Oakdale Cemetery in Wilmington, North Carolina

Photo by Michael Kleen

Oakdale Cemetery, 520 N 15th Street in Wilmington, North Carolina, opened on a 65-acre tract of land in 1855. North Carolina’s first rural cemetery, it quickly became a premier burial ground for Wilmington residents. There are several subsections including a Hebrew Cemetery, Masonic Section, and a section for victims of a 1862 Yellow Fever epidemic. It is a lovely and historic resting place.

Katharine Russell “Katie” Reynolds (1978-1993)

This lovingly-carved, white marble cherubic angel is dedicated to Katharine Russell “Katie” Reynolds (1978-1993), who died at the age of 15. She was the daughter of Sammie Keith Lauderdale and Frank Russell Reynolds, Jr. Her epitaph reads: “A wonderful child of God.”

Unknown Dead of Confederate Mound

Monument to approximately 550 unknown Confederate soldiers who died at the Battle of Fort Fisher, buried in Oakdale Cemetery. The Ladies Memorial Association erected this monument in 1872, consisting of a bronze Confederate soldier standing atop a pedestal made from North Carolina granite. It also features bronze likenesses of General Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. Although both were Virginians, North Carolina provided a significant number of officers, troops, and supplies to Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia during the American Civil War.

Margaret Murchinson “Maggie” Williams Holladay (1865-1889)

This lovely white marble statue of a woman laying a laurel of flowers on a cross is dedicated to Margaret Murchinson “Maggie” Williams Holladay (1865-1889). Maggie, first wife of William Waller Holladay, died when she was only 24 years old. The couple had two daughters, and Maggie died 23 days after the birth of her second child.

Rose O'Neal Greenhow (1814-1864)

This simple marble cross marks the grave of Rose O’Neal Greenhow (1814-1864), Confederate spy. Born Maria Rosetta O’Neale on a plantation in Maryland, she became a socialite in Washington, D.C. and was credited with providing the intelligence that led to Confederate victory in the First Battle of Bull Run. She was arrested and eventually exiled to the South. She drowned in the Cape Fear River near Wilmington trying to escape a Union gunboat and was given a full military funeral.

Dr. William Crawford Willkings (1826-1856)

Twenty-foot obelisk dedicated to Dr. William Crawford Willkings (1826-1856). Willkings, a medical doctor, is believed to be the last person killed in a duel in North Carolina. He gave a speech at a Democratic rally on April 30, 1856 accusing the American Party of jeopardizing public health for the sake of a dollar.

Joseph H. Flanner published a classified ad calling Willkings a liar, and Willkings challenged him to a duel. The duel was held across state lines in South Carolina – pistols at ten paces. Each man fired three rounds, and the fatal shot hit Willkings in the lung. Hundreds attended his funeral, and The Democratic Association of Wilmington paid for his monument.

A Loyal Companion

Statue of a small dog lounging in the shadow of a monument to Democratic legislator William Hill (1825-1860). This is not the most famous canine sculpture in Oakdale Cemetery. That distinction belongs to the one carved on Capt. William Ellerbrock’s tombstone. But I thought this little guy was charming in its own right.

Author: Michael Kleen

Michael Kleen is an author, raconteur, and occasional traveler. He has a M.A. in History and M.S. in Education. He enjoys studying military history, folklore, and philosophy.

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