Oakwood Cemetery

Written By Shane Williams

Oakwood Cemetery is nestled in the Historic Oakwood section of Raleigh, within walking distance of the Governor’s Mansion. The various gravestones and monuments rest upon a natural setting of hills, flowers, shrubs, oak and cedar trees, and natural streams.

Oakwood was initially a Confederate Cemetery founded after the Civil War in 1866 by the Ladies Memorial Association of Wake County. The 2 ¼ acre lot was bestowed by Henry Mordecai who was a successful businessman and public official in Raleigh. This group of local women desired to establish a permanent burial ground for Confederate soldiers who were previously buried at the Raleigh National Cemetery. Because the Raleigh National Cemetery was to be used for Union solider burials, the Ladies Association had three days to transfer five hundred Confederate Soldiers to Oakwood Cemetery.

Transferred graves were originally not given names and only marked with granite posts and a number for identification. Bordering on the Confederate graves is a Gothic style House of Memory built in 1935 honoring North Carolina veterans and sailors. The gravestone markers identify six North Carolina Senators, 1,500 Confederate soldiers, four generals, and many prominent state officeholders. Eight North Carolina governors are also buried at Oakwood including Charles Aycock, Daniel Fowle, William Holden, Dan K. Moore, Jonathan Worth, Thomas Bragg, Charles Manly, and David Swain.

Today, Oakwood Cemetery is a private, non-profit cemetery and is open to the public everyday with walking tours offered. Oakwood hosts astronomy sessions, nature walks, history discourses, and theatrical performances. Every Halloween the Sons of Confederacy holds a lantern walk in the cemetery and reenacts scenes from the Civil War. Oakwood Cemetery is maintained by the Sons of Confederate Veterans and spans 102 acres with assistance from private donors. Oakwood Cemetery offers an idyllic and serene resting place for North Carolina’s fallen soldiers.