Report By: Linda and Bob Newton
This four-acre site which is owned by the Federal government and maintained by the Department of the Army (MOTSU) is located between the Cape Fear River and Dow Road in an area adjacent and south of the Federal Point Methodist Cemetery. It consists of both an eighteenth to early nineteenth century homeplace and a cemetery containing grave markers with the surnames of Newton, Craig, Dosher, and Grissom, all well known early settlers of the area who become river and blockade runner pilots.
Oral reports maintain that up to 40 markers may have existed there at one time and one deed references a “colored people’s graveyard” adjacent to it. Newspaper articles have suggested that the “Meeting House” and cemetery left by Edward Newton, Jr. in his will dated 1844 could be the site of the oldest Methodist Church in the State of North Carolina.
This site is significant as an example of early regional settlement which can also be associated with the region’s early maritime industries as it represents one of the earliest Euro-Amenican domestic settlements discovered on the east side of the lower Cape Fear River.
It is one of only a handful of domestic sites which have been identified from the early settlement period of the Cape Fear peninsula, and it is one of only two sites identified as a small plantation associated with the eighteenth through early nineteenth century in this region, and it is one of only four possible maritime-related sites identified in Federal Point. Data from this site would serve as excellent comparative material in conjunction with other sites in the area such as Brunswick Town and the lighthouse keeper’s site on Battlefield Acre.
Members of the newly formed Cemetery Committee have attended three meetings with representatives from MOTSU, St. Paul’s Methodist Church and the Newton family to discuss the use, protection, restrictions and restoration of the site. In response to a letter written by David Brooks, Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer, to Colonel Toal, dated July 24, 1997, a meeting, was held July 31, 1997, and directions were given for short-term protection of the site against continuing ground disturbing activities which could damage or destroy archeological elements within the site.
The Society was asked to sign a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) outlining restrictions for the care and use of the site. On September 30, 1997, after review by Society member, Attorney Gleason Allen, a proposed MOA concerning the preservation, maintenance and restoration of the site was signed by President Cheri McNeill and forwarded to MOTSU.
In a letter, dated October 6, 1997, from MOTSU, receipt of the MOA was confirmed and states that review by the State Historic Preservation Office in Raleigh and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation in Washington is in progress and should be complete in several months. Until the MOA is signed, preservation activities may be pursued on an individual basis with the permission of MOTSU.
The Society now maintains a Cemetery Fund to be used in the care and maintenance of the cemetery and any donated amount would be greatly appreciated. The Committee is working on gathering funds for constructing a picket fence and posting signage. Individuals wishing to donate to the Cemetery Fund to help with these projects, contact Darlene Bright.
[Text originally published in the November, 1997 – FPHPS Newsletter with images added in 2015]
[Additional current Newton Cemetery resources]
Memorial: Linda and Bob Newton
Oral History – Howard Hewett – Federal Point Methodist Episcopal Church (adjacent to Newton Cemetery)
View images of the Federal Point Methodist Church Cemetery – and the adjacent Newton Cemetery – taken on November 12, 2014
Complete listing of the tombstones in the Newton Homesite & Cemetery (2007)