|History of Gause's Tomb
Contributed by Dena Marshall
Brunswick County, North Carolina
|Gause's tomb is located
near the intersection of Hale Swamp Road and NC 179.
Visits to the tomb in 1997 and 1999 provided the following
specific directions. Go north on NC 179 to Hale Swamp
Road, about one mile from the intersection of NC 904 and
NC 179. You will pass an airport and runway on the left on
NC 179 before Hale Swamp Road. Turn left on Hale Swamp
Road off of NC 179. Immediately on the right is a cleared
area for the runway, followed by an uncleared area of
growth. The tomb is in the overgrown area. The first dirt
road on the right after the cleared area leads to the
tomb. The road is overgrown and looks more like a path.
There is a small wooden house on Hale Swamp Road directly
across from the path. On the path, go 115 steps and the
path curves to the left. Go another 135 steps. The tomb is
15 steps to the left off the path in the overgrowth.
The Brunswick Beacon North Carolina newspaper in 1978, ran the following story: VANDALISM, THEFT RUINED GAUSE TOMB REMAINS - It was a cold day in February of 1923 when the brick tomb of the Gause family gave up its bones for the last time. The tomb has been built in the 1700s [this is wrong- it was 1800s] by the Gause family on the edge of Hale's Swamp, off what is now called Blueberry Road near Shalotte. Bricks were imported from England to build the vault and were brought ashore at what is now called Brick Landing. Oxen were used to hault them to the grave site. Over the years, vandals broke into the sealed chamber to search for valuables, including the ... handles that were said to be on the coffins. The grave robbers spread some of the bones about the graveyard and hung skulls from tree limbs. Local children used to walk by the area on their way to school and few would tarry near the spot. It was on that winter's day in 1923 that Baldwin W Gause, a great-great grandson of one of the Gauses buried in the tomb, returned to Brunswick County from California to clean up the graveyard and restore the remains of his ancestors to an eternal rest. The job was too much for one man and Gause enlisted Claude Gore, who lived nearby, to help. Gore, now a Shallotte truck farmer, recalls the event. "I was 17 years old at the time," said Gore. Mr Gause came by our house and asked me to help him. My father and uncle had attempted to repair the tomb after vandals had broken in before, but they just kept breaking in. Mr Gause had decided to collect all the bones in the vault and to burn them. Gore took a large mirror from his house and the pair went to the vault to remove the remains. "I stood next to the opening in the tomb and held the mirror to reflect sunlight inside for Mr Gause to see," said Gore. Gause cleaned out the tomb and handed out the bones to Gore. "We cleaned up the rest of the graveyard and then burned the pile of bones," said Gore.
The Brunswick Beacon North Carolina newspaper in 1983, ran the following story:
"One of the last vestiges of a prominent Brunswick County family lies nearly forgotten amidst a tangle of undergrowth near Brick Landing (North Carolina). Gauses tomb of handmade red brick is impressive, 15 feet by 15 feet, and projecting four feet above the ground. The brick was said to have come by schooner from England and then hauled by oxen to the site. According to a copy of a proven will, ...the tomb was built posthumously at the direction of John Julius Gause. Gause, a member of perhaps the area’s most prominent family between the Revolutionary and Civil wars, was born in 1774. In the footsteps of his uncle, William Gause, Jr, former North Carolina House of Commons member, John Julius served in the state legislature from 1825 to 1829. He died in 1838, outliving two of his three wives.... Vandals and treasure hunters have had their way with the tomb. Its contents have long since disappeared....
According to a 1976 account in the Brunswick Beacon, there are macabre tales of pranksters scattering bones in the old Gause burying ground and hanging skulls from tree limbs. The entrance to the tomb stands open. The rounded corners have been chipped away, and a hole has been cut into one corner.... The wonder is that the tomb still exists at all, barely visible in the tangle of midsummer growth.... John Julius Gause's will is very specific about the tomb. He directed that a sum of money be reserved from his estate sufficient enough to build a family tomb for the interment of his remains and that of his family named in his will. He requested his executors to place his own remains therein, those of his two deceased wives, his father, Mr and Mrs Bruard (his second wife's parents) and his children that were already interred in the old burying ground. He had outlived his first wife and his second wife, Maria Theresa Bruard, daughter of John B Bruard, who was the first postmaster of Little River, SC. Bruard was so fond of his son-in-law that he made John Julius Gause his sole heir. In turn, Gause provided space for the Bruards to be moved to his tomb. Whether they or John Julius' father, William Gause, Sr, were ever buried in the tomb has not been verified."
UPDATE on Gause's Tomb:
An email received from J R Robinson, dated 29 November 2015: "I am a direct descendant of William Gause Jr. John Julius Gause Jr. is my great+ uncle. I now own the Gause Tomb and Cemetery property. Here is an updated picture of the tomb as I have had it restored. The two people in the picture are my wife Diane and I."