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Lane Street Project: finding Odd Fellows photos.

The only pre-Lane Street Project pictures of Vick, Odd Fellows, and Rountree Cemeteries discovered to date are aerial images and newspaper photographs. I reached out to Drew C. Wilson of the Wilson Times to find out if the paper’s photo archives held originals of the prints published in the 18 February 1989 article about Benjamin Mincey‘s efforts to keep Odd Fellows clear. I stopped by the Times‘ newsroom yesterday, where Olivia Neeley and Lisa Boykin Batts were already sorting through files. Drew Wilson split a stack of negatives with me, the ancestors smiled, and within minutes, I’d found the images.

Me with one of two negative strips and Olivia Neeley with an original print of the 1989 article. Photo by Drew C. Wilson.

The writer/photographer used almost all his shots in his article. I initially had trouble pinpointing Mr. Mincey’s location in the image below, then I recognized Della and Dave Barnes‘ headstones just left of the center of the image. The stone nearest him is Charles S. Thomas‘ granite marker. The trees in this area threw me, as all have since been removed. (What’s that pile of stones by the tree? There’s a similar pile, smaller, near a different tree now.) A number of the small, white marble footstones so common in Odd Fellows are visible, but many appear to have been moved now from their original locations. There seems to be something large and square to the left and behind the Barnes headstones, but it’s not clear what it is.  

The approximate view this morning, with the Thomas marker at (A) and the Barneses at (B). 

Below, Mr. Mincey stands near a sign: NO TRESPASSING CEMETERY PROP. UP TO $200.00 FINE FOR DUMPING TRASH. VIOLATORS WILL BE PROSECUTED BY ORDER of THE CITY OF WILSON CEMETERY COMMISSION. It’s not clear exactly where this was. Vick Cemetery? The Cemetery Commission now disclaims responsibility for any cemeteries other than Rest Haven and Maplewood, and the City’s Public Works Department mows and otherwise looks after Vick and a strip of Odd Fellows.

To the left and behind Mr. Mincey, Lucinda White‘s headstone, unbroken. To his right, back among young pines, Henry Tart‘s obelisk, which still leans back at about the same angle. Wisteria had not yet become the scourge in these woods that it is now.

Today, with (A) White and (B) Tart markers.

Below, Mr. Mincey and an unnamed assistant stand at the fire hydrant marking the grave of Mr. Mincey’s father, Benjamin Mincey. There appears to be a wooden sign draped with plastic sheeting in front of hydrant, and piles of trash and tree stumps are visible in the middle distance. I’d thought the large white headstone at center was Walter Foster‘s, but its outline and location don’t match up. The small white monument with a knob on top behind and to the left of the large marker made be that of Louvenia Pender, found back in December with its finial broken off.

Six months ago, this image would have been impossible to reproduce. Today, though the wisteria has begun to rebound from being cut back during the winter, the hydrant is visible at (A) with effort. The white stone behind Mr. Mincey appears to have been in the Vick plot, and may be the double headstone of Daniel and Fannie Vick. The dark wedge near its upper left corner appears to correspond with the divot in the Vicks’ stone caused by a gunshot.

This shot appears to have been taken from Lane Street and shows a gatepost similar to the ones that bracketed (until recently) another entrance into the cemetery perhaps 50 yards to the northeast. This entrance below is approximately at the current entrance to the cemetery parking lot. 

Finally, a bonus image, show later in 1989, perhaps to commemorate a milestone in Mr. Mincey’s service with East Nash Volunteer Fire Department. 

Madison Benjamin Mincey (1913-2001), the real MVP of Odd Fellows Cemetery. 

Many thanks to Drew Wilson, Olivia Neeley, and Lisa Batts for their generosity of time, resources, and spirit in the search for these photographs!