A letter to The Hamlet News-Messenger, written by Vivian Freeman Bell of Panama City, Fla., sheds light on 
the early history of Mary Love Cemetery, originally known simply as the "Hamlet Cemetery," and also gives 
some of the history of the Freeman family of Hamlet, one of whom donated the cemetery property to the City.  

Mrs. Bell's letter states,  
"My grandfather George Jefferson Freeman gave the cemetery property to the City of Hamlet.  It was always 
known as the Hamlet Cemetery.  My grandfather reserved the front part of the property for the Freeman 
generations -- that is, my father Martin Freeman, his son, the two sisters of Martin Freeman who lived 
to maturity, Rosa Brown and Emma Graham, and their descendants.  One daughter, George Freeman disinherited 
before his death.  The graves of these families are the first graves at the entrance of the cemetery.  
George Freeman and his wife Mary Ann Willoughby are buried in the center of the plot.   

"Mrs. Love, many years after my grandfather's and father's deaths, became interested in keeping the 
cemetery cleaned.  The Freemans did not object.  The property was owned by the City and we were pleased 
to have her do this.  I left Hamlet in 1929, so I do not know what the procedures were in renaming the 
cemetery.  As I have stated, we had no objections, as we all gradually left there or died.  There are 
no direct descendants there now except the Grahams and Halyburtons. 
"The Freemans were early residents of Richmond County.  I am sending you pictures of George Jefferson 
Freeman (born July 1, 1833; died July 30, 1905), his father William Freeman (1801-1877), his son Martin 
Cope Freeman (born January 3, 1866; died August 28, 1923), and his wife Mary Ann Willoughby Freeman 
(born January 28, 1834; died July 12, 1922).  William Freeman's wife was Polly Cope;  they were also 
the parents of Samuel, John, Martin, William, etc.  Martin Cope Freeman married Alma Baratine and 
Sarah Emily Matthews.  He was my father;  one other of his children, Julia Freeman Barlow, survives.  
Mary Ann Willoughby Freeman was the daughter of Willis Willoughby and Polly Jolly Willoughby;  her 
grandfather Willoughby fought in the American Revolution.  All those whose pictures I have sent were 
born about two miles south of Hamlet, near the South Carolina line -- this was just Richmond County 
before Mr. Shortridge named it Hamlet.  He came here many years after the Freemans.  William Freeman 
is buried in the McIntyre Cemetery. 

"There were seven families in 
Hamlet when my parents were married in 1897.  I was one of 11 children.  
I graduated from Hamlet High School in 1925 and went on to college in Raleigh and married in Raleigh 
in 1929.  My talents is my memory, and I could probably help with many questions about Hamlet.  I am 
a genealogist and have our history to before the Magna Charta.  I will remember 'old Hamlet' and  recall 
a great deal from the time I was six years old until I left. 

"My grandfather George Freeman's will was probated in 1905 and is in the Richmond County Courthouse.  
His wife died in 1922, and what was left of the property left to her came to the children of 
Martin Freeman and Emma Graham.  the Brown boys were named in the will. 

"Mr. and Mrs. Love lived on Charlotte Street. They were neighbors of the Starks, Goodwins, Spencers, and others.

(Above left) William Freeman.      (Above right) Martin Cope Freeman    Tombstone 
in Mary Love Cemetery, erected in 1970 by Lib Beecham Mitchell in memory of her husband, John Mitchell. When asked as 
to her reason for choosing an elephant, she said her husband always loved and adored elephants. No 'pink elephants' in 
his life, she said -- just elephants.  This stone, however, is carved from pink marble.  John Mitchell's father was owner 
of Mitchell's Drug Store in Hamlet. (See related story, 'The Pink Elephant Headstone' below.) Pictures provided by 
Diana Holland Faust October 1, 2001

 The Pink Elephant Headstone
 Listings of Mary Love Cemetery (Page 1)
 Listings of Mary Love Cemetery (Page 2)
 Listings of Mary Love Cemetery (Page 3)
 Listings of Mary Love Cemetery (Page 4)
 Listings of Mary Love Cemetery (Page 5)
 Listings of Mary Love Cemetery (Page 6)
 Return to Richmond Co. Cemetery Index
 Return to Richmond Co. Home Page
October 13, 2001