Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Frazier Peele

Every now and then I mention Hatteras native, Frazier Peele, who established the first ferry service across Hatteras Inlet (e.g. see my post for Saturday, March 26, 2011). Below is a vintage photo (taken in the mid-1950s) of Charlie MacWilliams driving his mail truck from the ferry to the Ocracoke beach).

The 1974 issue of Hatteras Island's "Sea Chest" magazine has this to say about Frazier Peele: "When he was running his own ferry with only a few passengers, he used to carry a gun in the cabin. During hunting season he would often shoot ducks and geese that would be in the range of the ferryboats, then maneuver the boat over to pick them up."

Getting to Ocracoke sixty years ago was quite the adventure!

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Ocracoke and the "Lost" Colony. You can read it here:


  1. Philip, Your stories never cease to amaze me and your appreciation for Ocracoke's history is wonderful.


  2. Anonymous11:37 AM

    Has the USPS slated OI post office for closure? Will post cards no longer be hand cancelled with the OI postmark. It is a sad day when Ben Franklin's postal service closes shop --- well if you don't use it you lose it-- well --some designers will pay an arm and a leg for vintage lobby p/o. boxes with locks and keys -- the mail sacks will be sold on e-bay but let a wedding invitation, a graduation announcement, or letter travel cross country to some remote place as a service to the public and not be privatized only to let a ceo run it into the ground into bankruptcy to then have the government bail them out because they walked away from a business can the Government walk away from its obligations to he American public? Save you post office save you local general mail facility subscribe to magazines, save the newspaper and subscribe to your hometown paper write to you kid away at college make them walk down to the campus mail room create memories and Handwriting how ironic it was a calligraphy class that inspired Steve Jobs. Buy more stamps. Hurry run down to the post office and give your etter carrier a hug- their future is up in the air.

  3. Anonymous3:41 AM

    Philip, HAPPY NEW YEAR!

    Glad you enjoyed your holiday season. I'll be thinking of all of you over the next few days, will be so-so close but not on Ocracoke. Heading out in the morning for annual Duck Hunting trip to Cedar Island.

    I always love the old photos. So your readers will know the old Mail Truck in these photos, is a Dodge WWII Military 3/4 ton Ambulance, built between 1942 & 1945. My Dad's fishing club had a 1950s version (the Dodge M43 Ambulance) they used as a Fishing buggy for years in the late 1960s & early 1970s. He loves to tell stories about the great times fishing off Hatteras. One time the Ambulance broke down out on the point, (before Cell phones) they put out a call on the CB radio for help. Coast Guard, Fire Department etc. came flying down the beach, someone put out that a Ambulance had broken down, they thought it was a current in service Ambulance. Several years ago, I purchased another one of these old Dodge Ambulances, but later sold it to make room in my building for other trucks. Still wish I had it.

    As Always - THANKS for sharing

    Mtns of NC
    Dodge Truck Historian / Collector

  4. Hmmm... That was a weird rant! You can easily look up the list of post offices scheduled for closure. Ocracoke is not one of them. The offices that are being closed have other offices nearby.

  5. Julie S.9:39 AM

    Wow! That photo makes Mr. Peele's vehicle look like it is "walking on water." I shall never again complain about today's ferry service!! You always have the most interesting blog and I thank you for your continued "service." Look forward to reading it every day!

  6. Anonymous12:35 PM

    Regarding the simple matter of"easily look up the list....." this USPS issue is in a state of flux. it is not cut an dried. A list was prematurely published- the PMG did some back pedaling, the PRC is questioning the statistics used to arrive at the "list" perhaps the poster positioned in Plano has privey to old info. How can a p.o in a "remote" area with free daily ferry service be free from scrutiny in a overhaul that scrutinizes cost vs return I guess the OI first class mail volume has bucked the trend of first class mail quoted in a the "studies". If the OI post office is to stay open why not send thank you letters to your representative via first class mail -- let them know you want it to stay open -- what is wrong with that list or no listing (LOL--listing sailor humor there)

  7. debbie s.1:27 PM

    we have some odd ones on this blog...

    as always, thanks for the old photos philip, i love them, and the stories that go along with them! :)

  8. Anonymous2:04 PM

    Well, well yes, Virginia er Debbie there are odd ones-- those that don't walk lock step with "conventional wisdom" the Fraizer Peeles that were private enterprises then the gov took, er bought them out and now the pendulum swings the other way perhaps-- the USPS wants to privatize the delivery of the mail (slowly but surely) did not a large parcel delivery service start out in a city in Ohio as a department store delivery service hmmm I'm sure the mail truck paid for the trip and any other vehicle paid for the ferry ride per trip but now everyone pays for the trips-- indirectly through perhaps, a gas tax, a sales tax --it is the "comfort" of knowing the free ferry is there is you need it. But we can't be comforted by knowing a p. o. will be there if we need it . we have to possibly do without and well things do change -- the only constant is change. I'm sorry dee is this too deep?? Hey, debbie were s the nearest public restroom in downtown OI?

  9. Anonymous7:17 PM

    Terrific photo, Philip!

    Provides GREAT context re. the "challenge" of reaching Ocracoke today.

    Makes me wonder who the first brave soul was to put his car in gear and drive off the boat, into the water, thinking "Yeah, this looks about as good a place as any."

    Holy smoke!

    As always, appreciate your sharing.

  10. debbie s.7:37 PM

    LMAO @anon who said -"Yeah, this looks about as good a place as any."

    oooo that tickled me :P

  11. Anonymous1:06 AM

    the Diane Rheem show on NPR discussed fair use and copy write and reprinting photos. The web site Memories and history of Old Hatteras Village has the photo of the mail truck disembarking the ferry and other equally interesting images --I discovered the page with a Google search of Fraizer Peele. Might we ask does the OI museum have a photo collection from which OIJ draws from to scan?

  12. Anonymous7:41 AM

    Love the vintage photos!

  13. Re. Ocracoke photos: OPS has quite a large collection of vintage island photos that they share. Earl O'Neal, cousin Blanche, and other islanders have also graciously shared their photos. Occasionally I order photos from the Outer Banks History Center. And, of course, I have quite a few pictures in my personal family collection. Some photos have been floating around for so long that it is difficult or impossible to determine who took them, or who owns the originals.

  14. Anonymous10:16 AM

    I'm sorry did I hear you correctly, this photo collection needs a graduate student to organize and catalogue the images in a manner that preserves for posterity and historians a digital format. Did you mention that perhaps a grant from the state or a foundation might be interested in underwriting such a project no that was me and the voices in my head egad!

  15. all your stories are good. I like to read it. and which I also love history. thanks

  16. Philip,

    Would you mind if I used some of your excellent pictures for my documentary on the island?

    Please let me know,

    -Madeleine Bishop

    1. Madeleine, if you do not get my reply, please email me at, attn: Philip.