Restoration and Preservation

For further information contact Glenn Fields
[email protected]

Goldsboro Rifles Help Restore Cemetery

By Glenn Fields

LaGrange -- Benjamin Sutton was born in 1795, died in 1864 and was my great-great-great grandfather. He was a plantation owner in Lenoir and Wayne counties.
I have done genealogical research on his family for many years. Of all the Benjamin Suttons that have existed in this and other areas, he is usually referred to as the one that had three wives and 21 children. Eight of his sons served in the Confederate Army during the War Against Northern Aggression and four of them died during that terrible time in our history. This family is very unique by having so many sons serving in the defense of their country at one time.

For the past ten years I have wanted to clean this cemetery up and make it a suitable memorial site for Ben and his sons. The project is now becoming a reality.
His gravesite is located just inside Lenoir County, about a mile northeast of Seven Springs on Alice Warters Road. For many years the gravesite has been very overgrown, to the point that the area was practically impenetrable. In 1994, when the site was not quite so overgrown, I attacked it by myself with hand tools. Before I got very far along, I had to have heart catheterization. The project was put on hold. I did not attack it again until 2005, when, shortly afterwards I had to have heart bypass surgery. A neighbor, Jerry Lynch, told me that maybe Ben didn't want me disturbing him. Nevertheless, I continued with the restoration of his burial site.
The broken marker for Benjamin Sutton was found under a layer of debris and leaves, has been cleaned and has a new appearance. That marker and the markers of two grandchildren are the only ones that were found in the cemetery. I know that other family members were buried there, but back in those days wooden markers were often placed at a loved ones grave and they eventually rotted away. Information passed down through the family gives evidence that others are interred there.
Once the site is adequately prepared, the original marker of Benjamin Sutton will be repaired and reset. Seven memorial markers have already been installed for the eight sons and the eighth will be ordered as soon as funds permit. I hope that my concern and the restoration effort, with the help of the Goldsboro Rifles, Sons of Confederate Veterans and Sutton descendants, will now reclaim this historical site that is so important to Sutton family history.

Four of the eight sons who fought in the War Between the States never returned to the home place. Henry, was killed in the Battle of Sharpsburg in Maryland. John died in Virginia of ´┐ŻBilious Fever´┐Ż. Alexander was wounded and captured at Bristoe Station, Virginia. He was imprisoned at Point Lookout, Maryland and died on the way home after being part of a prisoner exchange. Fred died of typhoid fever while a POW in New Bern. Six of the brothers served time as Union POW's. According to handed down information, the original home on the plantation was a three, or some say, four-story mansion with lots of chimneys. It was supposedly used as a hospital sometime during the war. The home burned several years after the war ended.

The old cemetery was nearly destroyed when land ownership changed. They didn't know there was a cemetery in the small wooded area and came in with a bulldozer and started pushing it up. My mother and my cousin, Peanut Sutton, saw what was about to happen and told them a cemetery was there. They stopped clearing work immediately and the new owner, Mr. Walter F. Uzzell, told me that it would not be disturbed again and any restoration efforts could begin. I only wish that he could have lived to see the restoration completed. Today, the cemetery has been totally cleaned and leveled.

Special thanks go to Mr. Thomas Uzzell for his cooperation and for providing equipment to clear the site of the overgrowth, members of the Goldsboro Rifles and Sutton descendants who helped with further clean up efforts and erection of the markers. It will soon feature complete landscaping, fencing and will be set up for easy maintenance for years to come. Expenses are mounting and contributions for the restoration will be gladly accepted. Any funds in excess of restoration expenses will be held in an account for maintenance.
Anyone interested in helping can reach me at (919) 778-9565, [email protected] or 441 Lynch Road, LaGrange, NC 28551.
A memorial service is planned once the restoration is completed and it will be a big affair. We do plan to have a service that is fitting. When the cemetery restoration is completed, I hope it will serve as a site where the many current and future descendants of Benjamin Sutton can connect to this man who is responsible for their very existence.

MEMORIAL PLANNED--Members of the Goldsboro Rifles have been restoring an old cemetery two miles north of Seven Springs and plan a big memorial service to honor eight sons of an early plantation owner who served in the Civil War.
Published in the Mt. Olive Weekly Gazette


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