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May 27, 2024 9:39 am

Willow Dale Cemetery Preservation Society formed; seeks funds and members

Members of the new Willow Dale Cemetery Preservation Society prepare to clean a tombstone in the historic cemetery. From left are Debbie Garrett, Lisa Corbett, Mary Emma Stevens and Cathy Blow.

GOLDSBORO – A group concerned about Goldsboro’s historic Willow Dale Cemetery has formed a nonprofit organization to protect and preserve it.

People whose family members are buried in Willow Dale Cemetery, along with other interested Wayne County residents, created the Willow Dale Cemetery Preservation Society in February to care for the 270-year-old graveyard.

The cemetery is considered a significant historical site. William B. Edmondson deeded about two acres of land to the City of Goldsboro Commissioners in 1853 for use as a burying ground. Since then, other land has been purchased by, and donated to, the city to expand the cemetery. More than 10,000 individuals from all walks of life have been buried there.

The city operates and maintains the 37-acre property located in the 300 block of East Elm Street, but is not responsible for the upkeep of the headstones, markers and fences at the burial sites. “In many cases, there are no living family members to take care of these graves. About 10 percent of the graves have no marker to memorialize and honor the life of the individual buried there,” said Society President Lisa Granberry Corbett. “While our organization is willing to do what we physically can to preserve these memorials, we have to seek funding for the maintenance, upkeep and upgrades to the cemetery.”

Society members have researched the history of the cemetery and many of the individuals buried there, and hope to increase public awareness of the cemetery and its history. They also want to attract volunteers who can assist with projects within the cemetery, such as cleaning headstones and removing debris.

Anyone interested in learning more about the society and its efforts can attend a meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Aug. 18 at the Wayne County Museum.

Contact Corbett at willowdalecps2023@gmail.com for information on how to join, volunteer or donate. For regular updates, follow the Willow Dale Cemetery Preservation Society Facebook page.

— Submitted by Willow Dale Cemetery Preservation Society