Tangible, physical and material. Here, each month, we present to you a piece, an artifact of Fort Bragg’s past.
This grave stone, found at Fort Bragg Main Post Cemetery marks the location of one of the first graves at Camp Bragg. Construction workers employed to build the new military installation, many of whom were Puerto Rican, fell ill from the Spanish Flu. They died and were buried at what was then old Mont View Vineyard peach orchard. The Spanish Flu killed 39 Puerto Rican men and 13 Americans.
“They were dying fast and being buried night and day … When they came bringing them at night, there were the low lantern lights, dimly outlining the figures of the grave diggers, the brushing and swishing sound of shovels against the sandy soil … There was never any ceremony at the burials. Countless wives and children would wait down in Puerto Rico for the husband that would not come back to them,” Mae Kivett Brown recalled in an eyewitness account obtained from a Fort Bragg history publication, The Fort Bragg Main Post Cemetery: A History in Context, 1918-2008.
(Editors note: Material and information for this article courtesy of Charles Heath, archaeologist, Fort Bragg Cultural Resources Management Program.)