RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — It’s a hard number to put a finger on, but according to recent reports, there are more than 20,000 cemeteries in the United States. That number doesn’t include those that are hidden or lost.
A lot of cemeteries are in bad shape.
There is one cemetery you may have driven and never seen, that’s buried in plain sight right off New Bern Avenue in Raleigh.
Stores and shops line the road, so it’s hard to imagine driving by a cemetery and not seeing it.
But author, storyteller and Raleigh historian Oakley Dean Baldwin said it happens every day.
“I would say 99.9% of the traffic every day that comes by here, hidden in plain sight, don’t have a clue that it’s here. And if they do see it, they have no idea what it is,” Baldwin said.
The cemetery is right next to a convenience store in the Wilder’s Grove Plaza shopping center.
It is called the Wilder’s Grove Cemetery. It’s more than 200 years old and, relatively speaking, in good shape.
“I think up until the fifties and sixties, when the family members were still in the area, a lot of this maintenance was done,” Baldwin said.
The Wilder’s Grove Cemetery is the family cemetery of the Wilder Family. There are 11 plots dating back to the mid-1800s.
Among those 11 plots is the family patriarch in Wake County, Colonel Hillary Madison Wilder, who was a wealthy and prominent planter and major slaveholder.
They lived in a ten-room, two-story house on the property.
“There, they purchased 1800 acres of land and developed a second farm, which they named Wilder’s Grove,” Baldwin explained. “Back when I was a young deputy here in 1981, this