Fact Friday 345 - History of the Cedar Grove Cemetery
More than 67 arcres of land once made up a tract of land that began at Beatties Ford Road and covered an area that now has homes and an elementary school. Once planned as a large African American cemetery, the land was apportioned to developers and the City of Charlotte over the last 100 years. All that remains of the once beautiful cemetery is around 1.8 acres of land, just under 3% of the original allotment, with an unknown number of graves.
People still visit the graves, leaving small gifts, tokens, and flowers. Veterans have flags placed on their graves on the appropriate holidays. Yet, other than these simple, but meaningful gestures, the cemetery has been neglected since the last known owner and caretaker, John S. Davidson, passed away in 1972. Mr. Davidson is buried there, and may well be the last person interred on the property. He was the sole person responsible for the land, and relatives have long moved away and are no longer responsible.
Headstone of a World War II veteran at Cedar Grove Cemetery.
John Shead Davidson and his wife Sarah Louise Winstead Davidson were on again and off again residents of Charlotte, as Mr. Davidson was a member of the clergy who held several positions in churches in the southeast.
While in Charlotte, John S. Davidson partnered with his two brothers to own and operate Davidson Bros. Funeral Home beginning in 1935. Though not an original member of the founding corporation that developed the Cedar Grove Cemetery Assn., Mr. Davidson purchased around two acres out of probate in 1955 – all that remained of the original 67+ acres – “reopening” it as the Cedar Hill Cemetery. More plots were sold, but Mr. Davidson passed away in 1972 and the cemetery then fell into disrepair.
Prominent clergyman, Robert Blair Bruce, who is buried at Cedar Grove Cemetery.
Robert Blair Bruce headstone at Cedar Grove Cemetery.
To find out more about how you can help save Cedar Grove Cemetery, visit http:/www.savecedargrove.org, where you can find info on donating, volunteering, and staying informed about ongoing efforts. Per the website, the purpose of “Save Cedar Grove” is to put forth a project that can bring the space back to a place of peace and pride for the community and those who rest within it. Click here to check out some of the news coverage of the effort.
Until next week!
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“History is not the past, it is the present. We carry our history with us. We are our history.” - James Baldwin