Otway Burns, Jr. Statue, Swansboro
The approximately 12-foot-tall statue is located in Bicentennial Park, which is on Swansboro’s waterfront along the White Oak River at the base of the NC Highway 24 bridge. The life-sized figure is dressed in the military garb of a privateer in the navy. The figure is holding a rolled up document and pointing in the direction of his place of birth, approximately 2 miles away. The statue is near another monument in the same park, Theophilus Weeks Marker.
Plaque on Base, Front: CAPT. OTWAY BURNS, JR. / 1775-1850 / PRIVATEER, LEGISLATOR, SHIPBUILDER / AND MERCHANT. BORN 2 MILES FROM HERE / ON QUEEN'S CREEK. COMMANDER OF THE / "SNAPDRAGON" AND A HERO IN THE WAR OF 1812. / BUILT STEAMBOAT "PROMETHEUS" HERE IN / 1818. CAST THE DECIDING VOTE FOR / CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION OF 1835 / INTERRED IN OLD BURYING GROUND, / BEAUFORT. / JANOS FARKAS, SCULPTOR / ERECTED BY / SWANSBORO'S 200TH ANNIVERSARY / CELEBRATION COMMITTEE / MAY 6, 1983
On Base, Left: IN MEMORIAM / RANDY WADE SINCLAIR / CLARA PITTMAN BAKER LESEM / ANNA WEBB SERMONS / M. N. LISK, MAYOR 1944-1961 / IN CONSIDERATION OF THOUSAND-DOLLAR / MEMORIAL DONATIONS
On Base, Right: FUNDING FOR THIS STATUE / MAJOR FUNDING: / STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA / THOUSAND-DOLLAR DONORS: / CAROLINA TELEPHONE / AND / TELEGRAPH COMPANY / GAITHER AND JEANNINE JONES / ONSLOW COUNTY / MARY WARD SMITH / JOHN AND MARY WOOD / AND MANY OTHER FRIENDS OF SWANSBORO
Town of Swansboro
May 6, 1983
34.687760 , -77.116880 View in Geobrowse
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Bishop, RoAnn. "Otway Burns: the Ups and Downs of a Seafaring Man," NCpedia.org (accessed May 14, 2015) Link
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Bronze statue, Ballast stone base
The Friends of Otway Burns contributed $18,000 toward the cost of the statue.
Unveiling Ceremony / Swansboro Bicentennial Park / 10:00 A.M. / Drum Roll—Swanboro High School Band / Introduction of Master of Ceremonies, Gary Dean—Tucker R. Littleton, Chairman Swansboro’s 200th Anniversary Celebration Committee/ Invocation—The Rev. Clyde Baucom / Flag Presentation—Jerry L. Higging, President of The Society of the War of 1812 in North Carolina / Flag Raising—Color Guard, United States Marine Corps: Camp Lejeune/ Pledge of Allegiance—Audience/ The Star-Spangled Banner-- Audience and Jean Rowe Hiott, with the Swansboro Bicentennial Choral Society, and Swansboro High School Band/ Welcome—The Hon. Andrew D. Ennet III: Mayor of Swansboro/ Recognition of Honored Guests—Tucker R. Littleton/ “BCM” (composed for the Swansboro Bicentennial)—Director Daniel Farina and the Swansboro High School Band/ Introduction of the Governor’s Representative—The Hon. Bruce Ethridge/ Greeting—The Hon. Joseph W. Grimsley, Secretary North Carolina Department of Natural Resources and Community Development / Introduction of Speaker—Gary Dean/ Address on the Life of Captain Otway Burns, Jr.—Ruth Peeling Barbour/ Introduction of Sculptor—Gary Dean/ Introduction of Burns Descendant—Tucker R. Littleton/ Unveiling—Janos Farkas and Otway Burns IV/ “This is My Country”—Al Jacobs: Swansboro Bicentennial Choral Society, and Louis James Darmo/ “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee”—Henry Carey: Audience and Jean Rowe Hiott, with the Swansboro Bicentennial Choral Society
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.
Burnsville in Yancey County and Otway in Carteret County are named for Burns. See also Otway Burns Statue in Burnsville, Yancey County and his tomb at Old Burying Grounds, Ann St United Methodist Church, Beaufort, N.C.
[Additional information from NCpedia editors at the State Library of North Carolina: This person enslaved and owned other people. Many Black and African people, their descendants, and some others were enslaved in the United States until the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery in 1865. It was common for wealthy landowners, entrepreneurs, politicians, institutions, and others to enslave people and use enslaved labor during this period. To read more about the enslavement and transportation of African people to North Carolina, visit https://aahc.nc.gov/programs/africa-carolina-0. To read more about slavery and its history in North Carolina, visit https://www.ncpedia.org/slavery. - Government and Heritage Library, 2023.]
The statue is located in Bicentennial Park on the Swansboro waterfront along the White Oak River at the base of the NC Highway 24 bridge into town. The monument is in the same park as the Theophilus Weeks Marker.
The statue is in the center of a small city park, set against the backdrop of the waterfront.
The status is an attraction and feature of Bicentennial Park along White Oak River.
Commissioned Jan. 1, 1982