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Orange County North Carolina Cemeteries

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281    HAWFIELDS PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH CEMETERY (CA. 1755)

      Location - In Cheeks Township in a field 0.2 mi. east of Ben Wilson Road (SR #1140). Although the cemetery site is owned by Hawfields Presbyterian Church access is through private property, and permission to visit the site should be obtained from both parties.

      Coordinates: 36d 04m 29.5s N; 79d 15m 16.7s W Click here for Google maps

      Survey - Margaret Jones of the Orange County Environment and Resource Conservation Department and Milton Forsyth surveyed this cemetery on 3 Jan 2007 accompanied by Mr. Bill Wilson, owner of the surrounding property. Photographs by Milton Forsyth. (PIN 9824-46-7162)

      Graves, Unmarked - The site is wooded and partially covered with low-growing vegetation. Graves are not obvious although several fieldstones possibly indicating burials were located. It is thought a significant portion of the cemetery was lost to cultivation about 1890. The listed burials were recorded by Professor Durward T. Stokes of Elon College and Mr. Ben M. Rogers of Graham, NC on May 3, 1959. Dr. Stokes noted: "There is almost nothing there today to identify this spot as a Cemetery except sunken places indicating graves, broken and scattered rock, and a few fragments of inscription. This was a large cemetery for its day and many people are evidently buried here." [Stokes, p. 26, (ref 2 below)].

      Comments - Site of the original Hawfields Presbyterian Church and Cemetery, established between August 1755 and April 1756, and one of the oldest cemetery sites in Orange County. The 1.3 acre site is marked by vertical metal posts and a large stone monument. A new church was constructed in 1771 three miles to the west in what is now Alamance County. The first burial in the new cemetery located there was in September 1783 (see Alamance County Cemeteries #006).

      Only sparse records survive from the early period of the church's history and there are no burial records for the old cemetery. But the few gravestone readings available show it was still in use into the late 1830s, over 65 years following the move of the church. As Turner notes: "Although the church itself was moved many of the old families continued to use the burying ground for some years. Finally, it, too, was abandoned. The stones that marked the early graves were small native stones, and with the passing of the years the markings of the few that have remained have become illegible." [Turner, p. 90 (ref 3 below)]. Also as mentioned above, in about 1890 a portion of the cemetery was destroyed when it was plowed by a local farmer [Craig, p. 14 (ref 1 below)].

      At a meeting of the church presbytery on 11 Oct 1923 the members determined "...that something should be done to preserve and mark the site of the original church." A committee of seven persons "...was appointed to secure the parcel of ground desired...Oscar Wilson, who owned the farm on which the old site and cemetery were located, agreed to sell the site for fifty dollars." The sale of the 1.34 acre "old Hawfields Cemetery" site to the "Hawfields Cemetery Fund" was accomplished on 5 Jan 1924, and on (apparently) 26 March 1924 Mr. and Mrs. Wilson appeared before the Orange County Register of Deeds to verify the transaction and the deed was filed [Turner, p. 205; O. C. Deed Book 83, p. 144, in which dates differ slightly from those quoted in Turner, and in the deed book an original date of "January" 26 was changed to "March", which is unexplained].

      At a large meeting of the church on 28 Oct 1926 to dedicate a new Sunday School addition, a dedication was also held for a marker placed at the site of the original church and cemetery. The marker reads: Original Site of Hawfields Presbyterian Church and Cemetery, 1755 - 1926 [Turner, p. 209]. Click here for a picture of the monument. A North Carolina State Historic Marker erected in 1941 at the present church site also notes the establishment of the original church [NC State Historic Site reference number G-30].

      References: (1) Craig, D. I. (Rev.), A Historical Sketch of New Hope Church, in Orange County, N. C. (Revised Edition) (Reidsville, NC: Author, 1891). (2) Stokes, Durward T. "Tombstone Inscriptions: Recorded from private or abandoned cemeteries in Alamance and Orange Counties, North Carolina," (typescript manuscript photocopy, State Library of North Carolina, 1979; also in North Carolina Collection [NCC], UNC Chapel Hill). (3) Turner, Herbert Snipes, Church in the Old Fields: Hawfields Presbyterian Church and Community in North Carolina, 1738-1960, (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1962). Research by Milton Forsyth with appreciation for their contributions to Allen Dew, Louis Freeland and Gary Thompson, and to Mr. Ricky Lee of the Hawfields Presbyterian Church Cemetery Committee.


  1. ----sn, Margaret   (b. - d. 22 May 1837)
      • died May 22, 1837
  2. IURAHN (??)   (b. - d. 7 Jul 1814)
      • died July 7, A. D. 1814
  3. Marlatt, ----   (b. - d. 1825)
      • ...5, 1825, ...Year of her age
  4. Marlatt, E.   (b. - d. 9 Apr 1837)
      • Died April 9, 1837
  5. N., J.   (b. - d. )


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