07.31.2016 (G. Kueber)
07.31.2016 (G. Kueber)
Prior to emancipation (1865), this cemetery was used mainly for the interment of those enslaved by Cadwallader Jones, Sr. and Peter B. Ruffin. Post-emancipation, this was the main public cemetery for African Americans for the Hillsborough area. Approximately 125 to 170 graves have been identified via two non-invasive archaeological surveys (in 2006 and 2016).
In 1978, a group seeking land to build a church discovered the town had no deed for the property. The group filed a quit-claim deed, which would confer
ownership to the group if unchallenged for seven years. The town learned of the deed only a month before the deadline but was able to counter the
quit-claim and preserve ownership of the site as a public space and as a historic cemetery. The cemetery was "restored" in 1987, and on December 4, 2011, the town unveiled a brick monument to preserve three headstones from unknown graves at the cemetery.
Margaret Lane Cemetery is owned by the Town of Hillsborough and maintained by the Town's Public Space Division, with the volunteer Hillsborough Cemetery Committee assisting with the site.
(Below in italics is from the National Register listing; not verified for accuracy by this author.)
Located on the south side of West Margaret Lane between South Occoneechee and South Hillsborough streets, the cemetery was established as a slave cemetery. It is situated on a small hill with historic hardwoods dotting the otherwise open, grassy parcel. Brick wall mark the corners of the cemetery and form the formal entrance to the cemetery from South Occoneechee Street. Plaques placed in 1987 on a brick wall and a large stone in the center of the cemetery state: "Margaret Lane Cemetery, Before 1852 to 1931” The plaque on the stone also reads “The names of persons found hereon are known to have been buried at this sacred site. Due to varying circumstances, the exact location of most of their graves is not now known. Names subsequently discovered may be placed by town authorization on this plaque or another appropriate marker” and lists the names of forty-one people and dates where known. In addition to the plaque there are also individual markers, the oldest legible marker is for George W. Hill (1844-1900). Only some five stones survive: four headstones and one obelisk, all with dates in the late 19th-early 20th centuries. A small plot at the southwest corner of the cemetery is marked by a Victorian wrought-iron fence.