You can’t separate a good sea captain from his anchor. At least that was the feeling of Captain Henry F. McCracken, pilot of the Delaware Bay and River. He asked to be buried with his anchor, and that’s exactly what was done after he died on Nov. 2, 1868.
Captain McCracken (doesn’t that have a great sound to it?) is buried in a church graveyard on 2nd Street in Lewes. If you stand facing his headstone, you can see the fluke of the anchor sticking out of the ground at his feet. (If you have trouble finding the captain, look for a nearby box that contains maps of the graveyard.)
It’s not unusual for sea captains to have a gravestone with a carving of an anchor or even a monument shaped like an anchor. The anchor is an ancient Christian emblem regarded as a symbol of safety and a symbol of Christ and his anchoring influence in the lives of Christians. Sailors liked the connection the anchor symbol had to stability and strength. Dropping anchor also represented the safe end to a long journey—a fitting metaphor for a memorial at life’s end.
Up in Lebanon, Connecticut, legend has it that another sea captain, Sluman Lothrop Gray, was buried in the barrel of rum he was put in months earlier (for, um, preservation purposes) after dying on board his ship in 1865. This has nothing whatsoever to do with Captain McCracken, but it’s a pretty great story, right?