Captain William Carhart – Lost at Sea in 1799
Just outside of Ocean City (before you cross the bridge over the inlet) is one lone grave of a sea captain who was lost nearby when his ship sank during the frigid January of 1799. It is the only known, marked grave in Ocean City sitting on one of the highest pieces of ground. A 211 year old marble tombstone marks the site where Captain William Carhart is memorialized. The tombstone has the following epitaph engraved on it:
In Memory of
Capt. William Carhart
Shipwrecked off this coast
January 5, 1799
Aged 38 years and
There is also a foot-stone with his initials W.C. engraved. We know thanks to the research of Joan D. Charles of Hampton, Virginia that the Captain’s wife, Ann paid for the marble stone. The Carharts lived in Philadelphia. Captain William was on an expedition from Cuba, probably carrying cargo back to Philadelphia. Records state that he left Cuba on Christmas day in 1798, and on the eleventh day of Christmas (January 5th) his ship – The Hawk – sank off the coast of Ocean City. The vessel and crew were lost. It is likely that Captain Carhart and his crew froze to death in the icy Atlantic waters, as the weather records show that month being one of the coldest in memory.
So who carried his body from the water to this knoll? Or is there even a body under there? Where are the crew members buried?
Why this place was chosen to memorialize Captain Carhart is a mystery. But the presence of his stone marker is a strong reminder of Ocean City’s long maritime history – way before the hotels, boardwalk and fishing pier. The grave has a strong presence / energy about it and is a worthy stop on the way to the beach.
Read more about Captain Carhart and the loss of his vessel The Hawk at these two links:
This sight is part of the 100 Things to Do Between the Bridge and the Beach Series
Every year millions of people cross a bridge to travel to the Atlantic Beaches on Delmarva. It may be the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel or a bridge over the Delaware Canal. They may be headed to Ocean City, Chincoteague, Rehoboth, Bethany, Dewey or Assateague, but most don’t know about the fabulous sites and attractions they are passing by. This series offers 100 fun things you can do between the Bridge and the Beach encouraging visitors to pull off the highway, take a day trip, and widen your vacation scope of activities – or make the Eastern Shore a destination when you’re not headed for the beach.