WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — From Bellamy to MacRae, Wilmington’s most influential men may be gone, but their names are far from forgotten. You’ll see them all over town.
To find the men, you’ll have to dig a little deeper, but you won’t have to go far. Most of them are in one place: Oakdale Cemetery
Established in the 1850’s, the cemetery started with 65 acres.
6-year-old Annie DeRosset was the first person buried on the grounds.
Since then, over 30,000 people have been laid to rest there.
In Oakdale you’ll find senators, congressmen, yellow fever victims, and soldiers from nearly every conflict America has ever seen.
Now up to 95 acres, Superintendent Eric Kozen says the cemetery still buries an average of 100 people a year.
Oakdale, however, is more than a cemetery. Kozen calls it a garden and park.
“Back in the 1800’s there were no parks, so people really came in here for those recreational activities, just to kind of get away from the city,” he says. “The sights, the smells, and so forth. Just to enjoy being with nature.”
While I never thought I’d adventure to a cemetery, it didn’t take long for me to see Oakdale’s charm.
In mid-October, with the Spanish moss, changing leaves and towering Oak Trees, Oakdale’s paths are perfect for a midday stroll.
Even better? You’re literally walking through history.
Before you go, make sure to check out the cemetery’s website for a self guided tour. Oakdale even offers several guided tours throughout the year.