Did you know there’s a Cemetery in one of Durham's Parks?

By Katrina Wood, Program Assistant

Durham Parks and Recreation’s Leigh Farm Park, located at 370 Leigh Farm Road, represents lives of the Leigh family as well as the sixteen individuals enslaved by the Leighs. Taken together, their history in the park spans from the 1830s on up to the 1970s. While visitors can learn about them on a park tour, they can also discover more by visiting the Leigh Cemetery.

The family cemetery serves as a final resting place for patriarch Richard Stanford Leigh, his first wife Nancy Ann Carlton Leigh, and Stanford’s second wife Leathy, as well as several additional family members.

The Leigh Cemetery can be reached by a trail leading from the old Ram’s Gate Road that runs in front of the Visitor’s Center, at the park kiosk. There are 25 marked headstones, yet only 15 are readable. The last burial took place in 1946, and the earliest known burial is for Nancy Ann Carlton Leigh—she died giving birth to twins in July 1861.

Want to get involved and learn more? Here are some upcoming opportunities coming up!

Cemetery Workday
Friday, July 15 | 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.
All ages welcome
Help us preserve and maintain this cemetery—bring plenty of water, bug spray, and gloves. There will be extra hand tools for cutting back some of this spring’s growth around the headstones, but please feel free to bring your favorite rake, pair of loppers, etc. 
Sign up on iVolunteer to participate

Hands-on-History: Leigh Family Cemetery
Saturday, July 16 | 2 p.m. or 3 p.m.
Ages 5-12 years old
Calling all future historians! There is so much we can learn about cultures and communities based on their burial practices. Come learn about cemeteries and the traditions around headstones by exploring the Leigh Family cemetery. Registration is required. One adult must remain with their child(ren) throughout the program and are encouraged to participate. 
Visit ActiveNet to Register today

Leigh Farm Park Tours
Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. 
Take a guided-tour of Leigh Farm Park. Come inside the Visitors’ Center and request a tour from our Historic Site Interpreters at your convenience from 10am – 2pm. You’ll learn about the families who lived here, their work, and life on a middle-class plantation. Venture inside the historic farmhouse while also visiting the enslaved people’s cabin and the Leigh Family Cemetery.

For more information about these event or park tours, contact Cassandra Bennett at cassandra.bennett@durhamnc.gov. or call 919-937-7622.