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The Jordan Councill Cemetery has been in existence since the early 1800s and was originally established as a burial ground for slaves. It is located adjacent to the Appalachian State University Campus, on the corner of Howard Street and Brown Street in Boone.

Photos by Allison Haver

Originally published: 2014-03-22 16:03:33
Last modified: 2014-03-22 16:04:18


by Allison Haver

Tom Whyte, an anthropology professor at Appalachian State University, gave a presentation on his research on the Jordan Councill Cemetery during the Junaluska Heritage Association meeting on Thursday.

The association is a partnership of residents of the Junaluska community and townspeople from the Boone area assisted by the faculty of Appalachian State University and others.

The cemetery is located just south of Hardin Street in Boone and is divided into two sections.

According to Whyte's research, the two sections are locally referred to as the "white" and "black" sections.

The former, referred to as the "West" Section, is the larger and contains numerous well-marked graves within a fenced perimeter. The latter, referred to as the "East" Section contained only two well-marked graves and numerous unmarked graves, mostly of black residents of Boone who had died between the mid-nineteenth century and 1954.

Christopher Moore of the Coastal Resources Management Program at East Carolina University, and Keith C. Seramur of the Department of Geology at Appalachian State University, undertook a ground-penetrating radar study of the cemetery in 2007. With the assistance of Whyte, the study showed that about 20 graves were located at the top of the hill.

The study also showed no evidence that any remains have ever been removed from the area, although flat stones which were used as early markers have been removed.

Jordan Councill Cemetery plays a central role in Boone and Watauga County history; three Confederate infantrymen killed in Stoneman's Raid in 1865 are buried in the cemetery.

The cemetery, however, is poorly maintained and, because of its proximity to Appalachian State University, regularly provides a secluded milieu for partying, Whyte said.

According to Whyte, the cemetery is in need of refurbishing, retaining walls, fencing and signage.

The grassy East section nearly lacking obstructions (grave monuments) is particularly attractive for daytime picnics and pet relief, as well as nighttime trysts and sorority rites.

It has even provided a setting for recent pet burial. Private and state construction projects have encroached upon the cemetery's southern, eastern, and northern boundaries. Cemetery maintenance such as mowing and landscaping also continues to threaten grave integrity.

Whyte told members of the association that he would help in any way he could to preserve the cemetery.

Faculty members of Appalachian State University, who were present during the meeting, said the staff and student would be interested in assisting any way possible.