Wednesday, June 20, 2012


A reader of yesterday's blog asked about the artist Jo Ko. This is what she wrote: "I have been looking around this delightful page because it came up in the search I am doing. I recently purchased a pencil sketch of a goat herder which is signed "JoKo". So far I haven't found anything on this artist except a rather disjointed connection to Ocarcoke Island. Could you shed some light on this artist? Was he/she from your area? Thank you for your time."

Joseph and Esther Koch lived in Ohio (Akron if I am not mistaken). They discovered Ocracoke many years ago, sometime after World War II. Joe was an artist, and he made many pencil sketches of Ocracoke village, the beach, and colorful island characters. He signed his drawings "Jo Ko."

Here is one of his drawings of Blackbeard the pirate (available as a postcard from Teach's Hole Pirate Shop):

In the 1960s Joe and Esther purchased property on School Road (where Deepwater Theater and Books to be Red is located today) and on the corner of School Road and Highway 12 (where Spencer's Market is today). Health concerns kept the Kochs away from Ocracoke for the last 25 years or so. Over the years they sold all of their island property. Esther died a number of years ago. Joe died in March of this year, just short of his 105th birthday.

You can read a little more about Jo Ko here:

By the way, I don't remember ever seeing one of Joe's drawings with a goat in it, but maybe it is not an Ocracoke scene. Or perhaps it is. There were still semi-wild goats roaming on Ocracoke "down below" (on what is now National Park Service property) when Joe first discovered the island.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a list of a few traditional Ocracoke Island recipes. You can read it here:


  1. Anonymous10:33 AM

    Just try researching Ocracoke without finding the journal...I dare you! That's how I discovered it several years ago-- and I'm so glad I did.

  2. I lived in a very cool place owned by JoKo my first summer on the Island. It was a old trailer surrounded by a huge screened cage. It has lots of shade and a washing machine, which I was told was quite valuable. Deepwater replaced it, but it will always be my first memory of Ocracoke lodging. I felt lucky to have stayed there.