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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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5 Responses to “ Who is buried in the small cemetery on Seaside Road in Sunset Beach?”

  1. On August 11, 2016 at 5:19 pm Faye Gause Willett wrote:

    I am a descendant of William Gause. I have always been told that William Gause was buried at Gause Landing. This site has been renovated and really looks nice. There is also an Historical Marker on Hwy #17 out of Shalotte, NC stating that former President George Washington spent the night with William Gause on this Southern Tour. I just posted on Facebook a photo of the new renovated photo of the cemetary at Gause Landing. I know of three generations of William Gause in my immediate family. There could be more. I have a photo of my daddy standing beside the Historical Marker on Hwy #17 out of Shalotte, NC near Gause Landing. On Facebook I am listed as Faye Gause Willett.

  2. On January 14, 2017 at 12:24 pm Robert Hewett wrote:

    I grew up at Gause Landing, as did my late mother Janice Alma Stanley. As a child I have traversed the entire area of Gause Landing, swam at Gause Landing, fished, crabbed, and clammed at Gause Landing. My mother told me that the Gause Landing road was the “Avenue of Oaks” that led to the manor house and home at the end. The area now, sadly, has been over developed and looks nothing the way it used to when I was younger, and I’m sure it looked nothing like the way it used to when my mother grew up there. She told me the location of a slave graveyard at Gause Landing. She used to play near it when she was a little girl back in the 1930s. There used to be an old footbridge that went across a slough at Gause Landing. The slave graveyard is near that slough, on the other side. I have heard that the Manor was burned down by Union soldiers during the Civil War. Orton House (Orton Plantation) was spared because they were using it as a hospital for Union troops.

  3. On March 14, 2017 at 12:34 am JR Robinson wrote:

    I would like to speak to the both of you. I am the great+ grandson of William Gause Jr. and have been working on the Gause Cemeteries in Brunswick Co.

  4. On July 3, 2017 at 11:56 am Roxann hewett wrote:

    Hi Jr Robinson. I am Roberts niece and could put you in touch with him if he hasn’t seen this. I also am a huge Brunswick county history fan and am currently working on several family tree lines. Due to my grandmother mentioned above’s love for the area she lived in and strong love of family. She told us stories of the area our whole lives. You may email me at roxxii2 at hotmail dot com. Thank you.

  5. On August 5, 2017 at 6:09 pm Georgene Gause Conner wrote:

    William Gause, Jr. Is my 4x great-grandfather. I came Around 1963-65 from Alabama with my parents to find the Gause Tomb. My father found a local, who took us to the remote site on a dirt road with beautiful shady trees (where we parked). We then went a short distance through the brush and woods to the Gause Tomb. We could tell the tomb had been vandalized and my father was upset by it. When we returned to Alabama he and his brother/sisters arranged for a marker to be placed at the tomb. I imagine the marker has probably stolen over the last 55 years. I saw online where a Mr Robinson is looking for William Gause, Jr bgravesite. Does anyone know if he found his grave?

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