Wilson’s African-American cemeteries.

The arm-shaped crook of Lane Street, running from Highway 301 North to Highway 264 East holds the remains of most of Wilson’s African-American dead. Four (and possibly five) cemeteries crowd its short length — Rest Haven, Hamilton Memorial Gardens, Masonic along the ulna, and Rountree-Vick along the radius. Rest Haven, a city-owned facility, and Hamilton, affiliated with a local funeral home, are modern and well-maintained. Masonic still accepts burials, but is periodically cleared. (It dates back to 1900, and likely contains many more graves than apparent. Many stones that remain are broken or prostrate.) Rountree/Vick was abandoned in the early 1960s, and its graves are mostly lost to encroaching woodland. After efforts to save the cemetery failed, the city cleared most of its surface and erected a memorial in 1990. [UPDATE: the cemetery called “Rountree-Vick” by the City of Wilson is actually three separate cemeteries — Rountree, Odd Fellows, and Vick. This, there are six Black cemeteries on Lane Street.]

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In 2015, culminating a years-long project headed by Joan L. Howell, the Wilson County Genealogical Society published Wilson County Cemeteries, Vol. V: The Two City-Owned African-American Cemeteries, containing alphabetical listings of 11,472 burials in Rest Haven cemetery and 590 burials in Rountree-Vick. The volume may be ordered at http://www.wcgs.org.

For a personal description of Rest Haven and Rountree-Vick, see here.

 

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