Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Ocracoke Lighthouse Trivia

Following are several little-known facts about the Ocracoke Lighthouse.

Photo by Eakin Howard



















  •  1794...Alexander Hamilton, Secretary of the Treasury, proposes "erecting a light-house on Occracock island, or elsewhere, near the entrance of Occracock inlet...."
  • 1798...A wooden lighthouse is built on nearby Shell Castle Island (it is destroyed by lightning in 1818)
  • 1822...Jacob Gaskill sells, for $50, two acres of land to the United States for the purpose of building a lighthouse
  • 1823...The present brick Ocracoke Lighthouse is built by Noah Porter for $11,359.35 (Congress had budgeted $20,000)
  • 1854...A new fourth-order Fresnel Lens replaces the old reflecting illuminating apparatus (In 1853 Thornton Jenkins, Secretary of the Lighthouse Board, also reports that "[a]t the same time the present revolving light at Ocracoke...will be changed to a Fixed White Light...." This is the only reference I have ever found indicating that the Ocracoke Light was at one time a revolving light.)
  • 1860...New lantern is installed
  • 1862...Confederate troops remove the lamp and lens, to prevent use by Federal forces
  • 1863...Union forces re-fit and re-exhibit the Ocracoke Light 
  • 1867...Lard oil replaces whale oil as lamp fuel
  • 1878...Kerosene replaces lard oil
  • 1899...Fourth-order Franklin lamp replaces old valve lamp
  • 1929...Light is electrified
  • 1950...Metal staircase replaces old wooden staircase
  • 1955...The Ocracoke light is automated

Below are the Keepers of the Ocracoke Light, all highly skilled and dedicated public servants:
  • Joshua Taylor (or Tayloe), 1823-1829 (his title was Collector [of Customs] & Superintendent of Lighthouse) 
  • Anson Harker, 1829-1846 (first person of record listed as Keeper; Joshua Taylor is listed as Superintendent) 
  • John Harker, 1847-1853 (probably Anson Harker's son) 
  • Thomas Styron, 1853-1860 
  • William J. Gaskill, 1860-1862 
  •  Enoch Ellis Howard 1862-1897 (the longest serving Keeper; he died in office) 
  •  J. Wilson Gillikin 1897-1898 
  • Tillman F. Smith 1898-1910 
  • A.B. Hooper 1910-1912 
  • Leon Wesley Austin 1912-1929 
  • Joseph Merritt Burrus 1929-1946  (the last keeper to serve under the US Lighthouse Service)
  • Clyde Farrow 1946-1954 (Ocracoke's last lighthouse keeper, after the Lighthouse Service was merged with the US Coast Guard)
This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the Ocracoke Orgy. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news032115.htm

Monday, March 30, 2015

A Glimpse into the Past

Below is a transcript of a portion of an interview with Martha (Mattie) Daly Gilgo (1885-1976, former resident of Portsmouth Island, NC) by her grandson, Julian Gilgo, June 17, 1969, transcribed by Ellen Fulcher Cloud, and included in her book, Portsmouth, The Way it Was.

Julian: About how many people were living there (on Portsmouth Island) when you were young?

Mattie: O-o-o-h dear Lord, there was hundreds. Portsmouth has been a place in this world. I've seen myself ---and I'm only 83 years old, and I've stood on the porch and seen 30 to 40 vessels on their way in. Just between Ocracoke and Portsmouth, down there what they call Teach's hole.

----------------

Sometimes we have to be reminded of how important Ocracoke Inlet was for commerce along the eastern seaboard. At the turn of the twentieth century, as Mattie Gilgo relates, dozens of sailing vessels could often be seen anchored in Pamlico Sound. They were carrying lumber, cotton, turpentine, rum, and various other cargoes to and from ports as far away as New England and the West Indies, or even more distant places. Ocracoke wasn't always as isolated as it is often portrayed. 

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the Ocracoke Orgy. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news032115.htm.

(Post revised at 11:27 am, 3/30/15.)

Friday, March 27, 2015

Where is Fernando Po?

On January 23 I wrote about native islander, Eliza Ella ("Miss Lizerella") Styron O'Neal (1890-1953), who never left the island in her entire 63 years (except to venture a mile or so out into Pamlico Sound in a small boat).

That got me thinking about how things have changed, and how widely traveled present-day islanders are. I mentioned this to my daughter Amy, and she posted a question on Facebook for Ocracoke islanders: How many different countries have you lived in or visited?

At last count, there were 143 places, some of which I had never heard of (including Fernando Po)! They are listed below. I know some of them are territories of other countries (e.g. Anguilla), are actually parts of larger countries (e.g. the Galapagos Islands), have been altered (e.g. the Czech Republic is part of the former Czechoslovakia), are special regions (e.g. Hong Kong), or may no longer exist as separate countries (e.g. East Germany).

However, this list (literally, from A to Z) includes places in the spirit of Amy's question. I even wanted to include Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation in north central Montana, where I lived in the winter of 1968-1969, because it felt like a foreign country (or, more honestly, I felt like a foreigner in their country).

I know this is an incomplete list, but I think it's pretty impressive. Islanders, please leave a comment if we haven't included some place you have lived in or visited, and all readers, please leave a comment with suggestions for exotic places we might want to visit:
 
Andorra
Anguilla
Antarctica
Antigua
Argentina
Aruba
Australia
Austria
Bahamas
Barbados
Belgium
Belize
Bequia
Bermuda
Bonaire
Botswana
Brazil
Bulgaria
Cambodia
Cameroon
Canada
Cayman Islands
Chili
China
Columbia
Cozumel
Cuba
Croatia
Curacao
Czechoslovakia
Czech Republic
Denmark
Djibouti
Dominican Republic
East Germany
Ecuador
Egypt
El Salvador
England
Equatorial Guinea
Estonia
Ethiopia
Fernando Po
Fiji
Finland
France
French Polynesia
Galapagos Islands
Gambia
Germany
Ghana
Goa
Greece
Greenland
Grenada
Guam
Guatemala
Haiti
Hawaii (before it was a state)
Holland
Honduras
Hong Kong
Hungary
Iceland
India
Indonesia
Ireland
Israel
Italy
Japan
Johnston Atoll
Kazakhstan
Kenya
Kwajalein Island
Lebanon
Liechtenstein
Lesotho
Luxemburg
Macao
Majorca
Malaysia
Martinique
Mexico
Monaco
Montserrat
Morocco
Namibia
Netherlands
Nevis
New Zealand
Nicaragua
Nigeria
Norway
Panama
Paraguay
Peru
Philippines
Poland
Portugal
Puerto Rico
Rhodesia
Romania
Russia
Saba
Saipan
San Marino
Saudi Arabia
Scotland
Senegal
Siberia
Sicily
Singapore
South Africa
South Korea
South Viet Nam
Spain
Sri Lanka
St. Kitts
St. Lucia
St. Maarten
St. Thomas
St. Vincent
Ste. Barthe
Sudan
Sweden
Switzerland
Taiwan
Tanganyika
Thailand
Tortola
Trinidad
Turkey
Turks & Caicos
Uganda
Ukraine
United Arab Emirates
Uruguay
Uzbekistan
Venezuela
Virgin Islands
Wales
Yemen
Zanzibar

Happy travels to all! And we hope Ocracoke is always on your list of favorite places to visit or to call home.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the Ocracoke Orgy. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news032115.htm.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Two Quotations...

...from Ann Ehringhaus' 1988 book, Ocracoke Portrait:

"I don't think Ocracoke is a haven for any one group of people. I think it's a haven for a wide, wide variety of people. I don't think there is one character that typifies Ocracoke. I think for a small town it's probably the most diversified community I've ever been in."

"Someone asked me if Ocracoke was like a penal colony. I had to laugh. Utopia it's not, but there is a great sense of community here. I feel like moving to Ocracoke has been my reward. This is where I want to be."

If you haven't already read Ann's book, I encourage you to get a copy, and enjoy her iconic photos & insightful comments by islanders and visitors.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the Ocracoke Orgy. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news032115.htm.




Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Stunning Photos

In January I posted information and a link to Garrett Fisher's aerial photos of the Outer Banks. Earlier this month Garrett flew over Hatteras and Ocracoke again. He has posted another gallery of stunning photos of shoals and sand bars in the inlets, tidal flows, currents, soundside marshes, and ocean beaches.

Oregon Inlet by Garrett Fisher



















Follow this link to view 30 more photos that Garret took on March 8, 2015: http://garrettfisher.me/flight-nc-obx-to-charlotte/.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the Ocracoke Orgy. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news032115.htm.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Ocracoke Orgy

Well, if that didn't get your attention, I don't know what will!

That's the title of our latest Ocracoke Newsletter...The Ocracoke Orgy. If you want to know more (there is even a picture), just click on this link: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news032115.htm.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Answer to Puzzle

Jeff and Lou Ann are correct. The answer to Friday's puzzle is the fourth-order Fresnel Lens installed in the Ocracoke Lighthouse. In 1822 French scientist and inventor, Augustin Fresnel, discovered a method, using glass prisms and bull's eyes, to focus and magnify a beam of light. His invention revolutionized lighthouses. This is a drawing of the first-order Fresnel Lens that was installed in the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in 1854:




















Although the Ocracoke Lighthouse was built in 1823, it was originally fitted with a reflective system. Not until several decades later did the United States Lighthouse Board convert to the more efficient Fresnel Lenses. A fourth-order lens was installed in Ocracoke's tower in 1854. Below are two photos by Eakin Howard. The second photo was taken from the bottom, looking into the interior of the lens. It shows the electric lamp changer.





















You can read more about the Fresnel Lens here: http://www.nps.gov/caha/learn/historyculture/fresnellens.htm, on various other Internet sites, or in Theresa Levitt's excellent 2013 book, A Short Bright Flash, Augustin Fresnel and the Birth of the Modern Lighthouse.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is research into the origin of the Ocracoke Island Wahab family. You can read the article here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news022115.htm