Who Lies Here
Most official Cemetery burial records have been lost over the years. But with the help of families, community members and researchers, we are gathering information on those interred in the John N. Smith Cemetery.
As a part of our Public Education initiative, we are highlighting names and history of those at rest in this Cemetery.
Blount, Abram 1842 - 1912. Abram Blount was a Southport Fisherman and a Civil War veteran. He served in Infantry Co. C, 37th Regiment of the United States Colored Troops. He and his wife Philis had several children.
Clemmons, Anna (Annie) A 1890 -1956. There is evidence from her grave marker that Anna Clemmons had a daughter, but we have not discovered her name at this time. Anna Clemmons was a nurse who worked with Dr. J. Arthur Dosher in Southport. She also volunteered during the 1918 flu pandemic and received a certificate for heroic services. She will best be remembered for her attempts to register to vote in 1920. Having failed to read and write to the satisfaction of the Brunswick County registrar, Ms. Clemons wrote letters to the National Women’s Party (NWP) in Washington, D.C, the result of which was that they were unable to help her. These correspondences are in the archives of the National Women’s Party, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Library of Congress, and the Susie Carson Research Room at the Southport Historical Society. Secret Suffragette
Galloway, Abram, 1843-1927
Son of James and Sophie Galloway, Abram Galloway worked as a drayman*. During the Civil War, he served in Infantry Co. I, 37th Regiment of the United States Colored Troops. He was married to Lucinda Swain and then to Celia Lee. (*A drayman was the driver of a dray, a low, flat-bed wagon without sides that was pulled by horses or mules and used to transport goods.)
Galloway, Mary Ann, 1825 - 1944
Born a slave in the prominent Galloway family in the early days of the Cape Fear County, Mary Ann Galloway spent her girlhood and early womanhood as a house servant. She married a fellow slave named Monday Galloway several years prior to the Civil War. Mrs. Galloway gained her freedom at the end of the Civil War, and her husband died soon afterward. She never married again nor had children. For many years she worked as a washer woman and accumulated a lot and home of her own in Southport. She died at the age of 118 and was known as the oldest person living in North Carolina in her time. She is also the oldest person interred in this cemetery.
Gordon, Franklin Henry, 1856 - 1939
Born on the John C. Swain Plantation to Mary and Pompie Gordon, Frank Gordon was 9 years old when the Civil War ended. He became the first African American educator in Brunswick and credited his education to his teachers, most of whom were white ladies in the community. Mr. Gordon was married to Nannie Freeman and was the father of Cenelius, William and Frank. Mr. Gordon taught for more than half a century.
Gore, Elias Garthel, 1906 - 1944
Elias Gore was one of eleven children born to Alexander and Lilly Parker Gore. He was the husband of Pearl and the father of Elias A. Gore, Mary L. Wigfall, and Mattie P. Williams. Due to an abnormal pituitary gland, he grew to the adult stature of 7 feet, 11 inches. Affectionately known as “Nehi,” or the “Gentle Giant,” he was a menhaden fisherman and also worked for Driller-Shipbuilding Company. He died in 1944 at the age of 38. There is a life-sized cut-out of Mr. Gore on display at the Maritime Museum in Southport.
Howe family plots, burials from 1880 - present
Many of the Howe family graves were decorated with seashells as this was a common feature in coastal African American cemeteries. We are fortunate to have photos from the 1950s that show members of the Howe family tending the family plots and decorating the graves with shells. The graves of Sarah and Wellington Howe have been refurbished to demonstrate grave decorations in the Gullah Geechee tradition; many of the shells are from the original burial decorations. Howe family members buried in this cemetery include:
Howe, Wellington G., 1875 - 1928: Son of Nan Freeman and Willie Howe, husband of Sarah.
Howe, Mary I., 1882 - 1917: Daughter of Nannie and Walker Howe. Mary Howe was a school teacher.
Howe, Ethel, 1877 - 1880
Howe, Sarah Ann, 1889 - 1965: Daughter of Mary and Waddell Gillespie, wife of Wellington Howe, mother of John Nathan Howe. Sarah Ann Howe was a domestic worker.
Howe, John Nathan, 1906 - 1950: Husband of Ruby, father of Sarah Alice.
Howe, Ruby Inez, 1907 - 2003: Daughter of William Henry and Alice Howard Smith, wife of John Nathan Howe, mother of Sarah Alice Howe. Ruby Howe is remembered as a skilled seamstress, extraordinary candy maker, and a kind and caring neighbor.
Jackson, Malissa Wortham, 1848 - 1944
Malissa Wortham Jackson was the daughter of Fathia and William Wortham and the wife of John P. Jackson. She was a landowner, businesswoman, philanthropist, and midwife. She gifted the land on which Brown’s Chapel AMEZ Church stands today. As a midwife, she worked with Southport’s chief surgeon, Dr. Julius Arther Dosher. Mrs. Jackson died at the age of 96.
Parker, Harry Raphael, 1905 - 1963
Harry Parker was the son of Maude Green and Albert Parker, the husband of Evelyn, and the father of Ralph and Evelyn Amelia. He was one of the first Black menhaden fishing boat captains and was employed by Brunswick Navigation.
Parker, Ralph Harrison Sr., 1940 - 2017
Ralph Harrison Parker, Sr. was the son of Harry Raphael Parker and Evelyn Hankins Parker. He was married to Ivory Shird Parker and had two children, Dionne DeBerry and Ralph Parker, Jr. Mr. Parker graduated from Brunswick County Training School and received his Bachelors Degree at North Carolina A&T State University with honors. He returned to Southport and taught history and band. After receiving his Masters Degree, Mr. Parker worked at University of North Carolina Wilmington as a Dean of Students, Dean of Admissions, and Director of Minority Affairs; a scholarship was named in his honor. Mr. Parker’s hobby was woodworking. He made items from his Good Wood Shop and sold them at Southport Waterfront Market
Smith, John N, 1840 - 1874
Although the cemetery is named after John N. Smith, nothing is known about him. The grave marker appears newer than an 1800s marker, and we are hopeful that archival research will help us to discover more about him and his descendants.
Swain, Ephraim E., 1913 - 1996
Ephraim Swain was the son of Amelia C. Davis and Ed Swain. He was married to Beulah and then to Geraldine M Johnson, He was the father of Stephanie Jackson. Mr. Swain worked for the Corps of Engineers and became Brunswick County’s first African American magistrate in 1972, serving for nine years.
Wortham, Mary Eliza, 1885 - 1966
Mary Eliza Wortham was the daughter of Amanda Houston and Caana Williams, and was married to George Wortham. Having trained under Dr. J. Arthur Dosher, Mrs. Wortham worked with local doctors, nurses and the Brunswick County Health Department. She assisted in the delivery of more than 500 babies and was recognized by Brunswick County for 50 years of service.