On this date, in 1840, the Outer Banks' first post office was established with William H. Howard as postmaster. For years mail was brought to the island by sailing vessels, and later by motor-powered mailboat. The Aleta and the Dolphin are the two mailboats most fondly rememberd by Ocracokers.
The mailboat generally made one round trip daily between the island and the mainland. It would leave Ocracoke early in the morning and arrive at the dock in Atlantic sometime before noon. After a lay over she would head back across the sound, and arrive at Ocracoke about 4:00 - 4:30 p.m. This was the social event of the day as scores of islanders gathered to greet the mailboat when she glided up to the dock.
The mailboat carried groceries, soft drinks, packages, and passengers, as well as the mail. It was Ocracoke's only reliable link to the mainland until the mid-1950s when a hard surface road was built to Hatteras Inlet, and the state of North Carolina began regular ferry operations there.
You can read our latest newsletter here. It's about Ocracoke Islanders and "tokens of death."