Special event tonight to raise funds for Dixonville Cemetery restoration

SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - A special event will be held in Salisbury on Thursday night to help in the restoration of the Dixonville-Lincoln Memorial Project.

Called "The Ministers of Comedy," it will feature local pastors sharing funny stories and jokes, and even include Salisbury Police Chief Jerry Stokes with musical entertainment.

Clergy participating will include Dr. Mark Conforti, Pastor Tim Bates, the Rev. Robert Black, Pastor Bradley Taylor, the Rev. Johnny Leazer, the Rev. Marcus Fairley, Pastor Carol Hallman, the Rev. Patrick Jones, Pastor Geoffrey Hoy and the Rev. Patrick Tate.

The event will take place at 6:00 pm at the Salisbury Civic Center.

The task force for the Dixonville-Lincoln Memorial Project was formed in 2010 to create a memorial that would raise the profile of Dixonville Cemetery, located at 210 Old Concord Road in Salisbury.

The site consists of 1.7 acres and is closed for burials/historic.

One of the city's oldest African-American cemeteries, Dixonville Cemetery was deeded to the City of Salisbury in 1874. There are at least 477 documented burials that have occurred at the Dixonville site since 1914, however it is believed that many burials took place at this location prior to the practice of official record-keeping. The oldest existing headstone in Dixonville Cemetery dates to 1851.

In 1874 Joseph Horah deeded a tract of land that established the first City-owned cemetery for the burial of African-Americans. In 1881, the Commissioners of Salisbury purchased a second acre of land from Joseph Horah and enlarged the cemetery.

According to the task force, the goal is to "interpret its history and pay respects to the African-Americans buried there, documented as far back as Mary Valentine's 1851 gravesite."

The project also includes the old Lincoln School.  It is now unoccupied and owned by Mount Calvary Church.

Dixonville Cemetery is owned and maintained by the City of Salisbury.

The first burials were carried out before the Civil War and it was actively used through the 1960s.

Among those interred there are Bishop John Jamison Moore, founder the of AME Zion Church in western North Carolina, and the Rev. Harry Cowan, who was born into slavery but went on to establish 49 churches and baptize 8,500 people.

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