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Cemetery Manager

Linda R. Davis
(704) 638-5250

About Old English Cemetery

Old English/Freedman’s Cemetery is located at 220 N. Church Street, consists of 1.4 acres, the Old English part was given to the City in 1794 and is closed for burials/historic. The first documented burial was in 1775 (Cpt. Daniel Little). According to popular Revolutionary War legend, British soldiers were buried in the cemetery in early February of 1781, dying while the army was marching through Rowan County during the “Race to the Dan.” Also interred are several community leaders, Confederate soldiers, and the first Confederate Governor of North Carolina, John Ellis.

The Freedman’s Cemetery is located in between the Old English cemetery wall and Liberty Street where 150 known and unknown enslaved and free African-American men, women and children are buried. Portions of this cemetery have been violated, bodies disinterred and markers removed. In 1975, the City of Salisbury assumed ownership of this cemetery and at that time it was closed for future burials. A memorial was built and dedicated in 2005 to honor those who are buried there. Their names and dates appear on the memorial wall.

Famous Internments:

Craige, Francis Burton

b. March 13, 1811 d. December 30, 1875

U.S. Congressman. Born near Salisbury, North Carolina, he graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1829, and then was editor and proprietor of the Western Carolinian, (1829-31). He studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1832, commenced to law practice in Salisbury, North Carolina and was a member of the North Carolina State House of Representatives, (1832-34). In 1853, he was elected as a Democrat to the Thirty-third Congress and to the three succeeding Congresses, serving until 1861. Shortly after his term, he introduced the ordinance of secession from the Union in the form in which it was adopted and was delegate to the Provisional Congress of the Confederate States in July 1861. He died at age 64 in Concord, North Carolina.

Ellis, John Willis

b. November 23, 1820 d. July 7, 1861

35th North Carolina Governor (1859 to 1861). At the start of the Civil War he was responsible for leading his state out of the Union and joining the Confederate States of America. Raised on his family's plantation in what is now Davidson County, he graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1841, studied law with future State Chief Justice Richmond Mumford Pearson, and became a practicing attorney in Salisbury. From 1844 to 1848 he was a member of the State House of Commons, and from 1848 to 1858 he served as a judge of the State Superior Court. He resigned from the bench upon winning the first of two terms as Governor.

A Democrat, Ellis launched a progressive program of improving North Carolina's roads, waterways, and educational system. He was also pro-slavery and states rights, initially steering a moderate course in his attitude towards the central government. In addressing the General Assembly in November 1860 he urged for the "prevention...of civil war and the preservation of peace", but he also recommended beefing up the State Militia and called for a convention in which North Carolinans could express their opinion on the secession issue.

The convention idea was rejected by voters, suggesting little popular support for leaving the Union, but by then the national political situation was deteriorating rapidly. On April 13, 1861, Fort Sumter fell to South Carolina forces and the Civil War had begun. President Abraham Lincoln sent Ellis a telegram requesting two regiments of militia to help put down the rebellion, and received this response: "I can be no party to this wicked violation of the laws of the country and to this war upon the liberties of a free people. You can get no troops from North Carolina". The Governor immediately ordered the seizure of all federal forts in the state along with the federal arsenal in Fayetteville, and on April 17 he wired Jefferson Davis, "We are ready to join you to a man. Strike the blow quickly and Washington will be ours".

On May 1 the General Assembly authorized Ellis to send troops to aid Virginia; North Carolina formally seceded on May 20 and was admitted as the 10th Confederate State the following day. Ellis would not live to witness the catastrophe he had contributed to setting in motion. Already in failing health, he went to a sanitarium in Red Sulphur Springs, Virginia (now in West Virginia) in late June and died there soon after his arrival. He was 40. Henry T. Clark, Speaker of the State Senate, completed his term.

Cemetery Policies



The City of Salisbury Cemetery Division reserves the right to regulate the method of decorating graves so that a safe and historical uniform beauty may be maintained.

  • Floral arrangements accompanying the casket or urn at the time of burial will be placed on the completed grave. They will remain there for approximately one week, at which time the Cemetery staff will remove and discard them. If the family wants to keep any of the grave arrangements, they should be removed before that one week is up.
  • The City cemeteries do not require a vault being used in burials. Please be aware that if a vault is not used that the ground will settle which means if you have a marker installed on the grave, most likely the concrete border around your marker will eventually crack and the marker may also start sinking. If a vault is used, there is still the possibility of the concrete border cracking due to swelling & shrinking of the stone due to hot or cold. This is not due to the Cemetery staff running over your marker or hitting your marker while mowing. The City shall not be held responsible for cracked borders or sinking markers.
  • The City of Salisbury is not responsible for any floral or tributes placed on a grave plot. If missing or stolen, you may file a police report by calling the Salisbury Police Department at (704) 638-5333.
  • PROHIBITED GRAVE ITEMS: Nothing is allowed outside of your marker. Fencing outlining of graves is not allowed, fabric printed pictures that cover the grave are not allowed, solar lights are not allowed, glass, metal or wood products, rocks, toys, life-size decorations, Christmas lights or any other potential projectiles are not permitted on cemetery plots at any time. Anything that could potentially kill the grass on the plot is also not allowed. The Management reserves the right to remove any items that do not conform to these limitations. This is for the safety of our crews since lawn mowers and weed eaters may come into contact with items placed on graves. If so placed and damage does occur, the City shall not be held responsible.
  • All floral arrangements must be in a permanent vase, on a saddle or in a hard plastic cone vase that sticks into the ground. If placed otherwise, and your flowers are damaged due to contact with our equipment, the City shall not be held responsible.
  • An "Annual Cemetery Cleanup/Flower Removal" is performed once a year most likely in February. You can call the Cemetery office at (704) 638-5250 to find out the definite date. Large blue signs will be erected in each cemetery about 2 months prior to the cleanup. During cleanup week, any items located on graves including flowers, solar lights or decorations will be removed and discarded. If you wish to retain any items, please remove them before clean up week. After the cleanup is completed, you can place your items back on your plot.
  • The City maintains 7 cemeteries and takes pride in keeping them looking neat. The mowing schedule allows each cemetery to be mowed every 10-14 days which is usually sufficient for each cemetery to look good until we get back to it. Please bear with us at times as rain and the crew having to stop to open and close graves plays a major role in keeping the schedule on time.

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