Cameron Certain was a native of England and when he was young he migrated with his family to Smithville (now Southport), N.C.
His father was a sea captain. Cameron studied music and became a talented piano and organ teacher and he was also a master at dancing.
At the beginning of the War Between the States, a Confederate training camp was located at Smithville and young Cameron volunteered to help entertain the soldiers with music and dancing. When the Sampson Rangers were located there he made a number of friends among them. Cameron decided to enlist in the Confederate Army, but he was a dwarf and could not pass the physical examination. He was accepted into the Confederate Hospital Corps and went with the troops to Virginia during the Peninsular Campaign in the spring of 1862. After the War he wrote at great length about his experiences. I remember seeing and reading his manuscript of experiences, about 40 years ago. At that time it was owned by Miss Ruth Faison Shaw, but probably has been lost. Cameron Certain was present at the battle of Cold Harbor on 27 June 1862 when Lt. Col. Franklin J. Faison of Sampson County was mortally wounded.
After the War he taught piano and organ classes in Faison, Mount Olive and Goldsboro. For a time he lived with Mr. and Mrs. Isham Faison in Faison. He was the Church Organist at the Faison and Goldsboro Presbyterian Churches for a time. He often played for weddings in Faison and Mount Olive. Later, he ran a music school for the village of Turkey, and I well remember seeing the little building in which he taught.
Cameron Certain could also do tailoring and he made his own clothes. He believed in spiritualism and he occasionally claimed to communicate with the dead. Several times he is said to have seen the images of two Yankee soldiers who were killed and buried under the large magnolia trees in the yard of the Faison Williams house in Faison. Old timers said that ghosts especially liked Spanish moss and magnolia trees and nights of full moon. Cameron claimed to see a ghost one night in Saint Gabriel’s Episcopal Church yard in Faison. Someone asked him what kind of ghost he saw and he replied that it must have been a holy ghost since it was in the churchyard.
In 1901 Cameron Certain died at the home of Mrs. Clara Shine Moore near Warsaw. His last request was that he be buried in an old Faison Cemetery next to his friend Thomas Faison. The hearse was drawn by horses and on the way to the grave the horses ran away, turned the hearse over and the coffin was thrown into a deep ditch. The coffin was placed overnight in the store of Mr. Ed Mann at Turkey and the burial was completed on the following day. For years persons working in the store alone and late at night alleged that they heard the sound of a piano playing classical music coming from the direction of the attic.
Many years later, some coon hunters were hunting and the dogs chased what they thought was a coon into the old Faison Cemetery and as they approached Cameron Certain’s grave they caught sight of a dwarf dressed in a black velvet coat entering the hollow of a giant mulberry tree. The hunters fled and told their neighbors what they had seen. Farm hands plowing near the cemetery at almost dark have related that they had heard the most unusual sounds coming from the direction of the Certain grave.
* From the June 1989 issue of the Huckleberry Historian