During my recent visit to the wonderful old town of Beaufort, North Carolina with fellow bloggers Barb, Kathysue and Carol, I was excited to see that guided tours of the town’s Old Burying Ground were being offered as a part of their 50th Annual Old Homes and Gardens Tour! It is actually one of the few cemeteries on the National Register of Historic Places!
This may seem strange, but I love touring old cemeteries and this one was my favorite by far! Here you will find a wealth of history and a peek into life in America in its earliest years. But I must admit that even in the dappled light filtering through the ancient trees, the heat and humidity were stifling! And yes…that is a huge old wisteria vine looping across a family plot! I wish it had been in bloom!
It was interesting to see how nature is always in the process of reclaiming what is hers…
…and displaying her glory from the tree tops to the the smallest stones, even in a place like this!
Perhaps the most interesting was the resurrection fern, an air plant which appears to die in the heat and returns to green with moisture in the air! I was able to get these contrasting photos over a two day period…amazing!
There was an interesting variety of styles of headstones through the ages...from simple to elegant. The vaulted bricks were intended to protect the graves from high water and animals. There is also what appears to be an empty area where an archeological survey discovered unmarked graves of the victims of an Indian massacre in 1711…their skulls cleft from the tomahawks of the hostile Coree and Neusiok Indians! Yikes!
Some of the headstones were decorated with wonderful sculptures…angels, willow trees and lilies. Why the anchor? Because Beaufort is an old whaling and fishing community.
And, sadly, scattered among the family plots, were the graves of small children from a time when life was very precious and precarious.
The oldest marked grave dates from 1756 and is believed to be that of little Abigail Parker. But no one will ever know which grave is actually the oldest, since the Church of England took the records back to England during the American Revolution. No one knows what became of them.
And by far, the most visited grave in the burying ground is this one of a child from the 1700s…decorated with little gifts and remembrances. According to the story, the little girl went on a voyage to England with her father, who promised her mother that he would bring her home safely. Sadly, she died during the voyage home. Not wanting to bury her at sea, her father bought a keg of rum from the captain and put her body in it. So her family buried her keg and all!
And the final touch...the soft strains of gospel music from choir practice at the old adjoining AME Methodist Church Chapel...perfect soundtrack for an amazing journey back in time!
I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Beaufort’s Old Burying Ground! If you would like more information and a virtual tour, click here. I hope one day to be able to return to this wonderfully interesting area of North Carolina and discover even more about its fascinating history!
Thanks so much for dropping by! I am joining Susan at A Southern Daydreamer for Outdoor Wednesday! Please head on over to her wonderful blog to see her lovely gardens and to find a list of this week’s participants! See you next time! A la prochaine!