Mode-McEntire Community Cemetery

A major project was recently undertaken to rescue an abandoned Cleveland County cemetery. The scope and magnitude of this project should serve as a guide for any and all who hope to preserve any of the hundreds of threatened cemeteries in North Carolina, and for that matter, across the entire country. Those responsible for the successful completion of this project are Scott Wesson [Kernersville, NC] and Lynn Wesson [Hillsborough, NC] [3rd great grandchildren of William McEntire and second wife Mary Collins Bartee McEntire]

Funding for the restoration was collected from many dedicated and supportive descendants of some of those buried in the cemetery. The following people contributed generously, making the project possible: Marie W. Bost, Gloria Wesson Bridges, Joe Gold, Lavinia McEntire Henderson, Joan B. Hudson, Joe & Joan Hunt, Margaret Jay, Frank M. Lattimore, Jimmy McEntire, Donald G. Mode, Sharon Noyes, Miles Philbeck, David & Kay Powell, Rachel Sullivan, Angi Wesson, Lynn Wesson, Scott & Sonjia Wesson. In addition, anonymous donations were received during the Family Day held in May 2013 at the cemetery site. A special thanks and recognition are given to Sharon Noyes who made many descendants aware through her Mode family website.


 This cemetery, located off Hwy. 226 south of Polkville, on Elliott Farm Road, was hidden in the woods for years.  An unfortunate logging event in fall of 2009 led to desecration of this burial ground.  We were shown this place in October, 2012, by our distant cousins Kay McEntire Powell and her husband David Powell.  Since that time, a massive restoration effort, spearheaded by Scott Wesson, has been in progress, and has finally led to the cemetery being restored to a respectful place for those who rest here.  Further history of this cemetery and surrounding land and families that lived in the area over decades is included after the survey below.

On June 15, 2013, after the final day of work on the cemetery, we surveyed the cemetery.  Here is that survey.  Spaces and unmarked graves were located by probing.   Some severely broken fieldstones that could not be reset were replaced with other fieldstones.  Graves with no fieldstones were left that way.  All footstones were field rock unless otherwise indicated.  At end of the survey, exact transcriptions of marked stones are listed. In total, 144 graves were identified.  On October 5, 2013, family gathered for the placement of a cenotaph near the northwest corner naming the Mode-McEntire Community Cemetery.  This marker does not appear on the plat layout.

The rows of the cemetery run in a north-south direction; the graves face the west.  The survey starts in the northwest corner of the graveyard, thus the first row is the row on the west of the cemetery and the last row is the row on the east of the cemetery.  Some of the rows are not straight and angle westward at certain places.  See the accompanying drawing to understand the layout.

Directions to the cemetery:  The actual address of the cemetery is 129 Elliott Farm Road, Shelby.  Travelling north several miles on Hwy 226 out of Shelby, pass Yates Rd. as it veers off to right. Then travel a mere 200/300 yards and turn left onto Elliott Farm Rd.  Travelling south out of Polkville a few miles on Hwy226, pass Frank Grigg Rd on left, then Ferndale Rd. on the right, then pass eight houses on right side of road, then take right onto Elliott Farm Rd. just below eighth house. Follow Elliott Farm Rd. about 1/10th of a mile, passing one house on left, and cemetery is on left.  Note that Elliott Farm Rd. is an unmarked unpaved road. 

Row 1 

Fieldstone *1   

Fieldstone

Fieldstone

Fieldstone

Fieldstone

Space

Fieldstone

Unmarked grave

Fieldstone

 

Row 2

Fieldstone

Fieldstone

Fieldstone with footstone

Space

Space

Fieldstone

Unmarked grave

Fieldstone

Fieldstone with footstone

Fieldstone with footstone

Fieldstone with footstone

Fieldstone

Fieldstone with footstone

 

Row 3

Space

Space

Space

Space

Space

Space

Space

Space

Fieldstone

Fieldstone

Fieldstone

Fieldstone

Fieldstone

 

Row 4

Fieldstone

Space

Fieldstone

Fieldstone

Fieldstone

Fieldstone

Fieldstone

Space

Fieldstone

Fieldstone

 

Row 5

Fieldstone

Fieldstone

Fieldstone

Fieldstone

Fieldstone

Fieldstone with footstone

Fieldstone with footstone

William McEntire CSA marker
3*

Grave with a footstone but no fieldstone

Space

Elizabeth C. Hoard gravestone with marked footstone [ECH] 6*

Fieldstone

Mary An Williamson with footstone 5*

Nancy Williamson with footstone 4*

Fieldstone with footstone 2*

Grave with a footstone but no fieldstone

Fieldstone

Fieldstone with footstone

 

Row 6

Fieldstone

Fieldstone

Fieldstone

Selah Moode 7*

Fieldstone

Fieldstone

Space

Fieldstone

Unmarked grave

Fieldstone

Fieldstone

Space

Space

Fieldstone

Fieldstone

 

Row 7

Space

Space

Fieldstone

Fieldstone

Fieldstone with footstone

Fieldstone

Fieldstone with footstone

Grave with footstone but no fieldstone

Fieldstone

Fieldstone with footstone

Grave with footstone but no fieldstone

Fieldstone

Fieldstone

Fieldstone

Fieldstone with marked footstone [MW] 8*

Fieldstone with marked footstone [SW] 9*

Fieldstone

Fieldstone

Fieldstone

Fieldstone

 

Row 8

Fieldstone

Unmarked grave

Fieldstone

Fieldstone

Fieldstone

Fieldstone

Fieldstone with footstone

Fieldstone

Fieldstone

Space

Fieldstone

Fieldstone

Fieldstone

Fieldstone

Fieldstone

Fieldstone

Fieldstone

Space

Space

Unmarked grave

Fieldstone

Fieldstone

Fieldstone

 

Row 9

Fieldstone

Space

Fieldstone

Fieldstone

Fieldstone

Fieldstone

Fieldstone

Fieldstone

Fieldstone

Fieldstone

Fieldstone

Fieldstone

Fieldstone

Fieldstone

Unmarked grave

Unmarked grave

Unmarked grave

Unmarked grave

Fieldstone

 

Row 10

Space

Space

Space

Space

Space

Space

Fieldstone

Space

Fieldstone

Fieldstone

Fieldstone

Fieldstone

Unmarked grave

Fieldstone

Space

Unmarked grave

Fieldstone

Unmarked grave

Unmarked grave

Unmarked grave

Fieldstone

 

Row 11

Space

Space

Space

Space

Space

Space

Fieldstone

Unmarked grave

Fieldstone

Unmarked grave

Unmarked grave

Fieldstone

Fieldstone

Unmarked grave

Fieldstone

Fieldstone

Unmarked grave

Fieldstone

Unmarked grave

 

 

Key to Stones and Transcriptions

1]* This is site of Annie White Mode Powell’s grave; witnesses who saw the graveyard before the logging recall seeing her grave at this site before the logging; a fieldstone was placed here during the restoration to mark the site.

2]**Archibald “Baldy” Williamson’s grave.  Descendants of the Williamsons reported in an article in the Cleveland County Heritage Book Volume 2 that he was buried beside his wife Nancy Crowder Williamson after his death on August 15, 1875, in a grave marked with a fieldstone.  Note that this reference is the only mention of this cemetery we have found in our research. 

3]William McEntire—the CSA memorial stone was placed in the location where Kay McEntire Powell remembers seeing the William McEntire’s headstone when she was there sometime before the logging occurred.  Unfortunately, no fragment of the original stone remains.  William McEntire was first married to Rebecca Mode, who died in the 1850s, and second to Mary Collins Bartee, who died 7/27/1884.  They are believed to be buried in this cemetery, along with 2 children of Rebecca and William [Esther R. McEntire born 6/1850, died before 1860, and Mary Roxanna McEntire Philips, born about 1846 and died after 1880,widow of Noah Philips, who died in the Civil War] and one child of Mary and William McEntire [4 month old Ransom McEntire, born and died in mid-1860s]. 

William McEntire's Confederate war record from the NC State Archives reads as follows: "McINTIRE, WILLIAM, Private, Company I, 38th Regiment, NC Troops. Born in Rutherford or Cleveland, County and resided in Cleveland County where he was by occupation a farmer prior to enlisting in Cleveland County at age 42, November 21, 1861. Present or accounted for until discharged on December 6, 1862, under the provisions of the Conscription Act."

The CSA monument has the Confederate/Southern Cross at the top and reads:                                               

                                                     
                                           William McEntire
                                          Co.  I  38  NC  INF
                                                     CSA
                                               1819 - 1877

4]Nancy Williamson—wife of Archibald Williamson

                                           In memory  of
                                        Nancy  Williamson
                                     died  Aug.  19th   1853
                                Aged  58  years &  7  months

 5] Mary An Williamson—daughter of Archibald and Nancy Williamson.  There appears to be a small cross incised on the stone above the word “In.”  Transcription is exactly how the stone is incised.

                                                                  
                                                  In
                                            memory  of
                                      Mary  An  William
                                       son   Who  died
                                     March  5th   1845
                                    Aged  6  years    10
                                              months

6] Elizabeth C. Hoard—daughter of Archibald and Nancy Williamson, first wife of Richard M. Hord.  She died in 1859, and is listed on the 1860 Federal Mortality Census as dying of typhoid fever.  She and Richard had one son, Francis E. “Frank” Hord.  This stone was leaning against a tree and the footstone was nearby.  They were reset in the line with the other Williamsons.  The transcription is exactly as the stone was incised.  Footstone was incised with E C H.  [Husband Richard remarried twice, had many other children, and is buried at Pleasant Grove Methodist Church in Lincolnton, NC.]

                                      In  memory  of
                                  Elizabeth  C. Hoard
                                   who  died    July  1
                                 1859  aged  33  years

                                My debt to mann i have paid
                                      Dow  to  mortality
                               Intered  hear  my  body  lies
                                Until  the Judgement  day

7] Selah Moode—believed to be the daughter of William M. Mode and wife Mary, granddaughter of William and Sarah Parker Mode.  Stone as incised:

                                       IN
                                 memory  of
                              Selah  Moode
                           died  August   1845
                            In  her   8th   year

8] A footstone incised with M W.  The headstone of this grave was a fieldstone.  This is believed to be the grave of Milton L. Williamson, son of Baldy and Nancy Williamson, husband of Rachel Nowlin Williamson.  He died between 1865 and 1870.

 9] A footstone incised with S W.  The headstone of this grave was a fieldstone.  This may be the son of Milton and Rachel Williamson, Solon E. Williamson.

Note:  There are several people who are witnesses to stones that are no longer there.  These include Kay McEntire Powell and her husband David Powell, who were told about the cemetery a number of years ago and visited it, seeing the William McEntire and Annie Powell stones.  Additionally, a surveyor [Matt Cornwell] who is interested in old cemeteries was told of this one and visited it briefly in 2/2008.  He took a few photos, including photos of the Selah Moode, Nancy Williamson, Mary An Williamson, and Elizabeth C. Hoard stones, and also a photo of another stone no longer there.  That stone appeared very old and had fancy shell-like carving at the curved top.  The photo of the stone shows some writing, but it is not legible.  Also, reports of the current owner of land adjacent to the land where the cemetery lies state that there were several other stones in the cemetery before the logging that are no longer there, including a “fine military marker.” Before the logging occurred, that military marker was noted by this landowner to be missing.  It is believed, based upon research into military markers ordered early on in Cleveland County, to have been a CSA marker for Benjamin N. Powell.

 History of the Cemetery, surrounding land, and families who lived nearby over the decades:

Who were the 134 other people in the Mode-McEntire Community Cemetery whose graves are unmarked or marked with only fieldstones/footstones?  In an effort to help determine these burials the following information may be useful to those interested and those who may be researching family who lived in the surrounding area during the late 1700s to mid-1880s period. To one who has studied the history of the area and to those who have researched and visited historic graveyards, the use of fieldstones – and so many of them – suggests many of the burials took place in the earlier life and times of these historic grounds. Looking at older aerial views, I note that the road leading down to the cemetery used to come in more from the southeast and turned up by the east side of the grounds, verses the newer cut-in road coming in directly from the upper eastern side.

 When visiting the graveyard, or studying the sketch of burials, one may note that the graves seem to be laid out in sections.  For example, in one area of the graveyard, many of the graves have footstones, while in other areas, few footstones exist.  Some rows are straight and then suddenly veer southwest and resume a straight line.  One small area seems to contain several very small graves, perhaps an area where children were buried.  Overall, this segmented appearance leads one to speculate as to whether these various areas were sections that were apportioned to separate families, or perhaps segments that contain burials which occurred at different times in the history of the graveyard.   Notice also that the north east corner of the knoll contains no graves. Was this area reserved as a brush arbor or meeting place site, or was this an area that was designated for a family which moved?  Did a structure sit here? 

 It is interesting to note the fieldstones in the cemetery – and some appear so very old. A number of the markers are true field stones and have the orangey-brownish coloration found in the rocks of surrounding farm fields. A few of these are rather large as well. After investigating the waters of Jumping Branch, the stream down below the graveyard, it looks as if many of the markers were retrieved from the abundant, beautiful stones in this nearby waterway. They have a grey-brown look and many are rather smooth. One marker has been cut very cleanly to a point at the top. The bottom of one long lost marker was located under the surface and it appeared to be slate about an inch thick. There are also a very few that are mica schist – a metamorphic rock whose mica crystals produce a sparkly, colorful appearance

 The land on which the graveyard appears to lie was first granted by the State of NC to James Henderson in 1787. Henderson lived in nearby Lincoln County, NC and it does not appear that he ever lived on the grant.  In 1794 he sold it to Joseph Gregory, whom, it is known, lived not too far south of the land. Then in 1796 William Mode purchased the property. It remained in the Mode family into the 1860s and it is firmly believed that William Mode, his wife Nancy, their sons Isaac and Samuel, and many more Modes were buried here. However, being so centrally located along the McEntire line, and later in the hands of others, it readily became a community burial ground – and quite possibly, a meeting place for worship. While it is believed the cemetery lies just inside the eastern line of the William Mode tract, there is the early John McEntire tract whose adjoining line appears to run just by, if not through, the cemetery. Obviously, the cemetery is centrally located and oddly, in all the deeds studied – from the first land grants to beyond the time of the final burials in the 1880s, the graveyard is not mentioned.  It is believed by some that in addition to the early Mode burials, many of the early McEntires, Deadmans and Collins, among others of the area, are interred here as well.

It is certainly speculative to try and outline who might be buried in the Mode-McEntire Community Cemetery. It truly is ‘An Historic Brushy Creek Graveyard” and the following information is given to assist the researcher. It reflects only the late 1700s to mid-1880s time period of the owners of the cemetery property, adjoining land owners, general families of the immediate area and associated families. Please use this information for reference only.

 The Mode family owned the 200 acre property from 1796 to the 1860s. Richard M. Hord purchased the southeast 50 acres in 1862 where the cemetery is, and sold it many years later. Adjoining the 200 acres along the line where the cemetery lies was the original John McEntire land grant. This land was sold to Mary Collins in the very early 1800s, then partially to the Deadmans, and eventually made it into the hands of William Weathers by the mid-1820s. To summarize the early peoples of the immediate area during the 1820s era we have: Mode, McEntire, Collins, Deadman, Bailey, Nowlin, White, Bolton, Wilson, Harden, Moore, Camp, Weathers, Cornwell & others.

 By the 1840s we find close by the Modes & McEntires, the families of Horn, Martin, Proctor, Crowder, Weathers, Price & others. Within a few years, we note in the 1850s additionally Elliott, Simmons, Eskridge, Collins, Horn, Poston, Parker, Williamson & others. 

 As we move through the mid-1840s to 1860s we find some of the abovementioned families and, in addition, Williamson, Covington, Powell & others.

 Using census records and the Kyzer’s 1886 map of the area and its residents, we find that the following families were living around the immediate area – some for only a short period, but many for generations. We find numerous associations through marriages and farming & business interactions – not to mention associations due to Civil War times. Beam, Cabiness, Conner, Covington, Dickson, Elliott, Eskridge, Gardner, Glasgow, Goforth, Gold, Green, Grigg, Hamrick, Hord, Mauney, McEntire, Mode, Parker, Philbeck, Poston, Powell, Prior, Proctor, Pruett, Ramsey, Simmons, Weathers, White & Williamson, among others.

This outline does not claim that the abovementioned surnames are all the families of the area for the time period being studied – there were many more families of the area not mentioned. Nor does this study conclude that they are, or are not, buried in the graveyard. However, the hope is to give an overview of peoples of the immediate area around the graveyard with the speculation that many of them, in fact, were obviously buried there.

Another important observation to be made is that the burials in this cemetery seem to have ended about the time of inception of nearby Union Baptist Church, with its own cemetery, about 1885.

In closing, studying the times and the graves, it appears a number of children were buried in the cemetery. One must also consider that, while many of the area did not have slaves, some did, and they may well lie in the cemetery. Emphasizing one point, it does seem that most of the burials are very old and the feeling is that many of the burials took place during the early part of the 1800s.

This ‘found’ and ‘restored’ cemetery is full of history – and mystery. Hopefully, many will visit their ancestor’s final resting place at this site. It is the hope of many that, as more researchers delve into this area of study, more documents will be uncovered that may solve some of the mystery and intrigue of this wonderful, old resting ground.  At the present time, we are conducting an exhaustive search and mapping of the deeds of this immediate area from the earliest land grants to the early 1900s.


MAP OF THE CEMETERY

BEFORE AND AFTER


We would welcome any contact from anyone with history of this cemetery.

 Lynn E Wesson <lynnwess@earthlink.net>
 


NORTH CAROLINA has enacted legislation to protect cemeteries.

It can be a Class I felony to disturb an existing cemetery.

Please visit the site for North Carolina
Laws and Statutes Regarding Cemeteries


 

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Derick S. Hartshorn - 2013