Although, Oakdale Cemetery is not located in South Carolina it’s still a part of my family’s past. Several of my ancestors (Bellamy’s) on my mother’s side are buried in Oakdale. Oakdale is located in Wilmington, NC only a few blocks from the Bellamy Mansion.
Prior to the 1850s, the deceased were buried on a family member’s property or on his or her church grounds. The transition to the rural cemetery began in England in the 1840s. Large tracts of land, with a garden setting, became cemeteries where families could mourn the loss of loved ones. Rural cemeteries would be lined with gravestones close to one another. Paths and hills and natural streams, if possible, provided solace for the mourner. Oakdale Cemetery was founded within this tradition.
During the mid-1800s, Wilmington, NC was a populated urban port city and an ideal setting for the state’s first rural cemetery. In December 1852, the legislature granted a charter for sixty-five acres of land in the northeastern city limits on Burnt Mill Creek. The parcel sold for $1,100. In 1854, the first plots were sold and the first person buried at Oakdale was six-year old Anne DeRossett. The cemetery is only about four blocks from the Wilmington town limits.
Because of Oakdale’s peaceful environment inspired many families to relocate their relatives from other burial places to Oakdale. This explains why many gravestones have pre-1855 markings.