05/20/04 — Tour group learns how Texas Ranger ended up in Goldsboro grave

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Tour group learns how Texas Ranger ended up in Goldsboro grave

By Barbara Arntsen
Published in News on May 20, 2004 2:02 PM

In a corner of Willow Dale Cemetery, underneath a shade tree and a solitary Texas flag, lies the grave of Jared White.

How a Texan ended up in a Goldsboro cemetery is a mystery that local lawyer and historian Randy Sauls explained to a tour group Wednesday afternoon.

Participants in the tour, sponsored by the Goldsboro Travel and Tourism Department, included front-desk clerks and staff members from hotels and other local attractions.

"These tours are a way for the hotel staff and others to familiarize themselves with what the area has to offer, so they can better help the visiting public know places to go," said Tourism Director Marlise Taylor.

Wednesday's day-long tour included visits to the Goldsboro Municipal Golf Course, Waynesborough Historical Village, the Cherry Hospital Museum, the Gov. Charles B. Aycock Birthplace Historic Site, Willow Dale Cemetery, Wayne County Museum, Cliffs of the Neuse State Park, Seven Springs, Glenwood Farms and the Mt. Olive Pickle Co.

The visit to the historic cemetery on Elm Street occurred in the early afternoon, as a warm breeze rustled the leaves on the trees at the graveyard.

Sauls explained that White was a Texas Ranger who served in Wayne County during the Civil War as part of the mounted calvary.

The Austin County native was barely 23 when he died in 1865, trying to keep Union soldiers from stealing food from a Fremont plantation.

Almost 110,000 Union soldiers occupied Goldsboro in the spring of 1865, but before evacuating, the Confederacy hadn't left any food for the invading army, Sauls explained.

So the army would raid homes and plantations out in the county for food and supplies.

"On one occasion they went out three or four miles, near Fremont, to the Belvedere Plantation," he said.

On one of those raids, White was killed while defending the plantation's food supply.

Originally his body was buried in the northern part of the county, the grave surrounded by a pine pole fence.

After a few years, his brother came up from Texas to find his brother's body and give it a proper burial.

The brother, Sauls said, was surprised at the care that had been taken with White's grave.

So instead of moving him back to Texas, White was moved to the Willow Dale Cemetery, where a Texas flag always flies near him.

The brief tour of the cemetery also included a stop at the Confederate War Monument, where 800 Union and Confederate soldiers are buried.

The 800 represents only those soldiers who died during the war, not veterans of the war.

Though there were no battles in Wayne County that claimed that many soldiers, Sauls said, there were several reasons the grave held that many soldiers.

Because Goldsboro was a railroad town, it was also a supply depot with a large concentration of troops that guarded the railroad lines. Many of those soldiers died in camp from illnesses or accidents.

There were also two large hospitals in Goldsboro, one on John Street and one on William Street, where the wounded from the front lines were brought.

Other deaths could be attributed to the three-day battle of Bentonville and the battle of Goldsboro Bridge.

Originally the bodies were buried in unmarked graves all over the county, before the monument was built.

But about 18 years after the Civil War, militia groups from the North and South worked together to build the monument and to move the bodies from unmarked graves. (The day they dedicated the monument will be commemorated Sunday at 2 p.m. at the cemetery by the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Sons of Confederate Veterans.)

"The bodies were scattered, some were in fields and could have been plowed up," Sauls said. "It was fitting to put them all in one place to be remembered."

He said that both Union and Confederate soldiers were buried at the monument because of the shared experience of war.

The militia groups could put aside the differences to provide a dignified resting place for the soldiers. Sauls said it was harder for civilians, on both sides, to let go of the anger from the war.

He doesn't believe the bodies buried at the monument reflect all the fallen Civil War soldiers in the area.

"I'm confident that there are more unmarked graves around the county," he said. "Lonely graves far from home."