Monday, April 04, 2016

Essie O'Neal

If you have known Ocracoke for many years you know there are many O'Neals who live on the island. This is, in large measure, because of Harry [1901-1977] and Essie [1915-1999] O'Neal. They had eleven sons.

Essie O'Neal

In 1997 Christine Rucker of the Winston-Salem Journal wrote an article about Ocracoke. She interviewed Essie O'Neal, and included her brief account of the 1944 hurricane (Essie was 8 months pregnant with their fifth child when she and Harry loaded their four children into a boat as their house was flooding): "We floated down the street to [Harry's] sister's house, and floated over their fence posts and into her kitchen, and we all waited the storm out together."

Later in the article Rucker reports that Essie, in addition to washing clothes for her big family, made three meals a day, including 52 biscuits with each meal.

The Ocracoke Preservation Society has a display in the main hallway documenting the Ocracoke O'Neal family. Be sure to take a look when you are down that way. It is scheduled to be replaced sometime later this year.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is about the 1977 recording of traditional Outer Banks folk music. You can read the article here:

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