Thursday, June 02, 2011

Visiting The Old Burying Ground

Nathaniel Taylor deeded the property for the cemetery to the town of Beaufort in 1731 following the first survey of the town. Captain Otway Burns of the War of 1812, Revolutionary and Civil War soldiers are buried here.

The live oaks give the cemetery present a shady and comforting atmosphere. Let me give you all just a few the highlights of folks buried here.

Vienna Dill (1863-1865)
The child died of yellow fever and was buried in a glass-top casket. Legend has it that vandals dug up the grave and when they cleared the glass of dirt and debris the body was still seen to be preserved. However, when they opened the casket the body disintegrated.

The earliest graves were marked with shell, brick, or wooden slabs as stone markers would have to be imported. The vaulted graves, an attempt to protect them from high water and animals, are characteristic of this early Colonial period.

Captain Christian Wulff (1810-1856)
An unusually carved stone was sent from Denmark by a devoted sister to mark the grave of Captain Wulff of the Royal Danish Navy. Wulff had died of yellow fever while in Beaufort and the local ladies who tended him while sick had corresponded with his sister. Sadly, his sister died while on a voyage from Copenhagen to visit her brother's grave. Her ship burned at sea.

Little Girl Buried In A Barrel of Rum (1700's)
In the 1700's an English family came to settle in Beaufort. As the daughter grew, she begged to see her homeland in England. Finally, her father agreed to take her with him on a trip to London. Her mother did not like the idea but was finally persuaded by the little girl. The father promised to return his daughter home to Beaufort without fail.

After visiting London, the girl fell sick and died on the return voyage. It was the custom to bury at sea, but her father had made a promise. He purchased a barrel of rum from the captain and sealed her body in it in order to bring her home for burial.

Her grave is decorated by the children who visit her grave. We saw toys, shells, coins, crosses, and other tributes placed on the grave to honor this child.

Nancy Manney French (1821-1886)
This grave tells a star-crossed love story. Nancy fell in love with her tutor, Charles French, but her father opposed the romance. French left to make his fortune but promised to return for Nancy. He went to the Arizona territory and eventually became a chief justice. He wrote Nancy, but the postmaster --a friend of Nancy's father-- intercepted the letters. Years later, the postmaster finally told Nancy what he'd done. Now an old man, Charles French returned to Beaufort but found Nancy dying of 'consumption.' He married her. Nancy died a few weeks later.

British Naval Officer(1700's)
This is the grave of an unknown officer in His Majesty's Navy who died on board ship while in the port of Beaufort. Not wanting to be buried with 'his boots off' he was buried in FULL uniform and STANDING UP --legend has it that he's positioned to be eternally saluting his King.

Captain Otway Burns(1775-1850)
Of all the graves at the Burying Ground, THIS one is one of the two must-sees. His tomb is surmounted by a cannon taken from his privateer, 'Snap Dragon' .

Historians say he was one of North Carolina's greatest naval heroes in the War of 1812. He received Letters of Marque and Reprisal from the U.S., which had only a small navy. He sailed from Nova Scotia to South America plundering British ships. It is said he captured cargo worth more than $2 Million on one trip alone.

This is one area that Judy and I are happy that we did not miss on our visit to Beaufort.

Tomorrow - Leaving Atlantic Beach and heading to Ocracoke.


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