In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, planters and merchants, politicians and statesmen, clergy and educators came to the Piedmont of North Carolina to establish their homes and livelihoods. Several families held a significant place in the life of St. Matthew’s: the Camerons, the Webbs, and the Ruffins, and their extended families, including the Grahams, Collinses, and Roulhacs. Many members of those families are buried in the churchyard. The graves of Confederate soldiers are marked (CSA), including John Henry Curtis and Willie Hardee. Members of clergy families are buried here, and a plaque commemorates the life of the beloved Rev. Moses Ashley Curtis. The walks are graced with many specimen trees and flowering plants.
In September of 2012, the Rector and several parishioners at St. Matthew’s gave presentations at the Adult Forum focused on legacy stewardship. Two of these presentations were specifically about the churchyard at St. Matthew’s.
The Expansion and Evolution of the Churchyard of St. Matthew’s, Hillsborough, written and presented by The Rev. Dr. N. Brooks Graebner, September 2, 2012
The Churchyard at St. Matthew’s: a Spiritual Investment, written and presented by Ellen C. Weig, September 9, 2012
Walking the Churchyard text and photography by Ellen Weig, 2010
A 19th Century Churchyard by Mary Ayers
St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church Burial Guidelines & Cemetery Policies
The grounds of St. Matthew’s Church are especially important to its parishioners and, indeed, to the community at large. The grounds have historical significance, serve as a final resting place, and offer a place for quiet reflection. They also serve as a bird sanctuary and provide horticultural beauty. The grounds’ history and ambiance are wedded to the house of worship which rests in its midst, further emphasizing the need for their proper care and preservation.
Categories of Eligible Persons
Three categories of persons shall be eligible for burial in the cemetery, subject to the approval of the Rector and Vestry:
(1) All active baptized members of St. Matthew’s, as well as their spouses and minor children. An active member is one whose membership is recorded in the parish register, who takes communion three times per year (unless reasonably prevented) and who gives regularly of time, talent or treasure for the furtherance of the mission and ministry of the parish.
(2) Spouses of persons previously buried in the cemetery.
(3) Persons to whom, or for whose benefit, specific commitments for burial have been approved by the Vestry prior to the adoption of this policy.
Persons not covered under the above three categories and who can demonstrate strong ties either to St. Matthew’s or to relatives buried in the churchyard may petition the Vestry for special permission. Following such a request, the Rector, with the approval of at least five Vestry members, shall be authorized to determine eligibility.