The Daily Tar Heel has the details. Anthropologists are looking for unmarked graves in the African American section.
Most appalling piece of this story is this:
[Chapel Hill Preservation Society president Ernest] Dollar said the society became directly involved with the cemetery after the 1985 UNC-Clemson University football game.
Fans used the black section of the cemetery as a parking lot.
“A lot of the graves there were destroyed,” Dollar said. “That’s what really galvanized the community to start preserving the cemetery.”
I passed the cemetery just recently on my way over to Lenoir for lunch and was thinking about how the nineteenth century gravestones in the white section would make a nice illustration to a post on cemetery law.
Among the best-preserved antebellum graves in the cemetery are those from the two literary societies -- the Dialectic and the Philanthropic. (You may recall I spoke about the UGA literary societies a while back.) The picture at the upper right is of the Philanthropic Society plot. I want to call your attention to two things in particular -- the monuments, which are grand (like the half column and the urns on top of two of the other pedestals), and the fairly simple metal fence. Contrast that with the Dialectic Society plot, which has somewhat less grand monuments, but a somewhat more elaborate fence. (Yes--I know; that last link is the Dialectic Society's catalog of books. Don't you just love lists of books in antebellum libraries -- especially in literary society libraries?! And while the Dialectic Society's 1821 catalog is a little early for my purposes -- I'm more interested in those in the 1830s and 1840s -- it's worth some comment down the line.)
As to the fence; that's a little harder. It may be reading too much in here to talk about the relative simplicity of the Philanthropic Society's fence as opposed to the more opulent Dialectic Society fence. (Though we sometimes try to read in something about a people from their furniture, like their bookcases.) Then again, I'm not sure these are antebellum fences; this may say more about twentieth century reconstruction than about anything else; I need to know more about who put up those fences and when. For instance, in another part of the cemetery is a fence put up in 1892 (around some antebellum graves), which was cast in Boston. So we're seeing a mixing of Northern and Southern monument practices here....
And I can't help but notice that the Philanthropic Society's fence has the same kind of arch that appeared in Thomas Cobb's bookcase (and in the Episcopal Church in Hillsborough, where Thomas Ruffin worshiped, and in Southern University's building in Greensboro, Alabama, too.) Check out the Philanthropic Society's fence at the right (or it may be below, depending on your browser).
All of this reminds me that sometime soon I need to get back to talk about monuments on the UNC campus, as well as the literary societies. (And for those of you in the triangle area, I'll be speaking about jurisprudence in the literary addresses on the UNC campus on March 16. Bet you can't wait to hear all about that, eh?)
Here's a monument slab from the Dialectic Society plot, for Lewis Bowen Holt, which begins with a quotation from Ecclesiastes, 12:6-7 (near the top -- it's not quite readable on this picture):
Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern.
Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was, and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.
The cool thing about this tombstone? It has an illustration of the cord loosed, the bowl broken at the fountain, and the wheel broken at the cistern.