to help repair and save the Salvo Day Use Cemetery - also known as the
Midgett Cemetery – are heating up as community members recognize the
current dire state of the site, as well as the devastating effects the
next major hurricane or storm could inflict on the already troubled
cemetery, which is located on National Park Service land within the
popular Salvo Day Use Area just south of the tri-villages, has been
battered by storms and erosion, particularly for the past five to 10
years, and has rapidly deteriorated to the dismay of the descendants of
the islanders who are buried there.
have broken, washed away, or have been removed by concerned family
members who worry they could disappear altogether, and tombs are
becoming exposed as the soundfront area steadily recedes from a regular
battering of high water and waves.
community members have been fighting for a long time to address the
issue, but it’s quickly becoming a race against time to raise the
roughly $120,000 required to protect and save the site.
you look at pictures [of the cemetery] from the 1970s until now, it’s
clear that it has gotten bad,” says Jenny Creech, president of the
Hatteras Island Genealogical and Preservation Society. “Even since this
past December, you can see a significant change.”
has become the point person for the effort to raise funds and find ways
to address the problem, and has created a GoFundMe page to reach out to
the community and ask for help.
Helen [Goodloe-Murphy] asked me to come in on the project last year. I
knew it was in bad shape, but was under the same conclusion as everyone
else – that it was Park Service property, and not private property. It
became a big issue for me, and I want to get more people involved,”
while it’s a common misconception that the cemetery is owned by the
National Park Service and should be eligible for federal funding, the
fact is that the site is actually private property and must therefore
be funded through community donations.
government] can’t step in,” says Creech, “But I’ve been working with
Dave Hallac of the National Seashore, and whatever we decide to do,
he’s willing to help us.”
easy to see why so many people believe that the cemetery is on Park
Service land. Surrounded by the Salvo Day Use Area – a popular
NPS-managed spot for windsurfers, kiteboarders, fishermen, and everyday
beach fans – the cemetery is effectively bordered by undeveloped NPS
terrain in every direction.
according to Creech, the site was deeded in when the surrounding
property was sold to the National Park Service, and belongs to the
community of Salvo. Therefore, it’s the descendants of the interred who
actually own the property.
And in a small community like Hatteras Island, the descendants are numerous.
own great-great grandfather and great-great-great grandfather are both
buried there,” says Creech. “And we want to get our generation more
involved and ready to help.”
gravesites within the cemetery – those that are still intact and
standing - are effectively a who’s who list of generations of island
families. Familiar names such as Gray, Williams, Midgett, and Farrow
are all present, with headstones that date back to the mid-to-late
there are possibly hundreds of area residents who have a personal stake
in the cemetery’s survival – and that doesn’t include long-time
visitors who are saddened to see the continual decay of the gravesites
at their favorite soundside beach.
have more and more visitors there every year, and I’ve talked to
several people while I was taking photos that have said ‘We’ve been
coming here for years, and it’s such a beautiful place, and we want to
help if we can,’” says Creech.
once people understand that it’s not in the Park Service’s hands but
the community’s hands to save the cemetery, folks are stepping up to
contribute. But there’s still a long way to go to reach the $120,000
figure was reached via a conversation with a contractor several years
ago, so it may need to be adjusted for any present-day inflation. The
money will pay for a vinyl bulkhead – which will last much longer than
a wooden one – as well as a wall of rocks to help with absorbing the
wave energy. In addition, permits can be obtained with the funds to
complete the project, and a fence or barrier could be installed to keep
foot traffic away from the gravesites.
Rodanthe-Waves-Salvo Civic Association will be our umbrella group
because they are a non-profit [organization],” says Creech. “This way,
everything is tax deductible and is on the up and up.
we have the money, we can start taking bids from contractors, but we
cannot take bids until we have the funding,” she adds.
And so the effort to raise awareness, and get the community involved in funding, is on.
Everyone is encouraged to donate and can do so by visiting the GoFundMe page at https://www.gofundme.com/hfxndxn8.
can also be mailed to the RWS Civic Association, Attn: Gene Stoel, PO
Box 323, Rodanthe, NC 27968. Checks should be made payable to the
Rodanthe-Waves-Salvo Civic Association, with “Salvo Cemetery” written
in the memo line.
Facebook group has also been established to share images, stories, and
information on the cemetery, which can be found at
https://www.facebook.com/groups/856938197754860/. Featuring both recent
and more dated photos, the page is a striking testament to just how
much the area has changed.
a lot to do, and a lot of money to raise,” says Creech. “My biggest
concern is that if we have one bad storm this year, it’s going to do
some really bad damage.
“We’re definitely racing against the clock on this.”