Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Pawnee

The 1,290 ton steamer sloop Pawnee was launched in Philadelphia in 1859.

Sketch by Philip Howard











In August of 1861, at the beginning of the American Civil War, the Pawnee was assigned to the Atlantic Blockading Squadron, a unit of the US Navy designed to enforce a blockade of Confederate ports. On August 26, the Pawnee sailed to the North Carolina coast. There she was engaged in the first naval engagement of the Civil War, attacks on Fort Hatteras and Fort Clark (August 28–29) near Hatteras Inlet. The Confederate forts quickly capitulated and were subsequently occupied by U.S. troops.

On September 18 Lieutenant James Y. Maxwell  of the Pawnee, in an official report, recounted the destruction of Fort Ocracoke on Beacon Island:

"...[I]n compliance with your orders...I started for Ocracoke on [September 16, 1861] in the steamer Fanny, towing the Pawnee's launch.... [The fort] is called Fort Ocracoke, and is situated on the seaward face of Beacon Island; it was entirely deserted. It is octagonal in shape, contains four shell rooms about 25 feet square, and in the center a large bombproof of 100 feet square, with the magazine within it. Directly above the magazine on each side were four large tanks containing water.

The Destruction of Fort Ocracoke















"The fort has been constructed with great care of sand barrace, covered with earth and turf. The inner framing of the bombproof was built of heavy pine timbers. There were platforms for twenty guns which had been partially destroyed by fire. The gun carriages had been all burned. There were 18  guns in the fort, viz, 4 8-inch shell guns and 14 long 32-pounders."

Our Ocracoke Newsletter for this month is an article by Philip Howard, My Ocracoke, Living amidst 250 years of Howard family history. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news082116.htm

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Bar Shot

I wonder how many of our readers have seen or noticed this item at the Ocracoke Preservation Museum:












It rests in a glass topped case in the hallway. I didn't measure it, but it is about 20" long, quite rusty and fragile. This item is ammunition shot from a cannon (a "bar shot"), two half-cannonballs connected by an iron bar welded between them. Sometimes the two projectiles were connected with chain (a "chain shot").

When shot from a cannon they whirled through the air, and were quite effective in naval battles for tearing through sails & rigging, and splintering masts and spars.

This item was recovered from the bottom of Pamlico Sound by Fowler O'Neal in the 1950s while he was fishing for flounder. Bar shots were used during the age of sailing ships and black powder. This artifact may date to the Civil War, or even to Blackbeard's time. Take a look at it on your next visit to the Ocracoke Preservation Society Museum.

Our Ocracoke Newsletter for this month is an article by Philip Howard, My Ocracoke, Living amidst 250 years of Howard family history. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news082116.htm

Monday, August 29, 2016

Rob Hanks

A few days ago I received this question in an email message: "Who was the ruff looking guy that would just appear out of the woods around the old well (now covered) area if you were walking there [Springer's Point].  He would tell you about Blackbeard and hope you would give him some change.  To my 12 year old mind I was quite certain he was a 'pyrate'  I never learned who he was."

The questioner is referring to Rob Hanks (Robert Dozier Tolson). Rob Hanks (his nickname is a reference to his father Benjamin Henry "Hank" Tolson) was born in 1895, and died in 1961.

OPS Photo, James B. Gaskill Collection



















Rob was a memorable island character who, in the 1950s, offered to tell visitors "the story of Ocracoke and Blackbeard" for a dime. He was short and slight of build. He often wore a white sailor's cap, a jacket, and long pants, even in the middle of the summer. Rob Hanks could usually be found at Springer's Point, near where Blackbeard met his end in November, 1718.

If any of our readers remember Rob Hanks, please leave a comment with your story.

Our Ocracoke Newsletter for this month is an article by Philip Howard, My Ocracoke, Living amidst 250 years of Howard family history. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news082116.htm.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Fig Muffins

Gary Mitchell recently made a 30 minute video of Fiddler Dave making fig muffins. You can watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KY_QAXSYlQ8


















There has been some confusion about fig pollination (even in Fiddler Dave's video). For more information, please read my post from August 17, 2016, for a brief explanation of how our parthenocarpic fig trees propagate without pollination by fig wasps. 

Our Ocracoke Newsletter for this month is an article by Philip Howard, My Ocracoke, Living amidst 250 years of Howard family history. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news082116.htm.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

A Summer Story...

...from the 1970s:

Ocracoke was a lot quieter 45 years ago, with much less automobile traffic...and the laid-back nature of island life seemed to nurture eccentricity. One warm summer day a native islander, now deceased (I will leave it up to members of his family to identify him if they wish), decided to cool off by stripping naked and swimming across Silver Lake Harbor.

It was a refreshing swim, and several minutes later he climbed up on shore near the public docks. He immediately realized that he was too tired to swim back to where he had left his clothes, so he grabbed a seat cushion from a nearby skiff, and began walking back to the other side of the harbor. Whenever a car approached he held the seat cushion like one half of a loin cloth...in front when he saw a car coming towards him, or behind his back when he heard a vehicle coming from the other direction. In the rare times when a car approached from both directions he stopped, turned toward the harbor, and held the cushion behind him.

 Many a laugh was had over this story.

Our Ocracoke Newsletter for this month is an article by Philip Howard, My Ocracoke, Living amidst 250 years of Howard family history. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news082116.htm.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Bonfire on the Beach

Tomorrow evening beginning at 7 pm the National Park Service will be offering a Night Sky Appreciation Event at the Ocracoke Lifeguard Beach. Activities include a bonfire, nautical and pirate stories by Capt. Rob Temple, a Night Sky Star Program, and photographing the Milky Way and star trails.

Photo by Craig Roberts













 Ocracoke beach is one of the best places on the East Coast to enjoy the night sky.

For a schedule of events, and more information, please visit http://www.ocracokecurrent.com/141106.

Our Ocracoke Newsletter for this month is an article by Philip Howard, My Ocracoke, Living amidst 250 years of Howard family history. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news082116.htm.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Gascone

On July 28, 2016, I posted a blog about the Ocracoke family names, Gaskins & Gaskills.

A few days ago I was chatting with Euphemia Gaskins Ennis. She told me that her father, George Gaskins (1887-1967), told her that the Gaskins (Gascone) family was originally from France [further research suggests they moved to County Offaly, Ireland], that they then settled on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, then moved to Craven County, North Carolina, and eventually to Ocracoke.

I have discovered that a Thomas Gascoyne was living on the Eastern Shore of Virginia in 1623. Gaskins Point is still recognized as a landmark on the Occohannock Creek.

Chart Showing Gaskins Point, Occohannock Creek, VA










Ellen Marie Fulcher Cloud, in her book, From Whence We Came, confirms Euphemia's information, writing that "The Gaskins seem to have been most thickly populated in Craven Co. in the 1700 and 1800s."

I found the following information on The Internet Surname Database:

"This interesting and unusual surname [Gascone] is of early medieval English origin, and is from a regional name for someone from the province of Gascony [a Basque-speaking area of southwest France], from the Old French 'Gascogne'....The surname was first recorded in the early 13th Century.... The modern surname can be found recorded as Gascoigne, Gascogne, Gascoyne, Gascone, Gasken, Gaskin and Gasking."

Our Ocracoke Newsletter for this month is an article by Philip Howard, My Ocracoke, Living amidst 250 years of Howard family history. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news082116.htm.