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An Ancient Grave in Richmond County

This tombstone marks an ancient grave near Marks Creek Presbyterian Church, Richmond County, NC. It is located on a tract of land which has been in the Campbell family since the 1700's. Periodically for many years we have attempted to read the inscription, but have never been able to transcribe it. We can make out "body of" and there appears to be a slash betweeen words. Some letters are backwards. This area was settled by Highland Scots leading us to wonder if it is a Gaelic inscription. Is it the grave of a Revolutionary War soldier? Intriguing. Anyone read Gaelic? Please help if you can. Thanks, Myrtle Bridges

gravestone 1

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Thanks for all email responses! Myrtle.   June 18, 2005

On the line after "body", the second word looks like "enter" maybe....  Has anyone 
ever forwarded this page to one of the Scotland national genealogy websites?  No 
doubt there would be someone there fascinated with the inscription and could probably 
help you in a heartbeat???? Beverly Cole

Hi Myrtle,
Well, I've looked at your pictures of this grave many times and I agree 
with many who've responded: I, too, see "is ___ body oF M__ Defee", and 
perhaps "I72_" bottom right.

But, based upon experience I had with a small tombstone in Philippi 
cemetery, someone who can read Latin may shed some light. The word 
"APTH 1800" was clearly carved upon a very small McNeill tombstone at 
Philippi, and I was told the APTH means "ascended". Also, rubbing flour 
in the inscription is a less messy than the shaving cream technique and 
would have less chemicals behind to harm the stone (flour makes for 
great tombstone inscription photographs, too). Also, on the fourth line 
down, it almost appears to read "centaph" which if carved upon a 
gravestone means "empty grave" or "erected in memory of the person".

Is this grave in a cemetery or is it by itself? Has anyone sifted the 
ground directly beneath the base of the the stone for some of the 
larger flakes fallen or knocked off? You never know what may lie inches 
beneath the leaves.
Steve E.


Hello Ms. Bridges, I saw the tombstone with Defee carved into it. I have researched this bunch of desperados for years. They were inAnson Co. 1800. They sold property there 1800 and 1803. It was spelled Diffy, in these transactions. The most of them at one time or other wound up in Darlington area of SC. Some moved on to Hall County, Georgia by 1816 and on to Benton County, Alabama. They produced one doctor and preacher, the rest including the women, were horse theives, robbers, and etc. Wm Defee and a Cooper brother in law were both lynched 1840s, Darlington, SC. This Wm. Defee's father was murdered, about the same time. Most of the women were also of the same type. Assault, trading with a slave and etc was their mark. I now have to do my searching over the internet, but am going to try to find who lived near this church, you mentioned. There is a Doctor Robert Defee, at Darlington, who has done much research on the Defee line of that area. Happy New Year. John Diffey
Hello Myrtle, I see over the internet you have been interested in genealogy, and this may not be new to you. Wm Defee was murdered 1844. A Daniel Campbell was convicted and released on appeal. I know nothing about the Campbells but this is Defee style. All of this is pure conjecture on my part. If you find anything to refute or confirm would you be kind enough to let me know. Dr. Robert Defee, who lives down near Darlington, and I have worked on these people for years. Happy New Year, John Diffey
Hi Myrtle, What an intriguing stone! I will refer it to a member of the Gaelic Society in Scotland & another in USA (who is researching another Macdonald c.1800s arrival in NC & who may have lived on Soirle's plantation, named Sarthill.) Nice clear photo - 1st one viewed at this stage - but it doesn't look like the gaelic I've seen on family stones in Australia or Scotland; it gives the impression of having lost some of the original stone face & been prepared by someone who was determined the burial should be marked for future reference, but who was neither a stonemason nor very well educated, which would indicate greater age. Myrtle Bridges wrote: Fiona, Maybe you can help me. Please take a look at this old grave marker and see if it is Gaelic. Can you transcribe it? ....or perhaps know where I can find someone who might be able to tell me the inscription. It is so-o intriguing.
Anne Fraser - Genealogy & Aldourie Anne.Fraser2@highland.gov.uk wrote: Subject: RE: ancient grave Date: Fri, 20 May 2005 17:45:48 +0100 From: "Anne Fraser - Genealogy & Aldourie" Anne.Fraser2@highland.gov.uk To: "Fiona Lundy" fiona_mlundy@yahoo.co.uk Hi Fiona – I sent this email to a friend who has Gaelic as his first language and he says no, it does not appear to be Gaelic although the first line looks like Doti(e) which is the way they would pronounce the Gaelic pet form of Donald i.e. 'Dodie' so could be spelt phonetically. It could also be Dorn(e) meaning stone The second line, rather than being 'body of' could be ‘Dod. [Donald] V [5th] of …. Is the third line something like 'defender…. Or is the word 'creek' in there? It could be that the person inscribing this stone did the whole thing phonetically. Sorry not to be of much help Regards, Anne

Hi Myrtle,
I was curious about the old tombstone you, or someone, found in Richmond Co..  I am on a Macleod 
chatroom, and one of the guys down in New Zealand is real big on Gaelic.. so I sent the page to him, 
and he cannot seem to see any Gaelic on the stone.. but will keep looking. 
 
Thought that would help clear that up.
 
Joanne Harley
New Bern
jharley2@cox.net

Dear Myrtle, 
    Hello once again! The tombstone on Campbell land in Richmond County is intriguing! The inscription 
on the tombstone appears to me to read as follows:
 
dofir (or dofmir)
body of my
defender
(something) Year
(something) /Ad
 
   Myrtle, I spent 5 years as an engraver of fine metals!  I probably could decipher more of it if I
could touch it with my fingers! Maybe!!

Sincerely, 
Di Sheely

Defee looks closer than Defoe.  the carver has done a pretty good job in the other words of making the 
Os completely closed, and the Es all have the same configuration. 
 
After the words "body of" is definitely the letter "M."  if that is the person's first name it has to be 
a short one, such as May or Max, or something like that.
 
In the line under the name Defee is the word "year."  
 
That's all i've figured so far. Julie

Myrtle,
 
Was looking over the pics of the grave marker.  Has anyone used the shaving cream method?  Filling in the 
indentations of the stone and scraping the cream off so the lettering is clearer.  Has helped me many times.
 
It could be "body of".  Just read a book where the characters talked in the old Scottish slang.  I wondered 
if it wasn't "dodu of".  In other words, "daughter of".  I really had to follow along closely in my book to
catch the meaning of the words as the spelling was so different from our English spelling. And, of course, 
the brogue they spoke was different in pronunication.  Just a speculation.
 
Let me know how it goes.  I love to decipher markers. Lydia

Hi, Myrtle,
I "think" I see "defender of Rev. War"  Has anybody else seen that?  I'm still looking at 
it and will see what else I may be able to make out.  His name MAY be above those words ??
 
Martha Mitchem Graham
mitchem@carolina.rr.com

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