Old Haas Cemetery:
A Preservation Challenge

The Haas Church preceded many other Lutheran and Reformed churches in Catawba County. An acre and half was deeded in February, 1834 by George Haas to trustees George A. Ikerd and David Haas for a church, school and cemetery. Some people had already been buried on the property by that time. Two congregations, Reformed (Presbyterian) and Lutheran built the church and held alternate meetings as a Union church. The evidence is that St. James was built because of the inaccessibility of Haas Church.

For all practical purposes, communicants of Haas Church later joined St. James Lutheran Church which was founded about 1867. Reformed members transferred their membership to Grace Church (Reformed) in Newton along with some members from Old St. Paul's Lutheran Reformed. The last record of Communion at Haas Church was Sept. 23, 1866. Practically all the names of communicants on the last record of Haas Church appears on the first record at St. James. The same old book that was used at Haas Church was continued at St. James. The last date recorded was Mar. 18, 1884.

While the physical remains of the church has long since ceased to exist, the cemetery remains.

From State Highway 16, South of Newton, the cemetery can be found off Prison Camp Road, at the former community of "Duan." Behind the old Sigmon Dairy, at a house with two imposing antebellum pillars, lies a cow pasture. In the distance one can see a fenced in area containing the cemetery.

The earliest burial may have taken place before 1776; the latest in 1946. As for noted interments, there are many, including many Confederate soldiers.

  • Isaac Wise, a Revolutionary War patriot, supposedly hanged by the Loyalists for being a spy (a memorial stone dedicate to him was erected by the Catawba County Historical Association during the 1950's.)

  • Simon Haas, Catawba County pioneer, b. 1726, in Germany; d. 1779
  • Elias Smyre, son of the pioneer, John Schomeir, Confederate soldier and father of three Confederate soldiers, including two buried alongside him.
  • Joshua Wilson (1797-1862) founder of Catawba County and state legislator. He was murdered by his son-in-law, Wilson England.

  • Over 180 graves, including many pioneer families are buried in this small plot of overgrown land.

During the 1990's an attempt was made by the Catawba County Historical Association to encompass this historic cemetery in its program to protect and preserve local historic sites. Very few municipalities have the funds to do all that is required to restore and maintain those significant historic treasures. Sometimes it is imcumbent upon those who advocate preservation to provide the necessary funds. The Catawba County Historical Association has gone the "second mile" in doing its part. Until convenient access to this site is made and additional funds are available, this historic sitee will remain in a state of limbo.

For a Clarification of Laws pertaining to cemeteries
in North Carolina, please visit the
North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources
web page



--Derick S. Hartshorn

Member Assn. for Gravestone Studies

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Derick S. Hartshorn - 2008
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