Friday, November 16, 2018

Tavern on Portsmouth

What may have been the very first tavern on the Outer Banks was established by Valentine Wade in 1757. In 1753 the North Carolina Colonial Assembly had passed a bill "appointing and laying out a Town on Core Banks, near Ocacock [Ocracoke] Inlet, in Carteret County." In 1756 Wade purchased lot number 21 in Portsmouth village. He was soon named Justice of the Peace, but in 1759 a number of citizens of Portsmouth and Ocracoke were disturbed by the influence of the tavern. John Bragg, an inlet pilot operating from Ocracoke, and Joseph Ryall, a soldier stationed at Fort Granville on Portsmouth (see yesterday's blog post) filed a formal complaint against Wade.

The complaint charged that "Valentine Wade, one of his Majestys Justices of the Peace for the county of Carteret, and who keeps a Tavern in the Town of Porstmouth in said county, Permits, suffers and encourages disorderly persons to dance and play at cards and dice in his house upon the Lords Day."

1700s Tavern Scene
















Wade was ordered to appear before the Council and explain his conduct in view of his official position, but he failed to show up to defend himself, and was "struck out of the Commission of the Peace."

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is Lachlan Howard's essay about the Fresnel Lens and its use in theater, solar ovens, cameras, and industry, as well as lighthouse illumination. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/the-fresnel-lens/.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Fort Granville

In 1755 North Carolina Governor Arthur Dobbs visited Ocracoke Inlet, and ordered that Fort Granville, which had been authorized for Portsmouth Island but never constructed, be finally built. Portsmouth was designated as the site of the fort because it was "a Maratime Town, far distant from the bulk of the Inhabitants of this Province, and liable to the Depredations of an Enemy in Time of War, and Insults from Pirates and other rude People in Time of Peace."

The fort was designed as "a fascine* Battery secured by piles, with 2 faces; one to Secure the passage in coming down a Narrow Channel to this Harbour, and the other to play across the Channel where it is not above 300 yards wide."

Fascines













By 1757 Fort Granville was finally manned with a small company. The next year 53 officers and men were stationed at the the fort. By 1762 less that half that number served at Fort Granville. The next year only five soldiers were stationed at Portsmouth, and the garrison was decommissioned with the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1764, which ended the French and Indian War.

*fascine: a bundle of rods or sticks bound together, often used in military operations.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is Lachlan Howard's essay about the Fresnel Lens and its use in theater, solar ovens, cameras, and industry, as well as lighthouse illumination. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/the-fresnel-lens/

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Remembering Lt. Maynard

As anyone familiar with Ocracoke knows, the legend of Blackbeard the pirate has been a dominant and persistent theme on Ocracoke, even today, 300 years after his defeat by Lt. Robert Maynard and the British Royal Navy.

Lt. Robert Maynard












Several years ago Ruth Toth, vice president of the Ocracoke Preservation Society, decided that Lt. Maynard and his crew should be recognized and celebrated on the 300th anniversary of the final battle. The Executive Committee of OPS agreed, so Ruth and a small committee have been working to make it happen. OPS will host a three day event at Ocracoke (November 21, 22, and 23) to commemorate the historic battle.

Invitations have been extended to officers and midshipmen from the Royal Navy officer training unit who train aboard the HMS Ranger, named for Maynard’s ship. This unit typically holds their most formal dinner of the year on November 22nd, to celebrate Maynard’s defeat of Blackbeard.

The event begins with an Oyster Roast on Wednesday, November 21 (this is a ticketed event with limited seating). At 10 am the next morning (November 22...Thanksgiving Day) the public is invited to a memorial ceremony at Springer’s Point Nature Preserve, the closest land to the site of the battle. Immediately following the ceremony, all are invited to an English Tea in the Barn at the Berkley Manor (served in fine china tea cups).

For more information go to the OPS web site: https://ocracokepreservation.org/300th-anniversary-of-the-battle-at-ocracoke/.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is Lachlan Howard's essay about the Fresnel Lens and its use in theater, solar ovens, cameras, and industry, as well as lighthouse illumination. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/the-fresnel-lens/.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Spanish Invasion

The coast of North Carolina was periodically invaded by Spaniards beginning in April, 1741, when two privateers with about 100 sailors arrived at the Outer Banks. The Spaniards erected a tent camp on Ocracoke with the goal of controlling shipping through Ocracoke Inlet. In August North Carolina merchants and residents in two ships drove the Spaniards from Ocracoke. The Spaniards returned again in 1747, landing on Ocracoke and capturing the port of Beaufort before abandoning the town a few days later. The final invasion occurred in 1748 when the Spaniards attacked the town of Brunswick. A prisoner exchange ended the seven year cycle of Spanish invasions. 

However, the threat of  Spanish invasions returned 150 years later during the Spanish-American War (April, 1898-August, 1898). In July, 1898, the Daily Journal of New Bern, NC printed this brief article:

"An official of the Government, high in authority, whose business it is to organize the people of the coast into a battalion auxiliary to the navy for home protection, passed through this section [Dare County] last week on his way south. In a general conversation he informed the writer that the auxiliary gunboat "Kemp" is now being fitted out for coast patrol duty. She will be stationed at Teach's Hole, at Ocracoke, and will make frequent cruises between Cape Hatteras and Cape Lookout. Commodore S. Barsey Casey, Retired, will be in command of the Kemp, and after enlisting a sufficient number of the patriotic young men of Ocracoke to man his ship he will organize and arm those who are left to patrol and guard the coast. It is now to be hoped that the good people of Ocracoke may 'Worship under their own vine and fig tree' where no Spaniard comes to molest or 'Don' makes them afraid...."

Spanish Vessel, Alfonso XIII















This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is Lachlan Howard's essay about the Fresnel Lens and its use in theater, solar ovens, cameras, and industry, as well as lighthouse illumination. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/the-fresnel-lens/.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Rev. Fitts

Rev. Robert Nicholson Fitts (1881-1971) served as preacher at the Ocracoke Methodist Church, South, from 1929 to 1932.


















His granddaughter shared this story of Rev. Fitts' time on Ocracoke:

"It was on Ocracoke that my grandfather got his sailing lesson. He was on his way home, wearing his only suit, when Wahab Howard convinced him to go sailing. Robert was reluctant, but gave in. They were out in Silver Lake and over went the boat. The story changed, depending on who told it. Wahab swore he didn't tip it on purpose but knows the preacher tried to climb up the mast as they were going over. Robert, however, was positive Wahab had dumped them on purpose. At age 91, Mr. Tommy Howard (Wahab's father) would still split his side laughing as he described the preacher walking up the road dripping wet."

The Ladies Aid Society organized a fund-raiser. They showed a movie one night and collected enough money to buy Preacher Fitts a second suit!

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is Lachlan Howard's essay about the Fresnel Lens and its use in theater, solar ovens, cameras, and industry, as well as lighthouse illumination. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/the-fresnel-lens/.

Friday, November 09, 2018

Herman & Flossie Spencer

Yesterday I shared this OPS picture of the Island Inn & JoKo Gallery. The photo was made about 1973 or 1974.














One of the OPS staff asked me about the white house in the left background, where Spencer's Market is today. That was the home of Herman and Flossie Spencer. Some of our long-time visitors will remember that Herman and Flossie were the parents of Gaynelle Tillett (d. 2018, https://ocracokeobserver.com/2018/05/06/gaynelle-spencer-tillett-an-ocracoke-brand/), and grandparents of Ricky Tillett. When the property was sold, the house was moved to make room for the present development. The house is now located just a short distance away. It is painted red, and has been converted to Sorella's Pizza & Pasta restaurant.

In the early 1970s Ocracoke had no municipal water system. Residents and businesses were collecting rain water from their roofs and storing it in cisterns next to their houses for drinking and cooking. We built our home/business (Village Craftsmen) on Howard Street at that time, knowing that "city water" would soon be coming to the village. So we did not build a cistern. We simply put a large galvanized tub on the back porch and periodically filled it with a garden hose from my parents' house.

We had just started filling the tub when our neighbor, Herman Spencer, stopped by to show us some small birds he had carved. He was in his late '60s at the time, and had been supplying us with a few of his carvings. We invited Herman into the store, and took a look at his birds. We couldn't afford to buy them all, so we sorted through them, asked how much he wanted for them, and chose several. He was in no hurry, so we chatted and shared a few stories. Finally we wrote him a check, put the rest of his birds back in his box, and walked him to the back door..

As he was getting ready to open the door he turned to us with that typical Ocracoke Island nonchalance and dry wit, and said, "I reckon that tub is about filled up by now."

Of course, the tub had been running over for quite some time! Herman just casually walked back home.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is Lachlan Howard's essay about the Fresnel Lens and its use in theater, solar ovens, cameras, and industry, as well as lighthouse illumination. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/the-fresnel-lens/.

Thursday, November 08, 2018

The Island Inn

Recently the staff of the Ocracoke Preservation Museum discovered this undated photo on a thumb drive.














The building on the right is the Island Inn. The photo was taken about 1973 or 1974. Sometime around 1960 entrepreneur Doward Brugh had purchased the old Odd Fellows Lodge/Silver Lake Inn/Wahab Coffee Shop and re-named it the Island Inn. He owned the inn for only a few years. Pennsylvania natives, George and Emilie Wilkes were the next owners. They operated the inn from about 1965 to 1970, then sold the inn to Bill and Helen Styron.

JoKo, a popular artist who owned property on the island, decorated the dining room in a piratical-nautical theme. Walls were stained to look like the inside of a sailing ship, fishing nets and buoys were hung from the ceiling, and two large paintings (one of Blackbeard holding his severed head in his hands, and a beach scene) adorned the end walls. A small gallery selling JoKo's prints was established in the Inn.

I am wondering if any of our readers remember when Bill & Helen Styron owned the Island Inn.

Earlier this year I wrote a history of the Island Inn. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/island-inn-lodge-no-194-independent-order-odd-fellows/.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is Lachlan Howard's essay about the Fresnel Lens and its use in theater, solar ovens, cameras, and industry, as well as lighthouse illumination. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/the-fresnel-lens/.