Sacred Grounds

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Williams, Megan. “Sacred Grounds.” Our State Magazine (September 2007): 34-36.


Jane Blanks Barnhill took it upon herself to catalog headstones in nearly 200 Robeson County American Indian cemeteries. There was no overall record before Barnhill decided to take on this challenge, and she is now creating the definitive record.

Barnhill started by asking relatives where she could find their oldest plots. When she go to one that was dirty and covered in vines, she realized how easily they could vanish if they weren’t maintained. Since then she has self-published a 400-page book, entitled “Sacred Grounds: Gone but Never Forgotten.” Most of the copies of the book have sold by word of mouth.

While she spent the majority of her working-life as a mechanic in the textile mills, she is now studying for a second career in computers. To track the cemeteries she pores through census records, birth and death notices, newspaper clippings and more.

Since the publication of her book, Barnhill has taken requests to catalog 20 more cemeteries and plans to continue until her records are complete.

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