Recently I received the following email...............

My name is (name deleted to protect the innocent) and I live at Kure Beach, NC (just a mile or two north of Fort Fisher). In just the past few days, I have begun some research related to Rose O'Neale Greenhow. My wife and I visited Oakdale Cemetery today and I just found your website this evening. I have a couple questions that I'd appreciate your help with if you do not mind. One is related to her date of death and the other to the date of her funeral services.

There seems to be conflicting information as to the date of her death. I know her gravestone says 9/30 but most other records I have seen state 10/1. I assume the difference may be when she boarded the rowboat and when her body was found. But I have also seen records indicating the Condor did not run aground until 10/1. I am just curious what you feel is accurate. I have also read a newspaper clipping supposedly dated 10/1 that was documenting the funeral service. But that does not make sense to me. Accounts indicate services were held on a Sunday afternoon. My research indicates that in 1864 that would have been 10/2 or more probably 10/9. I am just curious if you have any specific info on the date of her funeral services. Seems like the services must have been later than 10/1. I have just begun to check some of the information within your site this evening. It is very helpful.

To which I replied.........................

Hi, John, you have almost answered your own question here. The condor ran aground "at about midnight" 9/30, so Rose died 9/30 or 10/1, depending on whose clock you go by.
Her body was found in the early morning twilight of Saturday 10/1, so as far as most people are concerned she died in the early morning hours of 10/1. She was hauled to Wilmington by a steamer on 10/1 and laid out. The funeral actually took place Sunday afternoon 10/2. You can find an article on the funeral, both a scanned copy and my transcription on the website, here.

Since you are so close you may wish to visit the Cape Fear Museum, Fort Fisher and New Hanover Library. Each have excellent materials on Rose. May I ask what your interest is in Rose?  And if I can be of further assistasnce, please don't hesitate to call on me. And check back to the website as time goes by.  I have more material on Rose and the site continues to grow........

John W. O'Neal, II
The O'Neal Genealogy Association
The Official Rebel Rose O'Neale Website

Then I received the following reply....................

 John, Thanks very much for the quick reply. The reason behind my interest will sound very strange. It does to me. First, I'm 45 years old and have never had a "ghost" or "spirit" experience. I'm an engineer by degree so my personality tends to look for logic and reason although I have an open mind to "spirit" activity.We have a number of windows and a door with blinds on the top level of our house. We also have a shelf that goes around the great room above the door and windows. I had already awoken and was reading the paper in this room 4 days ago. My wife woke and when she came in the room she asked me what had happened to the blind on the door. I had not noticed it.

One of the cords that operates the blind was extended up on to the shelf above it, wrapped around the back of a gnome and a clock, and then hung back down off the shelf on the other side of the clock. I later tried throwing the cord up there a number of times and never could get it to even stay on the shelf....much less wrap around the objects in the position it was found. Nobody else has a key to our house and nothing else was found out of place.


OK, what's the connection to Rose? After we exhausted what we considered logical possibilities. I started searching word combinations on Google.....words such as "cord", "clock", "ghost", "Kure Beach", etc. Still didn't find anything of interest. My wife suggested we check out the name of the gnome. The gnome was part of a collection I had had from ~20 years ago that you may or may not be familiar with. A guy named Tom Clark does them and they were fairly popular in North Carolina. Anyway, the gnome that had the cord around it was named O'Neal. So, I entered "O'Neal", "Kure Beach", and "ghost". It came back with a number of references to Rose along with other tourist information for the area. The fact she had died in October just added another coincidence to the events.

I've lived in the area since '81 and my wife is a Wilmington native. The story seemed semi-familiar but we didn't really know any details. I'm still open to any explanation as to what happened with our cord. We are calling our "ghost" Rose but does not mean we truly believe her ghost moved our cord.I enjoy history and her story seems very fascinating regardless of what happened with our cord. An individual we spoke to at Oakdale mentioned the recently published book "Wild Rose" and we plan to purchase it.

I know that was a long answer. I am interested in her now due to her actual story and the fact she has a connection to the area. But the interest was sparked by trying to explain something we do not feel is logically explained. After I have read some more, I may get back in touch if I have questions. Again, thanks for your quick response. I've attached a couple pictures. We took them after re-creating how the cord was found. Just wanted to have it documented in case anything else strange happens.

I replied as follows............................

Hi, John.

Something about your incident with the cord and the gnome has been bothering me since I got your email a few days ago. You know that nagging feeling you get when you make a connection to something but don't know exactly what the connection is?  That feeling you get when you're problem solving and feel like something coherent is just beyond your mental grasp. That if you could just see the one missing piece, all the building blocks would fall into place? That's how I felt after reading your letter.....................

Fisrst, the word CORD was bothering me. I felt that it meant something. Somehow I felt that a cord was involved in and instrumental to Rose's death. But the link escaped me, so I scurried off to my reference library.

We all know the story pretty much by rote. When the Condor went aground trying to escape Yankee gunboats Rose demanded to be put ashore, fearing re-capture and imprisonment by Yankee soldiers. A lifeboat was lowered and several people, Rose included, got aboard. As the lifeboat began to pull away from the grounded Condor, it was caught broadside by a wave and overturned.  All the other passengers made it back to the boat without event. The reason Rose did not make it was simple. She was weighted down by $2,000.oo in gold coins, which were bound in a leather bag and tied around her neck on a CORD. Most of the popular stories say that Rose had the gold sewn into her dress, but that is simply historical fiction. It paints a more dramatic picture in the mind's eye to imagine a spy concealing  contraband gold in her clothing rather than merely tossing it around her neck on a cord.

So, while your cord mysteriously wrapping itself around a gnome named "O'Neal" gave me kind of an eerie feeling, at least I could understood the connection. I certainly can't explain it, but I felt better because the nagging feeling that I was missing something went away. 

But then, as Paul Harvey jovially reminds us, there's the rest of the story. The nagging feeling came back. While the gnome named O'Neal seemed to represent Rose at first blush, it could also be representing someone else. What if the gnome had a dual meaning?  Life is rarely "black & white." Everything has shades of gray, infiniate layers of meaning and is of course open to several interpretations. What other role could the cord have played in Rose's drama? And what possible connection could the cord have to a gnome? With that question in mind I scurried back to my reference library.................

At first light a confederate soldier at Fort Fisher was walking the beach alone, presumably on sentry duty. He discovered Rose's lifeless body and the bag of gold coins tied around her neck on the cord. Not knowing who she was, he grabbed the cord, pulled the bag of coins from around her neck, pushed Rose back into the water and went on about his patrol, no doubt smiling at his good fortune...........

Meanwhile the news of the capsized lifeboat and disappearance of Rose had made it to Fort Fisher. A search party was dispatched to look for her. When they reached the point on the beach where the sentry had been earlier, the search party "re-discovered" Rose. The sentry heard the commotion and returned to see what was going on. He hung back from the crowd a little and listened. Upon learning that the body was none other than the great confederate hero, "Rebel Rose" O'Neale Greenhow, and the members of the search party all knew she had been carrying gold that was intended for use by the confederate government, the sentry werighed the consequences of what he had done and made a snap decision. He would hide his indescretion and return the gold. Thinking quickly, he scooped out a small hole in the sand and dropped the bag into it. Then he partially covered the bag up, without anyone being the wiser and made his move........"Hey, what's this?" He shouted as he bent over, grabbed the cord and pulled the bag of gold coins from the sand, at the same instant the members of the search party were turning to see what he had found..........

What's the significance, you're probably asking right about now?  I won't keep you in suspense any longer. The significance is that you found your cord was wrapped around a gnome, one of the "little people."
You see, the sentry who removed the cord from around Rose's neck and placed it around his own was none other than the confederate soldier JJ Prosper For Me Doctor Duvall Conner and that's a very long name for a man of such short stature. For Doc Connor, as his friends called him, was a little person himself, whose full height in stocking feet, barely measured three feet eleven inches tall.

The only loose end in this story is the clock. Why was the cord also wrapped around the clock? Perhaps it was time for this story to see the light of day. Perhaps it means something else. If you've ever played with numerology you'll know that numbers have significant meaning to those who interpret such things. When you wrote your letter to me you took photos to show the incident. I blew up the photo and looked at the clock. At the instant you snapped the picture it was 10:48. Numerologists often drop the zero when interpreting their numbers. Making the significant numbers on the clock 148. Now hold that thought.

Rose died 141 years and 7 days before your incident with the cord. 141 + 7 = 148. Just another coincidence? Or is Rose's spirit reaching out to us?

Only you can decide.............................

So, John, that's the story. I don't believe in ghosts either, but this makes a fascinating story, nonetheless. It's the kind of tale that you can tell your grandchildren about around a campfire...............................

Happy Hallowe'en!



Before the critics jump in and gnaw and gnash their teeth and get crazy trying to debunk this article, please allow me the opportunity to set the record straight........
1) Ghosts and spirits. I DO NOT believe in ghosts and/or spirits. I'm sure their is a logical explanation for how the cord got where it was, although I don't have a clue what it might be..
2) The clock, date and numerology. I realize the numbers are off. I DID NOT account for leap years in the date calculation. I DID NOT account for daylight savings time in the time calculation and I DON'T KNOW if the photo was taken a.m. or p.m.
3)  The cord.. As to the cord, the source that mentions Doc Connor says the gold was in a bag on a cord. Numerous other sources state that the gold was sewn into little pockets in the folds of Rose's dress. I DON'T KNOW which story is true but tend to believe the bag story. I doubt very seriously if Doc Connor took the time to un-stich Rose's dress to steal the coins.
4) The gnome. I am not implying that Doc was a gnome. I was merely suggesting that the gnome represented a symbol of a man short in stature.

This article was simply an exercise in humor and in the spirit of hallowe'en.
And I can never resist telling a story and if the tale gets streched a little bit, hey, no harm done.
And I hope everybody had as much fun reading this as I did writing it.

John, 10/31/2005