Located on the 400 block of Ann Street in Beaufort’s historic district, the town’s oldest cemetery holds fascinating stories about Beaufort’s 300-year history! Established in the early 1700’s, its weathered tombstones chronicle the heritage of North Carolina’s third oldest town and the surrounding coast. Used for Anglican church services in nearby St. John’s Parish, the cemetery was later deeded to the town of Beaufort in 1731 by Nathaniel Taylor following the first survey of the town. Today, the Old Burying Ground is owned by the Town of Beaufort and maintained & managed by the Beaufort Historical Association.
Many graves are marked with shell, brick, or wooden slabs because stone markers would have to have been brought from afar by wooden sailing vessels. Others have vaulted markers, which were covered in brick to protect them from high water and wild animals and are characteristic of many historic seaport towns. Uncovered by an archaeological survey in 1992, the seemingly empty northwest corner of the cemetery is in fact its oldest section, with many unmarked graves dating from the early 18th century. A record from September 1711 notes the area had “been depopulated by the late Indian War and Massacre.” It is probable some of the unmarked graves were victims of the Indian wars whose skulls were cleft with tomahawks of hostile Coree and Neusiok Indians. Other inhabitants include a child who died at sea and was buried in a keg of rum, as well as the great privateer Captain Otway Burns and the crew of the Crissie Wright who died when their schooner went aground at Shackleford Banks during a January storm in 1886.
For information about guided tours visit our TOURS page.
Self-guided tour maps are also available inside the gates of the Old Burying Ground and at the Welcome Center on Turner Street.