Pearson Graveyard, Davie County, North Carolina
The Pearson Graveyard, located near Cooleemee, North Carolina, dates back to the early 1700s. There are at least 39 graves there. Most are marked with uninscribed headstones and footstones. Several prominent North Carolina soldiers and politicians have been laid to rest there, including Revolutionary War hero Richmond Pearson, and his sons Joseph and Jesse Pearson. Both of his sons were War of 1812 heroes. It was recently reclaimed from the surrounding forest near Pine Ridge Road by local volunteers. With extensive research by a group of Wake Forest University students, grave markers have been returned to, or placed at, their original sites.
Backstory and Context
Among the more prominent North Carolinians laid to rest in the Pearson graveyard is Richmond Pearson. Pearson was a Patriot leader and a soldier in the Revolutionary War. He moved to North Carolina in the early 1770s from VIrginia, and settled on the Yadkin River, near the present town of Cooleemee. He owned 101 slaves, and was the largest slaveowner in what was then Rowan County. In 1776, Pearson fought with Tory Capt. Samuel Bryan to determine which side the Yadkin River area militia would fight on. Pearson won, and the militia fought on the Patriot side. Bryan later raised his own Tory militia. Pearson fought British Gen. Cornwallis in North Carolina in 1780-1781. He also served in the North Carolina House of Delegates.
Pearson's son, Jesse Pearson, was a North Carolina militia major general in the War of 1812. Jesse Pearson also served in the North Carolina House of Commons and in the North Carolina Senate. His other son, Joseph Pearson, represented Salisbury in the North Carolina House of Commons, and represented the 10th District of North Carolina in the U.S. House of Representatives. Richmond M. Pearson, half-brother to Jesse and Joseph Pearson, served in the North Carolina House of Commons and as Chief Justice in the North Carolina Supreme Court.
The Pearson Graveyard dates back to the 1770s. At one point, Richmond Pearson Sr. owned more than 10,000 acres in what is now Rowan and Davie counties. Cooleemee is a Creek word that probably means "the place where the white oaks grew." The town was named after a Creek village in Alabama where 600 Creek soldiers surrendered in 1814.
History, Visit Davie County. Accessed July 14th 2020. https://discoverdaviecounty.com/history/.
Pearson Family Cemetery, Find A Grave Cemetery. Accessed July 14th 2020. https://www.findagrave.com/cemetery/2592865/pearson-family-cemetery.
Dotson, Debra Leigh. McAllister, Jane Satchell. Davie County. Arcadia Publishing Library Editions, 2009.
Powell, William S.. Dictionary of North Carolina Biography. Volume 5. University of North Carolina Press.
Richmond Pearson Sr. (1751-1819), WikiTree. Accessed July 14th 2020. https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Pearson-5849#:~:text=Revolutionary%20War%20Service,-In%201776%20militias&text=As%20a%20result%20of%20Pearson's,he%20marched%20through%20North%20Carolina..
Carolina Digital Repository
Rachel Reeves Wilson