Indian Trail cemetery could become historic site

INDIAN TRAIL – A piece of Indian Trail history is situated between a golf course and a radiator specialty shop, and most residents don’t even know it’s there.
Indian Trail Town Council member Chris King is looking to get historical recognition for the cemetery containing 12 gravesites, two or three of which are unmarked.
“I think the oldest gravestone was 1878,” King said. “Several of these go back to before the town was even a town.”
Indian Trail was incorporated in 1907, when Frank Conder petitioned the General Assembly. Conder later became the first mayor of Indian Trail.  King said Conder’s father, Eli, and several of his family members are all buried in the nearly forgotten cemetery. Frank Conder’s son, Frank Conder, Jr., is a resident of Indian Trail and at 84 years old, gave King his blessing to try to protect the cemetery.
“It’s a really great family,” King said. “And I think their biggest fear is that the cemetery might one day just be swallowed up by development and disappear. I know Frank would get out there and do it himself if he could.”
King said he’s been looking into statutes in order to get legal approval for the cemetery to be declared a historic site.
“I think the cemetery itself has historical significance to Indian Trail,” he said. “Having the father of the first mayor and incorporator of Indian Trail is meaningful.”
According to King, the cemetery is in bad shape.
“It’s probably in the worst condition you could imagine,” he said. “I’d love to get in there and get it back to a better condition, put a fence up around it and replace some of the headstones, or add headstones for the unmarked gravesites.”
King said he visits the cemetery from time to time, cleaning up stray golf balls, and didn’t think anyone visited it until recently. “It’s pretty dangerous to get to, since you have to walk through the woods and through spider webs,” he said. “I thought no one had visited in forever. I hadn’t been there in months, but about a week ago, I went and saw that someone had left a ‘Dad’ sign at one of the unmarked graves.” (See cover photo)
King said the sign surprised him.
“It was very compelling to me,” he said. “Someone has come out quite recently and visited that grave site. You can’t tell who’s buried there, but I’d like to find out who placed that sign. Maybe they could tell me more about the cemetery.”
The cemetery, located in the woods just behind Pebble Creek golf course near U.S. 74 and near a radiator specialty shop, is split 50-50 in ownership by both establishments. King said he doesn’t expect any pushback from the businesses.
“I’d like to provide some proper access for people to enter the cemetery,” King said. “Ultimately I have gone so far as to find out how much it would cost to have headstones made for graves out there and to have a fence built up around it. I’ll be reaching out to the owners to let them know what I’m planning on doing. I can’t imagine them having an objection.”
King said he would like to contact local businesses to see about donations to improve and protect the cemetery.
“It’s a very small area, so to get a fence out there would be nice,” he said. “I feel like I could reach out to local businesses and possibly have someone donate. Maybe some fundraising to help with preservation. There are a lot of people who will find this significant and want to donate money or time. There are a lot of good people in Indian Trail.”
King said he would like to get the Indian Trail Historical Society involved in the cemetery, since he credits them with his ability to track down former mayor Frank Conder’s family in the area.
“They helped me track down the family,” he said. “That was incredibly important in determining the historical significance of the site.”
For King, finding out more about the sign left in the aging cemetery is important.
“To the person who put that ‘Dad’ sign out there, I just found that very touching,” he said. “I’d like to reach out to them to see if we could help them out to get a new gravestone for their loved one. Someone’s dad is buried out there.”
If you have any information about the cemetery, you can contact King at chrisking3@gmail.com or 704-252-8002.
For more information, visit the Indian Trail Historic Society’s website, www.ithistorical.org.

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