Pine Forest Cemetery in Wilmington, North Carolina serves as the final resting place for many of Wilmington’s Black residents. The cemetery dates to back prior to the American Civil War, being purchased in 1860 by the Commissioners of Wilmington who purchased 15 acres adjacent to Oakdale Cemetery as a Black Burying Ground. Much of the cemetery had become overgrown, and this last week folks from Hands On Wilmington decided to do something about it. The following excerpt is from an article in the April 29, 2009 Star News.

Graves hidden among brush were discovered by Hands On Wilmington crews last weekend. Photo by Amy Hotz

The top portion of the tombstone was long gone. The remaining part lay on the ground partially covered with dirt and oak leaves. “Gone but not forgotten,” were the only words legible in the weathered cement.

Volunteers were surprised to find more than 100 graves, like this one, dated between the mid 1800s and the 1960s hidden away in vines and bushes at Pine Forest Cemetery. Some had stones. Some were merely deep impressions in the soil.

“We knew there were grave sites back there. But these were not grave sites that had been lost. They were forgotten,” said Mike Kozlosky, project manager for the cemetery’s Hands On Wilmington clean-up held last weekend.

Stone after stone was uncovered from the vines and the trees and the bushes. Some revealed well-known names of black Wilmington families including Nixon and Williams. There were Pearsalls and Holdens, and many more that were too aged to read.

Some, such as Eugene Henry’s World War I grave marker, gleamed in the sunlight it hadn’t seen since some time soon after 1956.

Read the full article by Amy Hotz in the Star News.