Nestled beside city staff buildings, where Lamon and Ann streets meet, is a local treasure trove of history. Cross Creek Cemetery #2 is a municipal cemetery owned and primarily maintained by the city since the 1870s.
It is the second oldest of the five sections of Cross Creek Cemetery. The plots are privately owned by the families whose loved ones call the cemetery home. Though flanked by modern roadways, the cemetery has a marked quintessential southern feel.
Trees draped in Spanish moss shade stones bearing the names of families also reflected through business names, buildings and street signs across Fayetteville.
Cross Creek Cemetery #2 captures a unique part of Fayetteville’s history. The cemetery comprises three prominent late 19th and early 20th-century communities. Brookside is representative of Fayetteville’s flourishing affluent African Americans.
The “old” Beth Israel cemetery was donated to the local Jewish community by the city and is the final resting place of merchants, among others, spanning the late 19th century to the 1970s.
The area of the cemetery abutting Ann Street is the burial site of prominent white Fayettevillians. While burial plots in this area of the municipal cemetery have long since been wholly purchased, empty spaces in those plots are still being filled by the occasional modern burial.
Each community is represented in the same broader cemetery, separated by choice or discrimination, reflecting societal norms in the late 19th to early 20th century.
Local historians from the Fayetteville History Museum invite the public to join them on Fridays, October 20 and 27, to travel through the cemetery and learn all about the individuals buried in Cross Creek #2’s storied plots.
Attendees can expect to join tour guides on a walk that spans the cemetery, meeting cabinet maker and undertaker Silas Sheetz, educator, leader and statesman E.E. Smith, and Jewish merchant Jacob Stein, to name a few.
In addition to meeting Fayetteville’s past citizens, tour-goers can expect to learn about the cemetery’s vast array of art and symbolism.
Mother nature and human activity have caused significant damage to the cemetery, and the Fayetteville History Museum staff see these tours as an opportunity to educate and engage the public on how the community can help protect and support this unique historic space.
“We are excited to offer the public an opportunity to appreciate these unique spaces and hope that through programs, like our cemetery tours, we will inspire people to help care for them and feel invested in their care,” Fayetteville Historic Properties Manager Heidi Bleazey said.
During the final tour on October 27, museum staff are encouraging attendees to join them dressed for the season in costume for a special seasonal fact-or-treat tour. Participants can fact-or-treat for Halloween goodies by answering historic true or false prompts.
The Fayetteville History Museum and the Cross Creek Cemetery #2 tours are open and free to the public. The tours are recommended for individuals ten years and older.
To attend a tour, participants need only meet at the corner of Ann and Lamon Street near the Cross Creek Cemetery #2 sign at noon on any remaining Friday in October. No registration is necessary for this event.
“With the noon start, we hope to capture the lunch crowd,” Bleazey explained.
The tours will run for approximately an hour and a half. Those attending are encouraged to wear comfortable walking shoes and dress for the day’s weather forecast.
The Fayetteville History Museum is located at 325 Franklin Street and is open Tuesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For any additional information, museum staff can be reached by calling 910-433-1457.