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for Alston, Theodosia Burr, 1783-1813
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Theodosia Burr Alston, daughter of Aaron Burr, who served as Thomas Jefferson's vice president, vanished mysteriously off the Outer Banks coast in 1812. Local lore suggests that she was the victim of piracy.
Theodosia Burr Alston was the daughter of Aaron Burr, who served as Thomas Jefferson's vice president. On December 30, 1812, she sailed from Georgetown, South Carolina for New York. The ship never arrived and is thought to have vanished mysteriously off the Outer Banks. Local lore suggests that she was the victim of piracy. Information in the History of the Tuttle Family, to whom she was related, sheds some new light on the mystery.
A hundred years ago Dr. W. G. Poole of Elizabeth City was called to treat an aged women while vacationing on the Outer Banks at Nags Head. As payment, he was given a portrait of a young lady, later identified as the only daughter of Aaron Burr--Theodosia Burr. Her disappearance along the coast of North Carolina remains a cloaked mystery although the portrait served to make her legendary on the Outer Banks.
During the winter of 1812, a pilot boat drifted ashore at Kitty Hawk with a woman’s belongings on board. The crew and passengers were not present and local residents salvaged goods from the vessel, including a painting of young woman. In 1869, the portrait was given to a local physician as payment. The physician found the portrait similar to images of Theodosia Burr, daughter of Aaron Burr, who had disappeared while traveling off the North Carolina coast in 1812. While the portrait’s subject has not been positively identified, the author posits the questions of what if the vessel ashore was carrying Theodosia Burr.
Drawing on oral histories passed down through his family, this author presents an alternative history of North Carolinian privateer Otway Burns. The author’s grandfather recalled that Beaufort residents were terrified of Burns during the early 19th century. Following the disappearance of Theodosia Burr’s schooner off the North Carolina coast in 1812, the crew of SNAP DRAGON, Otway Burn’s vessel, came to Beaufort wearing clothes supposedly taken from Burr. Residents believed SNAP DRAGON had attacked Burr’s vessel in an act of piracy. The author reports residents remained wary of Burns and, following his death, chose to bury Burns outside of town.