Local News

Louisburg College hopes to relocate first president's grave

Posted July 24, 2012

— 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.

Louisburg College hopes to relocate first president's grave Louisburg College hopes to relocate first president's grave

"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.


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  • gunny462 Jul 25, 2012

    Let me get this straight. He's buried in an overgrown rundown cemetery were the only one who did care (before this article released) was a 70yr old man who planned on making a trip there every year or so? But now 'other' family members are stepping forward to 'voice' concerns about the cemetery getting damaged if they remove his coffin? Where were they before? LOL

    Sounds like this family just wants $$$$$. Also, I didn't see any comments in the article about the school or county having to pay to have him reinterned on campus. maybe they're taking donations.

  • Country Girlz Have MORE fun Jul 25, 2012

    When I die and I'm laid to rest with the people I loved...I expect that my body would stay there forever and be taken care of in a nice plot (which this is over grown). More respect for these loved ones is deserved. BUT...I'd be more angry if 100 years down the road, people I didn't know decided to dig me up and move me because it just suited THEIR idea of honor and decor at the place I worked. Let the man rest where he is. If the college wants to spend money on his grave, tell them to offer funds or labor to help keep it groomed. You really think digging this man up & fussing is a way to honor him? Here is a lesson you should add to your text books, and my mom taught me this aa a little girl..."somethings are not yours to take no matter how bad you want them." I read the article and I am from Louisburg & I attended school there...the college is WRONG !

  • NotFromHere Jul 24, 2012

    Read the article before you comment please. The people who object are no the man's decendents. They are the decendents of the family buried in the old cemetary. The college's founding president was buried in the cemetary of a friend's family.

  • Relic Jul 24, 2012

    I think the college can find better use for its funds than moving a grave and building a tomb for a man that the legal decendant of the family doesn't want moved.