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Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina
Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina
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  • Monument Name

    Tomb of Otway Burns, Beaufort

  • Type


  • Subjects

    Historic Political Figures

    Historic Military Figures

  • City


  • County


  • Description

    Rectangular prism-shaped tomb mounted on a thick base, and topped by a cannon from Burns’s ship Snap Dragon.

  • Inscription

    CAPT. OTWAY BURNS. / Son of Francis Burns. / Commander United States Privateer. / SNAP DRAGON / War 1812 - 15. / Born in Onslow County N.C. / 1775. / Died at Portsmouth N.C. / 1850. / BURNS

  • Custodian

    Ann Street United Methodist Church

  • Dedication Date

    July 24, 1901

  • Decade


  • Geographic Coordinates

    34.718110 , -76.663790 View in Geobrowsemap pin

  • Supporting Sources

      Alexander, Sheridan. “Tomb of Captain Otway Burns,” Southeast US Travel, (accessed May 14, 2015) Link

      Bishop, RoAnn. "Otway Burns: the Ups and Downs of a Seafaring Man," (accessed May 14, 2015) Link

      Mcculloh Lemmon, Sarah and Tucker Reed Littleton, 1979. "Burns, Otway, Jr.,", (accessed June 15, 2014) Link

      North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources. “Marker: C-26,” North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program,, (accessed May 14, 2015) Link

      “Beaufort, NC. : Louis T. Moore Collection,” New Hanover County Public Library, (accessed May 14, 2015) Link

      “Grave of Otway Burns.” Swansboro, North Carolina History, (accessed May 14, 2015) Link

  • Public Site


  • Monument Dedication and Unveiling

    Descendents and others gathered in Beaufort to unveil the monument. There were patriotic songs, a prayer delivered by Reverend Noe, an address by Chief Justice Judge Walter Clark, a benediction by Reverend Hornaday, and the unveiling itself, an honor performed by Miss Theodora Waltona Wilkens.

  • Subject Notes

    Captain Otway Burns, Jr. was one of North Carolina’s most lauded naval heroes in the War of 1812, and later a state legislator (in both the house and senate). When the war broke out, Burns and business partners bought a ship and renamed it the Snap Dragon. The ship operated privately throughout the war, authorized by the government to attack enemy shipping. The privateer had a crew of up to 100 sailors and eight cannons. Burns commanded the ship on three wartime missions, sailing it from Newfoundland to South America. Between 1812 and 1814, the ship and its crew captured more than forty British ships and their cargoes.

    After the war, Burns moved to Swansboro with his profits and built the Prometheus, one of the state’s first steam-powered boats. He became a shipbuilder and, later, a state senator. He lost all of his money and was destitute until appointed by President Jackson as the Keeper of the Brant Island Shoals Light Boat near Portsmouth, N.C., where he lived out his life. He died there on October 25, 1850, and was known for wearing his naval uniform, drinking whiskey, and quarreling.

    Burnsville in Yancey County and Otway in Carteret County are named for Burns. There are also two statues of him, one in Burnsville and one in Swansboro, N.C.

  • Location

    Old Burying Grounds, Ann St United Methodist Church, Beaufort, N.C.

  • Landscape

    The tomb is located under Burns’s favorite live oak trees.

  • Death Space


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