Some months ago Penny Akahloun contacted me because of the following information she discovered on the Village Craftsmen web site:
"One memorable wreck on Portsmouth Island in 1903, the Vera Cruz, carried 22 crew members and 399 passengers. In this case, although a fresh northeaster and a strong ebb tide had forced the Vera Cruz into the breakers, the life saving crew was able to use their open surfboat. It took them 41 trips to bring everyone on shore. The people of Portsmouth village used four and a half barrels of flour to bake bread for the survivors, most of whom were smuggled Portuguese immigrants who spoke no English."
Penny's grandfather was one of the Portugese passengers from the Cape Verde Islands, bound for New Bedford, Massachusettes. Penny was so impressed with the hospitality of the Portsmouth Islanders (who fed and sheltered the survivors) that she made the trip to Ocracoke for the spring meeting of Friends of Portsmouth Island, where she spoke about her research and emotional connection with Portsmouth. She wanted to visit the village whose people, in 1903, went out of their way to care for her grandfather and other shipwreck victims from a foreign country.
Penny & Philip on the path into the village:
(Click on photo, by Jim Fineman, to view a larger image.)
Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the autobiography of Frank Treat Fulcher. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news052111.htm.