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History of the Dunnagan Graveyard at Eno River State Park - Durham, NC

So who was Catharine Dunnagan? We’re sorry to say there is not a whole ton of information about her or this graveyard, but here is what we were able to find thanks to the Eno River Association.


Just to go a bit further back than Catharine, archaeological evidence shows that Native Americans settled along the Eno River (named for the Eno tribe), in the 1400s, but due to the influx of European colonists, by 1712, organized tribes were essentially gone. We think it is important to include this history out of respect to the Native Americans who were forced from their land. It is an aspect of American history that we cannot change, but should be known and recognized.


The granddaughter of Eno River homesteaders, Catharine Dunnagan was born Phoebe Catharine Link in 1826 and was a few years shy of 90 when she passed in 1914. Just from our own observations, the fact that she was able to live into her late 80s during this time period is incredible, not to mention the fact that she lived through pivotal American history. From an anecdote on the Eno River page, it shouldn’t come as a shock that she was a spunky woman. Apparently when her husband Norman was out picking up eggs, he suddenly passed away, and well, this is how that story ends: “When they came back and told his wife that Norman fell dead this morning going into town, she asked, ‘Did he break the eggs?’”


As to who else is buried in the graveyard, it appears no one is really sure. There was a lot of overgrowth when we visited, but we were able to see a very small headstone with the initials “P.C.D.” on it. The small size made us wonder if this was unfortunately a child, but we couldn’t find anything more on who the grave is for.


Our final comment about this trip is that apparently, in the late winter/early spring, daffodils bloom nearby at what is believed to be the Dunnagan homestead. We’re looking forward to going back out around late February next year to hopefully catch a peek at these flowers.

(Note: We're currently working on updating our website with our reviews. This review was originally posted on Instagram and Facebook on July 13, 2020.)

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