Catholic Cemetery (Defunct)

Market St
Wilmington, New Hanover County, North Carolina, USA
Memorials 70 added

Search Catholic Cemetery (Defunct):

Also known as St. Thomas' Catholic Cemetery.

In March 1879 Thomas Monk donated four acres of land located on Market Street near 21st Street "just beyond the creek, a short distance the other side of the National Cemetery [sic]" to be used for a new "Catholic Cemetery." The size of this new cemetery would almost parallel that of the Wilmington National Cemetery.

On 4 Jun 1879, Monk erected a marble monument, by John Maunder, at the cemetery. The monument was 6 feet high and stood on a 4 foot mound; a total of 10 feet above the ground. A description of the monument was published in the The Daily Review that read "It is surmounted with a cross, with the letters "I. H. S." on the top front and just above the inscription Resurrectio et Vita. On the base of the cross are the words, Requiescat in Pace, Amen, and beneath the inscription, It is Therefore a Holy and Wholesome Thought to Pray for the Dead. At the base of the monument is the record, Consecrated, A. D. 1879."

The cemetery and monument were officially consecrated on 2 Nov 1879 during the Festival of All Souls.

By 1990, the cemetery was registered with the Division of Archives and History in Raleigh as an abandoned cemetery. Coincidently, in July of the same year, Wilmington's City Council altered a special use permit to allow, Raleigh developer, MB Corp. to build apartments on the "abandoned graveyard" despite community opposition; which eventually drew the interest of the state attorney general's office.

In an article published in The Times-News on 6 Aug 1990, the chancellor of the Catholic Diocese of Raleigh said that, although remains were found at the site in 1984, the church believed the graves belonging to St. Thomas Cemetery were removed in the 1930s. Father Joe Vetter said "We don't have absolute certainty there are no more graves there, but to the best of our knowledge there are not."

In Jan 1992, after the special permit expired, Hanover Ridge Limited Partnership, of which MB Corp. was part of, reapplied for a permit to build condominiums on the land. Joe and Sally Pace, two opponents of the development, used death certificates and records from New Hanover County and Saint Mary's Church to find, at least, 130 interments at the cemetery.

In an article published in the Wilmington Morning Star on 7 Jan 1992, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Raleigh narrowed down the relocation date to "in or about 1939." However, still skeptical of the legitimacy of the Diocese's statements, Mr. Pace responded with "We can find no evidence to show that they were removed to another location [sic]".

Condominiums, a parking lot, and a small strip mall cover the land that was once the four acre cemetery.

Whereabouts of the Catholic Cemetery marble monument is currently unknown.

GPS Coordinates: 34.23788, -77.92047

  • Added: 13 Feb 2016
  • Find A Grave Cemetery: #2603652