Tuesday, November 25, 2014


"Progging" is a term that has been around since the 16th century, although its origin is unknown.

Ocracoke Islanders in bygone years used the word to describe searching for food, often for turtles. Dictionary.com defines "prog" as "to search or prowl about, as for plunder or food; forage."

Walt Wolfram, in his paper, The grammar of rural and ethnic varieties in the Southeast, comments on this unusual word: "Particular lexical differences may also characterize specific enclave communities such as the use of...progging for ‘looking for artifacts’ on the islands of the Chesapeake Bay...."

David Wright & David Zoby, in their book, Fire on the Beach," point out that "...Roanoke Island blacks [in 1867] described themselves as fishermen, hunters of fowl, and 'proggers'...."

Ocracoke Islander, Frank Treat Fulcher (born, 1878), in his autobiography recounting his years at sea, tells about coming home and engaging in "several years more of progging" "in the oyster and fishing business."

Ocracokers occasionally go out progging for oysters or for items washed up on the beach, but it's rare to hear the word "progging" spoken nowadays.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the seldom told story of the 1837 murder of Willis Williams by Jacob Gaskill. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news112114.htm.


  1. Anonymous7:40 AM

    Honestly, from the definition prowling and plunder, sounds as if the progger was an opportunist ... any lock that ain't locked when no one's around.... a man of means by no means ... king of the road.

  2. Anonymous5:35 AM

    beetle-headed means being a hard head....per colonial 17th century as well. a lot of words have outlived their use.

  3. Anonymous8:38 AM

    being GAY is another term....it really means QUEER..Gay sounds nicer but everyone knows that it still means the same thing.