The most definitive way to identify who is buried in the Green Street Cemetery is by reading the existing markers. The stone for Daisy Robinson (right) was an incredibly significant discovery. She served as a nurse for Davis Hospital in the 1930s and 40s. Black patients were not allowed to stay overnight at Davis, so after surgery they were discharged to the care of Daisy at the "colored branch," which was her home on Garfield Street. We also have a copy of Daisy's death certificate (below), listing tuberculosis as her cause of death, probably contracted from one of her patients. She died in 1947, which is a late burial for this site. It's possible Daisy had already purchased a plot in the cemetery before it filled up. Library staff have also combed through newspaper announcements and obituaries and death certificates to find others who are buried here. The half-acre lot behind the old Davis and Mangum Funeral Home contains more graves, including six stones and over 50 unmarked burials.
On death certificates, researchers focused on the field labeled “burial, cremation, or removal.” The following entries were used to determine that a burial took place at Green Street:
- Colored cemetery
- Local cemetery
- Green Street
- Union Grove
Most entries used the term “colored cemetery” and Green Street was the only city cemetery for African Americans until Belmont opened in 1943. For this reason, it can be assumed that anyone buried in the “colored cemetery” prior to 1943 was buried at Green Street. As early as 1907, the Statesville city directory referred to the cemetery by the name Union Grove. It's possible, although not proven, that emancipated slaves from Union Grove moved into this area to find work, lending to the name, Union Grove Cemetery. It could also be a reference to support of the Union following the Civil War, but again, this is speculation. We are not sure how it earned this name. The 1939 survey conducted by the Works Progress Administration (WPA), a federal cooperative to preserve historical information, referred to this cemetery as Greenwood. It is also listed on a few death certificates from the 1930s.
Our local history librarians and volunteers also combed through newspaper announcements and obituaries for African Americans. Early death notices are rare, but there are a few. A person was not considered a Green Street burial if the newspaper mentioned they died or were buried in South Iredell, as this usually indicated the deceased was from Mooresville.
The earliest official document of the cemetery is found in the collection of the Genealogical Society of Iredell County housed at the library. Donated in 1992 by Alice Murphy Ramseur, there is a form for the Union Grove Cemetery dated April 17, 1886 (below) for the purchase of two plots for H.J.C. Chambers from R.D. Bailey. Rufus Bailey and his wife Rebecca, both of whom are buried at Green Street, owned and operated a grocery store on Center Street around the turn of the century. Researchers understand that plots to the public cemetery were sold through local vendors who in return earned a commission off the plots sold. There would have been ledgers and records kept of these purchases, but those documents have long since been lost.
For a full list of burials, copy images of death notices and death certificates, and photographs of those buried at Green Street collected by library staff, click the links below to access our digital collection: