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Lecture on North Carolina Cemeteries by John Clauser—Reprise

when: Oct. 9, 2011

A DVD recording of this talk is available in the gift ship for $10 plus $5 shipping and handling.
The Joel Lane Museum House was proud to host a second lecture on 18th Century Cemetery Practices in NC by John Clauser, Jr. on Sunday, October 9 at 2 pm at the Visitors Center at 160 South Saint Mary’s Street, Raleigh, NC 27603. The first one on September 15 was sold out, and the topic was so popular that John agreed to give it a second time! Admission was $15 for the general public and $10 for members of the Joel Lane Historical Society. Refreshments were served. Seating was limited, and advanced payment was required. Please call 919-833-3431 with your MasterCard or Visa, or mail a check to P O Box 10884, Raleigh NC 27605. Be sure to include the names of all in your party; nametags served as tickets. Tickets were non-refundable unless we canceled the event.

John is a consulting archaeologist and cemetery specialist whose consulting firm, Of Grave Concerns, has considerable experience excavating old North Carolina cemeteries. John knows where the bodies are buried in North Carolina. As an archaeologist who specializes in abandoned cemeteries, he has tromped through family burial grounds, graveyards dedicated to Confederate veterans and tiny plots alongside rural churches around the state.

When he started two decades ago, the work was obscure and the rewards limited. Most of the time, he helped amateur genealogists track down their ancestors as part of his work with the state archaeologist’s office.

Now retired, Clauser continues his work as a private consultant. Most of his clients are developers who have stumbled onto a long-abandoned family cemetery while building a new shopping mall or subdivision.

Clauser never planned to be an archaeologist. As the son of a steel mill executive in Bethlehem, Pa., he assumed as a young man that he would follow in his father’s footsteps right through the door at Bethlehem Steel. But when he was 16, his mother died after a monthslong illness. His father died six months later of a heart attack.

Already a bit of a loner, Clauser went even further adrift. He flunked out of Syracuse University, joined the Navy and served during the Vietnam War. The summer after he came back, he signed up as a laborer on an archaeological dig in Bethlehem.

Soon, he was “shovel-bumming”—working on digs in Pennsylvania, New York, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina and South Carolina. On the site of a former tannery, he decided to go back to school to study archaeology. By the time he finished, it had been nine years.

For his master’s project at the University of Florida at Gainesville, Clauser worked at the site of a pottery kiln outside Winston-Salem. Afterward, he was offered a job by the North Carolina state archaeologist. He started in July 1976 and retired in 2003 to start his consulting business.


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