Salter advertising is under way

Published 4:45 pm Friday, January 15, 2010

Staff Writer

The state is seeking information on possible heirs of three people — including people who could be descendants of a man who could have been a member of Blackbeard’s pirate crew — whose remains were uncovered in 1986 on property on Bath Creek that was owned by then Texasgulf.
State Archeologist Stephen R. Claggett said he will compile contact information from people who call and identify themselves as heirs of the man, believed to be Edward Salter, and then talk with them about the disposition of the remains.
The first advertisement seeking information or heirs appeared in the legal notices in the classified-advertising section of the Washington Daily News on Thursday, as prescribed by state statute and by order of Superior Court Judge Wayland Sermons. It is scheduled to appear again Jan. 21, Jan. 28 and Feb. 4.
The advertisement reads as follows: “Notice is hereby given to persons both known and unknown of three (3) sets of unidentified human skeletal remains buried in unmarked graves on a property owned by Potash Corporation (formerly Texasgulf), on the west side of Bath Creek, near Bath, Beaufort County, North Carolina. The office of State Archeology disinterred/removed those remains in 1986 according to procedures established in NC general Statutes 70, Article 3. Anyone having information about the identity or next of kin, or both, of the deceased should contact: Stephen R. Claggett, State Archeologist, 4619 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-4619,”
The advertisements were ordered by Sermons last week.
In his three page ruling, Sermons stayed an appeal by Raleigh researcher and author Kevin P. Duffus, and he ordered the state to comply with its own procedures that require it to publish notice of the excavation of human remains in order to determine the identity or next of kin, or both, of the deceased.
Sermons also ordered that the state and Duffus report on the ultimate disposition of the skeletal remains within 60 days.
Sermons’ ruling came three days after a hearing in Beaufort County Superior Court during which lawyers for the state acknowledged that the state archeologist did not follow proper procedure in 1986 when it unearthed the remains of the man believed to be Edward Salter.
The hearing — an appeal of a May 2009 ruling by Clerk of Court Marty Paramore — to determine whether Salter’s estate should be reopened was heard before a crowd of some 40 onlookers. It was scheduled after lawyers for Duffus appealed Paramore’s ruling denying the request to reopen Salter’s estate and appoint Duffus its executor.
Duffus believes that this same Edward Salter, a barrel-maker who died in 1735, may have been a member of Blackbeard’s pirate crew who escaped the noose and returned to settle in Bath. Salter went on to become a warden of St. Thomas Parish and an assemblyman representing Beaufort County in 1731.
Claggett said Thursday afternoon that he had not yet be contacted by anyone with information about the remains or by anyone who believes they are heirs of any of the three individuals.