On 19 March 2009, I escorted Kathy West, noted southeastern multi-family genealogist, to numerous "endangered" cemeteries that I have been stabilizing.
Kathy West posing next to a headstone (ca.1840) within
the "Chevey" cemetery, located on the outskirts of Richlands, N.C.
(image copyrighted and courtesy of Kathy West--March 2009)
At the Marshburn family cemetery Kathy and I discussed the name plate of Jack, noted through family oral history, to be a slave of the family and buried in the rear of their family cemetery. This type of burial was not uncommon among favored slaves, to be entombed with the plantation family but, in back of the cemetery.
As Kathy and I carefully reviewed the inscription on the metal name plate attached to an old decayed wooden post, we notice the first line of lettering, "Franks_ _," gave way to the name "Frank." What we could not decipher was the meaning of the remaining three letters on the first line. Then, in a split second, after reading the entire wording on the metal plate over and over again, I realized the answer. Kathy soon agreed with me--with a smile of approval.
The conclusion wording on the old metal plate read, "In God We Trust JACK." Numerous people have attempted to solve the first line of the name plate but, failed. I now believe the reason for all of us not to come up with a solution was that we were thinking in modern terms of the final words on the name plate--In God We Trust--found on our modern currency.
I put my self into the "shoes" of an illiterate slave and re-read the entire inscription,
A) FRANKS _ _ IN GOD WE TRUST JACK
B) Frank [i] s AT [,] IN GOD [,] WE TRUST [.] JACK
C) Frank is at, in God, we trust. [signed] Jack
This new interpretation of the grave maker adds to the mystery and puzzle. We now have two slaves. Frank, who was buried and Jack, who was illiterate and the author of the name plate.
Please take the time to visit the article on this site dated 18 January 2009, and see if you agree with my findings. I am eager to hear your valued opinions.
Kathy West is in search of numerous Caucasian and African American surnames of within southeastern North Carolina. You can contact her for additional information through this site.
GySgt., U.S. Marine Corps, Retired
Researcher of local History (southeastern N.C., USA)