Friday, March 24, 2017

Variety Show & Shells

Summer visitors frequently ask island residents, "What do you do all winter?" It may be difficult to believe, but islanders are often quite busy during the off-season. Yes, we do take our vacations in the winter, and there is more time to relax, read books, and spend time on hobbies...but it is also the time to volunteer, repair, remodel, paint, get our businesses ready for the new season, and catch up on all of those other chores we put off during the summer months. Island organizations (Civic Club, Library, School, Fire Department, Churches, and other non-profits) continue to function year-round.

Right now many island businesses are reopening (Village Craftsmen opened for the season last week).

Information about Ocracoke current events is always available at the Ocracoke Current and the Ocracoke Observer. Here are two events coming up today and tomorrow:
  • Ocracoke Spring Variety Show. Tonight at 6 pm at the Ocracoke School Gym. If you are on the island come on out to enjoy some local talent.
  • North Carolina Shell Club. Tonight, and tomorrow at 7 pm at the Ocracoke Community Center. Guests welcome. Village Craftsmen's Amy Howard is the special guest speaker at tonight's meeting. 
An Ocracoke Scotch Bonnet

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the Ocracoke Water Tank Caper. This is the link:

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Last Will and Testament

In 1849 William Howard (1776-1851, grandson of William Howard, colonial owner of Ocracoke Island) made his last will and testament. His bequests provide some insight into his life and circumstances. They are as follows (recipients in parentheses):
  • The eastern part of the ridge where he lives, including his dwelling house and kitchens, stables, and other out houses. (to his wife Agnes)
  • Kitchen furniture,work horse, horse cart, cattle & sheep (Agnes)
  • Wild cattle & wild horses (to his son, William, and son-in-law Job)
  • One canoe and one drag net (Agnes)
  • One schooner, the remainder of his canoes, nets, & boats (William & Job)
  • Wind mill (Agnes)
  • Bank stock in Merchants Bank in Newbern, NC (Agnes)
  • Money on hand (Agnes)
  • Notes & bonds (William & Job)
  • The tract of land where he lives, along with all houses, out houses and "envolments" [?] (to William at the death of Agnes)
  • 28 acres of land (to Job after the death of William Howard's daughter, Nancy)
  • All of his land on the banks, not including Ocracoke (William & Job)
  • 1/4 interest in the schooner Paragon (William & Job)
  • Negroes: Doll, Hannah, Delila, June & Susan (Agnes)
  • Negro: Harry (William)
  • Negro: Betsey (Job)
  • Negroes: Old Hagen, Young Hagen & Mary, Lewis, Jack & Lem, and his interest in Negro woman Phoebee & her children (William & Job)
  • Negros: Kent & Cloe (to daughter Nancy; at her death to William & Job)
  • $30 cash (to his grandchildren by his daughter Thursa Chase, who with her husband Elisha Chase left the state)
Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the Ocracoke Water Tank Caper. This is the link:

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Lawless Bankers

Ocracoke Island was not annexed to a North Carolina county precinct until 1770. At that time a member of the NC Colonial Assembly noted that, "those lawless bankers on Occacock Island are not paying taxes anywhere." The Assembly then included Ocracoke in Carteret Precinct.

Cartaret Precinct, which included Core Banks to the south, was established in 1722, having earlier been part of Craven Precinct. In 1845 Ocracoke Island (between Old Hatteras Inlet and Ocracoke Inlet) was reassigned to Hyde County, where it remains today...and where we definitely pay taxes.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the Ocracoke Water Tank Caper. This is the link:

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

March Newsletter

It is time for another Ocracoke Newsletter. This month's article is a fun-to-read first person account of what I call the Ocracoke Water Tank Caper.

If you've ever wondered what the view is like from the top of the tower, be sure to read the article.

Just don't try this yourself! We are not endorsing this behavior...just sharing the story.

Here is the link:

Monday, March 20, 2017


Late last month I published as one of our monthly Ocracoke Newsletters the story of the Electrification of Ocracoke Island. Unfortunately subsequent blog posts included an inaccurate link (it directed to our home page; not our Newsletter page).

This is the correct link:

If you were not able to locate this Newsletter earlier you might want to read it now. It traces the history of electric power on the island from the installation of the first generator (salvaged from a wrecked ship) in 1936, to the latest installation of Tesla batteries and solar panels.

The Newsletter explains how electricity (and the ability to make ice) impacted the island's fishing industry, how natural and man-made disasters (the powerful hurricane of 1944, and the 1990 accident that collapsed nearly 400 feet of the Oregon Inlet bridge) left authorities scrambling to provide power to our village, and how vulnerable the submarine cable under Hatteras Inlet has been.

Be sure to read how Conch O'Neal and his nephew Bobby O'Neal dealt with troublesome cable issues in the 1970s. And notice the new armored submarine cable that has been much more reliable.

Again, this is the correct link:

Look for a new Ocracoke Newsletter tomorrow. 

Friday, March 17, 2017

He Hersheys

Not too long ago I was gathered around my kitchen table with friends when one person produced a Hershey bar and offered pieces to the rest of us. It is a "He Hershey" he said.

He Hershey & She Hershey are two expression from Ocracoke Island. I am not aware of the use of these terms anywhere else.

So, here is a fun game for our readers. If you think you know what an O'cocker means by a He Hershey send your answer to with "He Hershey" in the subject box. Please, only one answer per email address. All correct answers received by midnight, March 21, 2017, will be entered into a random drawing for this set of three beautiful note cards:

Sometime on Wednesday, March 22, I will publish the answer and the winner in the comment section of this blog post (March 17, 2017).

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the Electrification of Ocracoke Island. You can read it here:

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Old Quawk's Day

Today is Old Quawk's Day! 

In case you aren't familiar with Old Quawk and the day Ocracokers remember him, I am reprinting a former blog post. Enjoy!

About 200 years ago there lived on Ocracoke Island a fisherman of indeterminate provenance. He was a reclusive figure, preferring to live in a small hut made of driftwood and bullrushes about 5-6 miles from the village. No one remembers his given name, but folks called him "Old Quawk" because, they said, he "quawked" like an old night heron.

Old Quawk was a fisherman, often venturing out into Pamlico Sound in his sail skiff when cautious islanders stayed in port waiting for more propitious weather.

On this date, March 16, many years past, Old Quawk made his last voyage into Pamlico Sound. Storm clouds were piling up in the darkening sky. Legend has it that Old Quawk defiantly disregarded the warnings of other islanders, raised his clenched fist to the heavens and dared the gods to thwart him, then set out in his sail skiff. A frightful gale churned the Sound into a wild turbulence and swamped Old Quawk's tiny craft. Neither Old Quawk nor his boat were ever found.

"Old Quawk" in July 4th Parade

For many years Ocracoke fishermen refused to go out in their boats on March 16. Even today it's best to be prudent on Old Quawk's Day. There's no telling what the weather gods will dish out on March 16.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the Electrification of Ocracoke Island. You can read it here: