Brunswick Grave Has Columbus Ties

Eliza Robinson headstone
Eliza Robinson died in Columbus county, but is buried in Brunswick. Her gravestone has been restored and preserved after being damaged and forgotten for years (Dylan Phillips, Brunswick Beacon)

By Dylan Phillips

The Brunswick Beacon

Tucked along the side of Highway 130 just outside Shallotte is the grave of Eliza Robinson, who was buried there in 1860. For years her gravestone was visible, until one day it no longer was. Thanks to a community effort, the gravestone has been located and is being fully restored.

The grave and headstone is located on private property directly across from Azio Media and The Tax Ladies, in the 200 block of N.C. Highway 130, also known as Holden Beach Road. Its inscription is simple: “Eliza Robinson Died Oct. 29, 1860.”

Kim Carte of Supply said she first photographed the headstone in 2016, and the stone can be viewed on Brunswick County GIS maps as early as 2009. But Carte said around 2020 Eliza Robinson’s headstone disappeared.

The grave had always been surrounded by brushes and briars, but the top of the stone had always been visible until, one day roughly four years ago, it no longer was, Carte noted.

“You could only see the top off it, so you knew it was there,” she said. “Then one day somebody mowed … [and] we didn’t see it anymore — it was gone.”

While Carte did not go looking for the stone following its disappearance — largely due to how dangerous it is to cross that area of Highway 130 — she remembered the headstone. It turns out, others did as well.

Carte is a member of the Brunswick County Genealogical Society Facebook group, founded 11 years ago with the purpose of helping locals who are interested in “determining and preserving their family history and heritage of Brunswick County.” The headstone was brought up in the group earlier this year, Carte said.

“Somebody brought it up in the group and asked where it was because they hadn’t seen it and I was like, ‘I know I haven’t seen it in years,’ ” she said. “And so then Mr. J.R. Robinson got wind of Eliza’s stone, and he contacted the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office.”

Kim Cartre and Robinson stone
Kim Cartre tracked down Eliza Robinson’s history, and worked with others in her community to restore and preserve the gravestone.

J.R. Robinson obviously shares a last name with Eliza Robinson, and is a direct descendent of local Revolutionary War hero William Gause Jr. Robinson owns the Gause Tomb and Cemetery off Hale Swamp Road and N.C. 179 near Ocean Isle Beach and the Gause Cemetery in Seaside near Sunset Beach, and worked to restore, preserve and document both of those burial grounds.

The sheriff’s office came out at J.R. Robinson’s request, found the headstone lying in the dirt and propped it up with a stick. Carte said the headstone has been severed from its base.

Carte volunteered to clean the stone, which she said had to be done carefully and using only certain cleaning products to ensure the nearly 164-year-old stone was not degraded in the process.

Through cleaning her stone, Carte grew more interested in Eliza’s history. So she began digging into Eliza’s past, starting on

However, she was not having much luck in searching census records since Eliza was such a popular name in the mid-19th century. Carte then decided to look in old newspapers for information on Eliza Robinson.

“I found her, actually, right away,” Carte said “I found her and it was in the Wilmington Daily Herald and it was a couple weeks after she had died — they put her obituary in there [on Nov. 14, 1860].”

“She was 45-years-old,” Carte continued. “She was married, her husband’s name was James R. Robinson. She died in Columbus County, but they were born — her and James — were born in Brunswick County … She had four children, three girls and one boy. She died of typhoid fever.”

Carte said based her genealogical experience it is likely that Eliza Robinson’s grave is part of a larger family cemetery on the same premises, but she said they have yet to find any evidence of other graves nearby.

When it was found, Eliza Robinson’s stone was covered in dirt. Today, the stone is clean and back to shining a bright white and Carte said it would soon be reattached to its base.

And while the fate of this gravestone is preservation, Carte said that is not always the case in Brunswick County, and urged the public and local leaders to emphasize protecting cemeteries, especially historic or potential historic sites.

“It’s just such an important thing for us to protect especially with Brunswick County developing and getting bigger and bigger as it is,” she said. “People want to know, ‘Why should we care about the cemeteries, why should care about the headstones and protect these things? These people have been dead for 150-plus years.’

“But that’s the thing — the cemeteries and these headstones and gravesites, they’re part of our past and they serve as memorials to our culture and our history and we need to protect those spaces. This is supposed to be their final resting place, and I feel like if we don’t protect them, what is that saying about us as a community?”

Dylan Phillips is the editor at The Brunswick Beacon. Feel free to reach out with comments, questions and tips at [email protected].

Shared courtesy of The Brunswick Beacon