The Post Office has long been at the center of community life on the island. In the first half of the 20th century, before ferries and paved roads, the mailboat was Ocracoke's primary link to the outside world. The trip across the sound took about 4 hours. Islanders would gather at the mailboat dock in late afternoon waiting for letters, packages, relatives, and news from the mainland. It was the perfect time to visit with neighbors, share stories, and hear what was going on around the village.
The first Post Office was established on Ocracoke on this date in 1840. William H. Howard was appointed postmaster. Today, a modern Post Office is located at the edge of town, not along the harbor as in years past. People come and go throughout the day and the pace is a bit quicker, but the Post Office, with its bulletin board full of notices, is still an important center for news and information.