Located off Main Street in the Town of Kernersville, St. Paul’s Cemetery is a historic site that pre-dates the American Civil War. It served Kernersville’s African-American community, and it contains the graves of enslaved and free blacks. The church that once tended the site is gone; today, the cemetery is maintained by volunteers under the direction of the Kernersville Historic Preservation Society.
In the spring of 2020, the Kernersville Museum, which also has an interest in the cemetery, approached WithersRavenel about locating all of the graves. Although stone markers pepper the site, the Museum was concerned about the possibility of additional unmarked graves. WithersRavenel’s subsurface utility engineering team enthusiastically agreed to the task, volunteering their time and remote sensing expertise to help the historical preservation and restoration effort.
The SUE team used Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) equipment to survey the more-than-one-acre burial site. They were able to pinpoint the location of 88 unmarked graves as well as confirm the locations of already-marked plots.
The data gathered during the survey has several beneficial uses. In the near term, it has enabled volunteers to clear brush around the site while minimizing potential disturbances to the graves. Longer-term goals include working with Mable & Granite World of Kernersville to craft new markers, and importing the data into software such as ArcGIS and AutoCAD to produce maps and other wayfinding tools for visitors.