....in 1840 the first post office was established on Ocracoke, with William H. Howard, postmaster. I believe this was the first post office on the Outer Banks. We often forget how isolated this island was in days past. Today we take the Internet and email for granted. Not so many years ago we relied on the post office for letters from family & friends, and packages from mail order houses. (Nowadays most of our mail is bills.)
Before 1840, without regular mail service (or telephones, or ferries, or any of the other modern communication and transportation marvels) islanders had little contact with the outside world. Sailors would periodically return from the West Indies or New England with stories, but mostly the news was old and out-dated.
The establishment of a post office helped keep Ocracokers connected to the rest of the country. Today the post office is often the place to keep abreast of island goings-on (we don't have home delivery). The bulletin board is full of posters and notices (what's for sale, what the church or youth center is offering, addresses of those in the hospital, etc.). And it's where we stop and chat about the latest community events.
The post office is a regular stop for anyone wanting to stay in touch here on the island.
Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the Black Squall, a brig loaded with circus animals that wrecked on Ocracoke in April of 1861. You can read it here.