On and off today I've been visiting the family graveyards across the lane. There is really so much history there, much of it buried with the souls who lie under the shade of the oaks and cedars and yaupons. Nevertheless a lot of the history can be teased out by carefully reading the dates and epitaphs. Still more, the best stories and details come when I walk among the tombs with cousin Blanche.
Who is buried here, with this large heavy stone as a marker? There is no inscription. I know he was a sea captain. What is his story? And what about this concrete post? Whose grave is this? And Esther O'Neal....is this the midwife everyone called Aunt Hettie Tom? I know there was no doctor. How many babies did she birth? What about these four tiny markers with inscriptions on each side? Of course, these are the graves of eight children buried side by side. What a tragedy. I wonder how they all died. How did the Braggs come to be buried in the Howard cemetery? Was it during the "time of the blowing sand?" What was that like? And is this Agnes Scott really kin to the woman who gave her name to Agnes Scott College in Georgia? And how did she wind up on Ocracoke Island? One more thing -- where was Evans Howard buried before his brother dug him up and reburied him years later, and why did he do that?
Come on out to the island for the Ocrafolk Festival the first weekend in June. And stay nearby when I take the stage with Blanche on Howard Street. We'll be taking about the family graveyards and you'll hear answers to all of the questions above. In the process you'll get another glimpse into island life of generations past.
This month's newsletter discusses the planned replacement of the seven bridges on Ocracoke Island in early 2008, and explains some of the issues we will face. You can read it here.