A Church, a Cemetery and a Breakthrough in Williamston (Part 1)

Williamston, North Carolina
Martin County

The Graveyard

After far too long on my to-do list, I finally crossed off visit Williamston/Jamesville from the list. Martin County is the focal point of the maternal-paternal-maternal branch of my tree. So spending time there, purely for genealogical purposes, was thrilling to me. (Special thanks to my wonderful hubby for indulging my "hobby" and traveling with me!)

The very first stop on my trip was the Griffin-Lanier cemetery, located right off of Highway 64 close to the border of Williamston and Jamesville. I didn't have that information when I arrived in town. I had been given general directions on where to find the cemetery, but they were more of what you might call "country directions" -- go about a mile and then turn left at old man Wilson's house, go over the hill until you see a row of tall trees and you can't miss it. Not particularly helpful to me. 

But after a few phone calls, I was able to pinpoint the location a bit more precisely and found the 13 plots just a few hundred feet from the highway, next to some sort of storage building that appeared to be used at some point as lodging for someone. I have no idea who owns this land now, but that piece of research is now on my to-do list.

On this cold and rainy day, standing on the side of highway 64, I finally found what I'd been waiting years to see; the final resting place of two of my great-great grandparents:
Joshua Larnee Griffin (1849-1930) and Mary Frances Reddick Griffin (1855-1929)
The headstone was beautiful and elegant. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but I didn't expect this. If it hadn't been so cold and raining, and my time hadn't been limited, I would have worked to clean the headstone. But that too will have to go on my ever expanding to-do list (or find a service that will do it for me!).

As I stood there, I couldn't help but wonder, who was at the funerals, what was said about these two people? Who paid for the headstone and decided the design? There's just so much that I want to know about these two people, but for now I'll have to be content with the bits and pieces of information as they come to me. I also wondered, with a headstone like this (which I assume was quite costly) why didn't Joshua have a will like his father, or if he did, why can't I find it? All questions to be answered on another day.

As I mentioned there were quite a few additional graves in this family cemetery:  
  • Lena G. Perry (1886-1977) - Lena Caroline Griffin Perry, my great-great aunt

  • Hardy W. Griffin (1888-1967) - Hardy Wilmore Griffin, my great-great uncle

  • Octavius Lanier (1890-1961) - Octavius V. Lanier, married to my great-great aunt

  • Emma G. Lanier (1891-1969) - Emma Beatrice Griffin Lanier, my great-great aunt

  • Simon Jones (1912-1996) - husband of Rosa, below

  • Rosa B. L. Jones (1914-1979) - Rosa Beatrice Lanier Jones, my first cousin 2x removed, daughter of Octavius/Emma, sister of Harry/Olla

  • Harry Clinton Lanier (1916-1995) - my first cousin 2x removed, son of Octavius/Emma, brother of Rosa/Olla

  • Olla L. Bolden (1919-1985) - Olla Verdell Lanier Bolden, my first cousin 2x removed, daughter of Octavius/Emma, sister of Harry/Rosa/Rulet

  • Rulet L. Lanier (1921-1939) - my first cousin 2x removed, daughter of Octavius/Emma, sister of Harry/Rosa/Olla

  • Theodosia Lanier (1956-1971)

  • Tremaine D. Howell (1972-1994) - my contemporary! How did he end up here?!?

I know it's weird, but I love cemeteries. There's so much history there. Each head stone (or lack thereof) tells a story. I could spend hours wandering through larger cemeteries reading the headstones and wondering about the people who lived and ultimately died in that community -- the old ones and the very young ones; the wealthy and the poor; the mothers and fathers and grandparents; the veterans; and sometimes...even the pets!

I learned much more during my visit. More to come...


  1. O. V. and Emma had another son, Cheldon Lanier who is still living, Springfield,MA. Thanks for the photos, i haven't seen this Cemetery since I was a young child.

  2. Hi Nia Jai, my name is Timika and it looks like we are cousins. Rosa B. and Simon Jones were my maternal grandparents. Their 2-story house and farm used to be on the land about 200 yards to the left of the current grave site, but the city leveled it to expand the highway (you know, to accommodate the bustling beach-bound traffic... 20+ years later and I still feel some kind of way about that). Anyway, cousin Tremaine Howell was only a year older than me; my first playmate and best friend. He and 2 of his high school classmates were victims of a crime that remains unsolved as far as I know. Their bodies were found in a creek on the edge of town, but they weren't drowned. Tremaine was a talented artist heading to college the following year (same year as me).

    1. Hi Timika! Thanks for your comment and the information. i would love to continue the conversation. Please email me at railroads and cotton [at] gmail (no spaces in the email) when you can!


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