Oct 122014

Note: We are revisiting some of our favorite old places that we’ve been before, and sharing some of their stories again from our previous visits.

As most regular readers know, Terry and I enjoy exploring old cemeteries. Whenever you think your life is rough, just spend an hour or so wandering through a cemetery reading the headstones, especially the older ones, and it will help you put your life in perspective.

We have found some tragic stories in old cemeteries, of course. Especially the graves of so many children who died at a very young age, back in the days when infant mortality was so high. But we have also seen some gravestones and learned some stories that have left us mystified, and a few have even made us chuckle.

Beaufort, North Carolina has been home to seamen, pirates, soldiers, and settlers since the early 1700s, so there is a lot of history here, and much of it can be found at the Old Burying Grounds. A self-guided tour is a good way to get to know the old cemetery.

Old Burying Ground Gate

Old Burying Ground 8

One grave is that of a British naval officer who refused to lie down in rebel territory, so he was buried standing up, so he could salute King George!

British Naval officer 2

Of course there are many sad stories associated with the old cemetery, one of the worst being that of Vienna Dill, a two year old girl who died of yellow fever in 1865. She was buried in a glass-topped coffin, and local legend says that many years later the grave was dug up by vandals and her body appeared to be intact. But, as the story goes, when they forced the casket open, her body disintegrated.

Another story of a child is that of the grave of an unknown little girl who was born in England in the 1700s but brought to Beaufort as an infant. She grew up hearing stories of her family’s homeland and longed to see it with her own eyes. When her father made a trip back to London she begged to be allowed to accompany him, and the father promised his wife he would bring the child home safely. Unfortunately, she died on the voyage home. Rather than allow her to be buried at sea, her grief-stricken father purchased a barrel of rum from the ship’s captain and placed her body inside it to bring her home as promised. Even today, visitors to the cemetery leave toys and trinkets upon her grave.

Girl in the Barrel

This grave is the final resting place of Captain Otway Burns, one of the most successful privateers of the War of 1812. On one voyage alone, Captain Burns and the crew of his ship Snapdragon captured over $2 million worth of British cargo. After he died, a cannon from his ship was mounted on top of his tomb.

Otway Burns

Two stories at the Old Burying Ground are of love lost and found. After Sarah Gibbs’ first husband was lost at sea, she remarried and had a child with her second husband. Several years later her first husband returned and wanted his wife back. Understandably, her current husband wasn’t too keen on that idea, so the three of them worked out a deal. Sarah remained with her second husband, but when she died, she was buried beside her first husband so that they could be together for eternity.

Sarah Gibbs 2

The other story is that of Nancy Manney French, who fell in love with her tutor as a young girl. Her father disapproved, so the tutor, Charles French, went west to seek his fortune, vowing to return for Nancy someday. He eventually settled in Arizona and became a chief justice. Charles French faithfully wrote letters to his beloved back in Beaufort, but the local postmaster was a friend of Nancy’s father, so he intercepted them and they were never delivered. Just before the postmaster died, many years later, he needed to clear his conscience, so he told her what he had done. Nancy had never married, and as an old man Charles French returned to Beaufort and found her dying of consumption. The lifelong lovers were finally married, and Nancy died just a few weeks later.

Nancy French 3

Today is your last chance to enter this week’s Free Drawing. This week’s prize is our 8-in-1 E-book, which includes our Guide to Free Campgrounds and Overnight Parking Spots, Fairgrounds Camping Guide, RVers’ Guide to Casino Parking, Guide to Public RV Dump Stations, Favorite Restaurants Guide, Hitching Post Campground Reviews Guide, WiFi Campground Guide, and Guide to RV Good Guys. To enter, all you have to do is click on the Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn this evening.

I have a couple of books to tell you about today. My friend Ken Rossignol has just released a new photo tour book, Ninety-Nine Cent Tour of Bar Harbor Maine. We’re hoping to get back up to Bar Harbor again one of these days, and I’ll be studying this one before we go!

And if you’re as overwhelmed by electronic gadgets as I am, you’re going to be thrilled that my buddy Randall Morris is offering his Explanations and Advice for the Tech Illiterate Volume II free today on Amazon! Get yourself a copy while you can.

Thought For The Day – Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak. Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen. – Winston Churchill

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Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  One Response to “Beaufort’s Old Burying Ground”

  1. It just shows the interesting stories you learn when you get up off the couch and out into the world.

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