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Cemeteries & Burying Grounds
of Washington County

From the largest plantation estates, to the most humble of farmsteads, there is one great equalizer- the inevitable passing of every soul from this life to eternity. In rural areas, the evidence of this journey is illustrated by both the family graveyard and the picturesque country churchyard, in addition to larger municipal cemeteries associated with towns and more urban areas. A common feature punctuating the vast cultivated eastern North Carolina landscape is the family graveyard. In an area with a very deep rural agrarian past, family plots were often the norm rather than the exception. A clue to the location of these plots is often the sharp spire of an evergreen tree, most frequently a cedar, rising from the middle of a cultivated field. In the nineteenth century, evergreen trees represented eternal life and were a requisite part of burying-ground landscapes, both large and small.

From soaring monolithic monuments, to simple weathered wooden crosses and plain unmarked stones, the markers in burial grounds vary as widely as the persons resting there, from the wealthiest to the impoverished; from the African-American slave to the Civil War soldier, each has a unique and personal story to tell. It is the story of our history, families, relationships, causes and legacies. Today, these evergreen- shaded gardens of stone and iron are becoming research libraries for those searching for their roots, connecting the dots between generations in a quest for continuity. Genealogy has become one of the most popular pursuits of our day, and interestingly enough, the weathered grave markers are often the most tangible visible sign of one’s ancestral past.

Though modern cemeteries certainly serve their purpose well, the romance and artistry of elaborate grave monuments, ornate wrought iron and architecturally unique crypts continue to capture our imagination, and beckon us to stop, get out of the car and spend a few minutes wandering through the serenity of the old graveyard, reading the tombstones and noting the family connections, dates, and interesting facts and quotes that once were part of many epitaphs. Washington County is home to several historically notable churchyards, most of which are easily accessible to visitors, including Grace Episcopal, Plymouth United Methodist, St. David’s Episcopal, and others noted on the map.

Equally interesting and perhaps more personal, is the vignette of an old farmstead on a local country highway; a still-proud old home whose empty windows are like eyes dim with age, standing watch over the final resting place of the family who once lived, worked, played, rejoiced at births and sorrowed at deaths within the walls of the sturdy farmhouse. The two now watch each other across an old field and once-manicured lawn, the old home slowly slipping into decay, and the once-tidy family resting place now overgrown, but still hoping to be noticed. It is a touching portrait of the passing of time and generations, to the cycle of life and death. The stone markers bear tangible witness to the fact that someone indeed existed, and that someone cared to erect a visible monument to their memory.

Washington County is fortunate to have an active genealogical society, and has a four-volume catalogue of all known gravesites in the County, including public and private. Though it is not practical to publish the entire list on this site, we have included a catalogue of known cemeteries, sorted alphabetically.

More information is available at the Pettigrew Regional Library in Plymouth, or by contacting the Washington County Genealogical Society at PO Box 567, Plymouth, NC 27962.

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Alphabetical list of Washington County NC Cemeteries (pdf file)