CASWELL Cemetery at Vernon Hall

Picture compliments of Dr. Charles R. Ewen

The Final Report on the excavation of Vernon Hall Cemetery

REPORTS: Location of Gov. Caswell's Grave?

  • Report on the Search to Locate the Grave of Richard Caswell, 1729-1789
  • The Search for Richard Caswell's Grave
  • Addendum to the Cross Report from THE BLOUNT PAPERS:
Laying the Grid

Close up views of the caskets (photos compliments of Dr. Ewen)

Nov. 8, 2000, Day 2 of the Excavation

Sentry Duty on Halloween

The Excavaton Begins! Dr. Ewen and students Oct. 28, 2000 (photos by Ted Sampley)

List members who attended "The Dig" on Oct 28, 2000

Ted Sampley showing where another vault was discovered 35 years ago 10/27/2000

Photos by Ted Sampley of Dr. Ewen & students preparing the ground for excavation 10/25/2000

Text updates of the CASWELL Cemetery Excavation

October 23, 2000

Good news, the project has been cleared to proceed! We will go down on Wednesday morning (getting to the site at 10 AM to clear area in advance of our Saturday. Pass the word.
Charles R. Ewen, Ph.D.
Director, Phelps Archaeology Lab
Professor of Anthropology
East Carolina University
Greenville, NC 27858-4353

July 20 2000

The descendants of Gov. Richard Caswell and other interested historians are delighted to announce that the Department of Anthropology at East Carolina University has agreed to excavate the area known as the Vernon Hall cemetery.

The class project, to be held this Fall under the auspices of Dr. Charles R. Ewan, is to determine where the 18th century remains belonging to prominent Kinston citizens may be located. Among those who may be buried there are the parents of Gov. Richard Caswell- Richard Caswell Sr. (1685-1755) and Christian Dallam Caswell (1705-1787)- and his brother Samuel Caswell (1742-1785). Other Caswell family members and notable citizens such as John Washington and family may also be buried on the grounds.

We would like to thank the many list members and Caswell descendants who wrote letters regarding the Caswell cemetery situation and offered support for this cause, with special thanks to Martha Marble. Her participation greatly contributed to this project.

We would also like to thank the following people for their efforts on behalf of the project:

Dr. Charles Holloman, for helping to save the cemetery when the clinic was built.

Dr. Keats Sparrow, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, East Carolina University, Member of the Board of Directors of the North Carolina, Department of Cultural Resources, and a Kinston native.

Ted Sampley - Editor, The Olde Kinston Gazette

Dr. Charles R. Ewen, Director, Phelps Archaeology Lab, Professor of Anthropology, East Carolina University - Dr. Ewen did all the legwork, obtained the permissions and did the on-site inspection. He will be the project director and our source of information on the progess in the Fall.

Betty Ray McCain, Secretary, North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources

Stephanie Bourdas Smith for bringing the existence of the brick vaults to our attention.

We wish Dr. Ewan, his associates, and the fortunate members of his class every success in this endeavor.

Susan Hoffman and Clair Hadley representatives of the Caswell Descendants.

Charles R. Ewen, Ph.D.
Director, Phelps Archaeology Lab
Professor of Anthropology
East Carolina University
Greenville, NC 27858-4353

Other CASWELL Cemetery Links

1913 Newspaper Article "Owns Grave of Richard Caswell" Save the Cemetery Plea from Susan Hoffman The name of the newspaper was not copied; however, the next line is:

"Truth Prosperity and Democracy"
Washington, Beaufort County, N. C., Thursday, July 10, 1913
Owns Grave of Richard Caswell

Prof. Collier Cobb, of the University of North Carolina, Mrs. Cobb, Miss Mary Cobb and Mrs. Richard Caswell Gatlin, relict of the inventor of the Gatling gun, spent Sunday, the 8th instant, here. Mr. and Mrs. Cobb are descendants of famous Lenoir county aristocrats of a century ago, and while here visited the burial place of their ancestors. The Professor is descended from the Cobbs and Washingtons, while Mrs. Cobb, who is the daughter of Mrs. Richard Caswell Gatlin, formerly of this city, is a great granddaughter of North Carolina's chief executive under the American government. She has recently come into possession of the tiny graveyard located two and a half miles from Kinston, on the Cental (sic) Highway, where are located the remains of Governor Richard Caswell. It was the wish of the Revolutionary soldier-governor, it is said, that his body's resting place be cared for on through the generations by his descendants, and an old letter by a lawyer, which was recently obtained by Mrs. Cobb, makes it clear that she is now the owner of the historic plat. It was bequeathed to her by the late Mrs. Fonville. The Cobbs will probably take some steps to improve the little graveyard's appearance, although they have not announced an intention to place a more pretentious marker at the grave of the governor than that already there.

While here the Cobbs and Mrs. Gatlin, who before coming to North Carolina recently to make her home with her daughter was a resident of Fort Smith, Ark., visited Vernon Hall, an old home on Vernon Heights, at the northern edge of the city, which was famous a century ago as the mansion of the Washingtons. There George Washington visited the North Carolina Washingtons and was royally entertained at a levee which was the principal social event of the section for a generation. Splendid old Vernon Hall, it is rumored, will soon be torn down. The last occupant of the place was the late Mrs. J. W. Granger.--Kinston Free Press

Contributed to Florence Fulford Moore by Roger Kammerer, artist/historian/genealogist, 1115 Ragsdale Road, Greenville, NC 27858 - on June 7, 2000. Ms. Fulford Moore is the descendant of Sarah MackIlwean Shine and her husband, Captain John Shine, whose sister, Mary MackIlwean, was the first wife of Governor Richard Caswell.

Plea from Susan Burgess-Hoffman

I am asking for all the Caswell descendants (and others interested) of RICHARD CASWELL and CHRISTIAN DALLAM (originally of England and Maryland to North Carolina) and their family, most notable their son RICHARD CASWELL JR. (first Governor of North Carolina) and wives MARY MACKILWEAN and SARAH HERITAGE to come together to help save three cemeteries from any further development and desecration.

The situation is appalling and sickening to say the very least. One cemetery, the state has allowed part of it to be paved over for a parking lot for a medical office, another lies between an empty lot and broken down boarded up house without fence or safe guard of the graves and the site for Richard Caswell's grave site at the Caswell Memorial is missing part of the land now owned by a packing plant I believe (still investigating the deeds). There is more to the story, if you want further information or names and addresses to write to, please email me. I am Richard Caswell Jr's 5th great! grand-daughter and I will be darned if I let this disgraceful situation last any longer!

Susan Burgess-Hoffman
205 Captain Newport Kr.
Williamsburg, VA 23185

Sun Journal, New Bern, NC Thursday, July 27, 2000 submitted with permission by Ila Grey McIlwean White

Researchers want to excavate land to find Caswell's grave.

An East Carolina University researcher hopes to excavate land once owned by the family of North Carolina's first governor to see if he is buried there.

The remains of Richard Caswell, a Revolutionary War colonel, were buried in Fayetteville, then eventually moved to Kinston. But the exact gravesite is unknown.

The Kinston Clinic owns that land that would be excavated, said local businessman and Caswell enthusiast Ted Sampley.  Sampley, a passionate supporter of the search for Caswell's grave, was one of four local businessmen who gathered $1,000 to anyone who could identify the grave's exact location. East Carolina professor Charles Ewen plans to include his students in the dig, which would begin this fall.

"I've been out to the site, and I've looked at the evidence," Ewen said Wednesday. "And, yeah, he could be buried where they think he is."

He said he's awaiting permission from the property owners to dig on their land. If human remains are found, than the next step would be to confirm they are Caswell's.

Caswell's fifth great-granddaughter, Susan Hoffman of Williamsburg, Va., is excited about the chance of finding her ancestor's final resting place.

"I would like to see an actual tombstone, an actual marker, instead of a crumbling stone where he might be," Hoffman said.

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