Thursday, February 7, 2013

Dempsey's Rock

Dempsey Burgess was the brother of my ggg grandfather William Burgess. He was born in 1751 and died in 1800 in what is now Camden County, North Carolina. Their grandfather William Burgess started the first Baptist Church in North Carolina in 1727. I wrote about the Shiloh Church in an earlier post.
Dempsey Burgess was a member of the North Carolina Provisional Congress before the Revolutionary War and when the war started was appointed Lieutenant Colonel in the North Carolina Militia. After the war he was elected to the 4th United States Congress in 1795 and served four years. When he died on January 11, 1800 he was buried in the small cemetery next to Shiloh Baptist Church, about 13 miles southeast of Elizabeth City, NC.

That is how I first came across him, looking at the cemetery records. I was trying to find the graves of his father and grandfather. The State put a historical marker on North Carolina Hwy 34 in Camden County that says his grave was in the church cemetery 7 miles away. Unfortunately there was no record of a marker for him or the other family members when a cemetery census was done in recent years.

The folks at Shiloh Church are proud of their history as the first Baptist Church and since the Burgess family started it and gave the land for the church they know the family names. They said others had asked about Dempsey's grave and it could never be located. There are two areas of graves, one across the street from the other and they assumed his was in the section that has a lot of unmarked graves. They told me there was no marker for him or the other Burgess family members.
I contacted the VA about obtaining a marker for them and was told they would do one for Dempsey but not his father or grandfather. They both had served in the military but since their service was prior to the Revolutionary War and not during or after they wouldn't qualify for a VA marker.

I've since found a brochure the church published in the 1970s and in it they had this photo of a rough stone marker for Dempsey Burgess. It wasn't much, just his name and date of death. The folks at the church don't know what happened to it but apparently it's no longer around. Hopefully I can visit the area one day and check for myself.  

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