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Who is buried in the small cemetery on Seaside Road in Sunset Beach?

Brunswick County map

The cemetery on Seaside Road in Sunset Beach likely holds remains of the Gause family. (From the Comprehensive Historical/Architectural Site Survey of Brunswick County, North Carolina)

According to Calabash-based historian Anthony Clemmons, the land in question was among many acres owned by the Gause family, which at one time owned all the land from what is now Brick Landing Plantation to what is now Angel’s Trace on Seaside Road.

The property has small bricks noting the presence of graves, but no headstones.

Over the years, Clemmons has researched the history of a large tomb at Gause Landing, close to Ocean Isle Beach, built by John Julius Gause for his final resting place. Clemmons has surmised that the cemetery behind where Walgreen’s now sits was owned by John’s brother, Charles Gause.

“In one of Charles’ deeds for that area, there was a plot listed as being set aside for a cemetery. I assume that since Charles owned that area at that time, that was the plot,” Clemmons said.

Clemmons noted that he has talked with South Carolina-based historian C.B. Berry about the property, and he reports there’s a good possibility that the Sunset Beach cemetery contains the grave of family patriarch William Gause, who fought in the Revolutionary War and, according to legend, received a visit from George Washington at his home in Gause Landing.

Another possible reference to the property exists in John Julius Gause’s will, where he leaves instructions to bury his two deceased wives in his tomb at Ocean Isle Beach, moving them from the original Gause cemetery.

“I’ve been trying to find out if that was the original Gause cemetery and that John Julius’ wives were buried there,” Clemmons said.

There’s a reference to the cemetery in the “Comprehensive Historical/Architectural Site Survey of Brunswick County, North Carolina,” prepared for Brunswick County commissioners in 2010:

“The Gauses were another influential planter family of the first half of the nineteenth century, and two burial sites attest to their wealth and prestige. The impressive Gause Tomb (BW0405) near Ocean Isle Beach may date to the 1830s. The tomb is rectangular in form, with stepped sides and a cambered brick-paved roof supported on the interior by vaulting and a central brick pier. An obelisk and memorial plaque is reported to have formerly been positioned above the jack-arched entry. The construction of the Gause Tomb is reminiscent of the vaulted brickwork undertaken at Fort Caswell during the 1820s and 1830s; perhaps a group of government-employed brickmasons built the tomb as a sideline. Modestly scaled brick tombs, more typical of the ones constructed for the County’s planter elite, survive in deteriorated condition in the Gause Cemetery (BW0412) in Sunset Beach. One of the tombs has a mortar inscription block, which appears to have an almost illegible1830s date, that was part of a barrel vault or rounded cresting.”

User-contributed question by:
Sam Lail

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