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Volunteers help locate, map 136 burials on Fort Bragg training land

Hazel Muse While most teenagers are spending their free time on popular social media apps, John McAllister Jr. spent 10 weekends of his spare time clearing and marking a long forgotten cemetery on Fort Bragg training lands.

“I felt that this was something that would be important to help preserve the history of the area,” said McAllister. “It seemed like a task that no one else was willing or able to take on.”

McAllister and members of Boy Scout Troop 746 worked together to clean and remap unmarked burials at Muse Cemetery on Camp Mackall during free weekends between February and September of 2021. The overgrown cemetery had only seven known graves, marked with headstones dated between 1912 through 1928. While raking, burning and leaf-blowing to expose the land, the team of volunteers was able to expose burial pits, known because of the linear east to west depressions, some in rows, of 136 new, unmarked grave locations. Armed with just GPS and colored pinflags, they numbered and mapped out the cemetery – updating Fort Bragg’s cemetery map from seven to 143 burials. The troop also cleaned the headstones, installed a new gate and repaired perimeter fencing and posts.

With the help of the Fort Bragg’s Wildlife Branch, the pinflags were replaced with recycled metal posts and then numbered with permanent metal signage for the burials in January of 2022. To increase the protection of the site during controlled burnings or possible wildfires, the Fort Bragg Forestry Branch created a new firebreak on the perimeter of the cemetery.

The project significantly helped alleviate the strain on Fort Bragg’s Cultural Resources Program’s budget by helping them stay in compliance with North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office (NCSHPO) regulations, explained McAllister. It also helped with Federal and Army regulations regarding the maintenance of historic cemeteries on Federal land.

The original 884 acres of land surrounding the cemetery was purchased as part of the Whitehurst Tract in 1985 by the Army as a buffer to Camp Mackall, a large training area for Special Operations and many other units. The cemetery sits on a boundary road between Moore and Hoke counties, near the community of Addor, located just to the north.
The land, of the now hallowed ground, once belonged to sympathizer, John A. Campbell. In a 1913 deed, Campbell granted the two-acre site to three African-American Churches (one church was the Poplar Springs Baptist Church, still in existence today) in the area to use as their graveyard.

The three churches appear to have used Muse Cemetery as a graveyard around the 1913 to 1928 era. The Fort Bragg Cultural Resources Management Program plans to conduct more research to determine the families buried here, the local community and why the graves are unmarked.

According to the earliest known grave marker, Hazel Muse was buried in 1912. Muse died at age six and the 2-acre cemetery is named for her.

Once the brush was removed from the cemetery, the volunteers discovered that at least 20-30 burial pits were marked with local sandstone, a common headstone seen at other Fort Bragg cemeteries and used when “store-bought” markers could not be afforded. Four graves were marked with temporary metal tags with patent dates but no names. Other burial pits appeared to have no markers or they were removed, deteriorated, burned or stolen - no one can say at this point, explained Dr. Linda F. Carnes-McNaughton, RPA, Program Archaeologist and Curator, Fort Bragg Cultural Resources Program.

The site was last cleared in 1996. The standing headstones are surprisingly well-preserved and have a new “shine” to them thanks to the volunteers of Troop 746.
At least two of the readable markers show a 1918/1919 date, which suggests these deaths occurred during the 1918-1920 influenza epidemic. The graveyard is assumed to be a possible pandemic burial place that may have been hastily used, but no one knows for sure - yet.

“I hope that the fact that we identified so many more graves in the Muse cemetery than anyone thought were there will spur historians to look more closely at their records for the area to help determine how important the Muse cemetery was for previous generations,” McAllister said.

Carnes-McNaughton hopes that the project will generate interest and possible descendants to come forward to learn more about the known names that are laid to rest at Muse Cemetery, and possibly more about those who are unnamed.

Descendants of the occupants may be currently living in the surrounding counties of Fort Bragg and do not know that their ancestors are buried on what is now a portion of the military installation.

“Cemeteries are as much a part of the living communities in an area as they were when they were used,” said Carnes-McNaughton. “Engaging the descendants is how we gain more knowledge and keep the past present.”

NOTE: If upon reading this feature you realize the possibility of being a descendant or know someone who might be a descendant of one of the seven known buried at Muse Cemetery, please contact the Cultural Resources Management Program at, 910-396-6680. The seven known grave markers are:
Marker 1. S. V. CORE, Sept. 9, 1873 – Jan. 14, 1919
Marker 2. SARAH CORE, Aug. 1, 1865 – Aug. 20, 1915
Marker 7. ABAHARAM L. CLARK, Jan. 30, 1894 – May 30, 1914
Marker 20. HAZEL MUSE, Feb. 28, 1906 – Feb. 8, 1912
Marker 21. MARY ANN, WIFE OF D.A. BLUE, Sept. 1876 – Apr. 29, 1914, AGED 38 YEARS
Marker 30. ELLER, WIFE OF S.F. FERRELL, Mar. 1, 1855 – Aug. 3, 1918
Marker 33. MARTHA, WIFE OF FRED SHIPMAN, DIED July 15, 1928, AGE 26 YRS


Photo Credit: Dr. Linda Carnes-McNaughton, Fort Bragg Archaeologist and Curator, cleans around Hazel Muse's headstone, the first known burial at Muse Cemetery located on Camp Mackall, Feb. 16. (Photo by Sharilyn Wells,Fort Bragg Public Affairs Office.)

Hope Mills Mayor says YMCA raised close to $2M to build aquatic center

Hope Mills Partnerships with Cumberland County and the YMCA will make an aquatic center possible in Hope Mills, according to the town's board of commissioners.

Hope Mills Commissioners met with the Cumberland County financial committee members, county commissioners, and the Cumberland County Board of Education to discuss and approve a partnership to build the aquatic center. All of the commissioners and committee members unanimously approved the partnership to help bring the aquatic center to Hope Mills.

"The YMCA as of today raised close to 2 million dollars to build a structure," said Mayor Jackie Warner. "So it's on and we're looking at about 18 months from when we can break ground. We can't break ground until we raise about 2.5 to 3 million dollars, but it's looking like that's going to happen."

The majority of the meeting was spent in closed session to hear reports on "investigations of alleged criminal conduct.’’

Cumberland County Board focuses on construction of multi-purpose event center

CCA Arts Center Cumberland County came one step closer on Monday to getting construction on a multi-purpose event center started.

The Board of Commissioners voted in the form of a resolution to establish a capital project budget for the center, and in an affiliated motion to hire a firm to represent the county in all its duties and responsibilities in getting the more than $80 million center built.

The county voted to contract with MBP Carolinas for “owner’s representative services” for $2.2 million. A Board of Commissioners’ committee, earlier this year recommended contracting with MBP Carolinas for owner’s representation services, but the county wanted to strengthen some of the agreements within the proposed contract before voting to accept the contract at today’s meeting.

County Manager Amy Cannon told the board that having an owner’s representative is a new approach to government construction and should speed up the construction of the facility. She made those comments after Commissioner Michael Boose complained that government construction projects take too long to complete. The multi-event center is due for completion in the fall of 2025.

As an owner’s representative, MBP Carolinas will be involved in developing a budget for the project, updating the board and the public on the project, hiring a construction manager and site analysis basically working with the county from inception to completion of the facility, Cannon said.

In other action, the board agreed to sell a number of county-owned properties, some of which were acquired through foreclosure sales.

The board approved the sale of ten parcels for a total of $36,369.85. However, some board members balked after realizing that the sales were well below the actual tax value, which totaled $86,001. The county attorney said the offers and acceptances are in keeping with current county policy. Board member Jimmy Keefe, however, convinced his fellow board members to take off the agenda for approval one parcel of the property consisting of 12 acres adjacent to the Cape Fear River until county staff and board members can more thoroughly review and familiarize themselves with the surplus property sale policy. The proposed sale of the property was for $14,368.98 and had a tax value of $62,000.

Fayetteville man charged for murder of father

Manley St April 4 The Cumberland County Sheriff's Office is investigating what led up to a son allegedly killing his father Monday night.

Deputies arrived at a domestic disturbance along Manley Street on April 4 around 10:46 p.m. Deputies found 56-year-old Jason Albury unresponsive outside of his home. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The victim's son, 32-year-old Brandon Sessoms, had self-inflicted injuries and was transported to Cape Fear Valley Medical Center. He underwent surgery and is now being charged for 2nd Degree Murder. Sessoms has not been booked into the Cumberland County Detention Center at the time of publishing this article.

The circumstances surrounding this homicide are under investigation. If anyone has any information regarding this investigation, please call the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office Homicide Detective Sergeant R. Brinkley at (910) 677-5463 or Crimestoppers at (910) 483-TIPS (8477). Crimestoppers' information may also be submitted electronically by visiting http://fay-nccrimestoppers.org.

Fort Bragg's General Kurilla takes over at US Central Command

Army Gen. Michael "Erik" Kurilla, the commander of XVII Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg, took over the leadership of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) on Friday, April 1 in Tampa.

Kurilla served as the CENTCOM chief of staff from August 2018 to September 2019. He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, with graduate degrees from Regis University in Denver and the National War College in Washington, D.C. He has earned two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star during his military career.

Kurilla was nominated by President Joe Biden in January and was confirmed to take over CENTCOM by Senate in early February. CENTCOM oversees military missions in 21 countries throughout the Middle East, Central Asia and parts of South Asia. For the past 20 years, it has covered the focus of U.S. operations overseas in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III said running Centcom and its mission is one of the most demanding jobs in the Defense Department. 

"This region is where we protect waterways so that global commerce can flow. It is where we fight terrorists who threaten our citizens, and it is where we work with our partners to confront instability from Iran and its proxies," Austin said. "Centcom is central to our security, it is central to our readiness and it is central to our mission." 

Kurilla replaces the outgoing CENTCOM leader, U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Kenneth "Frank" McKenzie Jr. McKenzie was responsible for managing the U.S. military exit from Afghanistan.

"I can't think of anybody better qualified to lead Centcom's next chapter than Eric Kurilla," McKenzie said. "He's no stranger to the Centcom AOR. He's no stranger to the headquarters." 

Kurilla will lead more than 44,000 military service and family members overseas, and roughly 5,000 personnel in Tampa at headquarters at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, in ongoing operations to deter threats from Iran and defeat ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

Lt. Gen. Christopher Donahue will be the new commander of the 18th Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg while Maj. Gen. Christopher Laneve will take over the command of the 82nd Airborne Division.

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