This graveyard was the burial ground for virtually the entire black population of the Kernersville community prior to the Civil War. After the Civil War several black members of the Methodist Episcopal Church established a new church to be known as St. Paul's Methodist Episcopal Church. St. Paul's congregation purchased the Methodist Episcopal Church building and moved it to the site of this graveyard in 1873, becoming the first place of worship for the black community and the third established church in Kernersville. The church is no longer standing at this cemetery.
A number of years ago a census was conducted and it was determined that close to 200 graves have been identified. A memorial plaque near the entrance lists those graves that have been identified. As you enter the cemetery, unmarked field stones to both the right and the left are unmarked graves placed by family members at the time of burials. Prior to the design and preparation of actual tombstones, this was the custom for marking gravesites....placing small boulders that you will find throughout the cemetery but primarily at the front.
St. Paul’s Cemetery is located on South Main Street where Cherry Street and Main Street merge together in Kernersville. It is nearly impossible to see from the street. Two good landmarks are next to the Cagney’s Restaurant and behind the Stafford House. The driveway into the cemetery is right next to the Stafford House.
The Kernersville Historic Preservation Society took over responsibility for clean up and maintenance of the cemetery a number of years ago. Because the cemetery is located on over an acre of fully treed land, it is very difficult to keep the leaves raked up and removed and the dead branches collected. The membership of the KHPS is small and as a result more volunteers are needed to assist. Recently, the KHPS established a program to increase the number of volunteers and to keep on top of the maintenance of the site.
In the summer of 2018, the KHPS introduced a new community outreach program to encourage members of the community to adopt a month and take responsibility for cleaning up hard debris and trash for that month. The program was a brainstorm of one of the members who invited her family visiting from out of town to assist in cleaning up during their visit. The family members simply walked the entire cemetery and picked up trash, cleaned debris from around tombstones, piled up and dragged sticks and branches over to the side wooded area and raked leaves as needed. It occurred to the membership that many individuals, local organizations and businesses and families would see the importance of maintaining this important historic site.
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