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Hidden in Plain Sight -- Mysterious Clue on Gravestone in Historic Cary Hillcrest Cemetery Deciphered

18 Oct 2020 7:03 PM | Carla Michaels (Administrator)

Each marker in a cemetery contains a story, and the grave marker for C. M. (Claudius Monroe) Baucom is no exception. His marker in Historic Hillcrest Cemetery is impressively large and contains images that tell part of the story of his interesting life. However, one image on the marker remained a mystery for many years and has only recently been deciphered.

C. M .Baucom was born in Apex in 1880 and raised in western Wake County, as generations of his family had been. One of his ancestors, John Baucom, Sr. was a Wake County Revolutionary War patriot. Following in the senior Baucom’s footsteps, C. M. enlisted in the army as an 18 year old and served during the Spanish American War as a part of the mounted cavalry. He traveled to the Far East in the military, seeing the Philippines and participating in the China Relief Expedition during the Boxer Rebellion. After returning to Wake County, he worked for the railroad as many men did in the area in the early 1900s, married a local girl, Patty Page, and raised a family. A physically active man, he enjoyed the outdoors and had a “jolly outlook” on life, according to family members.

His sense of duty and honor called him once again when World War I broke out. He volunteered for service at the age of 38, entering the military this time as an officer. Near the end of the war in the fields of France, he survived a gas attack, but as a result, experienced gradually deteriorating hearing and vision loss. As someone who had taken great pride in being independent and active, these losses affected him deeply and caused him to worry about how he could provide for his family. Tragically, he took his own life in 1925, leaving behind a loving wife and 5 children in Cary.

His impressive marker in Hillcrest contains obvious symbols of his life – the crossed rifles and flag allude to his military service. The masonic logo points to his participation in this fraternal organization. An oval shape on the left contained a portrait of Mr. Baucom, long missing, put in place by his loving family. But what about the mysterious logo at the bottom of the marker? What does it mean?

After much research, the image has been identified as the emblem of the Order of Railway Conductors, Scottish Rite, which speaks to his employment with the Seaboard Railway. The lantern (which looks more like a grenade on the monument) is easily identifiable based on the accompanying logo; the tool remains unidentified. It may be a specialized tool used by railwaymen. This image provides the last clue to what Mr Baucom considered important in his life – his family, his livelihood, his community, and his country.

A final note: In 2017, the family received the medals he earned in the two wars and richly deserved.

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