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Local History Notes

Notes about the history of Iredell County by Joel Reese, Local History Librarian.

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Dec 30

Iredell Military Grave Database

Posted on December 30, 2019 at 3:37 PM by Jenny Levins

It was 150 years ago on May 25, 1866 that Laura Foster disappeared. She left home riding her father’s mare Belle, leaving her father, Wilson Foster in bed. Within a few hours she was dead and a murder mystery began that led to court trails, discussions, songs, poems, articles, books, documentaries, and even a movie starring Michael Landon no less. Last Tuesday author Charlotte Corbin Barnes presented a program at the Iredell County Public Library discussing her twenty-seven years of research and her new book, The Tom Dooley Files: My Search for the Truth Behind the Legend.   

Charlotte’s exhaustive research has separated the truth from the many legends in the Dooley story. No, Laura was not pregnant when she was killed. Tom did not serve in Colonel and N.C. Governor Zebulon Vance’s 26th regiment during the Civil War. Vance did serve as Tom’s attorney when he was tried twice here in Statesville before being hanged near the Depot. Tomas C. Dula (Dooley) served in Co. K in the 42nd North Carolina regiment enlisting in Wilkes County at the age of 17, on April 24, 1862. No, Mrs. Barnes does not believe Tom murdered Laura and yes she does believe she knows the names of the two people she believes committed the crime.

Charlotte Corbin Barnes program marks the start of some of the special programing the library will be having this summer. Charlotte’s book can be checked out at the library and is being sold locally at Steve Hill’s Statesville Historical Collection on Center St. in the Gordon building and at GG’s Art, Frames, & Gifts on W. Broad St. On Tuesday, May 31, at 7 p.m. Dr. Curtis Abell will be at the library in Statesville to present a program on “Military Cemeteries in Europe” in honor of Memorial Day. Dr. Abell has traveled to many of these cemeteries and will discuss the history of these sacred grounds while showing photographs from his trips.

The American Battle Monuments Commission is an agency of the federal government created by an act of Congress in 1923. The ABMC administers, maintains and operates 25 U.S. military cemeteries on foreign soil containing more than 124,905 war dead.  These men lie in American military cemeteries in Belgium, England, France, Holland, Italy, and Luxembourg. There are also American military cemeteries in Mexico City and the Philippines. There are over 94,000 American servicemen who are listed as missing in action, lost or buried at sea.

Library volunteer Jean Moore and the library staff have been working on creating a database of the men and women buried in Iredell County who served in the military. We have been indexing the information from Iredell County North Carolina Cemeteries a seven-volume series of books created by Russell C. Black, Jr., and Irene Clanton Black in 1999. Irene and R.C. went through cemeteries all over Iredell County including the family and abandoned cemeteries and recorded those buried along with the information provided by the tombstone.

The list we have come up with contains 4,300 graves of men and women whose graves are identified as being that of a military veteran. We are still sorting out the graves by the war or time period these men and women served in.  Some of the graves are clearly marked as Civil War or World War II while others provide only a rank and will require more research on our part. So far we have identified the following:

Cherokee War, 1, Civil War, 507, Korean, 267, Korean & Vietnam, 16, Mexican War, 2, Mexican and Civil War, 1, N.C. Militia, 1, Revolutionary War, 40, Spanish American War, 29, Spanish American War & WW II, 1, Vietnam War, 144, War of 1812, 1, World War I, 527, WW I & WW II, 14, WW I, WW II, & Korean, 1, World War II, 2011, World War II & Korean, 58, WW II & Vietnam, 3, WW II, Korean, & Vietnam, 13.

There are many graves in Iredell County that contain men and women who served in the military and even in wars that are not identified as military by their tombstone. There are also many who served who are in unmarked graves. The books we used to identify the military graves only indexed what were primarily white cemeteries and we are seeking the public’s help in identifying military marked graves in Iredell’s black cemeteries. We also need the public’s help in identifying the graves of men and women who served whose graves are not marked as military or is unknown. Contact the library at 704-878-3093 or at jreese@iredell.lib.nc.us if you wish to contribute information.

Joel Reese, Local History Librarian

Iredell County Public Library

This article appeared in the Statesville Record and Landmark as “Help find the graves of Iredell’s veterans” on May 27, 2016