Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Re. the mailboat Aleta: a reader recently asked, "Before and after the period you mention for the Aleta,1940s - early 1950s, how did mail and people get to the island? What kind of boat and from what port?"

A full answer to this question will require more than a few sentences, so I will just give several brief comments today. I will write a lengthier history of the US Postal Service on Ocracoke for an upcoming monthly Ocracoke Newsletter. Look for that article in the next few months.

The Ocracoke Post Office was established in 1840. Prior to that time letters were carried to and from the island by family and friends, or by entrusting them to ship captains.The first "mail boats" were probably "bugeyes" (two masted sailboats) that also carried passengers and freight.

By the early 1900s mail was carried back and forth across Pamlico Sound (from Beaufort, and later from Atlantic, North Carolina) on motor powered mail boats. These included the Meteor, the Hero, the Viola, the Lillian, The Kitty Watts and the Ripple. The Aleta carried mail and passengers from 1938 to 1952. The Dolphin was Ocracoke's last mail boat. It operated until 1964, although mail also came by way of Hatteras soon after Frazier Peele established a private ferry service across Hatteras Inlet in 1950. Charles McWilliams (Charlie Mac) drove the mail truck (a WWII era Dodge Power Wagon) to the north end of Ocracoke (either on the hard beach at low tide, or on a deeply rutted sand road farther back) for a number of years.

Today mail is still delivered to Ocracoke across Hatteras Inlet.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Ocracoke and the War of 1812. You can read it here:

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous9:33 AM

    Thank you for this interesting summary. I'm looking forward to the newsletter on this topic.