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Are there two Acorn Branch cemeteries?

Ben Steelman
StarNews
This is one of two Acorn Branch cemeteries off North Kerr Avenue. This one, owned by the county was once known as the “Acorn Branch Colored Grave Yard.” StarNews photo by Si Cantwell.

This is one of two Acorn Branch cemeteries off North Kerr Avenue. This one, owned by the county was once known as the “Acorn Branch Colored Grave Yard.” StarNews photo by Si Cantwell.

Yes. Both lie off North Kerr Avenue. Both date from the Jim Crow era. One was for whites, one was for blacks.

The “white” Acorn Branch Cemetery was a Methodist burial ground next to Wilmington International Airport. It contains about 37 known graves, including those of members of the Kerr family for whom Kerr Avenue was named. Some Confederate veterans are also buried there.

Access to the cemetery was by John Morris Road (formerly a stretch of the old Winter Park-Wrightsboro Road), which fed into North Kerr Avenue. The site is heavily forested.

In 2008, the New Hanover County Commissioners approved closing John Morris Road, which served no houses or businesses, so the airport could use the land for future development. Access to the cemetery is supposed to be granted on request to the airport. (There’s a phone on the gate.)

The other Acorn Branch Cemetery is farther north on the east side of North Kerr Avenue, about one mile north of the Gordon Road intersection.  In 1918, D.G. Westbrook deeded the property for use as “the Acorn Branch Colored Grave Yard.” The site had been used as a burial ground for decades beforehand, though, and a number of slave graves have been identified there. At one time, a number of wooden grave markers could be found there.

This Acorn Branch Cemetery was also referred to as the Water Pond Cemetery. As late as the 1990s, it was managed by private boards of trustees. Today, it is owned by New Hanover County. Plagued by vandalism over the years, the cemetery is now surrounded by a chain link fence and a locked gate. Access is available on request from the county Parks and Gardens Department.

This Acorn Branch Cemetery is still in use;  as of 2013, six unused gravesites are still available, according to Karyn Crichton of New Hanover County Planning and Zoning.

RELATED LINKS:

Whatever happened to the ‘Colored Cemetery’ off North Kerr Ave. that was marked by a cross?

Will Greenlawn Memorial Park ever run out of room to bury people?

User-contributed question by:
Toni Storey

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