Informal Group of Local Residents Record 300 Watauga Cemeteries, Asks Help in Finding Out-of-Way Graves

Published Wednesday, August 22, 2012 at 1:35 pm

Mast Cemetary – Photo by Pat Arrants

By Jesse Wood

Aug. 22, 2012. An informal group of local residents are searching for cemeteries in Watauga County to record into an international online database of grave sites.

So far, the group has found and recorded more than 300 cemeteries and is asking for your help to find some of the lesser-known, out-of-the-way, “little family cemeteries and those hidden in the woods,” said Chet Walker, a part-time resident of the High Country. 

Walker has been working with a few others that decided to coordinate efforts to share findings so as not to duplicate searches. This informal group includes Anita Stafford, Ed Greene,  Joe Scarborough, and Robert Peurifoy.

Walker initially became involved in this project after doing some research of his own family’s genealogy in Charlotte. An avid hiker who enjoyed exploring new terrain, Walker decided to combine two of his pastimes by searching for cemeteries in Watauga County.

“I got bored with hiking and love genealogy and exploring Watauga County,” Walker said.

“What has fascinated me was the nice people that I have met,” Walker continued. “So many people have helped me, even those who weren’t able to help me directly. Others have taken me on their properties to show me a family cemetery or one somewhere else. Sometimes, I’ll just knock on a door. People have been incredibly helpful.”

Some of the more prevalent surnames, he has come across during his search of local graves include Gragg, Hampton, Norris, Mast, Harmon, Ward, Miller, Ward and Greene.

“Find A Grave” is the name of the website. It lists more than 85 million cemeteries and includes pictures.

People can post listings to graves on the website. For those not proficient with computers or don’t want to deal with that hassle, Walker said he and the others would be glad to add them to the website.

Walker suggests for people to click to www.findagrave.com and look to see what graves/cemeteries are on the site.

If you know of a grave that isn’t on the database, Walker requests that you contact him via email at chetwalker@carolina.rr.com or call him at 704-575-1800 to help in the search.  

For more information about the website, click to www.findagrave.com

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