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Welcome to the John N. Smith Cemetery

Southport, NC

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History of the Cemetery

Established 1880  

The John N. Smith Cemetery was established in 1880 when the trustees of an African American Methodist Church in Smithville (now Southport) purchased a two-acre tract of land for the sole purpose of making it a grave yard. An additional acre was added later.

A Cemetery committee, made up of representatives from five local Black churches, sold burial plots to the community at large. The cemetery was kept and maintained by the committee.

In later years, the cemetery was used as the site of Memorial Day commemorations; and grave plots were cleaned and decorated with red, white and blue arrangements for the occasion. The cemetery currently is the site for Southport's annual Memorial Day celebration, an event that honors heroes from the Nation's wars, the Civil War through Vietnam War.

The John N. Smith Cemetery is the site of more than 1725 burials; many interred there have made significant contributions to the history and current quality of life in Southport.  The preservation of the John N. Smith Cemetery has a historical and spiritual significance that is an essential part of the Southport Community. Its perpetual care will remind us of the lives and the contributions made by local Black citizens towards Southport’s growth and development. Many of the persons interred there were slaves, farmers, teachers, businessmen, laborers, domestic servants, homemakers, and other professionals. Additionally, interred there are veterans dating from the Civil War and subsequent military campaigns. 


The urgency to restore the Cemetery comes as a result of disappearing grave sites and persons with knowledge to identify those sites. The Southport community has the resources and the capacity to ensure the cemetery’s future is retained forever as a unique and respected site for celebrating an honorable past.

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