A dedication ceremony for Green Street Cemetery was held Friday morning to unveil a historical marker that lists the names of the people buried there. 


The Green Street Cemetery is the oldest African American cemetery for some of Statesville and Iredell County’s enslaved people, military veterans and prominent community members.

Located at 657 S. Green Street, the landmark has approximately 2,224 graves on 3.39 acres of land, according to local historian Joel Reese.

In 2022, the Iredell County Public Library received a $20,000 grant to conduct a ground-penetrating radar survey at the site.

Len Strozier with Omega Mapping Services discovered 2,067 unmarked graves, along with 157 plots with markers.

With extensive research, local history librarians and volunteers were able to learn the names of approximately 1,461 people who were believed to be buried in the Green Street Cemetery based on death certificates, death notices in local newspapers and other historic artifacts.

Following the ground-penetrating radar survey, the library hosted a community event to install metal bolt markers at every burial site in the cemetery.

Each bolt represent a person buried at the site, so now the unmarked graves have permanent markers.

Statesville Branch NAACP President Todd Scott said the organization partnered on the project and committed to raising $10,000 for cleaning up and repairing broken headstones.

On Friday morning, around 60 people gathered for a dedication ceremony for the historical marker that lists the names many of those buried there.

During the ceremony, the group heard from City of Statesville members, Iredell library staff, NAACP and local pastors.

Distinguished guests and speakers included:
• Costi Kutteh, Mayor of Statesville,
• Julie Moore, Executive Director of Iredell County Public Library,
• Rev. Marcus Famer, Mt. Pleasant and Rocky Creek A.M.E. Zion Church pastor,
• Rev. William Scott, a Statesville native,
• Todd Scott, Statesville NAACP President,
• Len Strozier, Omega Mapping Services,
• Beverly Maurice, president of Congregation Emanuel and
• Rev. Bridget Thornton, pastor of Scotts Chapel United Methodist Church.

Forgotten No More

Local resident Vermel Moore is a descendant of a family whose roots run deep in Statesville.

Her parents Hubert, 82, and Cecelia Moore, 81, were married in Scotts Chapel United Methodist Church, not far from Green Street Cemetery, in 1959.

“They are members (of the church) to this day. They were the first people to be married in that new church and I’ve gone there my whole life,” she said. “It’s got a lot of history with this whole community.”

She attended the unveiling ceremony to support the community and her new pastor Rev. Bridget Thornton, and to see if she would find names of her ancestors.

“I have family that was buried in this cemetery. My dad has sisters and brothers that were buried here. He’s always wondered where they are,” Moore said.

Because the graves of her relatives were unmarked, they became lost over time.

On Friday morning, Moore glanced over the names and smiled when she came across the name Jimmy Lee Moore.

“There it is,” she said.

A feeling of peace came over her and she called her dad immediately.

He was surprised to find out that there was now documentation that tied his brother to the cemetery. She took a picture of the name and plans on bringing her parents by to see the historical directory in person.

“My dad was pleased and it means a lot,” she said.

The goal of the project is to better memorialize community residents.

“It’s the first step in many of a long process of the historical recognition that the cemetery deserves,” said Library Director Juli Moore.

Visitors can find the name of their ancestors on the historical marker, which shows those who have stone markers and served in the military. 

Additional names have been found that will be added to the marker.

“We’ve got a long way to go, but I think we’ve made a great deal of progress to get to this point,” said Mayor Kutteh. “We thank each and every one of you for that.”

Scott agreed. He that the community came together for one goal, but there is still more work to be done.

Scott thanked the volunteers, community partners and both local history librarians Joel Reese and Shellie Taylor, whom he called the “Queen of Graveyards,” for their dedication.

“This is history. Some people were born into slavery, but when they died, they were free. You have to think how important that is and what it means to our families,” Scott said.

Cemetery History

In 1885, the trustees of the Colored Graveyard Association purchased the first tract of land on this site from Mary C. Bell for the exclusive purpose burying residents in what had become the heart of the African American community in Statesville.

A second tract of land was purchased in 1890 and a potter’s field was established on land adjacent to the cemetery.

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