Graveside Honors: Greer Cemetery, Bolivia, NC

During the Christmas holidays, supporters from Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range traveled to Greer Cemetery in Bolivia, Brunswick County, to attempt to locate David Williams‘ gravesite, one of the 23 Brunswick County WWI veterans who gave his life during war. His gravesite had not yet been found.

David Williams served overseas with the 545th Engineers, building and maintaining roads and railways both during the conflict and afterward for the Army of Occupation. Like many who died in the US military during WWI, David Williams died of disease. His date of death was March 18, 1919.

David’s remains were returned to the United States on November 26, 1921. There was no record found to help locate his gravesite. His wife’s death certificate showed her burial at Greer Cemetery. It was hoped that David Williams’ gravesite would be found there too.

Greer Cemetery (also known as Williams Cemetery):
Detailed directions can be found on the Brunswick County Cemetery maps here and here.

The cemetery is difficult to find, located off a dirt road with driveways and overgrown brush. It is still active, as a 2018 gravesite was located. There were flowers at many of the headstones, indicating it has not been forgotten.

David Williams‘ headstone was spotted immediately. It is not a military headstone but mentions his service. It includes the statement “Erected by his wife Florence M. Williams.” They had been married only four months when he was called for service. Their son, David Jesse Williams, was born after Pvt Williams had left the country.

Privet [sic] 545 Eng. USA
Died March 18, 1919.
Erected by his wife,
Florence M. Williams

The gravesite of his wife was also located.

Florence Marie Williams remained a single mother, raising their son, who would later serve in WWII. She became a school teacher, teaching at Brunswick County Training School in Southport, the only African American high school in the county.

David Williams and his family are featured in his World War I Profile. His story has been updated to include his final resting place.

Finding these headstones and documenting them here and in the planned book, as well as in Findagrave is important. It allows their entire story from beginning to end to be told and not forgotten.

If you are interested in assisting with the discovery of gravesites, please read this post: Memorial Day 2018: Graveside Honors for more information.

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