Modern conventional wisdom holds that Rountree cemetery was the first organized resting place for Wilson’s African-American dead. As I noted here though, Oaklawn (also called Oakdale) cemetery, located south of the stemmeries in Little Richmond was in fact first.
The cemetery was established by town commissioners about 1895, and Wootten & Stevens undertakers were burying bodies there — at “colored cemetery” or Oakdale cemetery — regularly in the late 1890s.
Wilson Advance, 4 July 1895.
Lying hard by Stantonsburg Street, the southern route into town, the colored cemetery was a well-known landmark in turn-of-the-century Wilson.
Wilson Times, 15 July 1910.
However, the site was not propitious and, less than 15 years after it was laid out, poor drainage conditions were leading to complaints.
Wilson Times, 12 December 1911.
The cemetery remained listed in the 1912 Wilson City directory:
Though the record is not clear, it seems that burials ceased at Oaklawn by 1920. This 1923 plat of land sold for development by D.C. Suggs shows the gap the graveyard created in proposed grid of lots.
At least some, and presumably all, the graves at Oaklawn were disinterred and moved a few miles east to Rountree or Rest Haven cemetery.
- Blount Moore — In the 1912 Wilson city directory, Blount Moore was listed as keeper of Oaklawn cemetery, residing at 401 Wiggins Street. Bryant Moore, a laborer, was listed at the same address.