Thursday, October 27, 2016

Outer Banks Adventure: The Cemeteries

You can't visit North Carolina and Virginia without detouring for the historic cemeteries, from the burying grounds in seaside towns to the capital of the Confederacy. Each one included the most fascinating funerary art, almost forgotten tales, and, of course, geocaches. Now normally I include geocache names and GC codes, but many of these are Virtuals. So, in an effort not to spoil, I've left out the cache names and any spoiler answers. You'll just have to find them for yourself.

Old Burying Ground - Beaufort, NC

First cemetery on the adventure is the Old Burying Ground. Of all the cemeteries we've visited across the Eastern U.S., this one seemed to have more stories per square foot.

They have a brochure for sale (drop your coins in the tin box at the gate) and walk among the markers.

There are three that I found most intriguing.

#19: British Officer (1700’s) — The grave of an officer in His Majesty’s Navy who died on board ship in the port of Beaufort. Not wanting to be buried “with his boots off” he was buried standing up 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.”  (Brantley)

#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 after the wreck of that ship in January, 1886 are buried together in this grave. It is said this tragedy led to the establishment of the Cape Lookout Lifesaving Station in 1887

#24 Girl in Barrel of Rum — Here is the grave of a girl buried in a barrel of rum. In the 1700s an English family, including an infant daughter, came to 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 return the girl safely. The girl enjoyed her visit to London, but died on the voyage home. She would have been buried at sea, but her father could not bear to break his promise. He purchased a barrel of rum from the captain, placed her body in it, and brought it to Beaufort for burial.

Look at the mementos left behind for the little girl. So sad.

St. Paul's Episcopal Church Cemetery - Norfolk, VA

After a brief stay on the Outer Banks, we stayed the night in Chesapeake. St. Paul's was the first place you see after crossing over the bridge into Norfolk.

St. Paul's claim to fame is a cannonball in the wall.
Following his defeat at the Battle of Great Bridge, Lord Dunmore attacked Norfolk from the sea as he fled Virginia on January 1, 1776. In retaliation, patriots set fire to the homes of loyalists; however, the fire became unmanageable, and nearly the entire town was destroyed by the flames. The church was the only major building in the city to escape substantial damage in the assault, though a cannonball (purportedly fired by the Liverpool) did strike its wall. By the 1830s, the cannonball was no longer embedded in the wall. However, it was discovered buried in the yard of the church, and returned to its original resting place in the 1840s, and remains there today.

TaGeez and I enjoyed our quiet morning walking around the Church grounds. Sinking into the soft ground, moss embedded into the stonework. This was my favorite headstone with the skull - notice the date.

Hollywood Cemetery - Richmond, VA

Saturday afternoon found us in Richmond, VA. Hollywood Cemetery has been on my bucket list since I read the 15 Must-See Historic Cemeteries Across the U.S. We visited Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta, GA the year before - amazing!

Like many cemeteries, Hollywood Cemetery has an online interactive map (lucky for us since the office was closed). 

They also had handy arrows throughout the cemetery, directing you to the most popular stops. The biggest draw is the Monument to the Confederate War Dead, a memorial to the 18,000 Confederate dead buried at Hollywood Cemetery.

A horse thief from a nearby penitentiary performed the dangerous feet of placing the capstone atop the 90 foot tower.

Among the many famous residents, there are two US Presidents buried in the President's Circle.

 President John Taylor

President James Monroe, protected by his temporary cage
The famous "Birdcage" is undergoing restoration

One of the most remarkable features of Hollywood Cemetery is the view of the James River. As we were sitting in the river overlook, we watched kayakers riding the rapids beneath us.

It reads, "Erected by the little boys & girls of the Southern capital."

Speaking of which, there's a third President buried here. Meet Jefferson Davis, first (and last) President of the Confederacy.  There are a lot of Confederate insignia throughout this area. 

Shockoe Hill Cemetery - Richmond, VA

After Hollywood, TaGeez and I moseyed over to Historic Tredegar for another Virtual cache. Afterwards, we poked around the National Park's Civil War Museum and found an interesting reference to Shockoe Hill Cemetery in the exhibit... Back into the car we go....

Buried in Shockoe Cemetery is famed Union spy, Elizabeth Van Lew. who operated one of the largest spy-rings in the nation during the Civil War. She was supposedly buried vertically, positioned in eternity towards the North. Read this great history posted on The Memory Palace also did a great (short) podcast - Episode 40 called Crazy Bet -- told by Nate DiMeo - so enjoyable!

Shockoe is famous for being the final resting place for many of Edgar Allan Poe's loved ones (we visited his grave last April in Baltimore). We rested a few moments in front of "his Helen".  This Antebellum cemetery is also the final resting place of at least 661 deceased Prisoners of War, many who died in the attached Confederate General Hospital. These were Northern soldiers so far from home.

Just another dozen or so cemeteries left on our bucket list!

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