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Falls Community Cemetery

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By Barbara Bridgers Barham -- August 18, 2006


As the 1900s began, the village of Falls was a thriving village with a new school for all grades under the teacher/principalship of Mrs. Etta Thompson. Dr. W. R. Cullum led in organizing Falls Baptist Church in 1900, and the mill under Superintendent, Mr. Kenneth Gant, was going strong. Mrs. Frances Fort of Wake Forest gave an acre of land to build the new church. The men of the village built the church under the direction of Mr. Henry Bolton, master builder. These men built the pews and other furnishings for the new church. Dr. Sanford Thompson was the village doctor.

The virgin forest around Neuse River attracted sawmills to Falls with its promise of prime wood for the cutting. Several families came from Tennessee including the Holmans and the Porters. The Porters had a baby daughter, Mary Alice (November 14, 1908-March 21, 1909) that became ill and died. Mr. Gant called on the family and found the mother quite distraught over her baby's death and the lack of an acceptable burial place. She shared with him that several families had offered grave sites but she could not face her child being in some other family place.

Mr. Gant, touched by the mother's grief responded by setting aside land owned by the mill company on top of the hill overlooking the river as a village cemetery. Baby Porter was laid to rest as the first burial. The cemetery was known as Oak Hill for it was shaded by many tall beautiful oaks. Mr. Samuel Davis was the second burial in 1914.
MID-TO-LATE 1900's

The cemetery was slow to start but by 1920 there had been several burials. Many of the families had moved from faraway places like Stony Hill, Woodland, Pilot Mill, Durham and other distances. It was a long way to carry their loved ones home to the old farms and the beloved graveyards. Soon, more people were feeling at home at Falls and the cemetery became known from about 1950 on as Falls Cemetery and later as Falls Community Cemetery. In the olden days, friends would dig the graves. This led to a great bonding of friends as the village grew close in their feelings for each other.

The steep driveway was moved when some additional land was purchased. The climb that was most treacherous in bad weather was now a lesser incline. Nature has taken care of many of the beautiful oaks through the years with Hurricane Fran bringing down several in 1996.


In the 1970's, as construction of Falls Dam and Lake required removal of graves from the lake area to the west, many of the old family cemeteries had to be relocated. Erwin Mills of Durham was contacted and land was purchased adjoining the cemetery by the US Army Corps of Engineers. This gave the cemetery four new sections joining the original plot; one new section was used for relocating the ancient cemeteries and opened three sections for use by the Cemetery. To date, one of the new sections is nearly filled and a second one is in the planning stage.

Driveways have been widened, brick columns have been erected and a beautiful bronze name plaque on stately brick columns welcome visitors. From the top of the hill, serene Falls Lake can be viewed as it begins its westward journey.

The cemetery is maintained through love gifts of the families with loved ones interred therein. May the love represented through this dedication to our heritage carry forth to all generations to come.