Published: Oct 29, 2012 10:31 AM
Modified: Oct 29, 2012 10:33 AM
CARY - The Stone-Maynard family’s resting place under a great cedar tree overlooks an intersection of the town’s fast-flowing western byways – and behind the iron-gated plot stretch dusty barren hills, a 42-acre construction site.
Things weren’t so busy at Davis Drive and High House Road when the shovels of dirt fell on the youngest of the graves almost 60 years ago. Back then, the Stone-Maynards and the Sears farms’ tobacco seeded the rolling hills.
A few tombstones are the last sign of all that, but the dead’s final rest will be final indeed. The family plot and its cedar tree will stay put forever, even as $70 million of townhomes, apartments and retail materialize, thanks to the family’s lobbying and the developer’s cooperation.
“It’s so important that cemeteries remain there. That’s kind of the lost remnant, reminding you of once what was,” said Pat Fish, the organizer for a free upcoming lecture on the history of several local cemeteries.
In the spirit of Halloween, the fourth annual graveyard talk on Tuesday will explore the history of the Stone-Maynard, Edwards and Mills family plots, which dot the development frontier of western Cary and Apex. The Friends of the Page-Walker Hotel historical society often focuses on downtown Cary, but this year the group is turning its attention to the disappearing farmland along the future route of the Triangle Expressway.
Before the area developed, Green Level and Carpenter weren’t the names of six-lane roads: They were tiny crossroad villages.
“What you find out west are sort of the origins of western Wake, the farmsteads,” said Kris Carmichael, the historical society’s director.
Historic districts have helped preserve the church at Green Level and the tiny commercial district of Carpenter, but in other communities the oldest artifacts are the graves. At least 34 are marked and documented, while countless more wait in tall weeds, or perhaps beneath pavement.
Eventually, the Page-Walker society plans to present lectures or information on each known cemetery for which it can find enough history.
“We made a commitment,” Fish said.
So has developer Northwood-Ravin. Jeff Furman, vice president of the company, said the Stone-Maynard plot will become part of an open space at the corner of the Bradford development, threaded by walkways and centered by the family’s cedar.