Dr. Charles Ewen continues the search for the grave of Gov.
Richard Caswell. Once permits are obtained, the archaeological dig
will begin in the Caswell Family cemetery. Dr. Ewen is a professor
of anthropology at East Carolina University. He and several of his
students became involved in the quest for the Governors grave in
2000. Excavation of the Caswell Cemetery at Vernon Hall, turned up
interesting artifacts, but not the Governor's final resting
This page will document the continuing efforts related to
locating the grave of Governor Richard Caswell.
NEW PHOTOS taken by Susan
Hoffman on May 14th, 2008
63 Photo Slideshow with larger photos
UPDATE May 15, 2008
- Kinston Free
- May 15, 2008 -
- Jon Dawson, Staff Writer
- Article reprinted with permission
A team of
archeologists Wednesday unearthed what is believed to
be the grave shaft of Richard Caswell.
Team unearths casket, leather piece at Caswell site
- The diggers have
been searching for Caswell's grave at the Caswell
Historic Site on West Vernon Avenue this year. The
hope is to honor North Carolina's first governor with
a marker there, if Caswell is indeed buried
- On Wednesday, all
the team found was the remnants of a casket and a
piece of leather.
- Charles Ewen of the
East Carolina University Department of Anthropology
said the piece of the leather may be the remains of a
Masonic apron. Caswell at one time was Grand Master of
the North Carolina Masons.
- Ewen also said the
casket piece found was the bottom of the burial
- Other groups
involved with the dig include the ECU Maritime History
program, the Queen Anne's Revenge Conservation Lab and
the Daughters of the American Revolution.
- Along with
anthropologists and archeologists, Wednesday's event
was attended by descendants of Caswell. Susan Hoffman
of Virginia is a fifth-great-granddaughter of
- "I think it's about
time," Hoffman said. "We want to honor him place a
marker, but we can't do that if we don't know where he
- Edward Williams of
Raleigh is a fourth great-grandson of
- "The idea is to come
up with an exact location so we can give him a proper
burial," Williams said. "We'd like to erect a
monument, but then you have to figure out who's going
to pay for it."
Investigators will be
looking for remnants of 18th century clothing or coffin
hardware of the time. If any skeletal remains are found
then DNA may be compared to that of Caswell's
- Sheri Balko climbs
out of a grave believed to be the burial site of
Richard Caswell. (Janet
Sutton/The Free Press)
UPDATE May 12, 2008
- Below is a message from Valerie with the Moseley Bright
Chapter of the DAR.
Please let the Caswell family descendants know about the next scheduled archaeological phase. It will be Wednesday, May 14 beginning at 9AM. The grave willl be expanded toward the ditch area to allow for access without damaging anything in the grave pit. It will be opened in situ and any items found will be removed and placed in a water tank on loan from the Maritime Museum.
In addition to the ECU staff and students there will be staff from the Maritime Museum, the Queen Anne's Revenge project, and an independent cemetery removal expert who is a retired state archaeologist. There will be a barrier established around the grave pit for the safety of any observers. The pit is quite deep and if someone should loose their balance or the dirt sides should give way due to the weight of an individual they could be hurt and/or any artifacts in the grave could be damaged. Dr. Ewen is the archeology team leader so any questions regarding process or requests to cross the barrier should be directed to him.
I am very excited about this next, and hopefully final, phase of this part of the cemetery project. As Dr. Ewen is fond of saying "we are cautiously optimistic" that we will finally eliminate any doubt whether Governor Richard Caswell is buried in Kinston.
I look forward to seeing many of you next Wednesday.
Moseley-Bright Chapter, DAR
UPDATE April 18, 2008 by Martha Marble
It was a long day but these things go
4 graves were identified and if the
picture taken in the early 1900's was correct they would be from
right to left Susan Gatlin, Sarah Caswell, Gov. Caswell and Mary
Caswell. Only one crypt was found and it was L shaped outlined in
brick with no top. Whether there was originally a top is not known.
Charlie's [Dr. Charles Ewen] assumption is this was Mary
Caswell with one of her children but the bricks were VERY close
together. The Gov. or a grave was right in front of the large marker
many of you have seen. The assumed grave of Sarah was not taken down
that far but there appeared to be no crypt as Mary's was very close
to the top.
The dig concentrated on the assumed
grave of the Gov. They went down about 1 1/2 feet to the original
level of the ground and then took it another good 5 feet where they
found nails. At the end of the day Charlie just dug a hole in one
small area to see what would happen and then the glitch. He ran into
the water table. He enlarged the hole just big enough to get his hand
into and stated he felt what he thought was solid wood.
He can't go back tomorrow [Sat.
April 19, 2008] but a couple of the students are going back and
with equipment from the Regent of the DAR and are going to try and
get enough water out of the hole to eyeball what is under the water.
Then they will take it from there. If indeed it looks like solid
wood, it is going to be awhile because this presents a lot of
The city of Kinston (I don't
unnderstand why) will have to be notified and conservation people
will have to be consulted. Stay tuned for what happens tomorrow and
hopefully round 3.
Susan talked with the Gov and his 2
wives a lot today so maybe they have listened that we really want to
try and locate them. Brenda Stott and Ed Williams and his wife were
also there all day.
UPDATE April 19, 2008
Susan Hoffman Photos taken April 18,
Jo Huettl Pictures taken April 19,
2008. No one other than ECU personnel were allowed in the hole
once the planks were discovered.
- In the one you can see the "hole" with the water in
- the other one is when they used the shop vac to get the water
- Hunting for Caswell
- April 18, 2008
- David Anderson- Staff Writer
- The article reported on the dig, led by Charles Ewen and Megan
Perry, anthropology professors at Eastern Carolina University. Dr.
Ewen and Dr. Perry were assisted by several of their graduate
- 2000 Caswell Cemetery Dig
at Vernon Hall
Caswell Family Pages
- photos and excavation reports