The Caswell Gravesite Mystery

Governor Richard Caswell Memorial

Governor Richard Caswell Memorial

Whether Richard Caswell is actually buried at the Daughters of the American Revolution Memorial Cemetery adjacent to the historic site has been debated. Relatives of Caswell made mention of his burial at the site of the present markers, as did Civil War-era maps and documents. Some scholars are skeptical of the claims, however, contending that period newspapers documented Caswell's funeral in Fayetteville, but never mentioned the relocation of Caswell's body to Kinston. Dr. Charles Ewan, Professor of Anthropology at East Carolina University, believes that his 2008 archaeological excavation of the site has confirmed that Caswell is indeed buried at the Memorial.

The quest for Caswell's gravesite unearthed yet another burial mystery. After local businessmen issued an offer for a $1,000 reward for the revelation of Caswell's final resting place in 1999, a local resident came forward with information on a tunnel and skeleton she found by Herritage Street after a hurricane blew over an oak tree. Caswell's parents were supposedly buried in that general area—then known as the Hill—where the Bentley Bed and Breakfast now stands. The original "the Hill" dwelling met its demise in a fire during the late 1800s. In the ensuing investigation, Dr. Charles Ewan and Susan Burgess Hoffman uncovered two brick crypts with two windowed caskets of a mid-Nineteenth Century design, firmly dating them well after Caswell's death. Dr. Ewing tenaciously hoped that the unmarked grave was that of yet another missing Caswell and his first wife—Lewis and Nancy Caswell. Dr. Ewing and Hoffman sent the caskets to Smithsonian anthropologist Doug Owsley, but both remains proved to be female, and both of them were determined to have been Washingtons rather than Caswells.

Historic Bath Information

Contact Us

Gov. Caswell Memorial
2612 W. Vernon Ave. (U.S. 70 Bus.)
P.O. Box 3043
Kinston, N.C. 28502
Phone: (252) 522-2091
Fax: (252) 527-7036
Email: cssneuse@ncdcr.gov

Hours of Operation

Tuesday-Saturday, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Closed Sunday and Monday

Visitors should call ahead as hours sometimes must change unexpectedly. Large groups should call ahead for tour arrangements.

Admission

No admission fees. Donations are accepted and appreciated.  


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