friday, April 20, 2012 — “I go out walking after midnight searching for you.”

This line from a Patsy Cline song seems a little fitting for a group of individuals who for almost a decade have been out walking, searching for ...

What? That is the question, and that’s where it gets interesting.

Although the group is larger, about 20 members of the Stanly County Genealogical Society attend the organization’s meetings, which are at 6:30 p.m. on the fourth Monday of each month in the downstairs meeting room at the Stanly County Public Library.

The society formed in the late 1970s and a book about graveyards was written shortly thereafter. About 10 years ago, members felt it was time to make corrections and expand on the book.

Beginning in the fall of 2003, society members went trekking throughout the county, looking for family cemeteries and unmarked graves.

They feel confident in their findings and have published their results in a book, “These Hallowed Grounds.”

“If somebody goes back, I don’t think they’re going to find anything we haven’t found,” said John Burleson, editor of the group’s newsletter.

The additions of new road signs and GPS devices helped in the search, members said, although there are some things that even a GPS can’t find.

“A lot of the cemeteries have been destroyed,” Priscilla Clarke said.

“There’d be headstones and footstones and it’d be hard to tell it if was a headstone or a footstone.”

The book includes close to 400 cemeteries, with more than 5,000 names in the index.

“There were some we couldn’t locate, but we included them and hope that someone may be able to,” Elaine Stewart said.

Members were exposed to freezing temperatures, ticks and suffered sunburns, in addition to encountering a skunk.

“We fell in creeks, looked in pigpens, cow pastures,” Clarke said. Cows surrounded the group at one cemetery, as if watching a show.

Many of the cemeteries lie along rivers and lakes, as settlements hundreds of years ago formed along places water was plentiful. Few of the cemeteries featured in the book are within towns, although there are many in Albemarle unknown to most residents.

“A lot of the old cemeteries were bigger cemeteries, but now a lot are just a few headstones,” Clarke said.

At least two trips were taken to most of the cemeteries, with many more hours spent on the phone with land owners, descendants or anyone else who may know of a location.

“It’s like all history. One generation and you lose it. That’s why this is important. We don’t want to lose it,” Burleson said.

Many of the members of the organization belong to groups such as the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Sons of Confederate Veterans, a few other ways of remembering history.

Paul Morrison, who manages the Heritage Room at the Stanly County Public Library in Albemarle, photographed the cemeteries to keep on file at the library. However, no photos appear in the book.

“Some of the tombstones are beautiful, they’re art,” Burleson said.

Including the index, the book has more than 350 pages. Family and slave cemeteries are included, some of which only memories remain and some of which are remembered by location, but no name.

The books are available for $40 online at


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