Old Settler's Cemetery: The final resting place of generals, soldiers, businessmen and farmers.
I highlighted Old Settler's Cemetery in Fact Friday 19, but this will be more of a deep dive.
Situated on a hilltop on a block bounded by Fifth, Poplar, Sixth, and Church Streets two blocks from the Square, the Settler's Cemetery is the city's oldest burial ground. Despite its close proximity to the First Presbyterian Church and its old nickname "The Presbyterian Burying Ground," it was actually a nondenominational graveyard set aside exclusively for this purpose by the city in 1815. The oldest known burial in the cemetery is that of Joel Baldwin, who died October 21, 1776. From that time many of Charlotte's oldest families, from the prominent to the unknown, were laid to rest there. Many were veterans of the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, and many are considered among the founding pioneers of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. Some of the more well-known citizens interred there are Colonel Thomas Polk, great-uncle of President James K. Polk and signer of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, and William Davidson, local planter and U.S. Senator. This picture was taken in the late 1890s and shows the rear portion of the First Presbyterian Church.
In 1855 the nearby Elmwood Cemetery was opened and accommodated its first burial, necessitated by Old Settlers' reaching capacity. On April 29, 1867, the city passed an ordinance closing it after taking in some Confederate veterans of the leading families, although burials with special permission took place until 1884. In 1906 the Charlotte Park and Tree Commission, with noticed industrialist Daniel Augustus Tompkins as president, jointly undertook the preservation and beautification of the neglected cemetery with the Daughters of the American Revolution Auxiliary Committee. This project produced the iron gate around the graveyard and the granite gateposts on Fifth Street that used to be the entrance. One the next few decades the cycle of dilapidation and conservancy continued, but today the Old Settlers Cemetery remains an attractive shaded part of uptown where Charlotteans can view the final resting places of familiar local names such as Alexander, Davidson, Graham, and Hoskins.
Until next week!
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Information taken from:
Charlotte Then and Now, Brandon Lunsford, 2013.
“We have to do with the past only as we can make it useful to the present and the future.” – Frederick Douglass