Second edition of cemetery book adds details
By Deirdre Parker Smith
Reginald “Reggie” W. Brown has published a second edition of his book, “Oakdale/Union Hill Cemetery, Salisbury, North Carolina. A History and Study of a Twentieth Century African American Cemetery.”
The first version appeared in 2006, self-published, and Brown learned, “never to do that again. I learned my lesson.”
The exhaustive history of the cemetery contained names, locations, all the information he could find about the resting place at the corner of Brenner Avenue and Old Wilkesboro Road. The first edition included a CD with PDFs of the pages, but without a publisher, Brown could not find a distributor and couldn’t sell the book.
Heritage Books in Westminster, Md., picked up the history but doesn’t do CDs. Brown is fine with that, at least now people who want the book can find it.
This edition is different in a couple of ways. Brown took out the causes of death that he collected and went with what the cemetery recorded. Some families were concerned about the accuracy. He’s included the number of people who died from what cause and added tables with the cause of death and the number of burials per year.
Oakdale Cemetery is on Union Hill and should not be confused with Oakwood, which is further down Old Wilkesboro Road, near the old landfill.
Brown said most of the people buried at Oakdale were not originally from Salisbury. A lot moved here to work at Livingstone College or the railroad. “They stayed about a generation and then moved north. Their people are in Washington, D.C., and New York.”
Brown wishes the photos of the markers were in color, to show more detail, but the cost of doing that was too high. If he produces a new CD, those color photos will be on there.
“Most people in the cemetery didn’t have a home church in the area. Local people were typically buried in their church cemeteries. … Oakdale officially opened in 1903 and is now closed unless you have a reserved spot.
Brown gives credit to many local residents for helping in the research, including Spencer.
“I learned a lesson in self-publishing,” Brown said. “There’s too many angles. This way I get a wider distribution.”
“Oakdale/Union Hill Cemetery” costs $33.50 and is available at Literary Bookpost. Brown hopes to schedule a book signing there in the future.