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 Willie Fullwood

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Willie Fullwood

  • Birth 8 Feb 1888 Varnamtown, Brunswick County, North Carolina, USA
  • Death 17 Mar 1897 Varnamtown, Brunswick County, North Carolina, USA
  • Burial Varnamtown, Brunswick County, North Carolina, USA
  • Memorial ID 66363184

Wilmington Star New
Published: Saturday, September 15, 2007 at 3:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, September 15, 2007 at 1:02 p.m.

Varnamtown | No one knows Willie Fullwood's life story. The young boy died in 1897 at the age of 9. His body is buried in an overgrown lot on Stone Chimney Road. An inscription on his headstone can barely be read (If a man die shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will i wait)

But in death, Willie is resurrecting efforts to make his final resting place, and those of possibly hundreds of other blacks, a part of Brunswick County that's never forgotten. His headstone is the only visible marker that's been found in the cemetery, which remains nameless.

Now Cedar Grove residents are working to clean up and secure the land that is believed to be the site where slaves and free blacks from the Supply area were buried before and after the Civil War.

Grissetts, Bryants, Fullwoods, Hewetts, Gores, Mitchells. Those are some of the known family names buried in the cemetery, according to Bertha Bell, who's leading the preservation efforts.

The retired school counselor has heard about the cemetery over the years while collecting family history. She believes her grandfather, Jim Bryant, is buried there.

It wasn't until her 85-year-old uncle recently pointed out the cemetery to her that she decided to take action to save it.

"Ever present in my mind was these are my people here," she said. "Kind of lost, but not forgotten."

With help from Brunswick Search and Rescue, Cedar Grove residents have located about 50 graves in the cemetery that's blanketed with mounds of leaves and unkempt trees.

On Labor Day, the rescue team, along with volunteers from South Carolina, had six dogs sniff out burial sites. The day before, community volunteers pounded about 100 wooden stakes into the ground so fumes could surface.
In spurts of 10 to 20 minutes, each dog was sent one-by-one into the woods. When a burial site was found, a dog would bark, lie, roll or jump on top of the grave.

"It was a very difficult process to do because it was such a large area," Christy Judah, chief of Brunswick Search and Rescue, said about the cemetery. "It was just about to disappear into the landscape."

It's unclear how much land the cemetery encompasses. The search dogs were trying to dig deep into the woods to follow scents, but volunteers went past the brush, Judah said.

Bell said she thinks the Stone Chimney Road cemetery might have been abandoned after blacks started moving inland and formed the Cedar Grove community years ago. Cedar Grove Missionary Baptist Church's Riley Hewett Cemetery became the new burial place, Bell said.

Eugene Hewett, 85, another Cedar Grove resident, said the last burial he recalls being held at the Stone Chimney Road site was in 1929. He was 6 years old when he and his family attended the funeral of Pompey Bryant.

"That's the last one that I remember," he said.

Bell said she's working with landowners to try to clear the cemetery and put a fence around the property. She would also like to have a marker placed at the site as a memorial to all who are buried there.

"How populated it was? We probably can't even imagine," she said.

Cedar Grove resident Emmett Grissett, 81, said he remembers hearing stories about the deceased being brought across U.S. 17 on mules and carts to be buried in the cemetery.

As Grissett stands in the cemetery with Bell and Hewett, their thoughts drift back to relatives who have passed away. Aunts, uncles, grandparents who helped keep their family connected.

"Our relatives are buried out here," Grissett said. "I'm just glad we're resurrecting the cemetery many people forgot about.





  • Created by: Tentis
  • Added: 2 Mar 2011
  • Find A Grave Memorial 66363184
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Willie Fullwood (8 Feb 1888–17 Mar 1897), Find A Grave Memorial no. 66363184, citing Willie Fulwood/Slave Cemetery, Varnamtown, Brunswick County, North Carolina, USA ; Maintained by Tentis (contributor 47090825) .