Old Burying Ground
The Old Burying Ground
The Old Burying Ground grew up around the building used for sessions of the Court and for reading the service of the Anglican Church in St. John’s Parish. The cemetery was deeded to the town of Beaufort in 1731 by Nathaniel Taylor, following the first survey of the town.
The northwest corner is the oldest part of the cemetery. It looks largely unused, however a 1992 archeological survey confirmed that there are many graves in this area, probably the unmarked graves of settlers killed by Coree and Neusiok Indians. It is recorded that in September 1711 the area had “been depopulated by the late Indian War and Massacre.”
The earliest graves were marked with shell, brick or wooden slabs as stone markers had to be brought from afar by wooden sailing vessels. Characteristic of this period are vaulted graves bricked over in an attempt to protect them from high water or wild animals. Most of the graves are facing east so those buried had wanted to be facing the sun when they arose on “Judgement Morn”.
The Old Burying Ground is owned by the Town of Beaufort, and is maintained and managed by the Beaufort Historical Association.
1. Capt. Josiah Pender (1819-1864). Led a group of fifty men who seized Fort Macon a month before NC seceded from the Union in 1861. An improvised Confederate flag was raised in place of the national colours. Confederate forces held the fort for a year and eleven days until it was retaken by Union General Ambrose Burnside (our mate Sideburns) in April 1862.
2. Susanna Thomas (1771-1808). The shape of Susanna’s stone represents a gate – the gateway to heaven – a very popular style. The inscription demonstrates the old use of the letter ‘f’ for ‘s’ in describing her as “consort” (spouse) to Captain Thomas.
3. Josiah B. Davis, MD (1831- 1901) and son of George (1874-1937). Practiced medicine in the Apothecary Shop now on the Historic Site. Both doctors lived across the street from the Old Burying Ground.
4. Vienna Dill (1863-1865). Vienna died of yellow fever and was buried in a glass-top casket. Legend says that the grave was dug up by vandals and her body was seen intact. But when they opened the casket her body disintegrated.
5. Samuel Leffers (1736-1822). Early schoolmaster who, with his wife, Sarah, owned the Leffer's house now on the Historic Site. They also lived in the Hammock House, Beaufort’s oldest. Samuel wrote his own epitaph: “Praises on tombstones are but idly spent, A man’s good name is his best monument”.
6. Pierre Henry (1812-1877) and his wife Annie (1816-1904) were African Americans who were leaders in the education of emancipated slaves at the Washburn Academy (adjacent to St. Stephen’s Congregational Church). He was born free during the period of slavery. The school was one of many established in the south by the Congregational Churches of the North following the Civil War.
7. Reverend Bridges Arendell (1782-1850). One of six of the Ann Street Methodist Church ministers buried here. He died in Morehead City, because there was no cemetery there, he was brought back here.
8. Josiah Bell (1767- 1843). With his wife Mary Fisher, Josiah lived on Turner Street in the yellow house on Historic Site. Like his grandfather, Joseph, he was a leader in church and civic affairs.
9. Nathan Fouller (1750-1800). His ancestors are believed to have come to America on the Mayflower. He was honoured in 1987 by the Daughters of the American Revolution.
14. Sergeant George Johnson (1800’s). A member of the 35th U.S. Coloured Infantry (U.S..C.I.) George was one of 200,000 black soldiers who fought for the Union during the Civil War. He was seriously wounded, but survived the war . Many former slaves were anxious to prove that they deserved freedom and equality by fighting alongside the white soldiers. By the end of the war, almost a quarter of the Union Army was made up of black soldiers.
17. Robert B. Woolard (1800’s). A member of the 1st North Carolina Infantry Regiment (Union). Two regiments of volunteers from eastern North Carolina joined the Union Army. Many of these were captured by Confederate forces. It was discovered that twenty two of them had previously fought for the other side, they were hanged as deserters. This had a profound effect on the morale on the other members of these regiments. Most of them spent the rest of the war in the relative security of Beaufort and Fort Macon.
18. Colonel William Thomson (1732-1802).The highest ranking officer from Beaufort to serve in the American Revolution lies in a grave marked by a simple stone. Declared “the most influential merchant of his day,” he served the town, county and province in many offices and was a delegate to the Provincial Congress at Halifax (1776) and to the Constitutional Convention at Hillsborough in 1788.
19. British Officer (1700’s). The grave of an officer in His Majesty King George III service, he died on board ship in the port of Beaufort. Not wanting to be buried “with his boots off” he was buried standing up "in rebel's ground" in full uniform:
Resting ‘neath a foreign ground,
Here stands a sailor of Mad George’s crown
Name unknown, and all alone,
Standing the Rebel’s Ground.”
20 "Crissie Wright" Common Grave. “Cold as the night the ‘Crissie Wright’ went ashore” is still heard around Beaufort. The sailors who froze to death in this shipwreck of January 1886 are buried together here. It is said this tragedy led to the establishment of the Cape Lookout Lifesaving Station in 1887.
21. James W. Hunt (1794-1848). James came from Franklin County in the war of 1812 as Surgeon, U.S. Army. He stayed, was active in public affairs and had the unusual distinction of marrying (for a second time), making his will and dying all on the same day.
22. Captain Otway Burns (1775-1850). Historians say that Otway was one of NC's greatest naval heroes in the War of 1812. He received Letters of Marque and Reprisal from the United States, which only had a small navy. He sailed from Nova Scotia to South America plundering British ships. It is said he captured cargo worth more than $2,000,000 on one trip alone. His tomb is surmounted by a cannon taken from his privateer, Snapdragon. After the war, Captain Burns was a member of NC Legislature. Later, a grateful state made him light-ship keeper near Portsmouth. He died there and was brought by sharpie to Beaufort for burial. The town of Burnsville, in the mountains of NC is named after him and his statue stands in the centre of the towns square.
23. Gabriel Plot (1800’s). The tragic story of the Gabriel family is told in the inscription on the grave of a young mother who died following childbirth:
“Leaves have their time to fall
And flowers wither at the
North wind’s breath
and stars to set.... but all,
Thou has all seasons, for thine own,
O Death”. Her baby soon followed in death.
24. Girl in the Rum Barrel. This is the grave of a little girl buried in a barrel of rum. In the 1700’s the English family including an infant daughter settled in Beaufort. The girl grew up with a desire to see her homeland, and finally persuaded her mother to allow her to make the voyage. Her father promised his wife he would bring the girl safely home. She died at sea on the return journey and would have been buried at sea but her father could not bear to break his promise. With no ice or means of preserving his daughters body, he bought a barrel of rum from the captain, placed her in it and brought her home for burial. Local children and visitors alike keep her company with toys and trinkets.
25. Captain Christian Wulff
(1810-1856). This unusual looking stone was sent over from Denmark by the
devoted sister to mark the grave of Captain Wulff of the Royal Danish Navy, who
had sickened and died of yellow fever. Ladies of the town had nursed him to no
avail and had corresponded with his sister. She herself was lost when the
Austria bringing her from Copenhagen to visit his grave was burned at
sea. Now that is a bad luck story.
25. Captain Christian Wulff (1810-1856). This unusual looking stone was sent over from Denmark by the devoted sister to mark the grave of Captain Wulff of the Royal Danish Navy, who had sickened and died of yellow fever. Ladies of the town had nursed him to no avail and had corresponded with his sister. She herself was lost when the Austria bringing her from Copenhagen to visit his grave was burned at sea. Now that is a bad luck story.
26. Nancy Manny French (1821-1886). Her story has become a local legend. Nancy loved Charles French, her tutor. her father opposed the romance. Charles went away to seek his fortune and vowed to return to Nancy. He went to Arizona and became a chief justice. Meanwhile the postmaster in Beaufort, a friend of Nancy’s father, intercepted letters between the two. His conscience drove him, before his death to tell Nancy what he had done. As an old man, Charles, still not able to forget Nancy, returned to Beaufort and found her, whose love had never faltered, dying of “consumption”. The couple married and a few weeks later Nancy died. The kind of story that makes for an incredibly sad and moving film starring Bette Davis.
27. Captain James Lente Manney (1827-1889). Graduated from Columbia Medical College in 1848, but went to California as part of the Gold Rush of 1849. He returned to Beaufort, poorer but wiser, to study medicine. He joined the secessionist militia takeover of Fort Macon in 1861. Later he became an artillery Company Commander in the Confederate Army. Following the Union capture of Fort Macon a year later, he was exchanged and returned to the Confederate army. He participated in the New Bern in 1864, and served with Lee's army at Petersburg, Virginia in 1865. After the war he resumed his medical practice in Beaufort.
28. Lafayette Leecraft, M.D. (1837-1864). The family of this young doctor had the monument made to appear broken to symbolise that his life was cut short.
15. Also buried here are Sarah Gibbs (d. 1792) and Jacob Shepard (d. 1773). Sarah was married to Jacob Shepard, a seaman. Jacob’s ship went to sea, but never returned and was presumed dead. Later, Sarah married Nathaniel Gibbs and had a child with him. After several years, the shipwrecked Jacob unexpectedly returned to Beaufort The two men met and agreed that Sarah stay with her 2nd husband but be buried with her 1st. Jacob insisted she spend eternity with her at his side.
ALL IN ALL INCREDIBLE TO SEE GRAVES AND ACTUALLY LEARN A BIT ABOUT THE PEOPLE