Thursday, February 16, 2012

Euphemia Curtis

On February 16, 1848 William S. Woodard and Amasa Simpson, both of Ocracoke, made the following deposition after the death of Simon H. Garrish which occurred the day before:

"...being in attendance during that day [February 15, 1848] a few hours previous to the death of said Garrish, he appeared to manifest much anxiety relating to some worldly matters which seemed to bear heavily on his mind, which his extreme weakness prevailed his expressing, although he undoubtedly retained his perfect since [sense] to the last. Yet, he was sufficiently understood as wanting paper and pen and ink, which induced a belief that he wished to make a will. Consequently, as he was unable to write, we concluded to question him in the following manner, and having reason to believe that his wish was in regards to his property, JOHN PIKE, Esq. (who was present) asked him to signify to the same by raising his hand if it is his wish that his daughter EUPHEMIA CURTIS should possess the whole of his estate at his death. He did raise his hand in reply and we distinctly heard him say, yes. After which, he became quite reconciled and resigned up to the time of his death."

Euphemia Garrish Curtis (1819-1882) inherited the property where Village Craftsmen is now located. Her father, Simon Henry Garrish, appears to never have married Euphemia's mother, Jane Simpson Harvey, although they lived together as man and wife for many years. Simon was the son of Henry Garrish and Elizabeth Howard. Elizabeth was the granddaughter of William Howard, Sr., one-time owner of Ocracoke Island.

Euphemia is my 2nd cousin, 3 times removed.

She is buried behind the Village Craftsmen. When I acquired that land in the mid-1970s I had no idea who Euphemia Curtis was.There are no other known graves nearby. Her gravestone, now 130 years old, is weathered badly, and very difficult to read. Euphemia's epitaph reads:

"Religion filled her soul with peace
Upon a dying bed.
Let faith look up,
Let striving cease,
She lives with Christ our head."

I think of Euphemia every time I pass her grave. May she rest in peace.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the "Joe Bell" flower. You can read it here:


  1. Anonymous10:33 AM

    No wonder genealogy
    research is a labor of love -- proving the existence of a long dead ancestor for a common person is difficult. Now I know all the pomp and circumstance when the royal bloodline adds a descendant there is no doubt plenty of documentation of the relation and existence of who is who is done. note to the wise-- Do not let your drivers license expire other wise make sure you can prove who you were are is be all children minors get a passport keep it up to date a) a historical document for future generations think about tomorrow -- a current passport is official id and well allows you to travel internationally just do it.

  2. Anonymous12:23 PM

    The copper lantern--the Tall Virginia Lantern--pictured on your blog today is the style of lantern I purchased online last year from The Village Craftsmen, and I LOVE it.

    It's much larger than I expected--nearly 18" tall, and about 8" wide on each of its three sides.

    And I was pleasantly surprised to discover that one of the panels--the back--isn't glass at all, but an inward-facing mirror, which doubles (maybe triples--or more) the reflected candlelight. Ingenious!

    True to the name, The Village Craftsmen, the craftsmanship of this lantern is just...fine. The hinged top provides access to a candleholder inside and has a linchpin on a chain for securing the lid.

    A frugal person, I also tend toward practicality. I dislike "shopping," but when I do, I seek top value for my dollar, and this lantern fit the bill on all accounts. In hindsight, it proved to be a wonderful investment for my special-occasion purchase.

    Add to all this the pleasant staff (I think it was Jude) who chatted by phone to help me make my purchase, and I couldn't be more pleased with my shopping experience OR my lantern.

    Sorry for the long post (I looked for a spot to leave a testimonial along with the lantern listings, but didn't see one), but today's photo sparked a strong reaction from a VERY satisfied customer, and I thought some of my fellow Ocracoke fans might appreciate a little unbiased insight about a one-of-a-kind item, from a one-of-a-kind place.

    Thanks for the opportunity to share.

  3. Thank you for the testimonial! Our lanterns are made with care and skill by Walter Howard, Jr. a direct descendant of William Howard, Sr., colonial owner of Ocracoke Island.

    We change the photo on the main page regularly, so later readers may not know what you are referring to. Here is the direct link to the lantern page:

    All of us at Village Craftsmen appreciate you kind words and patronage.

  4. debbie s.8:05 PM

    hey philip - horribly off topic, and I apologize but are you going to be doing the ghost walk this summer? I booked our place today for the 2nd week of June, and I'd love to take my 13 year old :) You can delete this comment if youd like and respond to my email, I don't mind - writerdebbie (@)

  5. Debbie,

    Yes, Amy, Lou Ann, and I will be doing Ghost & History Walks, starting sometime this spring. They will be offered Tuesday and Friday evenings, beginning at 7:30 pm at Village Craftsmen on Howard Street. Reservations are recommended. Call 252-928-6300 at least a day or so (even a week or more, if you want) before the date you want to go.

    See you in June!

  6. debbie s.1:31 PM

    Awesome, thanks :)

  7. Anonymous10:22 AM

    Philip, Fascinating story about Miss Euphemia. I remember, with admiration, watching Sherrill Senseney playing Miss Euphemia in Julie Howard's musical play, "Blackbeard", a number of years ago. Sherrill, as Miss Euphemia, stood alone, center stage directly facing the audience, as she looked into an imaginary mirror, carefully checking her appearance - clothes, hair, face. The audience didn't exist for her, she was so engrossed in what she saw in that iimaginary mirror. It was a fine piece of acting.

    Sherrill, we remember you with love and tears.

    Bobby Rondthaler