Livingston Family Cemetery

The Historic Livingston Cemetery was destroyed when the Livingston Farms development was built. The old gravestones were piled into a small cairn near the subdivision.
John Livingston Jr. and his wife, Elizabeth Niesler, moved into the Hooper’s Creek area of the county in the late 1700s.
The family cemetery was located on a hill in what is now the development of Livingston Farms. The hill has disappeared. Houses now sit where the hill once stood.
Livingston was a descendant of a family of shippers from Scotland. A statue in Edinburgh stands in honor of the family, said Shannon Baldwin, a descendant. A relative was also a signer of the Constitution. The couple’s children married into families with the surnames Gash, Foster, Russell and Jimison.
Hundreds of descendants live in Henderson and Buncombe counties.
There were 22 visible graves and markers when volunteers from the Henderson County Genealogical and Historical Society conducted a survey of the cemetery. Three had inscribed headstones, two were the stones of John and Elizabeth Livingston. The other was their daughter, Sarah.
The three inscribed head stones now rest beneath a tree in a rock-encircled area near Jackson and Hooper’s Creek roads.
The Windsor Aughtry Co., which developed the subdivision, said that all state laws were followed and the graves were relocated to the area where the three headstones rest on the ground against a stacked rock enclosure beneath a large maple tree.
“We were all shocked when the graves were moved,” said James Wilkie, family descendant and Hooper’s Creek resident. “They could easily have left that little graveyard there.”
Several descendants and residents of the Hooper’s Creek community said they understood the graveyard would not be moved.
“We were told the company would make something nice and put a fence around it,” said descendant Carroll Wilkie. “We staked off about one-half acre as the boundaries of the cemetery.”
On the hill where the cemetery was located was a rock enclosure containing graves of the Livingstons. Outside the enclosure were graves of other residents of Hooper’s Creek and of the Livingston slaves.
“The next thing we knew, the iron pins were gone and the graves were gone,” Wilkie said.
“We went up there, cleaned it up, set up the stones, marked it off,” said descendant J.Z. Maxwell. “The Hooper’s Creek Community Club even offered to take over the maintenance of it.”
The Livingston Farms development is in the town of Fletcher’s jurisdiction. If state law was followed, the Fletcher Town Council gave permission to move the cemetery in 2000.
The Times-News does not have any records on site from the years 2000-01 to prove whether or not the proper legal notices were published by the company. Research indicates the legal notices were placed in the Asheville Citizen-Times and not the Hendersonville Times-News. The majority of residents lived in Henderson County, not Buncombe County.
No descendant or resident remembers reading such a notice or being contacted by the company about the disinterment.
Craig Honeycutt, who was the Fletcher town manager, said that nothing in the town’s ordinances addresses cemeteries.
“No one from the town oversaw the cemetery removal,” he said. “They told us they met state requirements.”
State law is specific that the governing body and the Health Department must give consent and oversee the grave removal and re-interment.
The Henderson County Health Department had no record that anyone from the department was at the cemetery when the graves were disinterred.
A certificate of disinterment was filed by Windsor Aughtry with the register of deeds office in Henderson County. The removal of graves was completed Feb. 20, 2001.
The certificate states that the cemetery was unnamed and was a family site. It was located between lots 200 and 201 of the Livingston Farms Subdivison. This is perplexing since the cemetery definitely did have a name as evidenced by the “Henderson County, North Carolina Cemeteries” book published in 1995.
Wilbert Way Gravesite Service in Asheville re-interred the graves March 6, 2001, according to the certificate.
There were 36 graves located at the site, according to the certificate. Only three had legible names on the headstones.
Unknown graves, labeled five, six and seven were “the most recent,” the certificate states. “They were the only graves to have glass in the head cap of the caskets.”
Numbers six and seven had “at rest” plaques, the certificate states. Unknowns 12 and 13 were perfectly in line. “They appear to have been buried at the same time,” according to the certificate.
Sixteen of the unknowns were babies. Five graves were within the rock wall and the rest were outside.
The certificate states that 19 caskets were re-interred in the new location. The rock enclosure in the new location is about 10 feet by 10 feet. Only the three bodies with marked headstones were re-interred in separate caskets. The rest had multiple remains in them. The size of the caskets or containers is not stated. But it is more than apparent that the rock cairn space could not hold even three separate caskets.
The map on the certificate shows the three graves with headstones at the top of the site, directly beneath the tree. There are four other rows shown, with four graves in each row.
No stones but the three marked stones are at the rock cairn site today.
The other 19 or more graves are not at the spot and the area where the headstones are located does not appear to have been excavated in the recent past. Most local historians and descendants believe the graves are most likely mixed with the fill dirt in the development.
Maxwell said the Hooper’s Creek Community Club and family members tried to stop the cemetery’s destruction and it was destroyed over their objections.
“We went up there, cleaned it up, set up the stones, marked it off,” Maxwell said. “We counted 20 to 30 stones in four rows.”
Later, family members found the 15- to 20-foot tall hill and the cemetery gone.
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