Louisburg College hopes to relocate first president's grave
Posted July 24, 2012
Louisburg, N.C. — Administrators at Louisburg College want to relocate the grave of their school's first president from a private cemetery to a more fitting location on campus, a move that is opposed by descendants of a family buried at the same site.
Three years ago, Mark Labranche, the school's current president, visited the cemetery where Matthew Dickinson is buried and wasn't pleased with the overgrown, neglected site on a farm north of the college.
He thinks it's unacceptable for the college president to remain there and wants to relocate the grave to a site near where Dickinson once taught, at Franklin Male Academy.
Dickinson was only 29 when he died in 1809, and he was buried in a family friend's cemetery plot. The descendants of the Edwards family no longer live in the area, and the cemetery has fallen into disrepair.
But Ben Bankard, an Edwards family descendant from Greenville, recently discovered the graves of his great-grandmother and great-grandfather in the cemetery. He didn't know the plot had become so overgrown, and now plans to make yearly trips to take care of the family's graves.
"We have an emotional attachment to the cemetery here and those laid to rest," said Bankard, 70.
Family members are worried that moving Dickinson's grave will damage the cemetery and disturb other graves. A possible contractor for the job said it would be an easy task and would not impact any other part of the cemetery.
Although Dickinson's grave is old, it is clearly marked and could be removed using shovels, if necessary, the contractor said.
College administrators are required to have county commission approval to begin work. A public hearing will be held in August, and the relocation could begin in September.
School leaders also want the relocation to help commemorate the school's 225th anniversary.
"We thought that this would be an excellent time to make this move," Labranche said.