The Old Burying Ground in Beaufort, North Carolina, was established in 1709 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The entrance is off Ann Street, just west of Ann Street Methodist Church. Visitors are welcome.
There are stone markers from simple to elaborate; the earliest markers were made of shells, brick, or wood, due to the scarcity of stone. This simple headstone for Susanna Thomas (1771 – 1808), wife (consort) of a Captain Thomas, is shaped like a gate, that is, the gateway to heaven.
Many graves have vaulted covers of brick, for protection from animals and flooding.
The trees have leaned together companionably to watch over the inhabitants.
Of the many graves here, 28 graves are marked as sites of interest. The headstone of Susanna Thomas, described above, is at Marker 2. Four more are described below.
The grave of Captain Otway Burns (1775 – 1850) is located at Marker 22. Captain Burns was a naval hero in the War of 1812, a privateer, a member of the North Carolina legislature, and finally a lighthouse keeper near Portsmouth,NC, where he died. Burnsville, NC, is named for him.
The grave of Lafayette Leecraft, M.D. (1837 – 1864) is located at Marker 28. His monument is notable for its broken appearance, which symbolizes a life cut short.
The grave of Captain Christian Wulff (1810 – 1856) is located at Marker 25. Captain Wulff of the Royal Danish Navy died of yellow fever in Beaufort even though Beaufort ladies diligently nursed him. His sister sent the headstone from Denmark, but she herself died at sea during a voyage to visit his grave.
Possibly the saddest grave is located at Marker 24. This is the “Girl in Barrel of Rum.” This girl was brought to Beaufort from England in the 1770s as an infant with her family. She persuaded her family to allow her to visit her homeland; her father, who accompanied her, promised her mother to bring her home safely. However, she died at sea on the voyage home. Rather than bury his daughter at sea, the father brought her body home in a barrel of rum. This grave is popular with children, who cover it with childish gifts.
Only five graves are pictured in this blog, but there are many more fascinating stories. If you are ever in this area, you are encouraged to spend an hour or so in this peaceful spot.
For more information about the Old Burying Ground, visit the official website at http://beauforthistoricsite.org/old-burying-ground/. A map of the graveyard can be downloaded from this site, in case you would like to locate any of the graves described in this post.