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Campers discover local history at Oakdale Cemetery

READ MORE: Campers discover local history at Oakdale Cemetery
WILMINGTON -- The Cape Fear region boasts a wealth of history. Local students are experiencing a hands-on approach to discovering our cultural heritage in a week-long program sponsored by the Lower Cape Fear Historical Society. Thursday "Discover Wilmington" campers explored Oakdale Cemetery and learned about Dr. James Henderson Dixon. Oakdale Cemetery Superintendent Eric Kozen said, "I'm here to tell you a little bit of a story about Dr. Dixon. Dr. Dixon was born here in Wilmington in 1807." By 1841 Dr. Dixon had become very well known in regard to his medical profession. In 1862 in the spring, the town's population at this point in time was close to 10,000 people. "There were also hundreds and hundreds of soldiers that were also in this town and vicinity, getting ready to bear arms for the Civil War," Kozen said. "This vessel had come into port, it had come from Havana, Cuba, and a couple of the gentlemen on board had a fateful disease that was getting ready to afflict this town." That disease was later diagnosed as yellow fever and more than 1,500 cases were reported. Kozen said, "Oakdale Cemetery, where you're in now, was the only cemetery in town that people could be buried in." Even the cemetery superintendent and his entire family died in the epidemic. Kozen said, "They were buried here en-masse and it wasn't until December of 1862 that it was noted that this disease had finally left Wilmington." And what became of dr. Dixon? Kozen said, "[Dixon] helped them as much as he possibly could, but unfortunately, he perished as well." Camper Emily Hatem said, "We're learning about the people that have died and their importance to us, and what they did." "It's fun because I get to learn about history and I get to learn about things that happened long ago," camper Troy Fullwood said. Oakdale Cemetery was established in 1852. Notables buried there include TV news anchor David Brinkley, Lincoln memorial architect Henry Bacon and North Carolina's first elected leader Gov. Dudley. Friday campers explore the world of pirates. MORE INFO: The cemetery was established in 1852 and was ready for burials in 1855 with the first burial being of Annie Derossett, the company's president's daughter in February of 1855. For the past 155 years Oakdale has been a special place dear to the hearts of its citizens in Wilmington. There is a special plot that contains 366 unknown confederate soldiers. The cemetery is still active with burials and lot sales today. A new organization was spun in 2005 in connection with the 150th anniversary called the Friends of Oakdale Cemetery. This group conducts many cultural and educational activities throughout the year. Some of these activities include horse-drawn wagon tours, birding tours, horticultural tours and history tours. Please visit the website for more information on the calendar of events, to see when these are scheduled and admission costs:

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