Weeping Willow A.M.E. Zion Church, Charlotte, N.C.
Atop a hill just east of the intersection of Runnymede Road
and Sharon Road, where Colonial style mansions now stand, was the large
cemetery of Weeping Willow A.M.E. Zion Church. This portion of what is
now an upscale residential and commercial district was farmland in the
nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, where cotton and grain crops were
cultivated. Substantial numbers of African Americans, principally
sharecroppers or tenant farmers, lived in this rural neighborhood.
Weeping Willow A.M.E. Zion Church was one of several African American
churches that came into existence in rural Mecklenburg after the Civil War,
when the strictures against African Americans having their own houses of
worship were abolished.
Presbyterian Church stood nearby, and its cemetery has been preserved
near the intersection of Sharon Road and Colony Road.
Weeping Willow was a thriving church with many members.
Hence the cemetery was large. By the early 1960s, however, by which
time farming had long ended along this portion of Sharon Rd. and the area
had became increasingly suburbanized, Weeping Willow A.M.E. Zion Church
disbanded, but the buried bodies remained.
In the mid-1980s, as the newspaper article below attests,
developers, totally unaware of the cemetery's existence, began digging up
human remains and had to arrange for the bodies to be relocated once they
were discovered. Archeologists began a systematic investigation of the
site. Some 209 graves were excavated. Examine the photographs
below to see the process.
1988 Dan and Mary Lynn Morrill took Sarah Duren to the Weeping Willow
Graveyard on Sharon Road in 1988. Which was removed for a development
cried at the graveyard when Dan and Mary Lynn Morrill took her to the site.
She then wrote the above information for the Historic Landmarks Commission's
file on the property. Sarah A. Duren (Mrs. James) resided at 119 S.
Smallwood Place in Charlotte, N.C.
Transcription of above:
Sarah Duren (Mrs. James, Smallwood Avenue, Charlotte, NC)
Comfort Luisa Alexander Ross was born November 2, 1862
in Mecklenburg county, near Sugaw Creek Presbyterian Church, North Tryon
Street where the Park and Shop now stands. A little hut stood in a patch of
woods called (quarters) where negro slaves lives is where my mother was
born- first daughter to George and Elizabeth Alexander. After growing up
on these quarters, John W. Ross and Comfort Louisa courted and married at
young ages. “Marse Charlie T. Alexander” as he was called gave each family
a piece of land in the Briar Creek section near Queen College, which used to
be “Myers quarters”. They use to carry water from a spring where the street
car line was. In the year of 1886 A.D. a group of devoted pioneers decided
to build somewhere to worship. They built a log hut under a grove of
weeping willow trees. Which gave birth to the Weeping Willow African
Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. My parent use to walk from Briar Creek
Home to Weeping Willow. They were some of the first founders of this
church. My parents moved around in the county as their family grew. Their
children were George, Alley, Arthor Baxter, Pinkney, Babe, Maggie Lue, Neola
and Sarah. My father went away, my brother moved to the First Ward part of
the city on Eleventh and Alexander Street. besides Mt. Moriah Church. Rev.
Scott was the pastor. Later she moved to Brooklyn, South Morrow Street. I
was enrolled in the old Myers Street Graded School. Our church membership
was moved from Weeping Willow to St. Paul Baptist Church on E. First Street
under the leadership of Rev. P.M. Mayfield.
Comfort Louise Alexander Ross born November 2, 1862 in
Mecklenburg County. Expired at her home Feb. 9, 1936. Home address 710
East Second Street.
Survivors: daughters Alley Ne Rachel Epps. Maggie Lou
Johnson, Johnie Neola Steart, Sarah Allie Ross of the home. Brother, Rev.
George A. Alexander Rachel Johnson, and Jane Dinkins, all of Charlotte, a
host of grandchildren, relatives and friends Rev. P.M. Mayfield officiating.
Grier and Thompson Funeral Directors
Buried in Weeping Willow Cemetery Sharon Road.
George Amzie Ross, born September 7, 1880. Mecklenburg
County expired in New York City December 1, 1927. Home address: 863 Honer
Street, Bronx, N.Y. Leaves a wife Mary Susan (Culp) Ross, a son George
Neulize Rose, a daughter Connie Elizabeth Ross, Asbury Park, New Jersey,
Colton Ross Charlotte. Buried in Mt. Olive Cemetery, N.York City.