Donations to aid in the restoration and preservation of John N. Smith Cemetery
North Carolina Non-profit and 501©(3) organization can be mailed to :
The John N Smith Restoration and Preservation, Inc.
Post Office Box 11241
Southport, North Carolina 28461
Historical Southport Cemetery Restoration Campaign
John N. Smith Cemetery LLC receives a check from Downtown Southport Inc (DSI) to support our Public Education efforts. The check will be used to provide workshops and field trips for our local elementary students to learn more about the history and contributions of African Americans in our town.
To ensure the physical integrity, community relevance and the historical significance of the John N. Smith Cemetery.
This is an African American cemetery in the small town of Southport, North Carolina. The first recorded burial was in 1874, when Southport was called Smithville. Located on East Leonard Street, the cemetery was named after the first person to be buried there, John N. Smith. The Cemetery is the final resting place for an estimated 600 souls, all of whom are believed to be African American. Combined these individuals represent an essential component of Southport’s collective memory and of the history of this town on the shore of the Cape Fear River. Interred in this Cemetery were slaves, farmers, teachers, businessmen, laborers, domestic servants, homemakers and entrepreneurs. Veterans dating from the Civil War and subsequent military campaigns are also buried here.
Often cemeteries are the only remaining artifacts of a community’s early residents. By making connections from the present to the past, the John N Smith Cemetery can serve as an inspirational starting point for showing how all races are connected by historical events. If Southport loses the assets it’s only black cemetery represents, the connective tissue that once bonded people together disappears. However, once a chronicle of the factual history of the Cemetery is realized the result will be pride, respect and appreciation among Southport’s residents. The preservation of the Cemetery can have a unifying influence on Southport while enabling many persons to reclaim a heritage that might otherwise be loss for the ages.
The John N. Smith Cemetery Restoration and Preservation Incorporated seeks partners to support the cemetery and ensure that its future is maintained forever as a unique and respected site for celebrating an honorable past. The urgency to restore the cemetery comes as a result of disappearing gravesites, and the aging and death of persons with knowledge of the Cemetery’s known inhabitants. The preservation of the John N. Smith Cemetery has a historical and spiritual significance that is an essential part of the Southport community. Its perpetual care will remind us of the lives and the contributions made by local black citizens towards Southport’s growth and development.
John N. Smith Cemetery was founded in 1874 when the trustees of an African American Methodist Church in Smithville (Southport) purchased a two-acre tract of land for the sole purpose of making it a grave yard. It now consists of 3.6 acres in total. The cemetery committee made up of representatives from five local black churches sold burial plots to the community at large. The cemetery was kept and maintained by the committee. In later years the cemetery was used as the site of Memorial Day Commemorations and grave plots were cleaned and decorated with red, white and blue arrangements for the occasion. The John N. Smith Cemetery is the site of more than 800 interments; many who have contributed to the historical and current quality of life of Southport.
A FEW OF THE MANY DESERVED TO BE RECOGNIZED INDIVIDUALS BURIED AT THE JOHN N. SMITH CEMETERY
ABRAM GALLOWAY PVT CO I 37 US CLD TRPS CIVIL WAR BORN 1846 DIED 1927
ABRAM BLOUNT CO C 37 US CLD TRPS CIVIL WAR BORN 1842 DIED 1912
MR. FRANK GORDON FIRST BLACK SCHOOL TEACHER IN BRUNSWICK COUNTY BORN 1856 DIED 1937
ELIAS G. GORE AKA NEHI THE GENTLE GIANT SAID TO BE 7 FEET 11 INCHES TALL BORN 1906 DIED 1944
OTHER SOURCES CLAIM 7 FEET 7 INCHES. 400 LBS
SOURCES FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
JOHN N. SMITH CEMETERY FACEBOOK PAGE https://m.facebook.com/pages/John-N-Smith-Cemetery/247264875388838
ADDITIONAL CONTACT INFORMATION
Fundraising Goals and Activities
With a capital campaign goal of $75,000.00 and a potential general operating budget estimated at $15,000.00 per year the board of directors will employ various strategies to generate the funds:
· Individuals, civic organizations and corporations targeted for one time recognition contributions.
· Foundations that provide capital grants with request varying in size.
· Annual fund raising campaign to include appeal letters to individuals and businesses.
The board of directors realizes these financial objectives are high but are pleased to date by the interest this enterprise has garnered. A consistent commentary has been “this recognition and work is long overdue and necessary”.