survey map

Lane Street Project: where the last gravestones stood.

This, of course, is the map of Vick Cemetery plotting the locations of all its visible graves circa 1995. The version I received from the City in response to a records request was grainy, but Wilson Times supplied a cleaner version. The City has not provided (or cannot provide, because it is lost or was never created in the first place) a key to the numbers or otherwise identifying the locations and names on gravestones. However, a friend with surveying experience has cracked the code on the numbering system.

To recap, a surveyor prepared this map ahead of the removal of overgrowth and grading of Vick Cemetery. All detectable graves, whether marked by gravestones or indicated by grave depressions, were numbered and plotted on the map.

Per information, the cemetery’s corner pins and other control points are labeled with the lowest numbers and are highlighted in yellow on the map above. On the right, a broad white expanse reveals that the surveyor did not detect any graves in a strip of land along its northeastern edge, representing approximately twenty percent of the cemetery’s surface. (This is the edge that includes today’s parking lot.) It’s not clear why this is so, as gravestones and slumps are clearly visible today on the other side of the fence that divides Vick and Odd Fellows, and GPR has revealed that this section of the cemetery is quite dense with grave anomalies.

The numbers 20 to about 200 were assigned to graves marked with objects, whether headstones, foot stones, vault covers, slabs, or other markers. Those graves are highlighted in light blue. I know it’s a little tough to see, so I’ve zoomed in one section:

I apparently will never lose the ability to be struck dumb by a Vick discovery. Will you look at this? Look at that row of five graves numbered 109, 110, 111, 112, and 113. Surely this was a family plot, marked with headstones, until the City pulled them up and tossed them, figuratively speaking, in a pit.

Per this map, just under 200 grave markers were standing in 1995 when the City hauled them out. Untold numbers of markers, like the dozens we’ve unearthed in Odd Fellows Cemetery, undoubtedly lay just below the soil surface. We may not know the names of these 200 but, with this highlighted map and the precise location data supplied in New South Associates’s report, we know exactly where they were.

The location of graves 109 through 113 on the Vick Cemetery GPR map.

Lane Street Project: why we need a survey map, part 1.

After the City commissioned a land survey of Vick Cemetery in May 2023, Assistant City Manager (and front man for cemetery matters) Rodger Lentz told a reporter that the City does not need a survey map because they now “definitely” know where the property lines are. Lentz is not only missing the point, he is dead wrong.

We need a survey map because:

  • We don’t want to fight this fight every change of administration. Once the temporary survey stakes are removed or fall down or otherwise disappear, there is no record of the boundary. We not only need a survey map, it needs to be filed with the Register of Deeds Office to create a permanent record of ┬áVick Cemetery’s boundaries. Taxpayer money paid for the survey — get the map that comes with it!
  • Four power poles, plus guy lines, are on or inside the cemetery property line. Coy as the City is trying to be about it, the poles are unquestionably city property. A survey map showing all utilities on the property (and showing the right-of-way) is critical for understanding the extent to which the cemetery has been damaged and determining how best to move forward with repair.
  • On the map below (taken from Wilson County GIS website), I’ve circled the driveway into the cemetery parking lot. It’s a little hard to see — I’ll enlarge it below — but if that blue property line were extended to the street, it would lop off a whole edge of the parking lot and part of the driveway apron. In other words, the City built a parking lot not only on top of Vick Cemetery graves, but on Odd Fellows Cemetery property as well. It also stuck a big granite post — misengraved “Rountree/Vick” — in Odd Fellows Cemetery. There’s no survey marker at that corner of the property, by the way. If there were, it’d be standing in the middle of the driveway.

  • Here’s a closer look, with a dotted yellow line extending the property line to the street. That’s a sizable chunk of parking lot on the Odd Fellows side. The pillars are standing on the property line; you can see their shadows stretching toward the street.

  • Transparency and accountability. What is the City trying to hide? You have to go out of your way to tell the surveyor “hold the map.” ┬áLentz’ laconic comment that the City just doesn’t need one is inadequate. There’s more at issue at Vick than the boundaries — though they’re questionable, too, given the historic extent of burials in the cemetery. City of Wilson, we demand a complete survey map showing all features — property lines, rights-of-way, fences, utilities, driveway, parking lot, ditches, wooded areas, whatever.

Photo of fence by Lisa Y. Henderson, July 2023.