This is an amended version of a newspaper article first published in 2005 in the Hendersonville Times-News.
By Jennie Jones Giles
Drive down North Mills River Road almost to the North Mills River Recreation Area in Pisgah National Forest. Take a look up at the mountains. The Stuart Family Cemetery can be found at the top of one of those mountains.
This old family cemetery is in excellent condition.
The surrounding property is owned by George Howard McElrath and is located off Dave Whitaker Road. The property borders Pisgah National Forest and near Soapstone Gap, where early settlers sawed out slabs of soapstone to make firebricks, fire backs and bricks for bed warmers.
Some soapstone slabs were also used for headstones.
It was at the headwaters of Seniard Creek where Isom Stuart built a cabin and set up the first blacksmith shop in that section of Henderson County, according to Frank Fitzsimons in his book “From the Banks of the Oklawaha.”
Near the site of the old graveyard was a one-teacher school called Shanghai. Prior to the Civil War, the school was also used as a place of worship on Sundays for the families living in the area.
Isom Stuart is reportedly buried in the graveyard. His son Melvin Stuart is also buried in the cemetery. Melvin Stuart left a trust fund. The income of the trust fund was to be used to keep the burying ground in immaculate condition, documents state. Melvin Stuart operated a saw mill and grain mill in the vicinity.
Melvin Stuart served in the Civil War. He enlisted in the 3rd N.C. Mounted Infantry, Co. I, about three months before the war ended. He was a Confederate deserter from the 60th N.C. Infantry Regiment, Co. D. He was born 1841 in Henderson County and died in 1921
One grave site in the cemetery is that of “Yankee Rose,” a man of mystery and legend, Fitzsimons writes.
“Nobody knows where he came from or his given name,” wrote Fitzsimons.
It is said he came to the area after the Civil War, wearing the uniform of a Yankee soldier, and went to his grave known only as Yankee Rose. Bill Rose is engraved on his headstone, with a death date of 1866.
Persons with the surnames of Moore, Fletcher, Reeves, Underwood and Selvy are also buried in the cemetery.
The earliest dated burial was in 1863. But there most likely were earlier burials as there are several unmarked field stones in the cemetery. The most recent burial was in 1976.