Friday, March 30, 2012

A Letter from an Ocracoke Seaman, 1882

Following is a transcript of a letter written by John Williams O'Neal (1862-1935) to Brittie Ann Williams (1861-1884) August 23, 1882. They were married on December 1, 1883. The stationery is decorated at the top with an artistic banner. In the middle of the banner is the head of an eagle. To the sides and below the eagle are the words "Yours, Truly, may Heaven prosper you."

"Camden, N.J. August the 23 1882

"My Dear girl I take the plaser [pleasure?] this evning To drop yo a few lines to let yo no that I am in good helth and I am a hoping when theas few lines reaches yo thay may find yo the same good helth. I reckon yo think I have stop riting to yo it has Bin So long since I rote you you must not think eny thing of that for I did not have Time to rite you I come to Philadelphia one nite and left the next morning.

"I wood like to Be thare with yo this evning I think we wood have a nice time dont yo think So Brity Brity I ofton think of the Times that we have been to gether dont yo.

"I wont Be long Be fore Il Be home then we will talk things over I ges he set up with yo and Ban [?] and margary one nite tell twelve a clock so I herd I dont no how true it is and if I node it was so I dont think me and yo wood make [?] the rode to gether eny more.

"Me and [?] Tolder [Toler] ar to gether and we ar Bound to Boston from here.

"I dond no hardly when I shall come home I may Be home in Octtobar or not Be fore So no more at presset I close my letter By Saying good By untill we meet a gane.

"from your frind John W. ONeal to miss Britannah Williams.

"rite me all of the strange nuse if yo pleas.

"rite to port richmon Station E philadelphia pa."

Many thanks to Earl O'Neal for preserving and publishing the letter in his book "O'Neals of Ocracoke Island, Their Ancestors and Descendants"

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the Rondthalers of Ocracoke Island. You can read it here:


  1. How sad -- they were married in 1883 and she died in 1884.

  2. Was it childbirth?

  3. debbie s.11:12 AM

    So sad.... :(

  4. I do not know what Brittie Ann died of, but childbirth would be a prime suspect. I am not on the island at the moment, so I don't have access to my genealogies and other resources to do the research.