Tuesday, July 26, 2016

1837 Map

In 2009 I wrote about the 1837 murder of Willis Williams:

On March 1, 1837, "[Ocracoke Island] Justice of the Peace, Jacob Gaskill and his cousin & local tavern owner, Willis Williams, were involved in an altercation on a foot bridge that spanned the 'Ditch,' the narrow channel that connects Cockle Creek (Silver Lake Harbor) with Pamlico Sound. When it was over Williams lay mortally wounded from a musket ball to his neck. Gaskill was tried on the mainland and convicted of 'felonious slaying.' His punishment was the letter 'M' branded in the palm of his hand.

"Many of the details of this event are lost to history, but one can't help but wonder what the dispute was about, why it escalated as it did, and what the jury learned that kept Jacob Gaskill from the gallows, convinced them to return a verdict of less than murder, and led them to impose a relatively light (light, considering the alternatives...but admittedly barbaric) punishment. We will probably never know."

In 1993 Ellen Fulcher Cloud discovered a map of Ocracoke in the John Herritage Bryan (a New Bern lawyer) Collection in the NC State Archives. The map appears to be related to the trial of Jacob Gaskill.


















(Click image to see a larger view.)

The map is interesting because it shows several stores (T. S. Blackwell, J. Pike, and W. Williams), as well as the bridge across the Ditch.

For more information about the murder of Willis Williams, see http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news112114.htm.

Our latest Ocracoke Newletter is the story of Augustus Cabarrus, early inlet pilot, and the present day d'Oelsnitz family. Click here to read the Newsletter: Ocracoke...The French Connection.  

Monday, July 25, 2016

Pay Voucher

Jacob Gaskill (1785-1862) served as Justice of the Peace on Ocracoke Island in 1822. In that same year he sold to the US government, for $50, two acres of land where the Ocracoke lighthouse was built in 1823.

During the War of 1812 Jacob Gaskill served as a private in the Hyde County Militia, commanded by Capt. Gibbs. 

Image from NC Dept. of Cultural Resources

Jacob Gaskill received the above Pay Voucher in October, 1814. Vouchers were issued in lieu of cash by the governor after the auditor had validated a claim. The voucher was issued for military service performed by Jacob Gaskill who was called out to defend the coast in 1813. When a voucher was redeemed, it was cancelled by punching a hole through it. 

Our latest Ocracoke Newletter is the story of Augustus Cabarrus, early inlet pilot, and the present day d'Oelsnitz family. Click here to read the Newsletter: Ocracoke...The French Connection

Friday, July 22, 2016

Artis Comes Home

Immediately after the Civil War Hercules (Harkus) Blount (b. ca. 1820) and his wife, Winnie Bragg Blount (Aunt Winnie), former slaves, moved to Ocracoke. Their daughter, Jane, married Leonard Bryant who came to Ocracoke in the early years of the 20th century looking for work. Leonard and Jane had nine children, the only post Civil War black family to call Ocracoke home.

Aunt Winnie













In her book, From Whence We Came, Ellen Fulcher Cloud includes this interesting paragraph found on a typewritten page in an old scrap book:

"On the Island of Ocracoke there is only one Negro family, which has maintained at least one branch on its few acres of land since 1865. Artis Bryant, one of the sons of Leonard Bryant, present head of the family, went to sea 18 years ago and none of the family ever heard from him. In July, 1942, the SS Chilore, got involved with a mine, and Artis who was boatswain of an all-negro deck crew, rowed with six others onto a lonely beach. 'Where are we?' asked Artis of the first Coast Guardsman they met. 'Ocracoke," replied the guardsman. Artis has been castawayed within a few hundred yards of his home, and there was great rejoicing in the Bryant cabin that night."

I also found this article from the Beaufort News, July 23, 1942:

"Negro Ab Pays His Parents A Surprise Visit -- Artis Bryant, a Negro AB Seaman paid his folks on Ocracoke Island a surprise visit recently. It was the first time he had been home in over 20 years . He probably would not have made his recent visit, except that the ship on which he was a member was torpedoed somewhere off the east coast. Artis and several of his fellow crew members sailed off in a lifeboat looking for land. It so happened that the first landfall was Ocracoke Island. The survivors landed there and it was not very long until Leonard his father, Jane his mother, and several brothers and sisters whom he had not seen for many years were having a sort of family reunion. News of Artis' visit to the one and only negro family on Ocracoke was brought to the mainland by an employee on the Section Base project now underway on the island."

Our latest Ocracoke Newletter is the story of Augustus Cabarrus, early inlet pilot, and the present day d'Oelsnitz family. Click here to read the Newsletter: Ocracoke...The French Connection

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Newsletter

Visitors to Ocracoke soon learn that most of the earliest European settlers on this island hailed from the British Isles. Those who research 18th century island history discover that one of the first inlet pilots, Augustus Cabarrus, was a Frenchman. Today, at least one prominent Ocracoke family has deep roots in France.

To learn more, click here to read our latest Newsletter: Ocracoke...The French Connection.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Wagon Trains

According to Rinker Buck, in his book, The Oregon Trail, "[t]he era of the canvas-topped wagons crossing the American plains lasted about fifty years. During the peak migration years of the 1840s and 1850s, more than 400,000 pioneers crossed, in about sixty thousand wagons...."

We don't often associate eastern North Carolina with covered wagons, but a wagon train bound for Alabama left Carteret County in 1823 . Another departed about 1840.

http://idahoptv.org/productions/images/bts_wagonTrain.jpg










In 1834, Ocracoke sea captain Elisha Chase and his wife, Thurza Howard Chase, sold their island property to Thurza’s brothers, gave up life by the sea, and with their three children, left Ocracoke to join a wagon train heading west. According to oral history, somewhere in Tennessee both Elisha and Thurza fell ill, and lay unconscious or in delirium for several days. When Elisha awoke he learned that his wife had died. Distraught, he claimed to have medicine in his satchel that would have cured her. Thurza was buried alongside the trail.

Eventually Elisha and his three children settled in Callaway County, Missouri, not far from Boonville. He soon became a merchant in the town of Portland, Auxvasse Township. Elisha married again, this time to Anne (surname unknown), and they had one child, Henry L. Chase. Elisha Chase is buried on a farm near Portland, Missouri. 

For more information, please see my article about Ocracoke's Soundfront Inn: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news102113.htm.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is an article about one of the early July 4th Parades written by Alice Rondthaler in 1953. It is accompanied by vintage photos.You can read the Newsletter here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news062116.htm.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

An Internet Shroud

We've all been told, "Don't believe everything you read on the Internet!"  Here is an example:

I have been reading Samuel Taylor Coleridge's masterpiece, "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner." There are a few archaic words in the poem that I was unfamiliar with (e.g. eftsoons and ivy-tod), so I went on line to do a little research. I came across Vocabulary.com with a list from Coleridge's poem.

For "shroud" Vocabulary.com gives this definition: "burial garment in which a corpse is wrapped."

Of course, this is one definition of "shroud," but not the meaning in the poem.

"And a good south wind sprung up behind;
The Albatross did follow,
And every day, for food or play,
Came to the mariner's hollo!

   1876 Engraving by Gustave Dore

"In mist or cloud, on mast or shroud,
It perched for vespers nine;
Whiles all the night, through fog-smoke white,
Glimmered the white Moon-shine"

Shroud is a nautical term for any of the taut ropes or cables forming part of a ship's standing rigging supporting the mast, and steadying it against lateral sway. Clearly this is the meaning in the above stanza.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is an article about one of the early July 4th Parades written by Alice Rondthaler in 1953. It is accompanied by vintage photos.You can read the Newsletter here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news062116.htm.  

Monday, July 18, 2016

Wilbur

Two years ago I posted a few paragraphs about Ocracoke native Wilbur Gaskill (1912-1980) and the artist JoKo. Wilbur was a colorful island character, and a regular fixture at Corkey's Store. He could often be found on the porch carving small birds with his penknife.

You can read that post here: https://villagecraftsmen.blogspot.com/2014/07/wilbur-jo-ko.html.



















A few days ago Outer Banks photographer, Michael Halminski, posted a couple of photographs of Corkey's Store and Wilbur on his blog: http://photoblog.michaelhalminski.com/?p=3477.

Wilbur died 36 years ago. I wonder if any of our current readers remember Wilbur.

I recall one evening 40 or so years ago when I went to Corkey's about 8 o'clock in the evening. Two off-island college-age young ladies were there trying to shoot a game of pool. Wilbur, who had been imbibing, kept reaching onto the table (without saying a word, but gesticulating in his unique manner) and re-positioning the cue ball. The young ladies got to laughing so hard they couldn't even remain standing. It was one of the funniest encounters I have ever witnessed in a public place. I suppose they are still telling their story of visiting Ocracoke when so many unique island characters called this island home.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is an article about one of the early July 4th Parades written by Alice Rondthaler in 1953. It is accompanied by vintage photos.You can read the Newsletter here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news062116.htm.