Sunday, February 26, 2023

Second Clean Up Day Scheduled for Fuquay Cemetery at Purfoy Rd. - March 11

The first clean up (Feb 18) was attended by 13 people. Good progress was made, but about half of the clean up remains to be done. Then next clean up day is scheduled on  Saturday March 11, 2023 from 9:00am to 12:00pm.

This cemetery is located at 1461 Purfoy Rd. Surnames include Barbour, Betts, Revels, Smith, Wray.  Seventeen graves are named. The earliest burial is dated 1814-1890.

1461 Purfoy Rd.

Be sure to visit the Harnett County Cemtery Preservation Group on Facebook to see photos of the clean up progress and to get details for March 11.

Page link:

Clean Up Event link:

This cemetery is in Wake County, right in our backyard. 

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Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Wake Wednesday - African American Businesses c1909-1910

I am taking the Wake Wednesday posts in a little different direction for a change of pace. In an effort to highlight the vast wealth of content that is held within the pages of the Wake Treasures Journal, I will be featuring small snippets from the Journal in hopes that you might find something useful for your own family research. I hope you will let me know if you are inspired to search there or make a great discovery for your family story. 

Now let's get started...

As we close out Black History Month, I want to feature this listing of African-American Businesses compiled in the 1909-1910 Hill City Directory for Raleigh, NC. The list was transcribed by Fred Turner for the Winter/Spring 2004 issue - v.14, nbr.1. There are 5+ pages of listings (in excess of 230 individual listings) that include name, business type, and address. 

Included in the transcription:
  • Alford, Nick     eating houses     206 1/2 e Martin
  • Alle, John     grocers-retail     e Martin nr s East 
  • Allen, Jake B     grocers-retail     212 e Cabarrus 
  • Bullock, Christopher C     hackmen     750 s Person 
  • Bunn, Victoria S     nurses     609 s East 
  • Burgess & Son     butchers and meat markets     15 City Market 
  • Christmas S C & Son     hucksters     2 City Market 
  • Clark, Charles C     clergymen (Baptist)     540 e Edenton
  • Hughes, Henry I     barber     223 w Martin 
  • Hughes, Joseph     draymen     716 e Lenoir 
  • Hunter, Robert     harness and saddlery     318 s Salisbury 
  • Lane & Ancrum     attorney at law     4 e Davie 
  • Lane & Fields     funeral directors     400 s Salisbury
This is a mere sampling. Many occupations are listed and many that are not seen today. There are listings for A to Z. This content is referenced with permission of Journal editor.

Visit the Journal subject index here.

Journal access is a great perk of your Wake County Genealogical Society membership and a handy tool for those researching in Wake County remotely. Members have 24/7 access to the Journal. With 20 plus years of content, you will likely find the surnames and place names you are researching. Access the Journal issues directly in the Member Area after log-in.

Join for full access.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Wake Wednesday - Historic Method Community and Oak Grove Cemetery - Then and Now

This is a guest post from WCGS member and recording secretary, Linda Hames. This post originaly was published in the Wake Genealogy Watch newsletter, v5.4, Summer 2022.

The history of Method became a fascination for me in May, 2019, and I still have a long list of places and events yet to be explored.”   - Linda Hames

Historic Method Community and Oak Grove Cemetery - Then and Now

In 1865, virtually all of what is now Wake County was made up of farms or plantations, depending on the definitions used.  Before the war, in 1860, North Carolina had 331,159 persons who were “owned” by other persons.  Most of them were farm workers.  In 1865, they were freed, and they soon began to form Freeman’s Villages. 

Those who could afford to do so, moved into the city where the population grew rapidly.  In the Raleigh 1870 census, out of a population of 7,790, there were 4,094 Blacks (53%).

Maps and other records show us the location of at least 13 new Black communities that formed within what is now the City of Raleigh.  Most of those areas are no longer recognizable because of development and urban renewal projects.  One exception is Oberlin, but the landscape there is changing as multi-story buildings are rapidly replacing historical homes.  A second exception is Method, where there has been only a small amount of modernization, and many descendants of the original settlers still live there.   The map below shows what Method looked like in 1865 – a few gravel roads and the Southern Railroad.


Historic Method Community

Confederate General and plantation owner, William Ruffin Cox, sold 69 acres (1872) to Jesse Mason and Isaac O’Kelly who parceled it into small lots allowing many newly freed Black families to build their own slab houses (one-room log houses with a dirt floor.)  As it grew, the name became Mason Village, and finally named “Method” as one of the stops on the railroad. 


This map shows what the area looks like today, positioned nicely between Raulston Arboretum and Neomonde restaurant.


Berry O’Kelly

Berry O’Kelly was extremely important to the success of the Method community.  Born in Chapel Hill about 1864, he arrived in Method as a teen.  He worked at the General Store and by age 28 owned the store.  It became the Method post office, and he was Postmaster for 25 years. 

The photo below shows Berry O’Kelly in front of the store/post office (ca. 1930) . The new Method post office operates at that same location today, but the train no longer makes a stop there.

Berry O’Kelly expanded the store to offer meat, fish, shoes, and clothing.  He also operated businesses on East Hargett St. known as Black Mainstreet.  He became wealthy and was a prominent person in Wake County and state-wide. 

The Berry O’Kelly School

In the post-Civil War South, enslaved persons were free, but the rule of the land was Jim Crow and “separate but equal.”  Blacks were not allowed to attend white schools.  Realizing that injustice, Berry O’Kelly donated land (1894) for a black school in Method.  In the beginning, it was a boarding school with students from Apex, Fuquay, and Zebulon. In 1920, the school became the first fully accredited black high school in the state of NC.  It served as a model for other schools.  Graduates interned at Shaw University and became teachers throughout the state.

 This main building had 11 classrooms, a library, and an auditorium.  The Berry O’Kelly school was one of the thousands that was partially financed by the Jewish philanthropist Julius Rosenwald.

Integration became the law in 1954 – Brown v. Board of Education.  William Campbell (1960) was the first to integrate an all-white school in Raleigh (Murphy School.)   Six sophomore girls from Berry O’Kelly High School were forced to integrate Cary High School in 1963.


Raleigh annexed Method in 1960, and also took control of the Berry O’Kelly school.   It was closed in 1966. All buildings were demolished except for the Agriculture Building and the gymnasium.

Historical designations have been awarded to the Berry O’Kelly Historical District, which is 8.4 acres and the Oak Grove Cemetery.

Oak Grove Cemetery

Oak Grove Cemetery was established about 1870 soon after the Method community formed.  In 2016, a grant paid for a ground-penetrating radar survey which identified 403 graves, 152 with markers.  The cemetery is still being used today.

THE BATTLES – Method residents were forced to negotiate with the City, the County and the DOT in order to survive.

 The original plan for 440 would have passed through the middle of Method, but it was eventually moved slightly to the west.  Twice since then, parts of Method have been lost due to the widening of 440. 

At present (2022) the tunnel from Method to the Oak Grove Cemetery is blocked while a bridge is being built for Ligon St. to pass over 440.  The designation as a Historic Place saved the cemetery from being devastated.


Wiki article about William Ruffin Cox—The Confederate General who sold the acreage.          

Culture Town: Life in Raleigh's African American Communities, by Linda Simmons-Henry and Linda Harris Edmisten is available in the closed stack of Olivia Raney Library or on Amazon.

Method Boys to Men Fellowship - Website for the group of volunteers who work toward the welfare of Method residents.   website          

Oak Grove History and Burials  by Ruth Little  includes the history and a list of stones and inscriptions.

Beltline construction disturbs historic cemetery,”        News & Observer    May 18, 2021

Walter Magazine -   March 2021,    “A  Legacy of Generosity: The History of Method”

Take Linda's self-guided tour of Method, RICH Park and Oak Grove:

A Self-guided Tour of RICH Park and Method, NC – By Linda Hames, May 2022

Drive to the Method Post Office   3919 Beryl Rd.

This was a country store in 1873, and became a P.O. about 1890.

Continue west on Beryl Rd;    Take the first left onto Method Road.

Take the first left onto Richward Place to a parking area;   From the drive you will see many 1 and 2-story brick buildings on your right.  There are 100 apartments. 

THIS IS RICH PARK!   (“RICH” stands for Raleigh Inter Church Housing.  In 1967, 5 churches created a corporation, secured a HUD loan, and built this 100-units of affordable housing.  It still thrives today.

Take Richward Place to leave and cross Method Road.

Enter Method  Community Park

It is a part of Raleigh Parks and Recreation Park your car and take a walk to find:

Plaques on the office building designate Raleigh Historical Landmark and National Registry of Historical Places.   Main building contains the original gymnasium.

An old brick building called the Agriculture Building – 1926 – is the only building that remains from the Berry O’Kelly School near the picnic shelter.

St. James African Methodist Episcopalian Church;  Raleigh Historical Landmark; Founded 1866.

Berry O’Kelly donated the land for the St. James A.M.E. church on Method Road. Burial place of Berry O’Kelly;  Died March 14, 1931. -  near the church

Across the street -  Offices of RICH Park.


Until very recently, you could drive west on Ligon St. and come to a one-way tunnel, and then see the cemetery on your left. The very quaint tunnel is now blocked off and you will now need to take this longer route….

From Blue Ridge Road, drive east on Hutton until you reach Ligon Street.

From Ligon, you will see the Oak Grove Cemetery on your right.  Now (May 2022) you can see the blocked off tunnel and you can see the beginnings of a new BIG bridge that will carry Ligon St. over 440.

Oak Grove is on the National Registry of Historic Places.

It needs lots of work.

A grant provided for a ground-penetrating radar (GPR) in 2016.

The survey identified approximately 403 graves, 152 with markers.



Slaves freed from nearby plantations began to form this community in 1865.

Linda’s passion and research has made it possible to include a good record of Oak Grove Cemetery in the Wake County Cemetery Survey project where none existed. The cemetery had been neither reported or surveyed at the time of the original project. Linda’s work allows us to provide history, names and inscriptions and add this cemetery to the permanent record of Raleigh despite its vulnerability to progress. Thank you Linda! - CD

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Monday, February 13, 2023

Seeking More Cemetery Information in Fuquay and Knightdale Areas

Help and input needed for cemeteries on the Wake/Harnett County line in Fuquay area

I received a request for help from Steve Koontz of the newly formed Harnett County Cemetery Preservation Group requesting help from descendants and  interested volunteers to assist in the clean up and restoration of several cemeteries on the southern county line.

One has graves with the following surnames: Barbour, Betts, Revels, Smith, Wray.  Seventeen graves are named. The earliest burial is dated 1814-1890. Located near
1461 Purfoy Rd.  A clean up day was scheduled for Feb. 18, but there may be several needed. See this Facebook post.

There is a second cemetery near Fuquay that is on their list to clean up. The
Stevens Family Cemetery will be scheduled for date in the near future.

Please contact Steve Koontz if you can help with either of these or any other Southern Wake Cemeteries that the Harnett group has on their schedule.

Steve Koontz
Harnett County Cemetery Preservation Group/FB

Seeking information about the location of a lost/abandoned cemetery near Neuse River and Knightdale Swim Club

Description from Mr. George Hess:
There is a property on the south (east-bound) side of New Bern Avenue / Business 64 just east of the Neuse River, St Matthews Township.  On iMAP, Wake County PIN 1734748135.  There are plans to build an apartment complex there and I've heard that there is a cemetery somewhere on the property, but I've no idea what kind or where it is, nor do I have permission to access and look for it.  I've been looking for a map of cemeteries in Wake or this particular area but haven't been able to find one.  Can you provide any insight as to how I might track this down?  I'm also trying to get up with Town of Knightale, which has zoning jurisdiction, to see if they have nay information.”

If you can provide information or help save this cemetery, please contact George.

George Hess
304 Milburnie Road
Knightdale, NC


Thursday, February 9, 2023

Reminder- Happening This Saturday - Feb. 11 - Q1 WCGS Meetup - Tour Johnston County Heritage Center

Mark your calendars and make your plans to attend two weeks from today: 

Johnston County Heritage Center241 East Market Street, Smithfield, NC 27577

When:  Saturday, February 11, at 10am

Let's gather in person and check out the repository of records for Wake County settlers and ancestors before there was even a Wake County! Prior to its formation in 1770, the land we think of as Wake lay partially in Johnston county (also Cumberland and Orange, stories for another day).  

The Johnston County Heritage Center holds approximately 2,500 books, 800 reels of microfilm, 300 maps/atlases, 100,000 photographic images, 600 private collections of books and papers, and vertical files on genealogy, biography, and local history. The focus for genealogical records primarily includes the eastern half of North Carolina and the Virginia Tidewater region. Todd Johnson, Executive Director of the Center has offered to give us a tour and help us get our bearings on searching Wake County Records.

Here is a sneak peek of all JCHC has to offer.

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Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Wake Wednesday - Latta University

"Nestled in Oberlin Village sits a small patch of unassuming greenery currently used as a neighborhood park. Residents use it for morning yoga, community cookouts, and quiet evening walks. You'd never guess it used to be part of a university attended by men and women freed from slavery on Raleigh-area plantations.

Reverend M.L. Latta House,  the heart of Latta University

The last remnant of Latta University burned down in 2007, when the Latta House went up in flames. Rev. M.L. Latta was a slave on the Cameron Plantation, which comprised much of the land in and around the Cameron Village and Cameron Park areas of downtown Raleigh. When he was freed, he earned an education at Shaw University and established Latta University in Oberlin Village." - Heather Leah

Follow this link to read the rest of Heather Leah's account of Latta University and its place in Oberlin Village.

Visit Wake County Genealogical Society's Website - Homepage | WCGS Events | Join WCGS | Publications | Wake Cemetery Survey Images |Digital Resources | History Resources | More Links and Resources | Contact