Cedar Grove Cemetery Headstone Vandalism — Thoughts and Video Tour

Cedar Grove Cemetery
Cedar Grove Cemetery (photo by Wendy Card)

On Thursday, April 28, 2022, Dean Joyner of Neuse Memorial of New Bern and Joyner Memorial of Wilson did a walk-through with us of the vandalized grave markers. Kari Greene Warren, the interim Director of New Bern Parks & Recreation, joined us as well as we extended an invitation to the Earl of Craven Questers and two of their members were there.

The Joyner family have been in business for over eighty years and did a major restoration project in Cedar Grove Cemetery in 1983. They continue to this day to assist families in New Bern and all over ENC with their grave memorial needs. They are doing a quote for the project which should be available in the next couple of weeks or so. It will be itemized by plot number for those who would like to donate for a specific family. Visit their website.

With Dean Joyner’s assistance, we identified another grave marker that was vandalized. It is William Henry Pettipher, Sr. (1827-1889) which is located in Plot 624. He, his wife Catherine, and their family are noted as being Free Blacks who lived in New Bern. They were members of Christ Episcopal Church. We have updated his memorial on FindAGrave showing the damage.

We appreciate and thank the following people for stepping forward to offer their assistance. Also, several other people have indicated that they would like to assist when we have more info about the cost of repairs.

City Manager Foster Hughes said that the City of New Bern has some funds available for the project. They are also reaching out to Michael Verville of Verville Preservation who has done some grave marker restoration in Cedar Grove, but it is understood that he is not available until about December 2022.

New Bern Alderman Sabrina Bengel has allocated $500 of her $1,000 Alderman Discretionary Funds for Non-Profits to be given to the Earl of Craven Questers for the specific use for the vandalized graves project. Each Alderperson is given $1,000 per year to be used for local New Bern Non-Profits as they choose.

Also, a descendant of the Reuben G. Smith Family has indicated that she will donate a portion to assist with repairing the Miss Ina Bertha Bright grave marker cross which is located in Plot 858.

As we all know, Cedar Grove Cemetery holds a special place in the hearts of the families whose loved ones are resting there and to many other people in the New Bern area. As Miss Janet J. Latham, a native Newbernian and a noted artist who will turn 96 next month, once said, Cedar Grove is our wonderful outdoor art and history museum.

There are several groups who have an interest in the care and protection of Cedar Grove.

  • The Family and Friends of those who are resting who now number over 9,200 souls from the 1700s to the present.
  • The City of New Bern that owns and maintains Cedar Grove via the Department of Parks and Recreation.
  • The Earl of Craven Questers who have raised about $100k for the restoration and preservation of Cedar Grove as well as offering tours since their inception almost twenty years ago.
  • The Family History Society of Eastern North Carolina that has freely contributed their research for many years to assist in identifying those resting in Cedar Grove and other cemeteries in ENC by freely sharing obituaries and other historic info via FindAGrave and other online resources.
  • The FindAGrave Research Community that has freely donated their time taking photos as well as adding and updating memorials to Cedar Grove. Without them, we would not have had many of the before photos.
  • The Frederick Harget Sons of Confederate Veterans who have freely assisted in the identification and restoration of the graves of veterans in Cedar Grove and also of the U. S. Colored Troops and other veterans in Greenwood Cemetery. They have also assisted the Questers in on-going cleanup projects in Cedar Grove for several years.
  • The Kellenberger Room at the New Bern Craven County Public Library has been an excellent resource of info about Cedar Grove and all of New Bern. Their Obituary Index of over 180k obituaries from 1751 to Present has proven invaluable in identifying those resting in Cedar Grove and other cemeteries especially those who do not have grave markers.
  • The New Bern Historical Society uses Cedar Grove Cemetery for their tours including the popular Ghost Walk which brings in $30k to $50k per year for them. It is thought that they donate a small portion for the upkeep of Cedar Grove.

With all of these groups working together as partners we can restore the vandalized graves in Cedar Grove. It would seem that it would be best for the project quotes to come directly to the City of New Bern with the other interested groups copied on it.

Once we have the estimates and decide as a group of partners who will do the work, could the City of New Bern establish a GoFundMe or similar type of page as people are more apt to donate online than writing a check? The above groups could do an email and/or online post to their members asking them to donate, directing them to the City’s GoFundMe page. If some groups or individuals would rather not use GoFundMe, could checks be made payable to the City of New Bern and placed into a special City of New Bern Cemeteries account? It would seem best for all the funds to go directly to the City for this project if possible. Also, donations to the City could be considered tax deductible as allowed by law.

These are just some thoughts about how we all can accomplish this working together. Please feel free to share your thoughts, ideas, and this email with those who are interested.

Cedar Grove Cemetery Vandalism Video

By David French, Family History Society of ENC