From 2005 through 2006 several articles were written by Jennie Jones Giles on the Mill Pond Cemetery. The following article was re-written by Giles using excerpts from the articles written for the Hendersonville Times-News.
In October 2006, Henderson County commissioners voted for the first time to take over part of a cemetery that had suffered years of neglect.
Commissioners declared a portion of Mill Pond Cemetery a public abandoned cemetery, took control of the graves and hired a contractor to keep the cemetery mowed.
The county-controlled section of the cemetery contains the graves of blacks, both slaves and free, who died before the Civil War and blacks and whites, many of them paupers, buried in the last half of the 19th century.
At the time the county took over the lower section, pampas grass at the historic Mill Pond Cemetery was at least 5 feet tall.
Commissioners agreed the cemetery met the criteria of public and abandoned, meaning the county must maintain it. Surveyors marked the cemetery’s boundaries.
The cemetery was cleaned by the local chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, along with Scouts and community members, in the spring of 2005.
It did not take long for the thick pampas grass to return. No one continued maintenance, until a Boy Scout with Troop 602 took on the project in May and June of 2006 as his Eagle service project.
“It took three weekends and 160 man hours,” said Eagle Scout David Holden.
And that was with parents, fellow Scouts and others helping.
While cleaning the cemetery, Holden said he was surprised by the community interest.
“We had donations from people just stopping by,” he said. “It was amazing to see the community response that came out of that, just out of nowhere.”
As Holden walked through the tall pampas grass in the fall of 2006, exiting the cemetery covered with begger lice (small brown stickers), his disappointment was evident.
“I can’t even tell that I was here,” he said. “The re-growth is a real problem for this and other graveyards like this. It’s already over your head and it’s a real fire hazard. This is crazy. I remember cutting that tree down and it’s bigger than it was then.”
In May and June, the Scouts found the small flags placed to note graves in the 2005 cleaning were down or disturbed. Holden mapped the cemetery, plotted the graves and put up new red flags.
Weeds grow fast
The upper section of the Mill Pond Cemetery on N.C. 191 and South Rugby Road in the Rugby community is maintained. But the lower section, where graves of pre-Civil War free blacks lie, was covered in 7-foot-tall pampas grass before a cleanup in 2005 sponsored by the Walt Bryson Chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
“It’s a public cemetery,” said James Miller, whose ancestors deeded the land for a church and cemetery in 1859. “The lower end has many paupers buried there, some without gravestones. Whites and blacks are buried down there. People could be buried there with no charge. But the family was responsible for maintaining the grave site.”
Many of those burials were after 1859, when W.D. Miller gave the land for the cemetery.
None of the grave sites in the upper section are as old as those of the pre-Civil War free blacks in the lower section. No one seems to know much about them or how they came to be buried as early as 1812 on land owned by the Miller family.
Ellen Jones, who died in 1812, and Markus Henry, who died in 1865, are listed in early census reports as free blacks. James Harren, who is also buried in the lower section, was one of three men deeded land by Noble Johnson to establish a school in “Colored District No. 4” in 1875, only 10 years after the end of the Civil War.
The descendants of former Confederate soldiers and the descendants of former slaves worked side-by-side to clean up the cemetery in 2005.
About 2000, the pampas grass in the lower section was burned in an attempt to get rid of the grass, but members of the NAACP in Asheville objected to burning the area, as did James Miller, the trustee of the cemetery.
Burning grass in a cemetery will blacken the stones and will break some types of grave stones.
The lower section of the cemetery does not contain only blacks.
“It’s a public cemetery,” said James Miller, whose ancestors deeded the land for a church and cemetery in 1859. “The lower end has many paupers buried there, some without gravestones.”
2005 clean up
The tall, thick grass grows so fast that it encroaches on the upper section of the cemetery. The grave marker of Edgar A. Lamb, 1890-1962, was found hidden in the grass. This grave and others in the row were not covered with grass when the cemetery survey about 1995.
“More and more family members are taking responsibility to help maintain the upper section,” James Miller said. “A lot of folks are starting to help out. But not at the lower end.”
A Boy Scout cleaned the lower section once for an Eagle project, but the grass quickly returned.
Miller said he has rented a stump grinder, but after six hours hardly made a dent in stump removal. Tall trees were cut out of the area several years ago and the stumps remain to hinder mowing equipment, he said.
The grave site of a Henderson County soldier who died in World War II is possibly located in the cemetery. Patrick Archibald McCarson was an Army private during the war. He is listed on the rosters of World War II dead. He died of a non-battle death, but the date or place of death was not located. One source lists his date of death as March 27, 1945. His grave site has not been located. His father is buried at the Mill Pond Cemetery. Military information for McCarson mistakenly lists Vance County, where the town of Henderson is located. He was born in Henderson County, the son of Hillard Hicks McCarson and Rachel Mary Alma Qualls. The birth date on records in Henderson County does not match the military birth dates. The date of birth on the birth certificate and other records states 1927. Military records state 1925. He was working as a hotel clerk in Asheville when he enlisted in the Army in 1944.
Henderson County Sheriff John Perminter Morgan was born in 1822 in McDowell County near the Gerton and Bat Cave communities, the son of John P. Morgan and Nancy Bright. He first married Armintha Owenby, and after her death he married Rachel Josephine Barnett. He was a farmer. He was listed on the 1860 census in Henderson County, but during the Civil War he served in a Confederate regiment organized in McDowell County. After the war, he lived near the Rugby community of Henderson County. He served as sheriff of Henderson County from 1868 to 1870. During the 1870s, he was a deputy sheriff. He died in 1887.
There are 10 Confederate soldiers with grave sites in the cemetery, and one memorial marker for a Confederate soldier who most likely was not buried in the cemetery.
Napoleon B. Barnett enlisted in the 16th N.C. Infantry Regiment, Co. I, Henderson Guards, on 5-5-1861. He was wounded 5-31-1862 at the Battle of Fair Oaks (Seven Pines) during the Peninsula Campaign in Virginia, wounded (right arm amputated) and captured 5-3-1863 at the Battle of Chancellorsville, a prisoner at the Old Capitol Prison in Washington, D.C, and Point Lookout, Md., paroled 3-20-1864, and retired 9-7-1864 to the Invalid Corps. He died in 1899.
John Fowler enlisted in the 56th N.C. Infantry Regiment, Co. G, Henderson Blues, on 4-12-1862. He was captured 4-3-1865 while hospitalized with a disease at Richmond, Va., a prisoner at Newport News, Va., and released 6-3-1865. He died in 1902.
Benjamin D. Lane enlisted in the 16th N.C. Infantry Regiment, Co. I, Henderson Guards, on 5-5-1861. He was discharged 11-15-1861. The reason for his discharge was not stated. He later enlisted in the 56th N.C. Infantry Regiment, Co. G, Henderson Blues, on 4-12-1862 and was appointed second lieutenant. He was promoted to first lieutenant on 6-1-1864. He surrendered 4-9-1865 at Appomattox Court House. He died in 1871.
Henry E. Lane enlisted in the 56th N.C. Infantry Regiment, Co. G, Henderson Blues, on 4-12-1862 at the age of 53. He was appointed captain at his enlistment. He resigned 5-22-1864 due to his age. He died in 1883.
Henry W. Lane enlisted in the 56th N.C. Infantry Regiment, Co. G, Henderson Blues, on 4-12-1862. He transferred to Co. A on 7-15-1862 and was appointed first lieutenant. He was killed accidentally 4-21-1864 at Greensboro when he was caught between the platform of a water tank and a train.
John W. Lane enlisted in the 16th N.C. Infantry Regiment, Co. I, Henderson Guards, on 5-20-1861. He was promoted to captain 12-13-1862. He was wounded 12-13-1862 at the Battle of Fredericksburg, captured 5-6-1864 at the Battle of the Wilderness, a prisoner at Fort Delaware, Del., transferred to Hilton Head, S.C., and Fort Pulaski, Ga., and released 3-12-1865. He died in 1906.
William C. Preston Lane enlisted in the 1st Battalion N.C. Junior Reserves, Co. C, on 4-30-1864 and elected captain on the same date. He was shot through the breast 3-8-1865 at the Battle of Wyse Fork during the Carolinas Campaign. There are no further records. He died in 1928. On the headstone, his regiment is incorrectly listed as the 70th N.C. Junior Reserves. This error was contained in John Moore’s roster published in 1898. Many documents published subsequent to Moore’s roster contain the same error.
Robert H. Liverett enlisted in the 7th Battalion N.C. Cavalry on 7-15-1862. On 8-3-1863, this battalion was consolidated into the 65th Regiment N.C. Troops (6th Regiment N.C. Cavalry). He served through the war. He died in 1913.
Arthur Montraville McCarson enlisted in the 14th N.C. Infantry Regiment, Co. A, on 3-30-1861. There are no further records in the 14th N.C. Infantry Regiment of his service in that regiment. It appears that he transferred to the 69th Regiment N.C. Troops (7th Regiment N.C. Cavalry), Co. A, on an unspecified date. His name was reported on a clothing roll for the third quarter of 1864 and on a bounty roll on 9-20-1864. His record in the 14th N.C. Infantry Regiment indicates that he took the “Oath of Allegiance” on 3-10-1865. He died in 1909.
William Deaver Miller enlisted in the 16th N.C. Infantry Regiment, Co. I, Henderson Guards, on 5-20-1861. He was elected second lieutenant on the day of his enlistment. He transferred to Field and Staff as a captain and assistant commissary of subsistence 7-25-1862. He was dropped from the rolls on an unspecified date in 1863. The reason that he was dropped was not reported. He died in 1914.
There is a memorial marker in the cemetery for John H. Carver. He enlisted in the 9th Regiment N.C. Troops (1st Regiment N.C. Cavalry), Co. G, on 5-20-1861. He was in Gen. James B. Gordon’s Brigade most of the time, but was also part of Gen. Wade Hampton’s Brigade at times. Both brigades were part of James Ewell Brown, “JEB” Stuart’s Confederate Cavalry. There are 25 pages of Compiled Service records held in the National Archives pertaining to Carver. He was wounded seven times in one battle Oct. 14, 1863, at Auburn Mills, Va. He fought at the Seven Days Battle, at the Battle of Antietam, and at Fredericksburg, Second Manassas, Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. His name appears on a list of casualties “wounded severely.” Another hand written notation from a hospital surgeon granting him a wounded furlough cites gunshot wounds and “abscess.” Carver was furloughed for 40 days on Nov. 6, 1863. From there the record gets confusing. In his book, “Measured in Blood,” author Terrell Garren goes into great detail concerning the later death of John Carver. The muster roll for March through April 30, 1864, states: “Killed while in arrest – attempting to escape.” The exact date and location of his killing is not listed. There is oral history from the family stating that some men came to his home at night. According to the family account, Carver was shot outside the McCarson cabin.
His actual gravesite is unknown. Family history indicates that he was buried in an unmarked grave at the McCarson Family Cemetery.