or, Who are all those people and what's that shiny thing they're looking at?
|Dedication of the Otway Burns monument, Beaufort, NC, 24 July 1901, photographer unknown.|
by John B. Green III
From time to time we run across photographs in our collection that bear no identifying marks or inscriptions. The image above is just such an item - people dressed in the style of ca. 1900, gathered somewhere in an outdoor setting, and crowded around what may be a monument of some sort. Fortunately, the image looks familiar - similar to an image we have seen somewhere before. And, upon closer examination, the monument becomes recognizable. It isn't in New Bern but it isn't all that far away. A quick check of our shelves provides the answers to what, when, and where.
|Title page, Walter Francis Burns, Captain Otway Burns: Patriot, Privateer and Legislator (New York, 1905)|
Among our North Carolina biographies can be found a small volume by Walter Francis Burns entitled Captain Otway Burns: Patriot, Privateer and Legislator. Published in New York in 1905, the book details the life and career of the author's grandfather, Captain Otway Burns, one of North Carolina's notable figures from the War of 1812. Opposite page thirteen appears the photograph below - same crowd, same monument, different camera position.
The two photographs were taken on July 24, 1901 in the Old Burying Ground at Beaufort, N.C. during the dedication of a new and impressive monument marking Otway Burns' grave. Crafted in the New Bern monument works of Joe K. Willis, the large block of Georgia marble was topped by a cannon said to be from Otway Burns' famous privateer Snap Dragon.
|Portrait of Otway Burns, from Walter Francis Burns, Captain Otway Burns: Patriot, Privateer and Legislator (New York, 1905)|
Otway Burns (1775-1850) was a mariner, shipbuilder, and legislator who lived at various times in Onslow County and Carteret County. He is best remembered as the co-owner and captain of the privateer Snap Dragon during the War of 1812 when he led three successful voyages against British shipping.
|Postcard view of Burns monument, Beaufort, NC., c. 1960. Private Collection|
Burns is also remembered today in the names of Otway, a community in Carteret County, and Burnsville, the county seat of Yancey County. His wartime exploits were honored by the U.S. Navy in the naming of two destroyers - the U.S.S. Burns (DD-171), in commission from 1919 to 1930, and the U.S.S. Burns (DD-588) which saw extensive service in the Pacific during World War Two.