Old Chapel Hill Cemetery

Text:
Increase font size
Decrease font size

The Chapel Hill cemetery remains a segregated cemetery to this day.  The cemetery dates back to 1798 and is the final resting place of over 800 black Chapel Hillians.  More of  the graves in the black section are unmarked, than marked.  There are only a few stones that identify people who were slaves of the university including Dilsey Craig who was “60 years a slave in the Home of Dr. James Phillips” and the monument (placed by the class of 1891) to Wilson Caldwell, November Caldwell, David Barum (note the incorrect spelling of his name on the monument), and Henry Smith. Ironically, this obelisk once honored a president of the university, Joseph Caldwell, who had owned November Caldwell. When trustees commissioned a new monument for the president in 1904, they moved the old one to the graveyard and rededicated to the slaves.

The first recorded black burial is that of Ellington Burnett in 1853.  Note also the old stone wall that divides the black section from the white section of the cemetery.  These dry rock walls (at various points around the campus) are the product of slave labor – Professor Elisha Mitchell (Mount Mitchell and Mitchell Hall) taught his slaves how to construct these walls.  Mitchell was reimbursed $500 dollars by the University in 1844 for the use of his slaves.