Catherine Solomon and Sylvia Stoudenmire, who began coming to Oakdale Cemetery with
their grandmothers when they were children, continue to visit today. Opposite clockwise
from top: Many parts of Oakdale, shaded by mature trees, feel as much like a park as a
cemetery. Moss hangs from the tree behind the grave of Nicholas Nixon Davis, deceased in
1909. The grave of 6-year-old Annie DeRosset, Oakdale’s first interment. Some plots, like this
one in section J, are tiered and formed with brick or concrete walls.
TTHERE’S ALSO A HEADSTONE THAT READS “Our Little Annie,” with a lamb lying on
top. It marks the grave of 6-year-old Annie DeRosset, the first interment on Feb. 5, 1855. Her
father was physician Armand John DeRosset, Oakdale’s first president.
Williams leads a couple of visitors to his family’s plot.
“Had I known we were coming over here, I’d have brought the lawnmower out,” he laughs.
Yet when approaching the graves, some worn, some new, things become somber. Williams’ son,
Harper, was buried here following a fatal motor vehicle accident after his first semester at University of
North Carolina Chapel Hill. Williams’ sister, whose life was taken by cancer, is also here.
The plot also gives a hint about the family’s unique history. Two of the gravestones bear the
same birth date.
“My grandfather was born July Fourth, 1876. My dad was born July Fourth, 1920. I was
born July Fourth, 1950, and my son (Tram) was born July Fourth, 1982,” Williams says, a
record that landed them in the Guinness Book of World Records.
Kozen responds, “You can’t plan that, that’s some of the cool stuff you find out. I’ve been
here 15 years and you learn something new every day. That’s what’s cool about this place.”
Friends of Oakdale wants to educate the public about the stories and the opportunities
to peek inside Wilmington’s history. The group offers various tours, including a horticulture
tour, World War I historical tour, angel tour, mausoleums tour, summer walking tours held
every month from May through October, and the popular flashlight tour from 7:30-9:30 p.m.
WBM october 2017