Ring Found in Indian Grave Inscribed “Think of Mary”

ring found in indian grave

Charlotte News, Charlotte, NC, Sunday, July 3, 1921

“There has been one incident in my life that has fascinated me for years,” declared T.J. Saulter, traveling sales man of Norfolk, Va, who was in Charlotte Saturday.

“My pet hobby is collecting Indian relics.  Ever since I was a boy I loved to roam over fields in which relics could be found.  I have a splendid collection which I have added to for years.

About 19 years ago I had a friend who lived in the country near the Chowan river, in the eastern part of North Carolina.  He was also interested in Indian relics.  One day I received a letter from him, telling me that he had discovered a queer looking mound near a large swamp on the banks of the river.  He stated that he believed it to be the grave of an Indian of the Tuscarora tribe.  This tribe used to roam on the banks of the Neuse and Tar river mostly but many of them had small settlement on other North Carolina rivers also.  They suffered severe losses in battle about 1713 and the remnant of the tribe joined the Five Nations of Indians making what was known as the Six Nations.  Their history is interesting and I was enthused over the idea of opening the grave.

I reached the home of my friend a few days later.  We had some difficulty locating the mound as it was well in a swamp covered with underbrush and briers.  We carried a pick axe and a shovel.  We finally stumbled across it.  In appearance it was merely a place where the earth was a foot or so higher than the ground around it.  Several bushes and a small tree were growing up on it.

The work of digging down into the mound held us with enchantment.  We knew not what we might unearth.  We were both silent as we worked.

We dig down probably five feet when I struck some hard object with my pick.  I quickly took my hands and scratched the dirt away from around it.  It was an Indian tomahawk, beautifully made.  We knew then that it as an Indian grave.  We found several pieces of bone, some arrowheads and a pipe made of some kind of green stone.  We searched a good while longer and finding nothing else, we were just beginning to stop work when I noticed an object of some kind protruding from the loose dirt in the hole.  I snatched it up.  It was no Indian relic.  It was a ring set with a small dull red stone of some kind.

When I examined it more carefully, I saw that it was gold.  I took my handkerchief and rubbed it for some time to brighten it up.  I chanced to glance inside of the gold band then and there was engraved there in tiny English letters the words, “Think of Mary.”  In appearance it looked to be a man’s ring, although the design was different from any I ever saw.  I later showed it to a jeweler who told me the stone was a ruby.  The ring had evidently been worn much, for the inscription inside was barely legible and the entire ring worn considerably.

How it got in that grave will always be a mystery.  No one will ever solve it.  It is reasonable to supposed that the ring was given to some man from [the] old country by his sweetheart left behind when he came to the new world to prepare a place for her.  Possible he was killed by the Indian, who was later buried with the ring which he had taken from the white man’s finger.  At any rate, there is a weird history of some kind attached to the ring.  I have it still and I don’t think money would make me part with it.”

Hat tip to Chris for this article.


About Roberta Estes

Scientist, author, genetic genealogist. Documenting Native Heritage through contemporaneous records and DNA.
This entry was posted in North Carolina, Tuscarora. Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Ring Found in Indian Grave Inscribed “Think of Mary”

  1. Delores says:

    Wow! How nonchalant he was about robbing a grave! It was great fun to him, not a crime. Notice how he immediately assumes that it was a ‘white’ mans ring that had been taken from him in some nefarious way. Talk about your eurocentric attitude. Jeezo!

  2. flyingcrows says:

    Exactly what I thought. Would he go into a non native cemetery and dig?

  3. Regina Lynch says:

    well why didn’t he call Historian Association about the grave site and at least it could have been handle with some respect and documented and most likely been tested and put in a museum. I agree he is a grave robber.

  4. Regina Lynch says:

    I have a question I already had a DNA test done by Ancestry can I take that and send it to FamilyTree for them to do the full sequence test or do I need to just get another test done unfortunately I had the DNA test done before I found your information.

  5. Aaron Carapella says:

    Interesting that this grave-robber’s actions are being condoned by disseminating his grotesque story

  6. Bar None Voc. Rehab. says:

    Why would this man instantly think that the Native person in the grave would not have owned and worn this ring? Just because the inscription was in English?? This shows the “White man’s” view-point of Native Americans in that era.

    His ignorance and others that believed the same nonsense of this era explains why many of my relatives chose to hide their Native heritage rather than be thought of as “crude, ignorant savages”.


    • Rhonda says:

      I’m not defending this particular grave-robber at all, especially since he accused a dead man of pillaging, only to turn around and loot his grave; but you have to admit, some natives in that area did indeed murder innocent women and children during the early settlement phase of the Carolinas.

      In the upcountry of SC it was particularly dangerous to live near “Indian territory” at the time of the revolution. Some prominent upstate families can trace their ancestry back to those who lost their lives in the Long Cane Massacre, where Cherokee men murdered innocent people.

  7. Susan C Pentico says:

    How many Mary’s came to be , Lost Colony. Is it ring from someone’s ship, colonist mixed with.

    Sent from my iPad Susicp


  8. Margaret (Speaks) Waters says:

    Leaves me to wonder how white people would like it if the Indians went to Europe and take everything from them as if they had the right to. This person sure acts like the native american was not human and he assumes that the white man was killed be them. You know what assuming means don’t you! ASS/U/ME. Seriously, were those white people so innocent when they came to America to begin with. I’m white and I find this man obnoxious.

  9. candece tarpley says:

    interesting and sad that people can go around digging up graves fro their own purposes without being fined etc for such. The ring might have also been dropped by someone burying the person they killed! any this still goes on destroying graves!

  10. Thomas Robbins says:

    Many of my Tuscarora family had wives named Mary, and lived in that area. Makes me sick to think that they are all being dug up for the search of relics.

  11. Vicki Whitworth says:

    That is sickening that this man did not feel anything while digging in this grave. How about someone dig up his ancestor??

  12. Margaret Frink says:

    I hope this is like a Japanese horror film, and Mary came back for these despicable grave robbers.

  13. Lisa Cross says:

    How does one have the right to dig up a grave?
    I would call this, theft.

  14. Lisa Cross says:

    1921? Makes more sense now … no laws enacted to protect them.

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