Follow-up: the mystery of Julia Boyette Bailey’s grave.

I checked. Wilson County Register of Deeds office holds a volume, labeled “Grave Removals,” that contains records of every registered disinterment and/or reinterment in the county for the past 50 or so years. The volume contains no record of the removal of the graves of Julia Bailey, Andrew Terrell, or the 16-18 unknown others whose disinterment was publicized in 1998 ahead of the expansion of Buckhorn reservoir. As the headstones of Bailey and Terrell attest, the graves now lie at the edge or under the lake.

Here’s a detail from a 1974 plat map showing two tracts of Manuel and Sudie Boykin Sullivan’s land, a section of which held the cemetery. The map also shows the projected borders of the reservoir.

Detail from Plat Book 13, page 73.

A current aerial view reveals the striking accuracy of the projected edges of the lake.

This aerial shows the proximity of New Vester Missionary Baptist Church, to which the Baileys and Terrells belonged, to the approximate location of the drowned cemetery. Despite this, the notice of disinterment published in the Daily Times stated the graves would be moved to Bailey Cemetery in Nash County. As we see, this was never done.

Aerial images courtesy of Google Maps.


  1. I’m sure there are other such cases, black and white, that await the serendipitous discovery of a heretofore hidden headstone. I’m glad Al and Guy included me in their find so Julia would be uncovered (no pun intended).

    1. I agree. Moving twenty 75-100 year-old graves would have been incredibly time-consuming (though, presumably, the city was footing the bill), and I’m not surprised that those involved cut corners if they thought they could get away with it. The first clue that the family was not involved in the discussion was the determination that Bailey Cemetery was an appropriate site for reinterment. My thanks to Al, Guy, and you for bringing Julia Bailey’s grave marker to light. May she, Andrew Terrell, and the unknown others rest in peace wherever they may lie.

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