By Sara Whitford
If you’re ever in the Old Burying Ground in Beaufort, NC and see this sign, just know it’s wrong.
The “Tuscarora War,” which was actually an Indian War that included militants from multiple tribes, wasn’t fought anywhere near the town of Beaufort.
On September 22, 1711, a group of more than 500 men, comprised of Tuscarora, Bay (Bear) River, Machapunga, Neusioc and Coree Indians, fell upon settlers along the Neuse and Pamlico Rivers — not the town of Beaufort — and they killed more than 140 men, women and children, injured countless others, and took as many as 40 captive.
The fact that we know the Coree participated in that raid is telling, considering a couple of years later when John Lawson ventured through Coree territory, which he recorded in his book, A New Voyage to Carolina, variously as Connamox and Coranine, he recorded their population as follows:
“Connamox Indians, Towns 2, Coranine, Raruta, Fighting Men 25″
With that paltry number, it’s a near certainty that they sent most of those men to join in the attack on the Neuse and Pamlico rivers, and perhaps left just a few behind to watch their towns and keep their women, children and elders safe until the raiding party returned.
It’s unclear why the Beaufort Historical Association has opted to keep this sign posted in their graveyard, as they have been contacted regarding its inaccuracy. When asked for a clear resource or reference for why the sign is there, they simply referred to a local historian who had at one time said it was so.
Individuals involved in the archaeology programs both with East Carolina University and the State of North Carolina have been contacted in regards to this sign, but they have said they are unaware of any archaeological studies done in the Old Burying Ground that suggest any Tuscarora Indian attack in Beaufort during 1711.