Cumberland Island National Seashore | GREENE-MILLER CEMETERY

Greene-Miller Cemetery at Cumberland Island National Seashore

Greene-Miller Cemetery at Cumberland Island National Seashore

The final stop on the Cell Phone Audio Tour of the Dungeness Historic District at Cumberland Island National Seashore is the Greene-Miller Cemetery (the National Park Service for some reason now calls it the Miller-Greene Cemetery). This is located off of the road that leads to Dungeness Beach, a few hundred yards or so down from the Carriage House. A wooden sign points the direction to the cemetery, which you reach by walking a short path that leads through the forest. Along the path are the floor and foundation of what used to be the dog kennel. Hunting was probably the top activity on Cumberland Island for the men, so the Carnegies kept a full kennel of hunting dogs. You will also find two tabby structures that look like water troughs for horses. Supposedly, these were dog baths.

Foundation of the Carnegie dog kennel near the Greene-Miller Cemetery

Foundation of the Carnegie dog kennel near the Greene-Miller Cemetery

Carnegie-era dog baths on Cumberland Island

Carnegie-era dog baths on Cumberland Island

The Greene-Miller cemetery is the final resting place of Catherine Greene Miller and supposedly her second husband, Phineas Miller. Catherine was the widow of American Revolution hero General Nathanael Greene. Greene had acquired a large section of Cumberland Island after the war. He also had a plantation called Mulberry Grove in Savannah, Georgia, where Miller worked as the plantation manager and tutor for the Greene children.

After Greene’s death in 1786, Catherine, with the help of Miller, continued to run the Mulberry Grove and Cumberland Island plantations. After a long courtship, the two married in 1796. Prior to this, Catherine had met Eli Whitney and helped fund his cotton gin experiments, and in 1794, Miller and Whitney formed a company to produce the machine. Though Whitney had a patent, farmers began making their own cotton gins, and the Miller-Whitney company never made much money. By 1798, the Millers had fallen on hard times. Catherine was still strapped with Nathanael Greene’s prior debts, the cotton gin business was a failure, and the couple had fallen victim to a land scam. To emerge from the growing financial burden, the Millers sold Mulberry Grove and moved to Cumberland Island, now with money in their pockets.

Phineas died in 1803, only a few years after arriving on the island. He may be buried in the cemetery, but there is no marker for his grave. The cemetery was officially established in 1814 when Catherine died, so it is assumed she would have been buried next to her husband, who up to that time was the only family member to die and be buried on Cumberland Island. Nathanael Greene is buried in Savannah.

Catherine is buried under the right of three table top grave markers (when looking in the direction of the National Park Service identification sign). No visitors are allowed inside the cemetery walls, so I was not able to get a photo of the inscription. However, after doing some research, I found that Catherine’s grave inscription touts her as the widow of Nathanael Greene, as if Miller never existed. By the way, the above ground markers do not hold bodies. This was a style of tombstone that allowed families to come to the cemetery and have access to a surface on which to have a picnic.

Greene-Miller Cemetery at Cumberland Island National Seashore

Greene-Miller Cemetery at Cumberland Island National Seashore

View of the marsh from the Greene-Miller Cemetery at Cumberland Island National Seashore

View of the marsh from the Greene-Miller Cemetery at Cumberland Island National Seashore

There are a few other notable graves in the cemetery. After Catherine’s death, the property remained in the family until being sold to William Davis, first cousin of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. It is from Davis that the Carnegies bought the land, but for a while Davis would not sell to a “Yankee.” However, his grandson was killed in a gun accident while at Cumberland Island, and a few months later his son, the boy’s father, killed himself. The father had accidentally shot the boy and could not live with the guilt. These tragedies prompted Davis to sell to Thomas Carnegie in 1881. Both the boy, George Dewson Davis, and his father, Bernard M. Davis, are buried in the cemetery.

Henry “Light Horse Harry” Lee, father of Robert E. Lee, was also buried in the cemetery for a while. He died on Cumberland Island while visiting with the daughter of Nathanael Greene, who had inherited the property. He was eventually reinterred in Lexington, Virginia, where Robert was buried. A marker commemorates the move of his body.

Original marker for Henry Lee's grave on Cumberland Island

Original marker for Henry Lee’s grave on Cumberland Island

Marker left when Henry Lee's remains were moved to Virginia.

Marker left when Henry Lee’s remains were moved to Virginia.

The graves of John and Catherine Rikart, the European tutors hired by Lucy Carnegie for their children, are located on the back side of the cemetery outside of the wall marking off the family section. Catherine’s grave from 1911 is the newest in the cemetery. All others are from the 1800s, including her husband, who died in 1889.

Rikart graves at the Greene-Miller cemetery on Cumberland Island

Rikart graves at the Greene-Miller cemetery on Cumberland Island

The rest of the graves are of Greene-Miller descendants and spouses.

Once done at the cemetery, there is one last structure to see from the Carnegie days, the dairy barn ruins. To get to it, walk back to the road and then continue towards the beach. It is located just past the cut off point for riding rental bicycle.

Carnegie dairy barn foundation, Cumberland Island National Seashore

Carnegie dairy barn foundation, Cumberland Island National Seashore

Carnegie dairy barn foundation, Cumberland Island National Seashore

Carnegie dairy barn foundation, Cumberland Island National Seashore

If you plan to visit the Dungeness Beach, it is about .75 mile up ahead. See the Dungeness Beach web page for more information. If you want to return to either the Dungeness or Sea Camp ferry dock, head back the way you came and take a right on Coleman Road, which is at the intersection near the Carriage House. The road leads through the Service Village and comes to a dead end at a T-intersection; take a left (this is still Coleman Road). It is a little more than a half mile back to Dungeness dock and about a mile and a half to Sea Camp dock from the turn off near the Carriage House.


Dungeness Area Tour Home Page | PREVIOUS STOP: The Service Village


Back to the Top


Last updated on April 12, 2022
Share this article