Sunday, March 15, 2009

Cemetery Sunday: Confederate Soldiers of America Plot, Maplewood

Maplewood Cemetery is the city cemetery for Durham, North Carolina. The old part of the cemetery contains some incredible monuments including elaborate statuary and massive crypts. Today's Cemetery Sunday is about a small part of the cemetery, the Confederate Soldiers of America (CSA) plot and was inspired by my recent visit. I was in Durham to pick up a piece of photographic equipment, but I can't resist visiting a new cemetery or two whenever I travel!

The CSA plot is marked by a small granite marker:


and by a large gun (which apparently dates to the Spanish-American war, not Civil War):


as I climbed the steps to see the gun, I noticed several broken grave markers around its base:


I took a closer look:



There are a lot of grave markers here, in a variety of sizes, although most are uniform in size and shape. Several include epitaphs such as "A Faithful Confederate Soldier". I wondered what was going on with all these stones, obviously uprooted and piled against the marker. One of my first thoughts was vandalism, I've seen a lot of vandalism in cemeteries and these thin marble markers seem to be particularly attractive targets! There's something particularly sorrowful about rows of veteran's stones arranged like this, reminiscent of war photos showing the fallen dead.



When I turned around the question of what was going on was answered:


It seems that the markers with replaced with new ones. A little bit of research online and I find that the Durham chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) replaced the headstone earlier this year. I'm not sure how old the stones that were replaced are, but if they date back to the 19th century (I suspect they do) it'd be nice if a few of them found their way to the state museum.

I was looking for the African American section of the cemetery, but I didn't locate anything that seemed to fit the bill. It turns out that Durham had a seperate cemetery, Geer Cemetery, for African Americans. Segregation of cemeteries is very common in the South, whether by having two separate cemeteries or by having one cemetery divided into "white" and "black" sections. One thing I did stumble upon in Maplewood is the Durham Hebrew Cemetery. Jewish cemeteries are not that common in the South (or at least, not very visible). This particular one is owned by the Beth El Synagogue in Durham, and is one of the oldest (if not the oldest) in the area.

That just about wraps up Cemetery Sunday. The Maplewood Cemetery in Durham, NC is certainly worth a visit, there are some very unique monuments and lots of area history, GK's Endangered Durham blog has a good summary of the history of the cemetery and some pictures, worth a look if you'd like to know more!

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Christy said...

I stumbled upon your web page and hope someone can help me in my research.
I am looking for a database or web site or something that has a list with headstones or tombstones for confederate soldiers.
I understand the VA (veterans admin) has one for union soldiers.
I can't seem to get any info from the cemetery section at the VA but I know the Federal govt would not issue headstones for any one without records being created. Thanks for any info you may have.

Jonathan said...

As far as I know neither the VA nor the Federal government provides gravestones for the graves of confederate soldiers beyond historical markers noting the location of mass graves still present on some battlefields. The graves I wrote about in the article are maintained by the Sons of Confederate Veterans, it appears the SCV is in the process of compiling a registry of graves. Check out for more information.