Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Miss Sue & Miss Lyzee

Nowadays one can bike, walk, or drive from one side of Ocracoke's Silver Lake harbor to the other in just a few minutes. It wasn't always so.

Miss Sue (Susan Gaskill Scarborough, 1878-1954) and Miss Lyzee (Eliza Gaskill Thomas, 1866-1946) were sisters. Miss Sue and her husband, Charlie Scarborough, lived "Around Creek" (on the north side of Cockle Creek/Silver Lake):

Photo Courtesy of OPS

Miss Lyzee and her husband, Capt. Bill Thomas, lived "Down Point" (on the south side of Cockle Creek/Silver Lake):

Photo by L.A. Homan

In the sisters' day, two narrow streams (or "guts" as islanders called them) flowed from the harbor toward the bald beach. These streams (the big gut, and the little gut) effectively divided Ocracoke village into two main sections (Down Point, the area that included the lighthouse; and Around Creek, the area that included the Community Store). Eventually simple foot bridges were built across the guts in several places.

Howard Family Collection

However, the journey by foot (through soft sand and across the rickety bridges) from one side of Cockle Creek/Silver Lake harbor to the other side was not taken lightly. Miss Sue and Miss Lysee had a clear view of each other's houses across the harbor, but when Miss Sue took a notion to visit Lyzee she intended it to be a proper visit, and that meant packing her valise for the journey. After walking for more than an hour she wasn't about to turn right around and return home. She always stayed several days with her sister before walking back to the "Creek" side.

How times have changed!

Thanks to Miss Sue's great-grandson, Al Scarborough, for this story [correction: Al called to tell me he is Miss Sue's grandson, not great-grandson].

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Beatrice Wells, child evangelist, who preached at Ocracoke in the late 1930s/early 1940s. You can read it here:


  1. Anonymous12:28 PM

    Thanks for this great post. I love the old stories.

  2. Anonymous4:57 PM

    The Thomas house....Ms Barksdale's house...I know it well from the attic corners to all the downstairs corners. How is Ms Barksdale? She owned this house plus the small across the street cottage where I stayed many weeks out of the year back in the 80's and 90's. She had MANY interesting stories of the island which she would share with me while sitting on her porch or on rainy days in her kitchen. Good memories. Nice lady. Great stories and conversations. Thanks for good picture of her house.It reminds me of the way it use to look from my small boat. NS

    1. Susan Barksdale died about a year ago. The house is still in the family. I understand her nephew uses the house occasionally. Unfortunately, I never knew Susan well. Would love to hear some of her stories.

  3. Anonymous5:38 PM

    sorry to hear about Susan Barksdale. Thanks for the info on her.