Friday, January 30, 2015

Guy Hall

Not long ago I was reading a book I received as a Christmas present, More Desired than Our Owne Salvation, The Roots of Christian Zionism.  On page 72 I came across this sentence: "In 1605 [English] authorities discovered the 'Gunpowder Plot' designed by Catholics to assassinate [King] James as well as the Puritans then sitting in Parliament."

Several years ago I addressed this event in a blog post. I wrote, "November 5 is Guy Fawkes Day. In 1605 thirteen young men conspired to blow up Britain's House of Parliament. Among them was Guy Fawkes, a Catholic who protested the Protestant government of his day. The 'Gunpowder Plot,' as it was called, was thwarted, and the leader, Guy Fawkes, was caught, tortured, and executed. Since that time Britons commemorate the capture of Guy Fawkes with bonfires and fireworks, and by burning an effigy of Guy, or sometimes of the Pope.

"Interestingly, the memory of Guy Fawkes continues 400 years later on Ocracoke Island (albeit in a diminished and corrupted fashion) in a now rare saying. If an islander is thought to be up to no good, hiding his malicious intentions, an islander might comment, 'He's sneakier than old Guy Hall.'"

Anyone want to organize a bonfire on the beach next fall in memory of "Guy Hall"?

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is about the almost forgotten 1890 "Oyster Wars" that pitted islanders against outside business interests. You can read the article here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news012115.htm.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Outer Banks Free Diving

On January 20, I mentioned the book Deep by James Nestor...and the sport of freediving (underwater diving without the aid of any artificial breathing apparatus). 

I knew virtually nothing about freediving before reading the book, but became convinced that there must be some video documentation of the sport on the Outer Banks. I soon discovered Hidden Outer Banks, an online magazine published by Dawn Church, who lived on Ocracoke for a while, and helped create the Ocracoke Observer.

Butterfly Ray Photo by H. Weerman













Dawn has shared Russel Blackwood's 2 1/2 minute video of his freediving the shoreline of Cape Hatteras. It shows spectacular footage of a butterfly ray: http://www.hiddenouterbanks.com/flight-of-the-butterfly-rays-russell-blackwood/. Take a few minutes to enjoy this up-close underwater encounter with a beautiful swimmer!

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is about the almost forgotten 1890 "Oyster Wars" that pitted islanders against outside business interests. You can read the article here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news012115.htm.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Fence

Fences have long been an important part of Ocracoke village. In years past, islanders often had two fences surrounding their houses...one to separate the garden from the yard, and another to protect the garden from roaming wild horses. In addition, each small family cemetery was typically enclosed by a picket fence.

The fence in the photo below is new, but it looks old...to match the small cemetery it surrounds on Howard Street.















The original fence around the Wheeler and Tressie Howard graveyard on Howard Street had deteriorated, so the family hired island carpenter, Len Skinner, to build a new fence just a few months ago. He did a terrific job of matching the existing wooden fence with sturdy, weathered boards. You would think the fence had been there, protecting the graves, for decades.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is about the almost forgotten 1890 "Oyster Wars" that pitted islanders against outside business interests. You can read the article here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news012115.htm.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Farnifold Green

Farnifold Green (born May 30, 1674 in Virginia) arrived in North Carolina in July of 1697. On December 20, 1707, the Lords Proprietors issued Farnifold Green a land grant for 780 acres—part of the land that would eventually become early Beaufort.

Green, a planter, colonial militia officer, commissary, and Indian fighter had a plantation on the north side of the Neuse River (see http://beaufortartist.blogspot.com/2007/11/farnifold-green-owner-of-first-land.html for more information).

In 1706 Farnefould Green sent the following petition to the Governor & Executive Council of North Carolina:

"...Farnefould Green humbly sheweth That whereas your honors humble orator haveing a great desire to settle a stock upon the Banks at or near Occacok Inlett and haveing understood that the honorable Governor hath given orders that the said Places should not be settled by any straingers but what are of good fame, least any harme should befale any of her Majestys subjectes that should through Chance be Cast away there, Therefor your humble Orator prays Lycence from your honors for the settlement of the same, and Your humble Orator shall as in duety bound for ever pray etc. Farnefould Green."

In 1711 the Minutes of the Executive Council record this sentence:

"Upon Petition of Farnifold Green praying he may have Liberty to Settle upon the Sand banks neare Okacock Inlett. Ordered that the Said Farnifold Greene have Liberty to Setle on the Said place accordingly."

We don't know exactly what stock Farnifold Green brought to Ocracoke, but it likely included cattle, sheep, and/or goats. Perhaps horses as well. All of these domestic animals were still grazing freely on Ocracoke Island in the 1950s, when I was a boy.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is about the almost forgotten 1890 "Oyster Wars" that pitted islanders against outside business interests. You can read the article here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news012115.htm.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Life Guards

Many of our readers will remember that the National Park Service had intended to eliminate all funding for Ocracoke lifeguards last summer. After protests from islanders and visitors, the NPS relented and appropriated funds to provide lifeguards five days a week. The Ocracoke Civic & Business Association agreed to fund the other two days in spite of concerns that that was sending the wrong message to the NPS. Fears were raised that it would be an incentive for the Park to continue cutting funds for lifeguards.















Earlier this month the Ocracoke Current reported that the new Superintendent of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Dave Hallac, "said that the current plan is for NPS to hire contracted lifeguards again this year, to staff the three beaches in the Seashore that traditionally have lifeguards (Ocracoke, Buxton, and Coquina Beach), and to pay for lifeguard services for seven days a week. NPS has initiated the contract process." Read more here: http://www.ocracokecurrent.com/104577.

Hallac is scheduled to attend the monthly meeting of the Ocracoke Civic and Business Association on February 11. 

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is about the almost forgotten 1890 "Oyster Wars" that pitted islanders against outside business interests. You can read the article here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news012115.htm.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Flying

Eliza Ella ("Miss Lizerella") Styron O'Neal (1890-1953) was the daughter of Elijah Styron, Sr. and Elizabeth Gaskins Styron. The Styrons are an old island family (I mentioned them last year because they were one of the last Ocracoke families to continue celebrating Old Christmas). Two grandchildren and four great-grandchildren live on the island to this day.
Photo Courtesy of Johnny O'Neal


















Miss Eliza Ella's great-grand-nephew told me she had never driven in an automobile. In fact, she never left the island in her entire life (except to venture a mile or so out into Pamlico Sound in a small boat). Carl Goerch relates his visit and conversation with Miss Eliza Ella ("Never Been Off the Island") in his 1956 book, Ocracoke. Goerch describes Miss Eliza Ella as "friendly and vivacious."

Cousin Blanche agreed, and recently shared a story that illustrates Miss Styron's wonderful sense of humor. In the 1920s, when airplanes were still a novelty, and barnstorming pilots occasionally flew out to Ocracoke, local talk turned to speculation about this new and exotic mode of transportation.

Some folks were ready to hop into the cockpit of a plane to see the island from the air. Others were dead set against such foolhardy behavior, and vowed to never, ever, get into an airplane.

Miss Eliza Ella had her own unique perspective, and addressed the assembled neighbors. "I don't care high up I go," she said, "as long as I can keep one foot on the ground!"

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is about the almost forgotten 1890 "Oyster Wars" that pitted islanders against outside business interests. You can read the article here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news012115.htm.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Photo Gallery

Julie Williams Dixon, writer, photographer, storyteller, and observer of life, has published a gallery of Ocracoke and Portsmouth photos. The composite below is of my outbuilding (Mad Mag's Studio) and a window in Plymoth, NC. 

















 To view Julie's gallery, and see an older photo of my building, click on this link:             http://juliewilliamsdixon.com/?page_id=402. I hope you enjoy the pictures.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is about the almost forgotten 1890 "Oyster Wars" that pitted islanders against outside business interests. You can read the article here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news012115.htm.