Revolutionary War veteran's grave hidden in local neighborhood
Many locals might be surprised to discover how often they pass old, overgrown graveyards without even realizing it.Posted — Updated
There's even a tiny grave site in the middle of a concrete parking lot in downtown Cary.
When locals first stumbled upon the burial site of prominent Cary leader and Revolutionary War patriot Nathaniel Jones, it was found in very poor condition, completely covered by overgrowth.
Jones' obelisk, which stands nearly 14 feet tall, was leaning precariously. His wife's box tomb was no longer intact, with the stone slab covering completely missing.
Wetmore also described multiple unmarked stones, saying that aside from the obelisk and box tomb, "No gravestones in the cemetery bore any legible writing."
"Six or seven plain marble markers were counted inside the cemetery and five slender unmarked stones were found," she said.
How did such a historic burial site with Cary leaders become lost?
Nathaniel Jones, born in 1749, owned over 10,000 acres of land in what is now modern-day Cary.
"He served as a Wake County Commissioner, Justice of the Peace, Sheriff, Clerk of Court, member of the General Assembly and delegate to the Constitutional Convention in Hillsborough in 1788," said Wetmore.
In fact, his land almost became the capital of North Carolina. "In 1792 he offered his land, but land owned by Joel Lane was eventually selected in nearby Raleigh," said Wetmore.
Wetmore said the burial site likely began with the death of one of their children in the late 1700s. Although the earliest date that appears on an intact grave is 1815, history tells us multiple children passed away before the 1800s. Robert Jones, born in 1773, died only seven years later in 1780.
Evan Jones' life was even more brief, dying a mere two years after his birth in 1778.
Jones' first wife Millison Blanchard Jones also died in 1785, three days after the birth of Seth Blanchard Jones, according to the Historic Landmark Application.
The grave site was at least a mile from their homestead, indicating they likely rode horses through fields of cotton to visit their buried loved ones.
White Plains took up a large portion of what is now eastern Cary. But as Cary rapidly developed, family farmland tracts disappeared, developing into neighborhoods and shopping centers. That rapid shift is likely why Cary has so many hidden, historic cemeteries in unusual places.
Explore the hidden 1700s cemetery live
WRAL's Hidden Historian explored hidden, pre-Revolutionary cemetery on Facebook Live, showing little-known secrets hidden in the graveyard and delving into the stories behind it.
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WRAL's Hidden Historian is a 7th-generation North Carolinian and 5th-generation Raleighite, who is passionate about ensuring local history isn't forgotten.
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