There are currently 184 marked graves at the Hillsborough Old Town Cemetery, according to But due to recent survey data, officials say there may be dozens of unmarked graves in the cemetery as well.

The Old Town Cemetery is one of the oldest burial grounds in North Carolina. Hillsborough Mayor Tom Stevens said discovering the truth about these possible unmarked graves is important to uphold the town’s history.

“The more information that we can provide it helps, just again, to showcase and preserve and celebrate the history that we have here in Hillsborough.”

However, the process is tricky. The company conducting the survey used a radar to detect soil changes underground. Differences in soil in the same spot could indicate the presence of graves. But the science isn’t perfect.

Stevens said the Hillsborough Cemetery Committee will continue to study the data in hopes of pinpointing the locations of the unmarked graves. He said even if they aren’t able to identify who is buried there, it is important to discover as much information as possible.

“It’s not necessarily that we’re on this long path to try and identify every single person there,” he said. “But we do have the wherewithal to do some mapping out what is in the cemetery and how many graves there are.”

Stevens said the most important thing, however, is that the committee and researchers document what they find, so that no part of history is forgotten.

“Step by step, we’re just trying to make sure we don’t lose information, and we document what we have,” he said.

Records for the cemetery date back to 1757, however, local lore says the field had been used as an informal graveyard before that. According to Hillsborough’s website, it is possible that grave stones and markers deteriorated or were removed since the cemetery’s founding.