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What is the history of Delgado Cemetery?

Ben Steelman
Delgado Cemetery

Delgado Cemetery in Forest Hills originally was intended for employees of Delgado Mills and their families. (Staff photo by Paul Stephen)

Delgado Cemetery, also known as Spofford Cemetery, is in the Forest Hills neighborhood, near 626 Confederate Drive, Wilmington [Map this], not far from the intersection of Confederate and Colonial drives and not far from Forest Hills Elementary School.

Originally located on property owned by Delgado Mills Inc., the cemetery was originally intended for employees of Delgado Mills (later Spofford Mills) and their families. More than 200 burials have been recorded there, although fewer than one-half of these are marked.

The earliest tombstone date seems to be 1912. The cemetery appears to have been in greatest use between the early 1930s and the late 1950s, although graves were dug there as late as 1983. After Spofford Mills closed in 1967, the property passed to a private board of trustees, which later became inactive. In 2001, New Hanover County took over responsibility for the property from the City of Wilmington.

Most of those buried here were white, reflecting the cotton mill’s hiring patterns. At least two Confederate veterans are interred at the site. A number of graves are unmarked mounds, covered with shells. Some of the markers, dating from the Great Depression,  are homemade with concrete. According to Beverly Tetterton of the New Hanover County Public Library, the cemetery contains at least one unusual grave marker made of glass.

Although periodically overgrown with weeds, Delgado Cemetery has generally been judged in good condition. It suffered considerable storm damage during Hurricanes Bertha and Fran. For more information, visit Find a Grave: Delgado Cemetery.

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Where are the bodies buried?

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2 Responses to “ What is the history of Delgado Cemetery?”

  1. On October 27, 2010 at 3:37 pm mike whaley wrote:

    The earliest known grave is 1901 of a young lady who died while visiting her brother, a mill employee. The last internment was in 1994. There were approximately 278 graves documented with about one dozen moved after 1960 to other cemeteries when the cemetery began to decline due to neglect, weather related damage, and vandalism.

  2. On February 3, 2012 at 3:35 pm Dennis K. wrote:

    It was in 1992 or 1993 while visiting friends that lived on Confederate Drive I was riding in the back passenger seat on the way back to their condo when I noticed, while staring deep into the woods, what I thought I saw a gravestone back in the woods north of Confederate Drive. While my observation was dismissed a bit by the locals I was visiting, I had to go find what I saw. We crashed our way through the thick undergrowth and came upon what I though 5 to 10 gravestones. The undergrowth was very thick. Satisfied with the confirmation of my view we went on with our day. A few to many months later I heard a group of locals from the community had gone in and cleared the undergrowth and cleaned up the area. From what I saw I would never thought there were that many graves there.

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