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REPORT ON
 
ARCHAEOLOGICAL TESTING AND EXCAVATION
OF
GRAVES IN THE CEMETERY AT VERNON HALL


 
 

 

Table of Contents
Introduction
Historical Background
The Funeral and Cemetery
Archaeological Background
 
Fieldwork
Site Description
Methodology
Data Recovered
 
Analysis
Processing/Cataloging
Special Analyses
Interpretation
 
Summary and Recommendations
References
Appendix
 
 
 
 
 
Introduction
 
Richard Caswell served as Governor of North Carolina from 1776-1780, and again from 1784-1787. He was born in Maryland on August 3, 1729, and died on November 10, 1789. He is thought to have been buried in Kinston because his residence was in Lenoir County (Dobbs County, at the time). He was sixty years old at death (North Carolina Department of Archives and History 2000:1).
 
Over the centuries since Caswell's death, the location of his grave has been lost. Historical and twentieth century documents have conflicting information as to the location of the grave. Even the descendents have lost track of which cemetery houses Caswell's remains. Caswell's grave is traditionally thought to have been buried in a family cemetery, now part of the Caswell Memorial Park on U.S. 70 in Kinston. A monument was even placed there in his honor. "A nearby marker claims that is where Caswell is buried, based on information provided by local residents" (Associated Press 1999:1). Others suggest that Caswell is buried near Vernon Hall, a house he owned in downtown Kinston, between the property owned by the Bentley Bed and Breakfast and the Kinston Clinic.
 
Recent publicity about the questions surrounding Caswell's resting place jogged the memory of a Kinston resident who identified the cemetery at Vernon Hall as the most likely site. Stephanie Bourdas-Smith, a long-time resident of Kinston, believes she discovered Caswell's vault when she was ten years old while playing around in the cemetery behind the Kinston Clinic. She recalled seeing at that time a brick tunnel and skeleton being exposed when a severe storm blew over a large oak four decades ago (Bourdas-Smith 2000:1). Ms. Smith was able to lead investigators to this location, which was referenced by a small family cemetery and a large, rotted tree stump.
 
Local interest in exploring this particular area led to an initiative to professionally excavate the site to determine if Vernon Hall was indeed the burial place for Richard Caswell. Professor Charles Ewen of the Department of Anthropology at East Carolina University and student members of his Public Archaeology course (ANTH 5201) proceeded to formulate a research design and carry out archaeological excavations at the site.
 
The objective of this project was to test archaeologically the hypothesis that Governor Caswell is buried at the Vernon Hall site in an unmarked grave. Archaeological testing and excavation was begun on Saturday, October 28, 2000 and extended, intermittently until November 8, 2000.
 
 
Historical Background
 
Richard Caswell was born in Maryland and moved to North Carolina when he was 17. In North Carolina, he received financial aid (employment in a public office) from the royal governor through letters sent by the governor of Maryland. Eventually, he was appointed deputy surveyor of the Colony and Clerk of the Orange County Court. He then moved to what is now Lenoir County and married Mary McIlweane. "She died, leaving only one son, William" (Fletcher n.d.:1). After Mary's death, he married Sarah Herritage, the daughter of William Herritage, an attorney. Caswell obtained a license to practice law, and had great success. He became a member of the General Assembly in 1754, representing Johnston County. He continued to represent the county until 1771. "In 1770 and 1771 he was chosen speaker of the House of Commons" (Fletcher n.d.:1).
 
He was a delegate for the Continental Congress at Philadelphia from 1774-6. In November of 1776, he was a member of the Provincial Congress at Halifax, and was unanimously elected President of that body. The Provincial Congress formed what is now the North Carolina State Constitution (Fletcher n.d.:1). He served two terms as governor (1776-1780 and 1784-1787).
 
In addition to his public services, Caswell had an outstanding military career. In the 1770's, he became the colonel of his county's militia. He commanded the right wing of Governor Tryon's force in the battle of Alamance on May 16, 1771 (Fletcher n.d.:1). On August 15, 1780, at the Battle of Camden, Caswell's militia was exposed and fired upon. The men panicked and fled, which contributed to a British victory. Despite the grim situation, Caswell and General Gates tried desperately to rally the troops, but failed. After that battle, Caswell was recommended to be given command of his own militia (Alexander 1946:294-296). The pro-British Tories harassed civilians at Wilmington during the summer of 1781, and Caswell successfully put an end to their riots. This was the last military service Caswell performed in 1781. Caswell's most famous military victory was at Moore's Creek in 1776. He prevented the Tories from intersecting the Continental troops at Moore's Creek and completely overcame and routed General McDonald's forces (Fletcher n.d.:1). Caswell suffered sickness through most of the latter Revolutionary War. He frequently had "giddiness" in the head and a "disorder of the stomach which was partially relieved by vomiting and purging" (Alexander 1946:299).
 
After Caswell's military career ended, he continued his political career. He was Comptroller General for the financial department of the State from 1782-1785 (North Carolina Department of Archives and History 2000:1). Part of Caswell's duties as Comptroller General was to expose the "forgeries and fraudulent accounts made by many prominent officials, including the state treasurer" (Alexander 1946:300). He also saw that the quartermasters, commissaries, and others who supplied Continental troops properly adjusted their claims.
Caswell desperately tried to prevent the cession of the western counties of the state in the Cumberland area, who were suffering from Indian attacks. Governor Martin (1782-1784) had not "appeased the hostility of the Indians by paying them for their lands" (Alexander 1946:302). The inhabitants of the western counties constantly threatened to secede from North Carolina. Despite Caswell's efforts, the counties of the Cumberland area eventually seceded and were later recognized by the Union as the State of Tennessee (Alexander 1946:305-306).
 
In 1785, Caswell responded willingly to a request of John Jay, Secretary of Foreign Affairs, that heavy duties should be imposed by the United States on British vessels. In November, the assembly levied a duty of five shillings a ton on vessels from "countries refusing to make treaties of commerce with the United States" (Alexander 1946:307). An additional duty of twenty percent above the regular tariff schedule was charged on merchandise not manufactured in the United States (Alexander 1946:307). In November, 1787, Congress had lost respect both at home and abroad. Delegates were not attending the sessions, and many absences were due to the failure of the government to pay their expenses. Caswell suggested to the assembly that the delegates get compensation by being allowed to purchase produce with treasury notes that could be sold abroad for hard cash. William Blount had notified Caswell that he would not serve unless he was paid in hard cash (Alexander 1946:308).
 
In May, 1786, Caswell was elected one of five delegates to the Constitutional convention in Philadelphia. He was told that he should appoint a substitute for himself in case he was not able to participate. Because of his health, he believed that he would not be able to attend the convention, and appointed William Blount. Blount was in favor of making a stronger Constitution, so Caswell was doing the Convention a favor by sending him. In November, 1786, Caswell sent a copy of the proposed U.S. Constitution to the General Assembly. The Constitution called upon the voters of each state to consider its ratification. The General Assembly called a convention to meet at Hillsboro on July 21, 1788. The campaign for election of members of this convention was quite eventful. Richard Caswell and his son Winston were on the Federalist ticket from Dobbs County. Five unknown men were on the anti-federalist ticket (Alexander 1946:309-310).
 
The initial count showed that the anti-Federalists were ahead by nearly forty votes. The Federalists decided to take action:
 
 

Candles were put out and in the darkness the ballot box was forcibly taken from Sheriff Benjamin Caswell, who had been knocked down. Benjamin Sheppard, one of the Federalist candidates, gave his approval to the riot, saying: (Well done, boys, now we will have a new election). (Alexander 1946:310-311)

Governor Samuel Johnston called for a new election. The anti-Federalists refused to take part, and only eighty-five votes were cast, all for Federalists. The majority of Dobbs County did not approve of either election, so Dobbs failed to ratify the Constitution that year. This action left North Carolina out of the Union for a while, "as a sufficient number of states had already ratified the Constitution providing for the organization of the new government" (Alexander 1946:311). Another Convention met at Fayetteville on November 16, 1789. Congress had recommended amendments which removed North Carolina's most serious objections to the Constitution. North Carolina ratified the Constitution by a majority of 118. While the Constitution was being reconsidered, Caswell had been elected Senator from the County of Dobbs, to the General Assembly, and was subsequently elected Speaker. He was also elected a delegate to the second Constitutional ratification Convention in November (Fletcher n.d.:2). Caswell did not live to see the completion of the ratification. He died six days before the Convention assembled. However, he was assured of its success by his fellow delegates (Alexander 1946:311).
 
Caswell experienced at least one major tragedy before his death. His youngest son was lost at sea on a passage from Charleston to New Bern. Some people even claimed that he was captured by pirates and murdered. While serving his Senate term in November, 1789, Caswell was struck with paralysis (now thought to be a stroke) and after remaining speechless for several days, died on November 10th, at sixty years of age (Fletcher n.d.:2). A joint committee of both North Carolina Houses, including William Blount, was appointed to arrange the details of the funeral (Alexander 1946:312). Caswell had been Grand Master of the North Carolina Masonic Order, so the rites of the Order were observed at his funeral (Sampley 1999b:1). According to Inglis Fletcher, a eulogium was pronounced over Caswell's remains and his body was "conveyed to his family burial-place in Lenoir, and there interred" (Fletcher n.d.:2).
 
When Caswell died, he was largely in debt. In his first years as Governor, he refused compensation for his services. The General Assembly never completely rewarded him for his work. During his last term as Governor, he was forced to make a plea to the Assembly to give him a good salary. The depreciation of the currency was causing him financial trouble. The Assembly had not raised his salary to compensate for inflation (Alexander 1946: 299-300). Upon Caswell's death, his son Dallum was declared the sole surviving executor of his estate. In addition to not being paid a fair salary, Caswell had mortgaged most of the family property to support the Revolutionary War. After paying his father's debts, Dallum "was forced to ask the State to cancel a tax claim and allow the family to keep their last remaining tract of land." Dallum's request was not granted (Sampley 1999a:1).
 

The Funeral and Cemetery

 
The mystery surrounding the actual location of Richard Caswell's grave stems from a lack of primary documents from the period and the absence of an original grave marker. Many documents written since the turn of the 1800s purport knowledge of the grave's location, but they are all based on hearsay or are simply educated interpretations of the nebulous record. The two most likely locations are, of course, the two Caswell family cemeteries established in Caswell's will of 1789 (cited in Sampley 1999b).
 
C.B. Alexander says that the funeral was observed in Kinston. He cites the State Records in saying that Caswell's grave is located two and a half miles from Kinston on Tower Hill road, in the family burying ground of a half acre, reserved in his will, near the "Red House" (Alexander 1946:312). It is possible that Alexander became confused after reading Caswell's will. In his will, Caswell reserves plats of land for two cemeteries. One seems to be the burial location of his parents, and is at a place called, "The Hill." Alexander may have taken "The Hill" to be Tower Hill Road. The other location was reserved for Caswell's first wife, Mary, and her son, William, and his second wife, Sarah, and their other children. This location was beside the "Red House," which was where Mary had lived, and where Sarah was living when Caswell wrote the will. The following is a passage from Caswell's will:
 

First, I reserve for the use of a burying ground fo [sic] all those of my family and connections who may choose to bury their Relations and friends there, one half acre of Land where the Bones of my dear father and Mother lie, at a place called the Hill to be laid out East, West, North, and South so as to leave those Bones near the centre [sic] of the said half Acre of Ground, and I also reserve in like manner one half acre of Land where the Bones of beloved wife [Mary] (and) son, William, now lie near the red house, to be laid out in the same manner and for the same purpose as the above half Acre is directed; and these two half Acres to be reserved for the uses afores'd forever. And its likewise my will that those who wish to bury their Dead at either of the said places and coming with in the meaning of the description above, shall always have liberty of Egress, Inress and regress to, at and from the said respective burying grounds to buty [sic] the dead or repair or raise an enclosure to the same. (Caswell 1787:1)

 
 
Because of his debt, Caswell had declared all wills before 1787 will to be void (Caswell 1787:1).
In addition to the above sources, a Caswell descendent had a list (Table 1) of people buried in the family cemetery. The list was given to Mrs. W.T. Hines by Mrs. Sue Bond, a granddaughter of Dallum, Caswell's son. According to Caswell's will, which states that both of his wives are buried near the Red House, this is the list of people buried in the cemetery beside the Red House, and is not the cemetery where Caswell's parents are buried. "There are many more, but it is hard to obtain imputable evidence as to whom they were." (Bond n.d.:1) Caswell's grave was marked by Masons in 1908. Until then, the only marker was a giant oak tree, which was still standing at the time this list was made (Bond: n.d.:1).
 
The members of the Caswell Memorial Commission in the 1960's were convinced that his grave was in his family cemetery somewhere in the Caswell Memorial Park on U.S. 70 near the Neuse River. The president of the Commission, a lawyer named John G. Dawson, wrote to Inglis Fletcher about the poor condition of the cemetery and that it was poorly landscaped for effective presentation in a Memorial Park. Dawson felt that the cemetery should be redeveloped. He proposed that redevelopment of the cemetery be budgeted at $5,000 (Dawson 1961:1).
 
 
Table 1: List of People Allegedly Buried in Caswell Memorial Park Cemetery

Richard Caswell.

Born Aug. 3, 1729, Died Nov. 10, 1789.

Susan Caswell Gatlin.

Died Mar. 5, 1843. Age 67 years.

Sarah C. Reavis. (Daughter of John S. Gatlin.)

Died Mar. 24, 1838. Age 23 years.

Lesis C. Desmond.

Born Apr. 19, 1812, Died Oct. 24, 1868.

Joshua Desmond.("Here lies a good man.")

Born Nov. 26, 1827,

Eliza Desmond. (Granddaughter of Richard Caswell.)

Born Sept. 1804, Died Sept 1844.

Mary E. Fonville.(Daughter of Lewis and Eliza Desmond.)

Born July 25, 1823, Died Apr. 18, 1900.

John Gatlin.

Died June 20, 1830, Age 67 years.

Walter Davenport 

Died 1832, Age 32 years.

Mary Catherine(Wife of J. Chestnut.)
(Great Granddaughter of Richard Caswell.)

Died Feb. 23, 1854, Age 24 years.

Several children with unmarked graves.

Mary McIlweane(First Wife of Richard Caswell.)

Sarah Heritage. (Second Wife of Richard Caswell.)
William Caswell.
Dallum Caswell.
Holland Caswell West. (Daughter of Dallum Caswell.) (Wife of William B. West.)

In contrast, Susan Burgess-Hoffman in January, 2000, complains about the condition of the cemetery near Vernon Hall. She says that part of the Vernon Hall cemetery has been paved over by the Kinston Clinic parking lot, and another cemetery lies between an empty lot and a broken down, boarded up house, without a fence or any protection. She says that the gravesite at the Caswell Memorial is missing part of its land, which is owned by a packing plant. Burgess-Hoffman is Richard Caswell Jr.'s fifth great-granddaughter (Burgess-Hoffman 2000:1).

 
Johnson and Holloman (1954:352) seem convinced that the Red House Plantation site holds the remains of Caswell: "Though the grave of Caswell was unmarked for years, there is no doubt that local citizens and leading citizens of the State have known the exact spot through the years." They next cite as evidence the fact that "[r]eferences to the Caswell Cemetery specifically as the final resting place of Governor Caswell have been found in political speeches from the year 1835 forward." These statements typify the evidence that the majority who believe Caswell's remains are at Red House put forth to support their argument. Ted Sampley of the Olde Kinston Gazette quotes from an article by Fayetteville Observer reporter Roy Parker: "As soon as the ceremonies ended, Caswell's coffin was placed in a wagon, and with an escort of mounted mourners, departed for the two-day journey to Red House (quoted in Sampley 1999a)." He then wonders whether Parker's sources are correct, leaving readers to wonder what Parker's sources actually were.
 
The weight of anecdotal evidence and common sense suggest the Red House theory is correct, but that conclusion needs to be supported by physical evidence. Without such evidence the less likely but still possible scenario that Caswell is buried in the older family plot remains viable, and that possibility gained recent attention due to the reminiscences of Stephanie Bourdas Smith.
 
Smith recalled a storm when she was a child that uprooted a large oak tree in the area around Vernon Hall cemetery. Inspection of the hole left by the uprooted stump revealed a brick tunnel that contained the remains of a wooden coffin with an intact skeleton (Smith 2000). Smith believed that this may have been Governor Caswell's grave because of its location, the oak tree, and the impressiveness of the tomb.
 
Archaeological Background
 
While archaeological sites are prevalent in Lenoir County, no previous archaeological work has been conducted at the unmarked cemetery between the Kinston Clinic and the Bentley Bed and Breakfast. Investigations from other areas have pertinence to this study, though. As will be shown later, archaeological work conducted by TRC Garrow Associates, Inc. (Pat Garrow 2000, personal communication) and historical research conducted by Habenstein and Lamers (1962) are of extreme importance in the interpretation of this project.
 
 

 

Fieldwork

 

Site Description

 
The Vernon Hall site is located near downtown Kinston to the northwest of the Bentley Vernon Hall Bed & Breakfast and directly to the southeast of the Kinston Clinic, abutting its parking lot (Figure 2).
 
 
Figure 2. Location of the Vernon Hall site.
 
The area is on the hill near where the B&B stands and is overgrown with bamboo along with a few small hardwoods. A few gravestones enclosed by a low brick wall are the only surface evidence of a cemetery in the area, and are believed to comprise the Washington family plot . A retaining wall constructed during a parking lot expansion cuts into the cemetery area and forms the western boundary of the site.
 

Methodology

 
Standard archaeological procedures were followed in the field for the excavation of the gravesite. The work was thoroughly documented in the field including field notes on excavation procedures, pertinent provenience information, field sketch maps and photographs. All of these documents, along with the artifacts recovered, are curated at the Phelps Archaeology Laboratory of East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina.
 
On Wednesday, October 25, 2000, before excavation began, some preliminary work was done to clear the area of vegetation and to establish a site grid (Figure 4).Figure 4 Setting in the Site Grid
 
The north-exterior brick wall of the Washington family plot in the cemetery was utilized as a base line. Specifically, the northeast corner of the wall was designated as 0N/0W (Figure 5). A four-meter by four-meter excavation unit was lain out with the southeast corner of the unit located at 3N/0W. This four-meter square unit was divided into four two-meter square subunits and each was uniquely numbered using its southeast corner: 3N/0W, 3N/2W, 5N/0W, 5N/2W.
 
On the following Saturday, October 28, 2000, Mr. Richard McCarn and Mr. Roy Dail from ProMark, Inc. conducted a ground penetrating radar survey of the area outside the walled-in Washington family plot (Figure 6).
Figure 5 Site map Figure 6 Conducting the Ground Penetrating Radar Survey
 
 
Several soil disturbances were registered by the GPR, two of which would later be identified as features one and two. The other anomolies may denote additional unmarked burials in the area.
 
Each of the four subunits were excavated separately, and initially, soil was discarded until soils directly in context with the burial were encountered. These soils were screened with one-quarter inch and one-eighth inch stacked hardwire mesh screens to recover any artifacts present. During excavations, two features were encountered, designated feature one and feature two (Figure 5). Feature one consisted of an arched brick crypt while feature two consisted of a vaguely rectangular soil anomaly. Excavating feature two revealed the partial remains of an arched brick crypt as well. Because of the difficulty and time consuming nature of removing the bricks, excavation was ceased for the day when a second layer of bricks was encountered in feature one.
 
On Wednesday, November 8, 2000, excavations continued on both features. Feature one ultimately consisted of an intact brick-lined crypt, so no screening was required. Feature two consisted of a partially collapsed brick-lined crypt with subsequent infill. The soil underlying the brick arch in feature two was screened. Both of the features are described below.
 
 

Data Recovered

 
Two features were identified within the four-meter square excavation unit, designated feature one (southern feature) and feature two (northern feature). Both features were mapped in plan view (Figure 5&7) and photographed before further excavations took place.
 
Feature One. Feature one consisted of a brick arched crypt that was encountered at about 5 centimeters below ground surface at the peak of the arch . This upper most layer of bricks was removed and directly underlying this layer was a zone of red clay fill approximately 30 centimeters thick. Within this zone, one fragment of a blue transfer printed pearlware ceramic was recovered. At the base of this zone, a second layer of arched bricks was encountered (Figure 8). This second layer turned out to be two courses of bricks thick. In other words, including the upper arch just below ground surface, this crypt consisted of three layers of arched bricks, the lower two of which were mortared together. Below the lower brick arch was a brick lined crypt with a cast iron coffin located in it (Figure 9). Laying on top of the coffin was a considerable amount of wood, nails and other debris &endash; remnants of the wooden form that was constructed to help lay in the brick crypt. As mentioned earlier, no soils were found below the second arch of bricks so no screening was needed. The wood and debris from the top of the coffin was sifted for artifacts and a mortar sample from the lower arch was also taken. The significance of the fragment of pearlware, the nails and the coffin itself will be discussed below in the "Interpretation" portion of the report.
 
 
 
Figure 8 Feature 1 - Interior Brick Vault
 
 
 
Figure 9 Feature 1 &endash; iron coffin
 
Feature Two. Feature two was identified as a rectangular soil anomaly consisting of two zones in plan view with some disturbance obscuring the northern edge of the feature. The southern portion of the feature consisted of a red clay, similar to that encountered underlying the upper brick arch in feature one. The northern portion of feature two consisted of a light brown loamy soil (Figure 5). After excavating approximately ten centimeters into feature two, a brick arch similar to the upper arch of feature one was encountered (Figure 10).
 
Figure 10 Feature 2 - Exposed
 
It was similar to the upper arch of feature one (rather than the lower arch) because (a) it was not mortared together and (b) it was only a single course of bricks thick. The brick arch in feature two had several missing bricks, presumably a result of the disturbance caused by a tree fall directly above that location. Underlying this brick arch was more of the light brown loamy soil. This fill from below the arch was screened for recovery of any artifacts. A cast iron coffin similar to the one found in feature one was located within this light brown fill (Figure 11). Recovered artifacts include cut nails, wood fragments and
 
Figure 11 Feature 2 &endash; Iron Coffin
 
a sample of mortar. Other modern items like three-holed bricks and plastic wrappers within this crypt indicate that the tree root disturbance was substantial enough to allow for these items to become located within the crypt.
 
As mentioned in the discussions of the two features, artifacts of several types were recovered during this project. Most fundamentally are the two cast iron coffins that were uncovered. Also of importance are the nails recovered and the fragment of pearlware ceramic from feature one. Other items were recovered (e.g. oyster shell fragments, a metal unidentifiable mechanical object, etc.) but are only indirectly associated with these crypts and are not important to the project at hand. A full list of artifacts recovered is provided in the Appendix. Details about the pearlware ceramic, nails and coffins are fundamental to the interpretation of this project and are given below in that particular section.
 

 

 
 
Analysis
 
Processing/Cataloging

The two coffins were left in situ, while the other artifacts recovered were bagged and returned to the Phelps Archaeology Laboratory at East Carolina University. There, most of the artifacts were washed and thoroughly dried. Each one was analyzed and recorded according to several key characteristics (see Appendix B). These artifacts will be permanently curated at the Phelps Archaeology Laboratory along with all of the paperwork (e.g. maps, photos, field notes, etc.) from the project.

 

Special Analyses

 
It was determined that neither of the graves investigated could contain the remains of Richard Caswell. Because of this, no special analyses were deemed necessary. However, the Principal Investigator did consult with several individuals with prior cemetery excavation experience (Mr. Pat Garrow, Dr. Doug Owsley, Mr. Ed Bell, and Mr. James Davidson) concerning the dating of the caskets. Furthermore, though no forensic analysis was undertaken, Dr. Dale Hutchinson and Mr. Larry McSwain, ECU bioarchaeologists, were standing on hand should their expertise had been required.
 

Interpretation

 
In a nutshell, neither of the burials excavated during this project contain the remains of Governor Richard Caswell. As mentioned earlier in this report, three key lines of evidence lead to this interpretation. These three lines of evidence, taken in concert, allow us to safely assume that the remains are not those of Richard Caswell's. First, the presence of pearlware in feature one was our first indicator of the more recent historical nature of the two features. Second, the type of nails recovered from the crypts further corroborates this notion. Finally, the coffins themselves do not categoricaly rule out the possibility that the remains are those of Richard Caswell's, but their believed 19th century date adds weight to the already building argument. Each of these three elements is discussed in detail below.
 
Pearlware is the name of a ceramic type produced in England by Josiah Wedgwood. The particular fragment that was recovered from feature one has a blue transfer print underneath the glaze. This type of ceramic dates from approximately 1787 to 1840. Since the fragment was found in the red clay fill below the upper layer of bricks in feature one, it can be used to date the construction of that crypt. Because of this, the crypt most likely dates to a time period later than the death of Richard Caswell in 1789.
 
The type of nails found during this project are just as important as the fragment of pearlware discussed above. All the nails recovered during this project were of a cut nature. This particular style of nail comes chronologically after wrought nails and before wire nails are invented. In particular, this type of nail was invented in 1790 (Hume 1978:253). Even though the nail style was invented in the year after Caswell's death, it would not have become commonly used until the early 19th century. The presence of these types of nails are yet another line of evidence indicating that the crypt is from a time period later than the death of Richard Caswell.
 
The two coffins, while possibly dating to the time of Richard Caswell, circumstantially seem to date much later. Both of the coffins had a particular shape to them. They were tapered from shoulder to foot and from shoulder to head. The head and foot ends were slightly rounded (Figures 9 and 11). The coffins consist of an upper and lower half bolted together. Both upper and lower halves are faceted with three sides giving the cross-section a hexagonal shape. Handles are located at the head and foot ends on either side of the coffin in line with the seam and closure bolts. In speaking with Mr. Patrick H. Garrow (personal communication 2000), an expert in cemetery and funerary archaeology, the author was told that this particular type of coffin was available in the United States from about the 1830's to the 1860's. Habenstein and Lamers (1962:269) describe a coffin very much like the ones found during this project. That coffin, made by Crane, Breed and Co., was produced in 1854 and described as "the 'Plain, or Octagon' pattern, finished in imitation rosewood and polished equal to the finest furniture". Cast iron coffins were in use in England during the time of Richard Caswell's death, but their presence in the United States at this time is very unlikely and in this country, cast iron coffins probably date to the middle part of the 19th century (Doug Owsley and Ed Bell, personal communication 2000). The probable mid-19th century date of these coffins is a third line of evidence that indicates that the crypt is from a time period later than the death of Richard Caswell.
 
 

Summary and Recommendations

 
In summary, this project had two goals. The first goal was to investigate a portion of an unmarked cemetery next to the Kinston Clinic and the Bentley Bed and Breakfast to see if any graves were present. It was determined that indeed, there were two brick lined crypts located in this portion of the cemetery. The second goal was to determine if the burial was that of Richard Caswell's, first Governor of North Carolina. It was determined that due to the more recent date on several artifacts, including the coffins themselves, these burials are of a time period to recent to be Richard Caswell. The artifacts that lead to this conclusion are: (a) a ceramic fragment found in the fill of one of the crypts that dates to the first half of the 19th century, (b) the cut nails used in the construction of the wood form for the masonry work date to 1790 or later and (c) the cast iron coffins recovered most likely date to the mid-19th century. While these crypts indicate individuals with some high social status, they are of a date to late for either of them to be Richard Caswell.
 
Several recommendations can be made concerning the future of the search for Richard Caswell as well as of the two crypts investigated in this project. Concerning the search for Caswell, it will not be an easy one. Since there is little documentary evidence, it is hard to pinpoint his exact location. Archaeology is a useful tool to answer the question "is this particular burial Richard Caswell's?" Archaeology is less useful, though, if the question is "where is the burial of Richard Caswell?" Needlessly excavating sacred graves has two consequences. First, it is antithetical to the preservation ethic that the profession of archaeology stands for. Graves are not in a threatened situation and therefore should not be needlessly excavated. Second, disturbing the sacred nature of graves is, in the minds of many, not the "right" thing to do. With permission of descendents and with specific questions to answer, though, the benefits of exhumation may be justifiable. The next thing to do in the search for Richard Caswell's grave is to do more historical research. Further refining the historical evidence as to the general location of Caswell's grave re-opens the potential for archaeology to help finally answer this important mystery.
 
The same can be said of what to do next with the two crypts investigated in this project. Should the two cast iron caskets be opened? Again, only if there is a good reason to do so. As with the future of the search for Caswell's grave, archaeology is a good way to answer the question "are the people in these caskets persons A and B?" But cannot, alone, answer the question "who are the two people in these caskets?" Opening the cast iron coffins will lead to the loss of integrity of the contents, both human and artifactual. The next step, then, is to do more historical research on the unmarked cemetery between the Kinston Clinic and the Bentley Bed and Breakfast. Research should focus on who is buried there in general. Once this type of information is compiled, then there may be a reason to open these coffins. We are relatively certain that the caskets, crypt and other artifacts date to the middle of the 19th century, which gives a window of possible people that these could be. This potential list of individuals can be further refined through historical research because in particular, the cast iron caskets and brick crypt structures indicate someone of high status and economic standing. In the interim, while this research is being conducted, the vaults have been back-filled with clean sand. This will facilitate recovery should it be desired in the future, while at the same time providing safety and security to the site.
 
To summarize these recommendations, more historical research is needed on both the particular location of Richard Caswell's grave as well as the identities of the people buried within the unmarked cemetery between the Kinston Clinic and the Bentley Bed and Breakfast. Archaeology is a good way to answer "if a particular grave is that of a particular person," but it is not a good way to simply answer "who is in an unmarked grave." Once sufficient historical evidence is established to investigate a particular grave (or small number of graves), then archaeology once again has the potential to finally answer the question "Where is the first governor of North Carolina buried?"
 

 

References

 
Alexander, C.B.
1946 "Richard Caswell's Military and Later Public Services." The North
Carolina Historical Review. 23 (3): 287-312.
 
Associated Press
1999 "Help asked in locating ex-governor's grave." The Charlotte Observer. January 23. Internet. Charlotte.com Webpage. http://charlotte.com/
observer/local/pub/026304.html.
 
Bond, Sue.
"List of People in the Caswell Graveyard." Manuscript from Inglis
Fletcher Papers, Collection No. 21. East Carolina Manuscript Collection,
J.Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North
Carolina.
 
Bourdas-Smith
2000. "Woman thinks she found Caswell's grave years ago." Kinston Associated
Press. August.
 
Burgess-Hoffman, Susan.
2000. "Plea from Susan Burgess-Hoffman." Internet. Lenoir
County, North Carolina Genealogy Webpage. http://www.rootsweb.com/
~nclenoir/cas_cem_2000.htm.
 
Casewell, Richard.
1787. Typed copy of Richard Caswell's Will. Manuscript from Inglis Fletcher
Papers, Collection No. 21. East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J.Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina.
 
Dawson, John G.
1961. Correspondence to Inglis Fletcher regarding the Caswell Memorial
Commission. January 16. Manuscript from Inglis Fletcher Papers, Collection No. 21. East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J.Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina.
 
Day, Patty, editor"Owns Grave of Richard Caswell."
2000 Lenoir County, North Carolina Genealogy Webpage. http://www.
Rootsweb.com/~nclenoir/cas_cem_2000.htm. quoting "Truth, Prosperity and Democracy." Washington, Beaufort County, North Carolina. Thursday, July 10, 1913.
 
Fletcher, Inglis.
n.d. "Life, Character, Services, and Death of Richard Caswell, First Governor of
North Carolina under the Constitution." Manuscript from the Inglis
Fletcher Papers, Collection No. 21. East Carolina Manuscript
Collection, J.Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville,
North Carolina.
 
Habenstein, R.W. and W.M. Lamers
1962 The History of American Funeral Directing. Radtke Bros. and Kortsch Co., Milwaukee.
 
Hester, T.R., Harry J. Shafer, and Kenneth L. Feder
1997. Field Methods in Archaeology. Second edition. Mountain View, Calif:
Mayfield Publishing Co.
 
Hume, Ivor Noël
Johnson, T. C. and C. R. Holloman
1954 The Story of Kinston and Lenoir County. Edwards and Broughton Company, Raleigh.
 
North Carolina Department of Archives and History
2000. "North Carolina Governors." Raleigh, North Carolina. Internet.
http://www.itpi.dpi.state.nc.us/governors/gov1.htm.
 
 
Sampley, Ted.
1999a "North Carolina has Misplaced Her First Constitutional Governor."
Olde Kinston Gazette. February.
 
1999b Searching for Richard Caswell's Grave: The Evidence. Olde Kinston Gazette March.
 
 
 
Smith, S. B.
2000 Woman Thinks She Found Caswell's Grave Years Ago. Letter to the editor. Kinston Free Press August.
 
Speidel, F. G.
1975 North Carolina Masons in the American Revolution. Press of Oxford Orphanage, Oxford, North Carolina.

Appendix

Caswell Project Artifact Catalog
 

FS#

Count

Class

Material

Type

Color

Decoration

Weight (g)

1

1

Pharmacy Bottle

Glass

Vial

Clear

16

2

1

Faunal

UID

3

1

Nail

Fe Alloy

Cut

3

3

1

Fragment

Refined Earthenware

Pearlware

Blue

Transfer printed under

4

2

Mortar

Mortar

UID

Lt. Brown

63

5

2

Fe Alloy

Cut

12

6

3

Mortar

Mortar

Grey

19

6

26

Fragment

Wood

32

7

12

Nail

Fe Alloy

Cut

78

7

3

Nail

Fe Alloy

UID

18

7

1

Pharmacy Bottle

Glass

Amber

Metal Cap

78

7

11

Fragment

Other Metal

UID

9.5

8

1

Nail

Fe Alloy

UID

6.5

8

15

Nail

Fe Alloy

Cut

97

9

4

Misc. Hardware

Fe Alloy

UID

18

9

12

Nail

Fe Alloy

Cut

84

10

2

Fragment

Wood

20

11

2

Shell

Shell

Oyster

Grey

12

1

Faunal

Faunal Bone

19

13

4

Fragment

Wood

1

14

7

Mortar

Mortar

Tan

282

15

2

Mechanical

Other Metal

Spring

17

15

1

Mechanical

Fe Alloy

UID

1,000+

 

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